Food for Thought, New Materials

Would you like a plastic bag? 7 tips to make your plastic diet successful


Think about the last time you used something that was packed in plastic. Was it five minutes ago? Half an hour? Or yet several hours? If your answer is “even longer than that”, you are most likely among the minority of all readers. For most people, plastic is an integral part of daily life. Thus, resisting plastic is much harder than it seems, and quite a challenge.

Plastic diet

The intervention was part of the project PlasticTwist of the European Union, in which BlueCity is one of the collaborating businesses. Participants tried to cut down on their plastic consumption for 4 weeks, supported by monthly worksheets, a Facebook group, and a kick-off event. I asked myself how you can be successful at such a diet, and why some people continued until the end of the month, while others got really frustrated and quit halfway through.. In onlinesurveys and personal interviews, people shared their stories and experiences with me. How they were happy and proud to see how much less plastic they consumed during this month. How they were shocked to discover the whole dimension of our plastic problem. But also how they were hiding with their Albert Heijn salad from their colleagues in some moments of temptation.

7 tips to make your plastic diet successfull

From all the insights I’ve gained, here are 7 tips to support your plastic diet.

1. No need to rush

Start small and take it step by step, instead of telling yourself “I’m not going to use plastic this month!” People who were successful at the diet set themselves easy goals, like “In the first week, I’ll stop using to-go cups and bring my own cup”. Once they achieved their first goal, they set themselves the next one, and so on.

2. Be selfish

In general, our strongest motivation is aiming at our own benefit – so try doing the plastic diet for yourself! When I first stopped using plastic bags at the market, I felt super sustainable,environmentally friendly, and yes, pretty amazing. So don’t do it for others – make YOURSELF feel good about it!

3. Sharing is caring

Be social and talk about it to others, so you can find people who are on the same page. We all are social animals and we like to talk about our frustration or enthusiasm with others. So get yourself some people you can share your successes with – they will also support you to keep going!

4. Design matters

Saying “Make it fun” might seem very broad and vague, but what I mean is: Try to find something that makes you like your plastic diet! It can be so nice and fulfilling to put your sandwich in a beautiful bamboo box in the morning instead of taking an ugly plastic bag. And I just love drinking coffee out of my own reusable to-go cup (I can even put a lit on it so it doesn’t spill). So why don’t you go shopping and see what you like?

5. It’s a journey

Refusing to use plastic doesn’t happen suddenly – it’s a long way, so embrace your changes! Even if they’re small, they are still steps on your path leading to less and less plastic consumption. The longer you continue, the more it will become a habit and the easier it will get.

6. Stop finding excuses why you can’t change today

I know, it’s difficult to find alternatives for plastic in  supermarkets. And yes, it’s difficult if your partner doesn’t want to join in. But do these reasons make you unable to have a plastic diet? No, definitely not. Some participants refused straws and brought their own cup during their diet – doesn’t sound too hard, does it? So stop complaining and start doing! Yes, it’s a system problem, but every first step is taken by someone.

7. Remember, you are not alone

Feel like you’re a lonely, early adopter? Well, I’m sorry to tell you you’re not. But that’s good – you have people who can tell you how they do it, so you don’t need to do it all by yourself. I found it inspiring to hear about others not using plastic at all, and I would always ask them about all their tips and tricks. For example toilet paper – how? (You can order it online, for those who are interested). So search for people who have more experience, and talk with them! If you really can’t catch any in you nearby surrounding, check out Lauren Singer!

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