Updated: Feb 12
Plastic Free July has been incredible this year. It seems like more people than ever from all walks of life and different backgrounds, races, and beliefs have joined in the conversation surrounding plastic-free living and how we can accomplish that goal on a global scale.
That is what it’s all about; bringing awareness to the fact that each of us have a daily plastic footprint and how we can begin to shrink that footprint to have less of a negative impact on the people and environment around us.
But if you’re anything like me, when you get behind a cause, YOU GET BEHIND A CAUSE! Almost to the point of burnout and/or it consumes you. Which is exactly the opposite of what a cause like this is about when the ultimate goal is to live plastic-free. It’s good to be conscious of your plastic footprint, but not to the point of where it negatively affects your life and your closest relationships. Like with any goal, it takes time, diligence, and recognizing the progress not the perfection.
To keep the movement going past July, I wanted to give five tips that will encourage you to stay the course as you are on this journey. Specifically five tips that you might not think about when it comes to your goal of living plastic-free.
You are going to want your journey to plastic-free living to be a marathon and not a sprint. And why I say marathon is because it takes time to learn, appreciate, and grow into a plastic-free life. Trust me, the marathon is SO WORTH IT!!
There are a lot of components that I have learned and retained over time that now make it second nature for me to make more eco-conscious decisions on the fly. If you try to learn everything as fast as possible, you are bound to miss something or get burned out. I don’t know if you ever pulled an all nighter in college, but I did and I still barely passed the test. Now I’m not saying that this is a test, what I am saying is that - in order for you to live your best plastic-free life, do it at your own pace and take the time to understand why you are trying to live plastic-free.
Be diligent about this goal of living plastic-free, but don’t compare your progress to others. As long as you know where you are trying to go in this journey, that is what’s important because we can’t have you burning out now!!
We need you and trust me.. You will be so glad you are living a less wasteful life once you become more conscious about your own plastic-footprint.
So take the time to fill your cup and feed your soul along the way!
Share your new finds! There is something very fulfilling about sharing what you learn with those around you. That might mean in casual conversation, but that could also mean on your insta story or a FB post. Even better, make a TikTok! What platform makes you feel like you have a voice to tell people about your new found knowledge and great plastic-free finds?
Also, when you share, you are helping the person that is one step behind you move forward in their own plastic-free journey. You don’t need to know everything to share something. You just need to share what you know now to make an impact on someone else that might be one step behind you.
Learn something new - by sharing with others what you are learning and discovering during this plastic-free journey, the learning WILL only continue! By talking to someone else that is pursuing the same goal as you, they will tell you about new products, new organizations, new stores, new ideas, new hacks/tips, etc. that you were not aware of.
The people in your life are a valuable resource for you as you are on this plastic-free journey. Share and learn, share and learn, repeat.
I have set one ongoing goal for myself at this point in my plastic-free journey:
**Target something every month to research and replace with a plastic-free alternative.**
I live a busy life like all of us do. I have a daughter, I am married, and I have two dogs, and I work full time. Basically, in short, my decisions do not involve just me.
I have found a lot of success in converting our home to a plastic-free environment by targeting one item in our house a month because it allows the time for all of us to get accustomed to the change. For all of you out there that have others in your household that might not be on the plastic-free train yet, this is a GREAT way to ease others into living plastic-free.
I have also found this approach helpful from a budget standpoint. There is not always a lot of extra wiggle room to “try” a product out. By being able to tackle one item in my house at a time, it’s easier to budget for those items that I’m “trying” out.
What will help you explore ideas, set ongoing goals, track your progress, and convert your home and life to plastic-free?
Be prepared. If you are going to the grocery store, pack your reusable bags. If you like lists, make a list of what you will need to grab for a certain situation.
For example, maybe you like to go out to eat for lunch. There are so many reusable containers available on the market that you can keep in your car or in your desk at work so it won’t feel like an extra step to remember your reusable to-go box when you meet your coworkers at the cafe down the block.
OR if you must have a straw when you go out, keep a steel or bamboo straw in your purse or backpack. Many reusable straws come in small muslin bags to keep them clean until you use them.
I think you get my point. Set yourself up for success by taking the time upfront to plan out when you might use something that is made of plastic during your day and then explore how you can minimize that use with plastic-free items you already have on hand.
Living plastic-free is important for all of us and there are so many components that contribute to decreasing the world’s plastic pollution. Like anything though, there are many things that need to be considered besides just quitting your plastic straw habit. Which is still important!
As I write this blog post, I’m sitting at our neighborhood cafe drinking a Bloody Mary and was pleasantly surprised to get it served with a PAPER straw instead of a conventional plastic straw. Guess what?! Consumer voices did that! Each of our voices can collectively make a difference on a microlevel and on a societal level.
To help you learn about WHY it's important to live plastic-free, I created a ever evolving list of resources to encourage and support you, including: books, books for kids, documentaries and/or educational videos, accounts to follow, podcasts, organizations to support and/or get involved in, helpful apps to download, and zero waste stores.
As we speak, more content is being produced by people all over the world and this list will continue to be updated as I learn of new resources that become available. Save the link to this list in your favorites bar to stay updated.
You got this!
Like I mentioned before, we can’t have you burning out now! So take the time for yourself and do what you love to fill your cup. Share with others all of the interesting facts, tips, or tricks you are learning to encourage others to walk beside and support you. Plan out your goals so that they can be incorporated into your daily life. Take the time you need to prepare for expected and unexpected situations where you might cave and use a plastic item. Finally and most importantly, never stop learning!!
I’m so grateful that you are coming on this plastic-free journey as we all learn that something as simple as plastic can have an immense negative impact on all of our lives in many different ways.
Your voice has power and influence. Use it towards something you believe in to create monumental change for future generations to come.
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Until next time,
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