How to survive a plastic world
The worldwide problem of plastic pollution is a big topic for me. It's causing so many problems globally for our natural environment and for people. Here are five quick facts about the scale of the problem:
1. 5 trillion plastic bags are produced yearly. Side by side, they can encircle the world 7 times.
2. Around one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year due to plastic ingestion.
3. A whopping 79% of all the plastics ever produced have now been discarded. Only 21% of plastics are still in active use.
4. The average person throws away approximately 84 kilos of plastic per year.
5. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located in the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California and is the largest ocean garbage site in the world. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.
I caught up with German soul pop artist, Tabea Luisa, to discuss the issue of plastic and what she's personally doing to cut down on her plastic use.
Fun Facts about Tabea
Once drove for 1 and a half hours in the wrong direction without realising it!
Nickname in India is 'Chompa'
Can't live without Ketchup
Favourite place on planet earth: ‘On a beach with fresh fruit, or on a stage’
When did you stop using plastic?
I started to cut back plastic 5 years ago, roughly the same time I became vegan. Phasing plastic out was a gradual process. It didn't happen instantly.
Why did you stop using plastic?
Because it's so unnecessary. Most of the plastic we use in day to day life is unnecessary. It's not needed and it's not good for the environment. There are so many good replacements for plastic.
Is it difficult to live without plastic?
I don't think it is, you just have to adjust your daily way of consuming things. You have to rethink your habits. It's not that easy in daily life when you're on the road and you want to grab something at the fuel station. When you really want that chocolate, but you know it's wrapped in plastic!
Is buying non-plastic products more expensive?
The shops where I buy my groceries are more expensive as they're organic shops, but normally some things are cheaper without plastic packaging, like herbs. It depends on the quality. However, in normal supermarkets the organic products often come in plastic as the companies don't want people to take the label off and attempt to get the 'non-organic price' (for example organic cucumbers are wrapped in plastic, but the non-organic ones aren't, making them cheaper, but not organic).
What steps have you taken to cut plastic from your life?
If I don't buy toothpaste from the Zero Waste shop, I make it myself with coconut oil, chilli and soda. When I go shopping I bring my own cotton bags and I shop in supermarkets with no plastic packaging.
When I'm travelling I always have my refill water bottle with me and I bring my own containers when I'm at the bakery. I don't like paper bags. It's also stupid, most people buy a pretzel in a paper bag and then eat the pretzel right away and throw away the bag. I try to avoid buying things online with a lot of packaging. I'm so surprised and shocked at how much plastic a normal household uses, it's huge!
There's one bar that uses macaroni noodles as straws! It's so cool!
What do you do when you're travelling?
I've travelled a lot, especially in Asia. There's not really a consciousness about the plastic consumption there. I've struggled with that topic many times, because in the third world, in countries where people are really poor, they don't have the same opinion. I try to reduce my plastic consumption on holiday, but sometimes it's difficult, like when you're on a plane and you get airplane meals served in disposable plastic. Maybe I should start bringing my own food on long distance flights!
Have you got any advice for anyone who wants to stop using plastic?
It's really inspirational to read blogs, for example I follow one girl on instagram, she and her husband really professionalized living with zero waste. Their total waste for one year fits in a jar! You can find out more about them here: Wastelandrebel.
It can be small things that you start with. It's the not getting a plastic bag at the supermarket, when you shop for fruit and vegetables, bring your own cotton bags with you. Just don't use plastic bags, it's so unnecessary!
Every bigger city in Germany has zero waste grocery stores. There are sites and blogs where Zero Waste shops are listed. If you plan a bit and organise a bit, it's not that hard.
Micro plastic is a huge problem. there's a free app known as Code Check where you can scan your products and discover if they contain micro plastic, as well as if they're vegan, good for your health etc. I found out that Nivea beauty products, for example, contain micro plastic.
It's really a matter of if you really want to reduce your footprint or not!