Did you know that between 4.8 million and 12.7 million tons of plastic land in the sea every year? And that it takes up to 450 years to break down 1 plastic bottle?

No? Then you are not the only one who didn’t know this. I knew about it, but not exactly.

During my travels, I have seen whole beaches covered with plastic, snorkeled in the plastic soup and at rescue centers seen so many lovely animals with plastic in their stomach…. It’s heartbreaking and this has to stop and it starts with yourself. Reduce your use of plastic, recycle and go for the other option where possible. But above all: become aware of how much plastic you use in a day.

And to help you, National Geographic is all about #STOPMETPLASTIC throughout the month of June.

The campaign wants to make people aware of the following 8 goals:

1) plastic swabs: buy them from cardboard

2) plastic straws, preferably use a metal or glass one

3) plastic bottles, use refillable bottles

4) plastic cutlery: just don’t use it

5) plastic bags, use a shopping bag for life

6) plastic coffee cups: take your own travel mug to your favorite coffee shop

7) recycle, separate your waste

8) pick plastic on the street up and throw it away.

How good! Do you also pay extra attention to plastic from this month? I challenged myself to eat and cook without plastic for a day, and that seems easier than it is.

I took on the challenge to cook on a plastic-free basis, and because I’m reasonably healthy and making a lot myself, I thought, that’s easy. But unfortunately, it is more of a challenge than I originally thought.

In Australia you see it everywhere, plastic-free supermarkets where you go with Tupperware, pots and reusable bread bags. Here, not so much.

The day started super conscious: when I do not travel, I shower with shower gel packed in a large plastic package. When I travel, I shower with a block of soap, but I still carry it in a plastic case. Yikes.

Then time to do my hair: again, a plastic brush because the bamboo brush that I once had broke quickly in my daily tangles.

Hmm, this is not a good start. But it got worse. My daily breakfast of gluten-free knackebrod with a slice of vegetarian sausage is completely wrapped in plastic. So I decide to drink my coffee and take a different approach to my breakfast.

Because I am in between houses, I now live temporarily in Amsterdam East, close to the dapper market, so I quickly stop by for some plastic free breakfast options.

I will first look for a banana and some leaf spinach. Fortunately, I soon see a stall selling loose leaf spinach and bananas. I go there with my own bowl and fortunately, they do not look too weird and when I explain that I do a #stopmetplastic challenge, they even cheer me on.

Then it’s time to think about dinner, usually, I eat a Buddha bowl with veggies and other healthy things. No problem you would think … I will come back to that later.

Fortunately, I have plenty of time to be busy with the plastic-free food options because I work for myself because it’s already so exchausting, I could never do this if I had a 9 to 5 job.

I quickly go home to have breakfast and continue working because I am busy with the launch of a new course.

This was my favorite breakfast before I started traveling (and therefore never had a blender on hand).

Recipe is super simple: leaf spinach, banana, and cinnamon topped with some water makes a delicious green smoothie. Add some more banana and less water if you want a thick smoothie.

And yes, I realize very well that this is a glass blender and not one with a plastic top (although not everything is of glass of course!).

Hmmm … it is already half past 11, really late because normally I’m around 8 o’clock behind my computer. Definitely time to start working!

I must say, just think of a snack that is not packed in plastic … quite difficult! Fortunately, I was so smart on the market to get some cashew nuts with my tray. Because after months of ‘normal’ breakfasts to go suddenly to a green smoothie breakfast is intense for my stomach, which now rattles quite haha.

I quickly finish my to-do list for the morning and then make a quick lunch. This really feels like cheating, because I still had some ingredients at home.

I use some leaf spinach again, boil a sweet potato (no plastic!), Spoon an avocado (no plastic!), Cut some carrots (but wrapped in plastic, unfortunately), and stir-fry a zucchini and pepper, both of which are my favorites for each meal and never packaged in plastic.

You probably know them, those three color peppers, which are packaged again, but that is totally unnecessary. You can always buy a loose pepper. The chickpeas are packed in a tin and unfortunately the hummus in a plastic package. If you go to the Turkish shop or the caterer around the corner, you can buy hummus and bring your own container.

At noon after lunch I often exercise and I am immediately confronted with plastic: I almost always use a plastic bottle when I am not at home, where my gym bottle is located. At least I re-use the same bottle a few times…

After the gym it is time to work a little further and appointments: coffee in Foam, view the exhibition and then go to the cinema.

In the bios I see people walking away and leaving their plastic drinking cups … I take them with me. I know they are cleaning the room but once I get into action I cannot stop plastic cleaning everywhere, and that’s good too!

Anyway, I think it’s strange that you just throw things on the floor, that’s how I really did not get educated. But I was also not raised again that I clean it up, while we should do that.

So the next time you see something, pick it up.

In the evening I cook a variation on what I ate in the afternoon because it is so easy. After a day of conscious living, I realize that the more settled you are, how easy it is to live consciously. If you’re out and about, you can not take anything with you and even though I always travel with some Tupperware containers (yes really), it’s not enough. If I buy a bottle of water to-go, I always throw it away in a rubbish bin on the street (which does not separate waste) or where I rent a house or room at the time, but I have never seen any waste separation there either. I always do that at home, because that feels good.

Tips so you can get started:

  • Swap plastic options for wooden and sustainable options (more often than you think!)
    If you often use straws, buy metal straws
  • Make sure you always have a bag in your bag (how often we do not do ‘unexpected’ shopping and have to buy a bag … yep, another bag.)
  • From now on, take your own coffee cup with you when you make coffee to-go, and swap your plastic water bottles for sustainable bottles such as Dopper.
  • Exchange your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo option
  • When you see two options, for example, a plastic bag and a durable bag in the supermarket, choose the sustainable option.
  • Buy a sustainable bread bag and get your bread on the market from now on (or at the supermarket and ask if you can bring it in your own pocket: