Guest post by: Giulia Traverso

Going to the gym, eating healthy, reading twenty books, losing a few pounds… What New Year resolution did you pick this year? If you haven’t already, maybe even because you believe that New Year resolutions aren’t sustainable in the long run with your busy life, then this blog post is for you. Have you ever considered “not making an impact” as a possible New Year resolution? Because, well, there are two ways to have an impact: a way that feels good and a way that doesn’t.

The first type of impact is what people usually try to make through their work. Do I want to become a doctor and save people’s lives? Do I want to become a teacher and provide kids with the knowledge and tools to face the world? Do I want to be a mother and grow generous, kind, and loving children? We’re all exposed to the burning question, « What do you want to do/be as an adult? » from a very young age. Here I’m zero-impact by the way: I still haven’t figured out how my PhD in cryptography and a possible career in academia can positively impact others.

The second type of impact involves questions like: Do I use public transportation or drive to work in my gas-guzzling car? Do I choose seasonal fruit and veggies at the local market or buy strawberries in January to make the vegan-paleo pie from that vegan youtuber? (No baking required!) Surprisingly here I not only make an impact, but I also over contribute with flights, + (definitely) more than three pieces of clothing, + the need to print out everything or to buy physical books because I want to take notes and underline stuff, + Dior’s fancy lipstick sold in excessively fancy packaging…

So… I’ve decided to turn things around. At least in terms of the second category. I guess it’s easier to reduce my impact there than to increase it as a scientist. I picked “no plastic” as my New Year resolution. Wait. How could I possibly get rid of all the plastic I use at once? That isn’t going to be sustainable for me and if I set the bar too high, I’m just going to fail. And I don’t want to set myself up for failure! So instead of “no plastic”, I switched to the more sustainable “less plastic” as my New Year resolution. I looked around in my house and felt overwhelmed by the amount of plastic surrounding me. But instead of panicking, I did what Martin Luther King Jr suggests: I took the first step in faith, not daring to look at the whole staircase. The first step involved inspecting only my bathroom cabinet and finally deciding that my New Year resolution was going to be “less plastic in the bathroom.”

Toothbrush? I can replace it with a bamboo one. Toothpaste? I saw a Youtube video where they were making homemade toothpaste with coconut oil and baking soda… not sure I want to give up fluoride though. Let’s say the toothpaste stays like that for now. Ouch, that’s not a resolution; that’s a compromise. Don’t panic Giulia, just move on… Brand new Clinique facial foam and clarifying lotion for normal to oily skin, bought last week at the airport with a 15% discount? They will last for the next eight months at least. I don’t think that trashing forty-euro worth of facial goodies is the right response to a less-waste approach. And neither is pumping twice the amount at each usage so I can finish them earlier. Let’s do this instead: once I run out, I’ll substitute the facial foam with the Marseille soap I use for my hands and some homemade rose water (DIY instructions from YouTube, of course!).

I’m already doing well in terms of make-up remover, body lotion, and face moisturizer: coconut oil! Sold in glass jars, obviously. When I switched to coconut oil a few months ago my intention was to avoid my skin absorbing nasty chemicals. I didn’t care about plastic at the time. But since every self-help book says intention is key, I’m considering my intentionally self-centered decision as an ethical and zero-waste action as well. 🙂 Same thing with my deodorant: I’m using natural crystal deodorant. It comes wrapped up in plastic though. Mmmh… Maybe that’s not that bad, since a crystal lasts about twenty months while regular deodorants last only a few weeks and come with a heavier plastic packaging. Dammit. Am I making this more sustainable or am I compromising again?! Well, at least I’m smiling at the effort… that feels like a step in the right direction!

Now it’s your turn: what do you think about picking “less plastic” or “less plastic in the bathroom” or in any other spot of your house as a New Year resolution? Do you think you can decrease the amount of plastic you consume without stressing out? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Photo credit @amy-shamblen