The first step to quitting, is admitting you have a problem...
How much plastic do you actually use in your life? Watch throughout your day-to-day how much trash you are producing and what the sources are; snack wrappers, coffee lids, straws, plastic bags, drink bottles, etc. Make a list of common sources.
Truly make a difference in your life and KEEP all the single-use plastic you plough through in a day. This holds you accountable to every bloody bit of it, from the stickers on your fruit, to the lid on your coconut water, to the packaging your tea comes in.
After living through a few plastic-audit days, you will likely have much to reflect on. Facing the ubiquity of plastic is confronting. Take time to reflect. What do you actually "need" on a daily basis and what could you skip, plan ahead for, do differently. It is amazing how psychologically attached we are to BUYING STUFF. Stay aware when shopping.
Keep it real. Check in with yourself as to why you are doing this. Do you deep down care about our earth and know the change must begin with you? Do you want to impress your hipster friends? Do you want to lose some weight and eat healthier? Are you grossed out by all the trash on the streets and in your house? Do you want to save some money? Are you keen to detox your life? Do you want a more poetic life and relationship with food and nature?
With clarity on WHY, we are better able to build each unique HOW.
3. CHANGE YOUR HABITS
Little by little we will evolve our ways, but not without some creativity & planning. Where is the closest bulk foods store and what day of the week can you plan to stop by with a cloth bag full of mason jars? Is it near a friend's house or the gym and you can "kill 2 birds?" Are the farmer's markets affordable? Can you make a win-win and book in some social time whilst you carry an adorable hand-woven basket to delicately place your kale, kumquats, and cabbage within? Perhaps stash a few cloth bags (the type shoes & purses come in or sew a few up!) for loose greens, grapes, or nuts. Are you hectically flailing through life and cannot imagine making time to wash your reusable mug and steel lunch box each day? This is the beauty of quitting plastics--we must. at some stage. slow. down. Bring a bit of care, intention, and LIFE back into life. If we cannot create 5 minutes time to wash our dishes, we are certainly not stopping to smell roses or chat with strangers or the other little beauties that make a fulfilled life.
You made a list in step 2, now go through it and decide if you really need that in your life, if it will be healthier or better for the pocket-book to skip, and how you can anticipate & plan ahead. Here is an example from my own life with a number of solutions to one plastic-y problem:
- Smoothie in a disposable plastic tumbler
- SOLUTION: make your own smoothie and bring in a glass jar, eat with a metal spoon if it's too thick to sip. When you make your smoothie from home, you can choose all of the most epic ingredients & superfoods which you have pre-purchased on sale & in bulk and stored in adorable glass mason jars. You can make a bit more than you need to store for tomorrow's breakkie, or even make the leftover thick enough to have with coconut and honey for dessert. If you don't have a large jar, perhaps 2 small jars are a good way to minimize portions in the morning. Do we really need a pint glass of fructose to start our day?
- SOLUTION: Bring a cup to the smoothie-makers and have them fill it up. (Remember to ask for "no straw please!")
- SOLUTION: If you're really desperate, have them split the fruity goodness between 2 paper coffee cups. NO lids. NO straws. And better seriously enjoy it, because trees died for your breakfast.
- SOLUTION: Abstain. Perhaps if you find yourself in line, craving a beverage in a plastic container, you may assess how hungry you truly are. Would it serve you better to have a "low food" day, and opt for a banana or maybe a gallon of water instead? We are all different, get to know your insides.
4. CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Your day to day routine has begun to take new shape and transform in a beautiful way. Straws, Coffee lids, Plastic Bags are long gone from our lives. We bring a reusable bottle, a bag, and maybe even a bamboo straw or spork with us wherever we go.
Perhaps you are ready to make some bigger, bolder changes to phase out toxic plastics. Let's start by looking at some stuff that goes relatively unnoticed, but ultimately is unnecessary. From tupperware to toys, plastic is toxic! We are better off with alternatives made from safer materials such as stainless steel, organic cotton, wood, and glass. Walk through your house, go through your cupboards, clean out the garage. Purge yourself of plastics. Donate most to charity or find the appropriate recycling bin for these bad boys.
Get creative and explore your options. What can serve multiple purposes? A mason jar is a great example, as it can hold coffee, salad, soap, takeout, bulk foods, etc. If you are concerned about heat or breakage, perhaps repurpose a cloth sleeve to slide on your jar.
Where are you using plastics that you need a plastic free solution? Cling wrap to save food can be swapped for tin foil or stainless steel. Many items like toothbrushes and pens are available in bamboo as well. Many of our hygienic & cleaning products come packaged in plastics, but many of these are not good for us to begin with! Many manufacturers of cleaning products do not have to list the chemicals they use--imagine the baddies fuming up your family home and polluting our water ways. There are heaps of DIY home recipes for deodorant to detergent available online and I will share my recipes as I go!
Ultimately, life should be beautiful, connected, and a bit more romantic than we are have been taught to expect. Our homes should be more natural and less full of toxins. Small little tweaks will help us lead healthier, happier, more enriched lives. <3
Email your conundrums to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work through them together!
HERE ARE YOUR OPTIONS
- Change nothing, keep your plastic use as is
- Become Aware of your plastic use through the plastic challenge
- Quit single-use plastics
- Quit ALL plastics