The world of zero waste can be a challenging but extremely rewarding lifestyle. Every decision, choice and action you make has a meaning and a responsibility. But it has opened me up to a range of other green lifestyles that I never quite appreciated before, for example, buying seasonal and organic produce, supporting local businesses, and eating plant-based and avoiding animal products. For me, all of these different concepts are important, and I am slowly trying to work them all into my life, in particular, eating plant-based.
Living plant-based and plastic-free can get quite tricky, and one of the most common questions I get is:
"How do you get enough protein?"
In fact my mother checks that I am eating enough every weekend call I get!
Since I am someone who spends every morning before work lifting weights in the gym, my protein intake is also of considerable importance to me too. And although It took me a few months to work out a plan, I now have a list of plastic-free protein sources that are available in Konstanz and probably most cities.
Plastic is all around us. It covers everything we buy, we eat and drink from it, we eat it in general, we wear it, we build with it, we drive with it… we seem never to stop using it. A lot of the plastic in our lifestyles can be cut out by just being vigilant, however it seems that plastic has edged its way into all corners of life, even some we don’t know about. Here are a few common things that may seem “plastic-free”, but are actually laden with plastic, which will often end up in landfill and the oceans.
1. Coffee cups
People always say to me, disposable coffee cups are recyclable! They are made of paper, duh...
Going waste-free is an incredible way to reduce your negative impact on the planet. You are caring for the Earth, for ocean life, and reducing your exposure to harmful toxins. However there are many other ways you can also benefit the environment. One of these is going vegetarian or vegan, and these are things I struggle with immensely.
As a family we have always eaten meat (except on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because yay Indian culture), however two years ago, my twin sister became vegetarian, and regularly cooks vegan dishes (you can check out some of her amazing dishes here). I found this utterly inspiring, and always wished I could do make that change too.
And to be honest, there is nothing really stopping me, just my own desire. Of course it isn’t so easy to cut out something you have always eaten, especially in a world obsessed with meat consumption. What’s more, I love body-building and sports, so I need to eat a lot of protein (I aim for approximately 60g a day), which is not so simple with a vegetarian lifestyle. Finally, since I went plastic-free, finding food I enjoyed eating was already difficult, never mind embracing a whole new diet. Of course, my meat was already reduced since I no longer bought packaged meat in the supermarket, but this still seemed impossible.
However, last week we both went to Philadelphia, where I was introduced to the fantastic meat-substitute: seitan.
So finally, I have one part of my life entirely plastic-free, and that is my daily washing routine. Apart from the food and drink I am putting into my body, I think for me, this is probably one of the things I want the most to be plastic-free, since I am putting this stuff on my skin every day.
What’s more, I think having a plastic-free bathroom is one of the easiest things to achieve (even if it took me the better part of a year…). The methods I have switched to are simple, and a lot of the products are readily available from stores around Europe, or online. Though some options can be a bit on the expensive side, I think overall I spend much less now on washing products than I did before.
And, of course, the reduction in plastic-consumption is enormous! Think about all of those plastic bottles you have lined up on your bathroom shelf: shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, razor creams, aftershaves, mouthwash, toothpaste… and often there will be multiple types of each. I came to think, what’s the point? It’s the constant adverts on TV and billboards telling us we need hundreds of different products for our faces, body, feet, hair to be beautiful and attractive, when actually what all I really care about is being healthy and well… clean. So, I decided to stop using plastic in the bathroom, and looked for simple, general-use alternatives.
Before: shower gels
Now: bar soap
Periods, it’s all part of growing up for a girl. Every month it’s the same: stomach cramps, acne, bloating, excessive munchies… all accompanied by the fact that you are bleeding out from between your legs continuously for a week. And the worst thing is that the options for dealing with your period are not very earth-friendly or body-friendly. Both (non-reusable) pads and tampons are one-time-only use, creating a bagful of waste every month. What’s more, both of these can expose women to the risks of thrush infection or of toxic shock syndrome. And sanitary products are not cheap! Tampons are still considered a “non-essential” “luxury item” in the UK, making them subject to VAT. So half of Britain is being taxed for the fact that they are born as a woman… (The sexism never seems to end.)
So I decided to search for a waste-free, non-harmful solution to periods. What I discovered through recommendations of friends was the reusable, silicon menstrual cup. These have actually been around since the sixties but have only recently become on trend, with the first silicon “Mooncup” manufactured in the UK. Since then, there are many brands that have surfaced, all of which have their own perks and styles. From all of these, I decided to use the Ruby Cup (which you can buy here: www.ruby-cup.com).