Plastic Free July

Plastic Free Lifestyle: choices that change our future.

A coffee-chat with Jan Schütz

ooohne team

A gradual transition to more sustainable living is one of the first steps that help us drive towards a greener, safer, and fair future for us and the planet. 

Nowadays we often hear about the benefits of eco-living, but how can we all reduce our environmental impact without ending up with a burn out?

 Sustainable choices are for everyone: acknowledging your pace and being conscious about your limits will make the transition easier.

In the light of Plastic Free July, we interviewed Jan Schütz, an inspiring Berlin-based eco-change maker who made his lifestyle choices an initiative that helps people be more sustainable. 

We asked Jan to tell us a bit more about the importance of eco living and how he jumped into it.

Hi Jan, can you tell us a bit more about you and how did you start your journey into sustainability?

Hi, my name is Jan Schutz, founder of ooohne, an initiative that helps people reduce their impact by promoting a sustainable dishwashing detergent without plastic, water, and unnecessary chemistry. 

In my case, everything started five years ago, when I realised that most of the clothes I owned worn out very fast. Initially, what concerned me the most was the amount of money I wasted in buying low-quality t-shirts, more than their environmental impact. Therefore, I started preferring clothes with better quality and a longer lifespan and repairing the ones I already owned. This allowed me to reduce my consumption, decrease my expenses and, indirectly, my environmental impact.

During that period, I also started my commitment to a vegetarian diet. The university I attended was offering a meat-free canteen, and, after a while, I realised that choice was even healthier for me. From that moment on, I also became more aware of my consumption habits when going grocery shopping and choosing food free of plastic-packaging. The consciousness I acquired along the years helped me apply such small changes in my daily life. 

What does it mean for you to live a life without plastic?

It is about caring for others. When I choose not to buy plastic, I don’t do it for me personally, as consuming plastic does not represent a personal disadvantage in that moment. But of course, it’s about caring for the environment, the planet, and our future generations.

What is the toughest challenge you faced at the beginning?

I can’t really think about a tough challenge, but something that I still struggle with is doing things myself. Making your own product is a way to be more sustainable, especially when there are not many eco-friendly solutions around. Thus, I prefer ecological alternatives to be available in stores, which make the whole process easier. This is why I came up with our dishwashing detergent as a sustainable product for those who want to reduce their impact and do not have the time to make their own goods at home.

What are your suggestions for those people starting their journey into sustainability?

I think the most important thing is that you have to know why you do it. You should know why you want to avoid plastic. For example, one could find their reason in the fact that Germany is the third biggest exporter of plastic worldwide, or because here only less than 20% of plastic waste is recycled. Someone else could instead think about the impact that plastic has on the environment and the wildlife.

Whatever reason motivates us, I think we shouldn’t push others to do the same. Better be a good role model to inspire and encourage and always consider that everyone has his own pace.

Moreover, it is important to know your own possibilities and riddim: separating the waste at home or choosing zero waste stores once in a while, rather than go full into it, is already a significant step.

What are three creative ways to reduce plastic consumption at home?

There are actually a lot of things we can do to avoid plastic in our daily life. One tip to reduce your waste production is to look into your trash bin, to see what the main sources of litters are. You could also weigh your waste to follow your progress.  If you realise that a big part of your trash comes also from the plastic-wrapped advertising the postman leaves in your letterbox, add a small sign stating you are not interested in receiving it anymore. Something else -not really creative but easy to do- is to avoid coffee-go cups by bringing your own reusable mug in coffee shops.

There are many small changes we can apply in our daily life that can make a difference: it’s a matter of identifying what we can do, why we want to do it and to which extent we can do it. 

We definitely agree with Jan: caring for others, acknowledging our possibilities and not stressing about other people’s pace make our sustainable journey more efficient and easier.