The New York TimesThe New York Times

Trying to live a day without plastic

By A.J. Jacobs

13 Jan 2023 · 11 min read

Editor's Note

Since its invention, plastic has crept into our appliances, products and clothing. Avoiding it is nearly impossible. Luckily, A.J. Jacobs is good-humored when undertaking such a task.

On the morning of the day I had decided to go without using plastic products — or even touching plastic — I opened my eyes and put my bare feet on the carpet. Which is made of nylon, a type of plastic. I was roughly 10 seconds into my experiment, and I had already committed a violation.

Since its invention more than a century ago, plastic has crept into every aspect of our lives. It’s hard to go even a few minutes without touching this durable, lightweight, wildly versatile substance. Plastic has made possible thousands of modern conveniences, but it has come with downsides, especially for the environment. Last week, in a 24-hour experiment, I tried to live without it altogether in an effort to see what plastic stuff we can’t do without and what we may be able to give up.

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