While 2020 started with deafening bangs, I started to back-up my memories of 2019 in my mind. A lovely hot glass was pressed into my hands and a short while later I was down to the last drop of warm mulled wine. I drop the feather-light fake glass into the helpful plastic bag that came with it. The brand new year is barely three minutes old and I have already used my first disposable plastic.
The next day I dig through my back-up memories, looking for good resolutions. I quickly stumble on a fresh and cheerful app that I forgot to install – My Little Plastic Footprint. When I later tell the app what I just used in terms of plastic, my Plastic Mass Index jumps straight into red.
Oh, dear. I thought I was doing quite well with my cotton shopping bags and reusable sandwich bags. When I look up, disappointed, and ask myself what I could do better, my eye rests on my phone cover. And then on my ballpoint pens, my coffee cup, the radio, the plant pots, the zip of a jacket, a dish of nuts … All plastic.
I don’t even need to go into the kitchen to remember the colourful spatulas. The drawer full of freezer bags in all shapes and sizes, the herb jars and the bag of apples that I just bought. Plastic. I run upstairs to the bathroom. Yes, there are the toothbrushes, shampoo bottles, tubes of creams. Plastic. Sports leggings dangle out of the laundry basket. Polyester, in other words, plastic. On to the attic where big plastic containers smirk at me, stuffed to the brim with ultralight camping gear. Yes, all plastic.
I force myself downstairs again and drag myself, very reluctantly, to the plastic waste container and open the lid. The app already diagnosed my condition a long time ago – plastic obesity. I angrily delete it from my phone.
The next day I regret my head-in-the-sand behaviour. The app is right. My PMI is worryingly high. I do want to reduce my consumption, but how? It’s then that I see how helpful My little plastic footprint is. It understands full well that I can’t change everything in one go. I can choose 21 items – the laundry, travel bottles, cosmetics, car tyres, and ice-cream – and get very practical advice on reducing my plastic pollution. As soon as I replace something plastic with a better alternative, the indicator of my PMI moves in the right direction. That makes me happy.
Twenty-one items may sound a lot but it’s really very doable. I decide to deal with two every month. While I excitedly jump on my bike to go and buy paper earbuds, I imagine how I will look back at myself a year from now, fit and satisfied. It will be a year in which my PMI obesity shrinks to amazingly slender. I will be sipping delicious warm mulled wine. From a real glass.
(Photo Jeroen Gosse)