Some are already forgetting their New Year’s resolutions. Not Eve.com.mt. In our series on resolutions, we have already discussed changing your style to feel more confident, and learning Maltese as a foreigner. With the news that plastic fibers are now floating in our water, we have asked Suzanne Maas, who has described her experiment to live plastic-free all month, to share some tips for keeping the resolution to reduce plastic waste. Eve’s Daiva Repečkaitė joins the climate change researcher and environmentalist for a plastic-free shopping trip.
“You will notice how many supermarket aisles you can skip entirely,” Suzanne smiles as she pushes her shopping cart towards her favourite sections of Pavi, which is the Isla resident’s supermarket of choice. Its bulk section makes it easy to shop for pulses, nuts, oats and similar staple products. The variety of sauces, oils and grains allows finding brands that use cardboard or biodegradable materials for packaging.
Suzanne Maas and her shopping equipment – glass jars and cloth bags
It is already striking to realise that plastic is everywhere: from small plastic windows in boxes of pasta to packaging of tissues, biscuits and household liquids. Some products come in glass bottles, but there is a thin strip of plastic to seal their lids. When you screen supermarket shelves with a view to avoid turtle-strangling plastic bags and water-contaminating boxes, the rich variety of products starts to look like a desert with very few oases.
Suzanne admits having felt frustrated at times. “The goal is not to be extreme about it,” she shares. Living uncompromisingly without plastic would mean organising her busy life around shopping for specific products and producing replacements at home. Before she embarked on a plastic-free month, she heard of the plastic-free July campaign, but that, she admits, would be extremely difficult in Malta: “You would have to carry huge quantities of water every day!”
[Read more: 5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint]
On the other hand, the experiment shows that many things are not as difficult as we would like to think when we look for excuses. Suzanne confidently unfolds her cloth bags at the bulk section. “I made this one myself,” she tells a helpful shop assistant and receives a compliment as we pour nuts and seeds into our own bags. Buying vegetables is just as easy – barcode stickers land on our cloth and reused paper bags without any eyebrows raised.
At the cheese section, a staff member flashes a friendly smile as he places ricotta into Suzanne’s tuperware box. It’s essential to be friendly and not to take it for granted, Suzanne later explains, and adds that shopping plastic-free doesn’t mean only opting for large supermarkets. Neighbourhood shops can be just as helpful in accommodating waste reduction. Suzanne is now preparing for a workshop at Friends of the Earth, where she will share some tips on how to reduce plastic waste without missing out on too much fun.
As we enter Suzanne’s home, delivering the yield from our plastic-free shopping expedition, a smell of herbs lingers in the kitchen. Suzanne’s husband Chris is expecting us with mouthwatering veggie soup and a main course that includes home-grown steamed broccoli and crunchy oven-baked potatoes. Reducing plastic waste doesn’t mean living a restricted, ascetic life after all, the two assert.
Have you tried reducing plastic waste? How did it go?
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