I decided to start my plastic-free lifestyle when I moved to Germany this October. This was a big step in my career and I felt it was also time to make that big change in my lifestyle. Turns out, this was actually a very useful point in my life to do this, because nothing makes you divide your values for material objects like packing your life into two suitcases!
Doing this really made me think about what was important to me. Part of being plastic-free is learning to declutter, and reduce your desire for objects that, most of the time, we do not need in our lives. And so I took this as an opportunity not only to pack but to clear out my old stuff. I threw out years of hoarded rubbish, gave away clothes and shoes that were too small, and in general decluttered my home as much as possible. Needless to say, most of my valued possessions had very little plastic on them!
Of course there were some things with packaging that I did keep, such as some electronics, make-up and new toiletries. I knew that I would use them up, and then when they were finished I could find a plastic-free alternative. Some people suggest that when you decide to go plastic-free, you should give away or throw out your old plastic stuff, however it is better to reuse things if possible, for example old toothbrushes can be used to clean hard-to-reach places or delicate objects. Also if you have bought food, make-up, new Tupperware or products that come in plastic, there is no point not using them as the product will go to waste, which is even worse. Just try to find a more environment-friendly option next time.
Imagine you are going to move to a different part of the world, and you can only take two suitcases. What would you take and what would you leave behind? What do you actually need in life to live and be happy? Decluttering really made me realise what is actually important to me and essential for living. I believe that the more we detach ourselves from materials and artificial possessions, the sooner we can start appreciating the important things in life, like the people around you, the beauty of nature, and the other many things we take for granted. That is why to me, going waste free is more than reducing your rubbish to fit inside a mason jar or only producing recyclable waste. Of course these are both incredibly important, but I do think there is a feeling of mental cleansing attached to a zero waste lifestyle as well. And this unattached, clean feeling goes hand in hand with doing my bit for the environment that drives me to my zero waste goal.