That alone should be reason enough to begin learning how to live without plastic, according to student organization Post Plastic Generation. That’s why they are hosting the Zero Waste Challenge this week, a challenge to motivate students to go seven days without producing a single piece of waste.

The challenge also includes workshops to teach participants, of which there are a few dozen (mostly female), how to shop sustainably, produce their own toiletries, and repair ripped clothing instead of buying new items. At the opening kick-off on Monday night at the Erasmus Sustainability Hub, EM spoke with three participants about their expectations for the Zero Waste Challenge.

Luisa Osburg (1st year Psychology student)

Luisa Osburg: Zero Waste Challenge
“Ask yourself whether you really need the stuff you’re about to buy.” Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

“I think this week is going to be quite hard when it comes to buying things I need, like toilet paper. Money-wise, it’s going to be a challenge as well. Of course, buying cheap stuff is best as a student, but cheap usually isn’t good for the environment. Luckily, I just quit smoking, so I won’t be producing any waste from that. The most important thing for me is staying motivated. If you’re just trying to prove to someone that you can do it or you’re doing it because it’s trendy, I think it will be hard. For me, I’m doing it because I love this planet and I want to preserve it.”

Gunnar Heller (Masters in Global Business and Sustainability)

Gunnar Heller
“Going shopping this week will definitely be eye-opening.” Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

“I try to avoid producing plastic waste, but I must admit I buy foods like pasta that are packaged in plastic. Going shopping this week will definitely be eye-opening as I’ll have to notice all the products that use plastic and I know most of them do. The biggest challenge will be not being able to go to the convenient supermarkets and shopping instead at more eco-friendly, bulk shops. In truth I don’t think I’ll go the whole week without producing a single piece of waste — I’m a realist. And I think I’ll forget at some point because it’s not already engrained in my mind. It’s a habit that needs to be formed and that will take more than a week. Baby steps.”

Sara Parnell (3rd year Psychology student)

Sara Parnell
“I don’t think I’ll have to change my lifestyle too much but maybe that’s a naïve statement.” Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

“Shopping for non-market stuff like non-dairy milks or basically anything that’s canned will be the biggest challenge for me. I don’t think I’ll have to change my lifestyle too much but maybe that’s a naïve statement and I’ll find out that I’ll have to change some little things, which will be a good educational moment. Products like deodorant I already buy in glass containers, but now I want to go all in and start making it myself. Can I go the whole week without making waste? Probably not, and I don’t think that’s the point. I think it’s about learning, becoming more aware, and becoming used to living waste-free.”