General disclaimer: No part of this post is sponsored, and none of the parties involved were compensated by or affiliated with any of the products or companies mentioned.
It’s 2018, so for me to tell you that plastic is a real drag on the environment seems unnecessary, right? But I’m willing to bet that if you looked around your home right this instant, you’d be able to pick out at least 10 items of single-use plastic hiding in plain sight!
At Casa Bonita, we try to be very mindful of the waste we create. We’re avid recyclers. I recently committed to really striving to shop secondhand first for the rest of the year. I collect our waiting-to-warm-up water for plant care. I feed my plants ‘alternative’ fertilizer. I try to always remember my reusable shopping bags and have even started carrying reusable produce and bulk bags as well.
It might sound overwhelming, but I promise it’s not! And if you’re just beginning your journey into living more mindfully and with less waste, give yourself a break if you’re not killing it from the get-go. I know I’m not perfect. Sometimes I forget my reusable water bottle; sometimes I absentmindedly leave my grocery bags behind (and have to pay for a shopping bag, but even then I’ll ask for paper so that I can recycle it back at home). I’m only human, but I’m striving to do my part and hopefully inspire others to make changes in their own habits.
A few weeks ago, I was casually browsing through Instagram stories when I saw my friend Jessica doing a little unboxing of her haul from Life Without Plastic, a website featuring tons of reusable products and resources for those looking to ditch plastic; I was instantly intrigued! I don’t enjoy online shopping as a whole (I don’t enjoy having a million different options; it’s overwhelming), so a site curated in a way that I can knock out shopping needs for multiple areas of my household makes my little environmental-enthusiast heart all a-flutter! I was so inspired by the items Jessica had purchased and her commitment to living a life without (or at least with much less) plastic. I reached out to her about an interview and here we are! Please enjoy this interview!
1. Introduce yourself please!
Hello! My name is Jessica Wockenfuss. I am an actor living in NYC. Super short intro because I’m about to start rambling…
[Jessica and I attended the same middle and high schools and very nearly went to the same college! She graduated from Elon University with a BFA Music Theatre/BA Dance and is a very talented and accomplished performer with an impressive resumé!]
2. When did you decide to make a change in your life to use less plastic?
The past 5 years or so of my life have brought an expanding awareness of just how terrible our impact as humans has been on this planet. In trying to reduce my carbon footprint, I’ve been slowly making changes in my life—we’re so programmed to live a certain way that I think it helps to implement these changes little by little instead of all at once! I’ve long been aware of the damage plastic is doing to our oceans and wildlife, but only recently have I made the commitment to becoming as plastic-free as possible.
3. Why are you committed to reducing how much plastic you use/consume? Why does all this matter?
Plastic is wreaking havoc on our ecosystem, especially in the oceans. Take straws for example—over 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the US. 500 MILLION. EACH DAY. That’s an insane number. And most straws cannot be recycled, so they end up in landfills and the ocean. Plastics and microplastics (teeny tiny plastic particles that have been broken down since plastic isn’t biodegradable or dissolvable) cause massive destruction to marine life. Our oceans are a vital part of sustainable life on Earth, and they are being overrun by careless human waste. With climate change being number 1, I’d say plastic pollution is number 2 on the list of what will destroy humanity. Yes, you read right: it will destroy humanity.
4. How should a person go about getting started to using plastic alternatives? And what
other ways can a person get involved in helping eliminate unnecessary plastics from
In reference to my straw rant earlier, stop using plastic straws! It’s such an easy fix. When you’re at a restaurant, ask for no straw when you order your drink. And for those times you’re out and you randomly get a craving for Starbucks’ newest iced, sugar-filled goodness, carry a metal or glass straw in your purse or bag or pocket. That way, you can have your fancy drink and help keep the Earth clean, too! I got a sweet little cloth straw-carrying pouch from lifewithoutplastic.com. In fact, I recently got a LOT of items from this incredibly affordable site (definitely check it out!). In a broader sense, think about all the plastic in your life. From shopping to cooking to toiletries and more, plastic is EVERYWHERE. Simple switches, such as buying shampoo and conditioner in bar form instead of in plastic bottles, or getting reusable grocery bags, or carrying a stainless steel or glass water bottle instead of buying bottled water (which is full of microplastics by the way), or switching from plastic tupperware to glass… the possibilities are endless! Also, organizing or joining a community clean-up crew in your neighborhood is a great way to keep trash and plastic out.
5. What’s the one product you’ve swapped out that you had the easiest time adjusting to? What has been the hardest?
Not to sound like a broken record, but… you know what’s coming… reusable straws! In all seriousness, that’s been the easiest plastic-free adjustment to make. The hardest switch to make when becoming more aware of my waste has been food packaging. If you don’t have a low to no waste grocery store around, it is SO HARD to avoid plastic. I live in New York City, so there are definite low-waste options around like farmer’s markets and environmentally minded stores, but none in my immediate neighborhood. I try to remedy the plastic-packaged products I can’t avoid by choosing brands packaged in glass and cardboard when possible (recycling the cardboard and keeping the glass jars to reuse at home).
6. Where’s your favorite place to shop for products/which companies do you love who
use less packaging?
I recently went crazy on lifewithoutplastic.com. They have so many wonderful (and
affordable) products that ease the transition to becoming plastic-free. For beauty/body
products, Lush is a great company that is very transparent when it comes to their products and environmental contribution. Join a fun program like livegreen.recyclebank.com or an app like JouleBug to discover new ways to go green and get rewards for being an Earth-loving citizen. Also, support your local farmers and businesses!
7. In a similar vein, do you have any favorite blogs or books you can recommend as
resources for people who want to use less plastic?
Life Without Plastic does have a book, but in the spirit of waste-mindfulness, stick to the
internet and e-books! I’m not a blog person, but I am a 31-year old in 2018, so Instagram is where it’s at. I follow many vegan, plastic-free, scientific, and environmental “grams” (am I using that right?) that are super helpful with facts, suggestions, recipes, products, etc. to get you on the plastic-free track.
8. Which area of your home did you find you were using the most plastic? Which was the easiest to convert to plastic alternatives?
Oddly enough, the bathroom. Literally every product in there was packaged in plastic. There is another way! Ditch the shampoo/conditioner bottles, and go for bars packaged in paper. Metal razors are a thing. Use soap bars (that come in paper) instead of microplastic-filled body washes. Find bathroom cleaners that come in glass jars, or use your own jar, and fill up at a local zero-waste store. Many places have bulk laundry items you can use your own glass storage jars to refill!
9. Any tips for traveling plastic-free?
Glass, glass, glass. Use paper or some of your clothing to wrap it up, so nothing breaks. Life Without Plastic has a glass jar travel kit which I am stupidly excited to use. Bring your own water bottle and, more importantly, travel coffee mug to cut down on wasteful bottles and coffee cups. Starbucks actually gives you a 10% discount if you use your own mug. Also, be mindful when you pack… think through absolutely everything you’ll need, especially those random emergency items, so you won’t have to buy anything on your trip in plastic packaging.
10. Anything else you’d like to add?
Mindfulness is key! Story time: the other day I really wanted to get a cold-pressed juice, but I didn’t have my metal straw on me and also realized it would’ve been another plastic cup down the drain. So I didn’t have my fancy juice. And yesterday I wanted to pick up some groceries on the way home but didn’t have my reusable bag with me, so I went home first then made another trip out with my bag. Sometimes you’ll have to make sacrifices. And that can be hard in this age of immediate gratification. But knowing you’re making decisions to positively impact your home, our Earth, will be comforting enough. I actually love refusing certain luxuries because it makes me feel like a mighty Earth-warrior. There’s a sense of pride and power that comes with being environmentally aware… and it will only serve to benefit you and your beautiful planet—“the only home we’ve ever known.” (I had to end with a Carl Sagan quote, didn’t I?)
A huge thanks to Jessica for participating in this in interview! It’s so inspiring to talk to other environmental enthusiasts and to see what they’re doing that you can also bring to your own life! I hope you found some new ideas to take with you. Let me know in the comments one change you’re going to make to help take care of our lovely planet!