Continuing the plastic free journey - 5 simple tips you can implement
So Plastic Free July is over, but that doesn't mean you need to quit all the good that you've started. In fact, now is the time to really reassess how you went and how you want to continue. To look at the challenges you came up against, as well as the wins that you had. Yay! Don't stop the conversations in your family, with your friends or even at the supermarket. Keep on working towards less plastic use in your life every single week.
I wanted to share with you some of the simple ways that we reduce plastic. These become everyday ways of living, so you don't need to think about it too much. I believe that we're all going to have the best chances of change if we don't make it too hard for ourselves.
The reality is we're all busy, stretched as it is already past the extra time we have to make everything from scratch, go the extra distance to get food from a different place, or re-think everything we eat, wear or do. It has to be simple otherwise it won't last, it has to fit into our lives in a semi-streamlined manner. That's not to say it will always be easy. Sometimes it'll be hard.
My kids keep challenging me, I keep challenging myself, regular everyday stresses of life keep challenging me. I find that the times we fall down are when we're extra busy, tired, stressed, over-worked. We buy things we wouldn't normally - to treat ourselves when we're feeling down, or to make the evening a little easier for that day only. That's ok - remember. That's ok.
Our current society isn't geared towards plastic free. Some days it's seriously hard to push against that, to live a different way, to say no to the children (or ourselves) and not buy the plastic things. Some days I just give in, wearily.
- Be Organised, Write a Plan - I'm writing this for me, because it's when I haven't planned our week out then we fall down. When we are rushing or tired or there's no lunches for the kids that I let go a little. Setting plans of what day you'll bake the biscuits or bread (instead of buying them), what day you'll soak & cook the legumes (instead of buying them), planning the farmers market shop into your regular weekly shop. What are your kids having for school lunches for the next 2 weeks?
- Arm yourself with great, yet easy, items to help you on the way. Saying "no" to plastic bags at the supermarket, or even the farmers market or fruit shop, is SO much easier when you have a system of what to use instead. You can't be carrying an armful of tomatoes every time you forget your bag. These produce bags are designed to make it easy for you to remember to take them with you, to use them, and they weigh less than 1g on the scales. In fact they're made from recycled plastic themselves, so there's a double yay! Make sure you always put them straight back into your basket, reusable shopping bags or your handbag so you already have them when you're out.
- Embrace the plastic free living with lovely reusable items - coffee cups, water bottles, straws and disposable cutlery are some of the worst offenders in the plastic world. Seriously you use a coffee cup or straw for less than 10 minutes and then it hangs around in our environment for eons and eons. Taking your own glass or metal drink bottle and reusable coffee cup is easy, and people don't look at your strangely at all. Taking a straw, fork or spoon does take a little more pre-planning. I carry little spoon-forks in a fabric zippered purse I made, and metal straws are easy to slip into my handbag too. Often you have to pre-empt people giving you straws & forks, as it's so automatic for them. When you're ordering your milkshake just remind them gently a few times.
- Set yourself some goals and what items are non-negiotables in terms of what you'll never buy/use, as well as what items you know you can't replace (even if for the short term). I very rarely ever buy tinned veggies, beans, etc . I never ever get water in plastic bottles; if we're out and forgot our drink bottles we'll ask for water in a glass or get juice in a glass bottle. I'll never ever get plastic bags at the checkout. But I will buy my kids occassional treats in plastic packets. We do buy cheese, coffee & milk (when necessary) in plastic. Sometimes it's about some give & take, what you can each day. If you're making changes then even small steps are much better than no steps.
- Be gentle on yourself. You'll slip up, I know it. Well - unless you're some version of perfect, then please tell me your ways. But the truth of anyone I know on the plastic free/ low plastic journey is that there's some items you simply can't get plastic-free, and some things it's really hard to compromise on. I wrote a list here of some things; this is the reminder to be gentle on yourself. Forgive yourself and move forward.
I'd love to know where you find your inspiration for plastic free living - online forums, magazine articles, friends in real life who can motivate and encourage you. And of course online friends. I have great conversations on Instagram about plastic free living, slow living and the journey towards it all. Let me know what blogs you're reading or what books. If you want to read some more, check out my sustainable living posts.