Plastic. It’s everywhere, isn’t it? It’s in our fridges, in our bathrooms, in our clothes, it’s even in our tea! So when we make a decision to reduce the stuff, where on earth do we start?
My sister and I made a New Year’s resolution for 2018 to reduce our plastic use. To achieve that goal we made a year-long plan that worked really well for us. It worked so well in fact that I reduced my plastic use by 73% and Mary managed to reduce hers by a whopping 91%!
Here’s how we did it…
We started with a plastic audit. For a whole month, we shopped and lived life in our usual way – but instead of throwing out all our plastic, we put it all in a dedicated bin in our kitchens (all plastic – recyclable and non-recyclable). We thought, “Pffft! This will be easy! We’ll hardly collect any waste!” Six bins were full of plastic waste … our eyes were certainly opened to our plastic problem!
How to Fight Plastics in 5 Steps
STEP 1: START WITH A PLASTIC AUDIT
We suggest that you start with a plastic audit too. Save all of your plastic waste for at least a week – a month is ideal. I guarantee it will surprise you how much you collect. The first thing to remember is not to beat yourself up about this. Yes, it’s shocking to realise how much you have personally been contributing to the plastic problem. But, congratulate yourself of becoming aware of it and making a concerted effort to break free of your hidden addiction to plastic!
STEP 2: FOCUS ON QUICK WINS
Reducing plastic is hard and it can be overwhelming. So, start by getting rid of the easy stuff first. Get some early wins under your belt to boost your confidence. Set yourself simple, achievable goals:
- remember to take your own bags to the supermarket for each shop;
- be brave and ask the staff in your coffee shop to fill your travel mug;
- look for your nearest farm shop to see their range of loose fruit and veg;
- get a local milkman to deliver in glass bottles.
We spent the first month of our plastic diet starting with the easy stuff. In that time I reduced my plastic waste by 32%! So it shows how the simplest of action soon adds up. The best thing about focussing on quick wins is that they transform into good plastic-free habits into becoming lifestyle changes.
STEP 3: FIND AN ECO-BUDDY
The best thing about creating Sisters Against Plastic was taking on such a difficult challenge with a friend. We took it to the extreme and battled against each other to see who could reduce their plastic the most (in a friendly, sisterly way of course). It was wonderful to share the journey. We spent hours chatting about what we were finding tricky, coming up with ideas together and we had great fun celebrating our wins. Your eco-buddy might be your own family, your best mate or it could even be an eco Facebook group. There are so many wonderful communities online encouraging and helping each other in their mission to reduce plastic. Take a look at our blog and you’ll see just how many people are out there!
STEP 4: TACKLE SOMETHING HARDER
Now its time to pick something a little harder to tackle. Laundry? Cleaning? Shampoo? With a little bit of digging, you can find plastic-free alternatives for almost everything! We have road-tested a lot of products along the way and have been very pleasantly surprised by what is available to us.
It’s important to remember; this doesn’t have to be an ‘all or nothing’ situation. You might decide to use a shampoo bar just once a month. You might decide to halve the amount of fabric softener you use in each load. Don’t shy away from something because you feel you can’t do it all. It’s surprising how much you can reduce your plastic use by introducing a little change. You’ll surprise yourself at how much that little effort can grow.
STEP 5: KEEP GOING
Keep going! By taking it slowly you’ll find all the changes you make ‘stick’ rather than just a flash in the pan.
Finally, don’t be disheartened if you fall off the wagon. It happens to us all. Even us sisters cave into the temptation of the plastic-wrapped biscuits! We still make mistakes and occasionally find our drinks served to us in plastic cups. Dust yourself off, try again. Nobody can live entirely plastic-free, but everyone can absolutely try to reduce their plastic consumption!
For more support and tips on going plastic-free from Sisters Against Plastic, head over to their Twitter account (@SAPlastic2018)