You might have seen it on the news: plastic residues are a huge problem for our planet. All the plastic that has ever been produced is still on the surface of the planet because it is not biodegradable (and only a small percentage is recycled); the oceans are full of plastic trash; not even remote, uninhabited islands are free from it; plastic fibres are present in tap water all over the world; in 30 years there will be more plastic than fish in the seas. It sounds like a nightmare, or like a horror movie, but it is real, it is happening right now and it only took a few decades. And all because of something seemingly so harmless and common like plastic.


– Rethink hygiene products. I swapped shampoo bottles and shower gel for shampoo and soap bars. The cleaning effects are the same and I avoid having to throw empty plastic containers after the product is used up. Some soap bars come packed in a plastic bag but it’s still better than a container, I guess, if only because it’s way smaller. I also stopped using clothes detergent and I’ve been using soap nuts for something like 2 years. They work and they are extremely cheap (also got them on Taobao).


– Reusable liquids containers. Last year I started having milk delivered home in glass bottles which I later wash and put back in the milk box so they get reused. I know it’s a very old idea and I love it! The only problem is that, at least in Suzhou, these milk bottles only come in 200 ml size, which is pretty small, and they cost twice as much as imported carton milks. I can’t understand it. How can it be more expensive to bring me milk from a distance of 30 kilometres, than shipping it from New Zealand or Germany? I also have big water bottles delivered home (unfortunately, China’s tap water is not safe for drinking); the bottles are reusable and the delivery guy takes back the old ones. I bought C. a reusable small bottle that can be filled to use in the car, as he used to buy small mineral water bottles before. I never buy soft drinks and when C. complains we only drink water, I buy him juice in glass bottles. I also stopped buying yogurt and I do it myself. Bye bye single use yogurt containers!


– Reduce online shopping. I am trying to buy less, in general. I hardly buy any clothes; I think the clothes in my wardrobe are, in average, around 4 years old. As I have the luxury of being able to work from home, I don’t really need to invest in new clothes as I can wear old, tattered ones in the “office”. I also try to buy less groceries online because the amount of packaging material is completely crazy. Today I received an order and every item was packed separately. WTF. Besides, I blacklist some products that use too much packaging. For example, there is a brand of biscuits I like but, apart from the external plastic package, biscuits are inside small bags containing 4 biscuits each. Sorry, biscuits, I’m not going to buy you anymore.


I still have many more things pending, like getting cloth bags to buy loose things like rice and eggs, learning how to make my own bread and biscuits, getting a menstrual cup… and hundreds of others that I haven’t thought about yet. Saying no to plastic is so hard in China, so I’m doing baby steps. Even toilet paper rolls come individually wrapped in plastic and then packed inside a big plastic bag. And buying imported groceries online is so much cheaper than buying them in the supermarket, but then you have to deal with the crazy packaging…