(Living Well With)

Emma Roberts' Plastic-Free Week Was Much Harder Than She Expected — Here's Why

Even drinking coffee was a challenge.

Emma Roberts in black and white wearing a black dress in front of a beige background

With the rise of reusable wellness and beauty products and sustainability being the trend du jour for the past few years, it may seem like going plastic-free for a week wouldn’t be so difficult of an undertaking. Newsflash: It is. Just ask actor and new mom Emma Roberts, who committed to limiting her plastic intake and usage for seven days in the month of July.

“Plastic has been on my mind for years now,” says Roberts to TZR. “It’s something that has given me anxiety and I’ve known that I really need to assess the amount of plastic that is being used in my house. I’ve done things here and there like bring reusable bags to the grocery store and stuff like that, but I wanted to do more.”

The Holidate star partnered with Grove Collaborative for Plastic Free July, a worldwide movement that aims to inspire people to envision the world free of plastic waste. “I thought, this is what I need to be held accountable,” says Roberts of her week-long commitment which, to her surprise, was harder than she anticipated.

“For me, [the hardest part] is what’s going on in my kitchen,” she explains. “I was ordering a lot of [food and groceries] during the pandemic or if I’m in a bind and don’t have a lot of time I order to-go food, which I realize is something that’s been filling up my recycling bin. I thought, I’m recycling, so it’s OK. [...] But, [I discovered] that only 9% of plastic is actually getting recycled in the U.S., no matter how much you are recycling.”

This small but shocking fact was a game-changer for Roberts, who recently welcomed son Rhodes in December 2020, opening her eyes to the overwhelming prevalence of plastic in her life. Ahead, read on to learn more about the actor’s plastic-free week as well as more details on how she incorporates health and wellness into her day-to-day routine as a new mom.

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What was the most surprising takeaway from your plastic-free week?

It was very daunting to start the week. I’m filming, so I’m not at home. And I have a new baby. So, I was definitely intimidated and it wasn’t perfect. I did the best I could and every day I got better [about limiting my plastic usage] and more mindful. So, even if there was a day I had to use a product with plastic in it, I would take it into account and look for an alternative for the future.

I think going to the grocery store on Sunday night and stocking up for the week really helped. You don’t even realize the produce you’re putting in plastic bags that they give you at the grocery store. Grove makes these great reusable produce bags so I brought those with me. Also, I’m a big coffee person. I have at least one iced coffee a day, so straws are a big thing and I’ve never been into metal straws. Grove has silicone straws and those have been a lifesaver.

Were there any habits or changes you picked up from this experience that you’ll stick with for the long haul?

It was so nice to clean out my kitchen — I realized just how much plastic was involved in my cleaning supplies. I really cleared out the clutter under my sink and just switched over to refillable and reusable cleaning supplies. Not only do I have more space now but I’m going to continue to refill the dish soap, the hand soap, the tile and tub cleaner. It all looks super cute, I know what’s in them, and it’s super easy to order refills.

OK, let’s talk about your day-to-day routine. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

I’ve really been trying to drink more water. So, I’ll start my day with water instead of going right for the coffee. I’m also big on my vitamins, and I’ve gotten even more into them lately to try and keep my immune system up. I love the Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C. So, I’ll do that in the morning, along with zinc.

When you have the chance to treat yourself, what do you do?

After I put my son to bed at night, I like to take a nice bath. I make a whole thing out of it with Epsom salts and essential oils, make a nice face mask. I take that time to decompress and catch up for me. Lately, throughout the day, I’ll find myself not even changing out of sweatpants, so if I can take some time for bath time, that’s so luxurious.

Do you have a favorite workout/wellness practice?

When gyms closed, I signed up for The Class online. I absolutely love it. I did it when I was pregnant because they have great prenatal videos and I’ve been doing it post-pregnancy as well. It really tones your body, but also makes me feel really good. There’s a meditative part of it at the end that I love. It makes you feel confident. So, that’s something I’ve stuck to.

What’s your go-to secret weapon when you want to look and feel good?

When I could fit into my Mother jeans again (after having the baby), I got super excited. Granted, they were my stretchy ones, but when I could zip and button those, I felt so cool and so good. I couldn’t even wear pregnancy jeans at the end of my pregnancy, I was so big. So, that was a nice feeling.

One thing you can’t live without is...

I have this pillow I travel with called Sleep Crown. It’s a pillow for over your eyes or around your head — you can do so many things with it. I bring it everywhere with me because I’m always traveling for work. I hate when you go to bed and the pillows are uncomfortable. And you can bring it on a plane! It’s a splurge but it’s worth it.

Where are you dreaming of traveling to? Why?

I’ve been in Boston for the last month, and I’ve fallen in love with the city. It’s been so nice, especially with my son. We’ll wake up in the morning and walk to the park and we’ve taken some little day trips to Rhode Island and seen the boats and water and it’s been so nice to be able to be outdoors after being inside for the first few months of his life. I’m just excited to continue that over the summer with him.

What’s a healthy meal you always make/order?

I have to say, I’ve been pretty bad the last couple of weeks. I just finished a movie and I have been indulging a lot. But, for me, whenever I can start my day with a healthy smoothie with lots of greens and collagen, I feel really good. I’ll probably get back on that routine, which I was doing when I was pregnant and post-pregnancy. I love Kelly LeVeque’s Fab Four smoothie. It’s fun because you can modify it to fit whatever you have [in your kitchen]. That’s a great recipe and guideline to follow.

What’s the small stress-saving luxury you swear by at home?

I love all my essential oils. My favorite ones are from this shop in Atlanta called Modern Mystic. I fell in love with them when I was filming Holidate and I’d go there all the time. They have some amazing essential oil blends that have funny names like ‘Let That S*it Go’ or ‘Medieval.’ They’re really, really amazing. I travel with those.

Do you remember your first big splurge? Do you still own it?

I vividly remember it: A light blue Balenciaga purse. I actually bought it second hand on eBay. That was my big splurge. I was a teenager, so I asked my mom and she said I could buy it for myself. I remember saying, ‘I’ll never buy another bag.’ My mother was like, ‘I know that’s not true, but go ahead and get it.’ I still have it — it’s so beat up and I love it. It was similar to that mint Balenciaga that Mary Kate Olsen always carried around and I coveted it.