The real challenge of going plastic free isn’t plastic itself, it’s the systems that have made us dependant on it in the first place.
We’re two challenges into the Plastic Free Challenge and there’s probably similar things coming up for all of us. I wanted to address some of these this week to let you know you’re not alone and offer a little encouragement for challenging scenarios such as these:
Okay, let’s talk about the cost of going plastic free. This can be a very valid inhibitor, not all of us are in a financial place to make every change and that is okay. Some of the plastic swaps cost more up-front but save you money in the long run, some are cheaper and others are just plain more expensive. To help you navigate through this I’ll be doing a comparison costs with the swaps from here on out.
Maybe you live with a roommate or partner who is not supportive of these changes, maybe they fear change or are hung up on an aspect of how it will effect them. I don’t know. But I do know, the only behaviour you can change is your own. Focus on the personal items for now and hopefully in time they’ll become more open to communal changes.
As a society we’re busier than ever and have less time and energy to do things from scratch. On top of your own commitments you may have kids who need to ferrying around to their commitments. So we order-in, grab take-out, buy pre-packaged products and then it’s oh-crap-now-there’s-a-huge-pile-of-plastic.
My first suggestion would be to look at your time balance, and ask the tough questions like what matters to you or your family most? Does signing your kid up for that extra sport really serve them better than looking after the environment? Does living out of alignment with your values negatively affect you? If you really can’t make space, try turning social or family time into DIY sessions for things like homemade soap and natural cleaning mixes.
Our current economy is linear based on the cycle of make – use – dispose. We take the short life cycles of most products as normal because it’s become ingrained in us to have to repurchase. The good news is, I do believe we are moving towards a more circular economy. But for the time being it’s up to us to check our impulses and be mindful. These initial plastic free swaps take work but often save you from having to rebuy disposable items in the long run.
The level of stress about the environment is rising faster than the seas. It can feel overwhelming to make changes and like you’re not doing enough but here’s what I want you to remember: your guilt and stress do not serve the environment. You doing your best does– no matter what that looks like. The harder on yourself you are the more likely you are to give up. That’s why we’re taking this challenge piecemeal so that the changes are worked into your lifestyle over time making them more likely to stick. Here’s a little mantra (credit: Abiola Akanni) for when you need it:
Did I miss anything? Let me know what you find hardest in the comments below.
This post is part of an on-going series about going plastic free one area of your life at a time. See the other posts here and sign-up for Nikkey’s newsletter to recieve new plastic free challenges as they come out. This challenge is inspired by her work with eXXpedition on a microplastic research voyage through the Pacific Ocean.