Ever wondered what it would actually be like to give up plastic completely? It’s not easy, but some determined folks are doing their very best. We spoke with Max Ranchi about his personal journey towards a plastic-free life.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am from Trieste, in the North East of Italy, and 16 years ago, when I was 40 years old, and I broke up with my girlfriend at the time, I decided to look for a mountain hut somewhere in the Alps, and I found a cheap property in a remote, almost abandoned village.
I saw a two-story building being used as smoking room and a wood storage unit. It doesn’t sound like much, but was love at first sight, and so I bought it.
I started to fix it up, slowly transforming it into a beautiful little home. And after two years, even though it wasn’t actually finished, I decided to move from Trieste to Gracco.
At the time, I was having somewhat of a “professional mid-life crisis”. I worked in yacht racing, but the rules were changing (IMS), things were coming to an end, the work fizzled out and so I was a bit confused and fed up.
I didn’t want to give up my job completely, but I wanted to be “off” for a while.
How do you live without plastic?
When I moved to Gracco Alta – “Gracco” is the name of the village, and “Alta” because the hut is in the highest part of the village – I used old-style building materials like those used in the past, basically anything you could find naturally in the forest, so mainly wood and stone.
I built my home this way, and when I came to the point of buying kitchen appliances and utensils, I was so much in love with the different kinds of wood, that I really started to dislike all the plastic options on the market.
I bought a hand juicer made of glass instead of plastic and all of my utensils are made of wood. I was becoming quite proud of all this, so once over dinner I told a bunch of friends: “Look guys, this is a plastic-free kitchen!” One of the guests noted that the small clock was made of white plastic… so the next day I did some internet research and ordered a wooden clock!
What sacrifices have you made to get to this point?
I don’t feel I have made any sacrifices, most appliances are made of plastic these days, but you can choose to buy plastic-free alternatives made from wood and other materials, such as iron.
It’s funny, now, if I walk in somebody else’s kitchen, I am very sensitive to how much plastic is on display: ladles, silicon pot holders, containers, cutlery with plastic handles and tonnes of other items that can all be replaced by something more sustainable.
Are you 100% plastic-free?
Most of my possessions are zero-waste, but of course we need a mobile phone, a car or a computer, technical clothing for sports and so on…
I think the biggest problem is with product packaging in the supermarkets.
Do you have any quick tips for someone reading out there who wants to stop using plastic?
Personally, I believe that in today’s society, plastic can’t be avoided completely. I just think people should consider alternatives, and if not, then it needs to be disposed of in the right way, 100% recycling. It’s crazy that tonnes of plastic waste ends up in our oceans every day.
Many thanks indeed to Max for sharing his Gracco Alta story with us. It’s interesting how a random series of events and seemingly small daily decisions can add up and lead to something much bigger. Max’s love for the peace of nature and natural materials really came through and is an inspiration to us all.
You can find out more about Max and Gracco Alta via their Facebook Page.