“We didn’t expect so many students at first because there is this stigma for some reason against actually caring about the reduction of plastic usage,” said Max Dörr, who studies Management of International Social Challenges. “We’re really happy so many people joined us. Some of the participants took it further than we ever could have imagined and started making their own DIY plastic-free products, so I got some cool new tips myself.”


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These students are going one week without waste

Can student life and zero waste be possible at the same time? Post Plastic Generation…

Dörr has been living almost entirely without plastic for the past few months, but for most of the students, the Zero Waste Challenge was their first attempt at ditching plastic and searching for alternatives. EM interviewed three of those students before the challenge got underway last week to find out what they expected from the week. Here’s what they had to say after attempting a week of without plastic.

Sara Parnell (3rd year Psychology student)

Sara Parnell produced only a handful of plastic waste this week. Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

“I produced maybe a handful of plastic this week. I especially noticed throughout the week which things I currently use that have plastic and which alternatives I will need to buy to start avoiding plastic, such as safety razors. I won’t need alternatives for things like body lotion because I already use olive oil for that. Sometimes when I asked people not to give me things with plastic, like at the market, they would roll their eyes at me or not listen. It’s awkward too when people hand out flyers and you take the flyer, look at it, and give it back to them. If you want to live plastic-free, just make sure you plan ahead and organize so you don’t end up buying things in plastic that you could have avoided.”

Gunnar Heller (Masters in Global Business and Sustainability)

The green economist Gunnar Heller. Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

“The week went more or less the way I expected it to be, although I must say it really opens your eyes once you see how many products are wrapped in plastic and that you have to actively go out of your way to get stuff that doesn’t use plastic packaging. The hardest thing to avoid is hygiene products like toothpaste and deodorant because they’re so convenient and you have to make them yourself otherwise. In total, I think I bought one or two thinks with plastic packaging. I don’t think it’ll be that hard to start integrating these habits into my lifestyle and if everyone just started reducing their usage by at least 50 percent the world would be a much better place. That’s the economist in me talking.”

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

“To be honest I ended up probably creating a handful of plastic, which is more than I actually needed. I realized the hardest part for me was the motivation to put this mindset first and not let my convenience take over. When I’m stressed, I don’t think of anything else than my issues really. I guess I learned most of all that it doesn’t matter if you ‘fail’ regarding being sustainable at times. I think it’s more important to always come back to it and keep reminding yourself and others that we actually can make a difference when we just make some effort to be more aware of our comfortable habits. That’s my advice–just be more aware and ask yourself whether you really need the stuff you’re about to buy. Amen.”


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Video: How do you buy groceries without buying plastic?

Student reporter Ivar is living without waste for a week. Step 1: grocery shopping…