The speed at which a conversation about plastic can divert to babies could break currently held land-speed records. This is a fact I learned while talking to actress Emma Roberts about her recent decision to give up plastics for a week. The reason? “I feel like, especially after having a baby, I just see how much plastic gets used in every part of my house,” she says. And if the prophecy Whitney Houston foretold—that the children are our future—is to come true, Roberts understands that plastic shouldn’t have a place in this coming world.
Roberts isn’t going this alone either. In partnership with the clean home and products brand Grove, she’s taking part in “Plastic Free July,” a movement designed to raise awareness of the plastic crisis and inspire people to eliminate plastic waste. “It’s been something that’s given me anxiety, and I’ve tried to curb it. So when Grove approached me about collaborating for a plastic-free week in July, I was like, you know what, I’m going to do this because this is like the kick in the butt that I needed to be held accountable and have to like to commit to trying to be more plastic-free.”
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Roberts left no stone unturned in her quest to eliminate plastics. She rooted through every room in the house, eventually getting to the bathroom, where she traded out some usual essentials. Products in glass bottles from Barbara Sturm, Tata Harper, and OSEA made this one of the least challenging areas for her to reduce waste.
“I was just shocked at how much plastic I was using,” says Roberts. “My kitchen was obviously the biggest culprit for sure. Especially with the pandemic, ordering so much to-go food and all the plastic that comes in—so that was really where I started,” she explains. She made small adjustments to her daily routine. She typically starts her day with a cup of coffee from a local cafe but realized the containers and straws she uses really add up. “Grove makes these amazing silicone straws, so I would just have one of those in my kitchen, in my purse, in my trailer on set,” she explains. “I would have a reusable coffee cup, which definitely helps a lot.” She also started meal-prepping to avoid delivery and bought a Brita filter instead of another pack of bottled waters.
But the most challenging place to avoid plastic coincided with her greatest motivation to do so in the first place. When it comes to baby supplies, eliminating plastics just wasn’t possible for Roberts. “I did as much as I could, but unfortunately, especially in the baby space, certain things are inevitably plastic, and so that’s obviously really hard.”
The impossibility of eliminating those plastics entirely put a fine point on Roberts’ considered approach to her project. “Don’t be intimidated and I think set attainable goals for yourself because for me like I didn’t wake up on day one, like, ‘I am 100% plastic-free,’” she explains. “I just became very aware and saw where I could make changes. I felt accomplished when I would bring my snacks to work or bring my cup to my coffee shop in the morning or refill my water bottle.” This is especially important to keep in mind as more consumers are realizing that personal responsibility can only do so much to eliminate plastic waste when corporations are by far the greatest culprits.
Towards the end of our chat, the conversations again turned to babies. “After having a child, you think more about the world and the world that you want them to grow up in,” says Roberts. “And for me, I want him to grow up in a world that has clean oceans and is a beautiful place, and so if I can do little things in my daily life to be more mindful of the world that he’s going to grow up in, how could I not do that?”
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