Earth Bottles director Ash Grunwald sat down to chat with big wave free surfing enviro legend Dave Rastovich and his beautiful pro-sufer, activist, writer and lady love Lauren Hill about how to live a more plastic free life, the merits of plastic and their tips on how to live a more plastic free lifestyle with kids and in the water.
Rasta: Well, you have to be honest about it, nobody has a plastic free life, no-one.. Not even a monk in the Himalayas, she would have something on her person that would be plastic.
Lauren: There are a couple of people on Instagram who make a life out of being plastic free, but that’s like a job.
Ash: I remember us talking about plastics once, and the notion of plastic being a wonderful invention and a robust material that will be around forever so I am sure there are some instances that we need it, or it’s very useful. But I guess it’s the single use and wasteful uses of plastic that we need to minimise.
Rasta: So the question is really how do we minimise our participation of our plastics that are problematic in the world?
Lauren: hahah… well for one...don’t have a baby!! (true that, Lauren - these guys have a new bubba) Plastic comes at you at every angle with babies, especially with toys. I’ve been thinking about how exposure to plastics in our early lives affects what we see as beautiful. I wonder how with things being so perfect and plasticised…?
Ash: Yeah...and hence, we have to have perfect fruit, and perfect bodies - hahah and plastic surgery!
Lauren: …hahaha and creaselessness - not imperfect, dimpled skin, and fruit off our own tree that isn’t perfect… “wabi sabi" it’s a Japanese philosophy acknowledging and honouring the imperfect.
Rasta: Well yeah, with a Grom, it’s definitely the toy thing, Lauren is better at articulating the experience of it.
Lauren: (laughs) I like the idea of de-normalising plastic for kids, so surrounding them with everyday objects like spoons. Wooden spoons, they become toys, and guitars and shoes and hats all become toys - rather than buying in to this whole marketing ploy about kids, babies especially, needing neon coloured plastic crap that breaks and ends up in landfill. Just use the things that you have, and don’t deprive them of the opportunity to ignite their imagination to make everything play because they’re brilliant at that.
Rasta: He doesn't have any plastic toys and he just doesn't need it. You know, he has the experience of holding bamboo from the bush here. You sand it down, he plays with that. It’s epic, it’s perfect. He breaks it, no big deal, you put it back in the garden, it breaks down, and you grab another piece from the bush.
Lauren: Shells, we are big on finding beautiful shells at the beach, the tough ones, he can chew on them, he can throw them, and when you’re done, they just break down, calcium carbonate.
Ash: Absolutely, that is just gold.
Lauren: We will see how that changes as he gets older, and he has opinions and wants, but it’s working for now.
Ash: So tips number 1 and 2: Don’t have a baby, and if you do, don’t buy plastic toys. Number 3???
Rasta: Food. Maximising what is grown or caught locally, and then made ourselves. I am making a cup of tea for us now, and it will have fresh breast milk in it (haha, major jokes here people!!). But seriously, what we are doing right now, I would always buy almond milk and oat milk or rice milk, anything without a face or mother milk, you know, and now its this gear here, which is just nuts in a blender and then you just make it. Tea and nuts in the blender and you have your milk and our recycling waste just got way smaller.
Then the other thing is just getting in the garden and growing what you can. Having the little guy, I haven't had as much time to get in the garden but still we have heaps of fruit and other things that we grow that lessen our plastic participation.
Ash: So…number 4?
Lauren: One thing I really like to do, especially when I am travelling, is take a jar of dried mung beans or another sort of sprout-able beans, it’s kind of a plastic free thing but also a general health kind of thing. Have your glass jar, with a sprouting lid, travel with that, fill it up with water, soak your beans in fresh water and sprout them. Then you have fresh greens that you didn’t have to buy from a plastic package that is so common.
Ash: Great. Number 5 - Dave??
Rasta: For surfers, support petroleum free wet suits. Plant derived rubbers is best. Patagonia or SEEA wetsuits.
Ash: Awesome. You guys are sponsored by these companies that are ethical and that’s exactly what we are talking about. Business that makes a difference.
Lauren: Sharing boards, instead of buying lots of new ones. You can only ride one board at a time, so share them around. The oil, the resin and fins are made from plastic, it leeches plastic. Track pads are a combination of plastics, wax is often oil based. You can make your own wax at home with beeswax or support someone who makes it.
Rasta: Yeah, I tried that Tree Huggers one recently and that was good.
Lauren: There’s one called Bees Knees which is also good.
Ash: And number 8?
Lauren: We are big fans of DIY sunscreen. I use a powdered mineral make up with my favourite oil, hemp usually. Mix it together and make it super thick. You can use Olive Oil, Coconut Oil or Hemp Oil, mix it in your palm and you’re done. It’s not surf-all-day-in-Indo style sunscreen, but if you’re gonna go for an hour or two surf, it will do.
Ash: And it’s better for the water as well. Number 9?
Lauren: I like to buy refurbished phones instead of new ones. Ones they make and put it back together to factory specifications. You can get refurbished computers and iPads now too.
Ash: Number 10?
Rasta: Maybe actually changing our perspective. Looking at plastic with respect and appreciation rather than this 'fantastic plastic' idea of it just being so cheap and nasty. Looking at it in a way where we actually have respect for it. We have this incredibly tough, durable and malleable product that we’ve created and concocted out of natural materials and really, it's our perspective of it to just discard it after one use, seeing it as something not that valuable. If we were to change that, and have the technology and the means available to keep reinventing and using the plastic we already extracted out of the planet and re-purpose it. We would see things like David de Rothschild who made the Plastiki Boat. He made Plastiki, which is a boat made out of recycled PET plastic, basically bottles, and they made the glue out of that plastic as well, the whole thing, the whole structure of this 60 foot catamaran that has sailed the Pacific is a totally sound, ocean going vessel, made out of these materials, to show that it is an incredible resource and there is SO much available. Everywhere around the Planet has so much plastic at their fingertips, and they used that project to show that it is largely our perspective of plastic that is the problem.
Rasta and Lauren's top 10 plastic free tips
- Don't have a baby
- Don't buy plastic crap for your kids.
- Grow your own food.
- Share your surfboard quivers with friends rather than buying new.
- Support petroleum free wetsuit companies.
- Make your own nut milks.
- Make your own sunscreen.
- Travel with your own sprouting greens.
- Buy a refurbished phone, ipad or computer.
- Change your perspective on plastics. If you do use it, treat it as something that is to be respected and re-used.