You’re thinking about making the commitment. Maybe seen the articles online, chatted with your friends. Perhaps you have even signed the official Plastic Free July Pledge.
But are you truly ready? Like all challenges, living with less waste involves a little bit of fun preparation. To successfully make these habits stick there’s a few things you’ll need to think about...here’s 3 Eco Tips to get you on your way!
Hack 1: Do A Quick HONEST Eco Review…
Be honest with yourself and see where you can make changes.
Most of our plastic waste come from the following categories:
- Personal Products - the things we use on our face, body and hair
- Kitchen & Food - the daily offender and most of the plastic is only used once (eg. Chip Packets, cereal, most food in supermarkets)
- Bathroom & Cleaning - ranging from toilet paper to kitchen spray, there are plastic-free alternatives for them all
- On-The-Go - the sneaky take-aways, drinks and snacks when we are out and about
Have a very real look at your rubbish bin, an honest look at where you are at in your sustainability journey. This will determine your goals for the month.
Just started reducing your waste? Read here...
If you are an aspiring eco goddess or god and have just started out, take it SLOW. It might be tempting to overhaul everything in one go but this is a long-term game. Living with less waste means changing habits and they are more likely to stick if your goals are achievable.
ACTION FOR THE BEGINNERS:
- Choose 2 items on the Choices Checklist that you use regularly. Focus on those items for the first week of Plastic Free July.
- When you are sure that you have mastered those habits, choose 2 more to master for the next week.
- Write down these goals now. You will need them for the next step.
Have you already made considerable changes and are eco-crushing it? Read here...
Plastic Free July is an awesome reflection time. It’s impossible to be perfect in this world but there might be a couple of things that you know you could do better on. Use this month as a way to cut out those little habits that you let slide.
ACTIONS FOR THE MORE EXPERIENCED:
Have a look through our ‘Low Waste You’ blog which is part 1 of 4. There are some specifics in there that you might not have thought of. If not and you are in zero waste heaven already, how about looking at ways your actions can have further influence...
- Post your achievements and little things that friends and family might find useful
- Have positive conversations. Remember that there is no point in getting frustrated and kindness will always be more accepted than judgement - we all had to start somewhere!
- Speak up! A good example of this would be a dinner out...if you know the place you are eating at uses plastic straws have a quiet word to everyone “do you guys mind if I request no plastic straws for the table?” and then to the waiter “please no plastic straws with the drinks for everyone here”. This is positive, inclusive (instead of just asking for no plastic with your drink and making everyone else feel bad!) and you are respectfully asking permission.
- Try to positively influence your community with helpful suggestions and swaps. You might be part of a kindy group, school PTA or sports group that could easily make changes. Be the brave one that suggests them!
- Get Political! Use your influence for bigger scale movements. Sign petitions from now on. March in Peaceful Protest. Make Submissions. Join a group in your area who are contributing to sustainability in some way.
Write down your goals now. Since you have been at this for a while set 5 changes to make this month.
Hack 2: Plan It Out
Cool - you now know where you are at and where you want to go for this month. Now to plan out HOW we are going to get to Less Waste Bliss.
The ‘p’ word may freak you out, but if you want to succeed in living more sustainably, you need to cosy up to it just a little. If you’re out and about, you can’t grab a sandwich to-go. If you want a quick snack, those plastic-wrapped bites are out of the question. Plan what you need in advance, because unlike McDonald’s, bulk food stores and farmer’s markets aren’t open 24/7.
Here’s how to do it:
- LIST: Look at your list from step 1 and check over the specific items/actions you are focusing on this month. Do you want to focus on Bathroom, Kitchen, Food or On-the-go? Choose the items that use the most plastic first as those swap will be the most impactful.
- FIND your local resources for food shopping. A one-stop-shop might not work anymore. Supermarkets will have some things that are less-waste friendly but you will need to look elsewhere for other items. Check out your local farmers market and take extra bags. Your local Bin Inn, GoodFor, Commonsense or organic store will have options for Bulk Shopping. The step by step guide to doing this can be found here.
- TOOLKIT: It’s also crucial to have the right equipment to replace single-use plastic with. Your 'Plastic Free Kit' should include:
Glass jars with airtight lids for storing food and bulk bin shopping (Find these at second hand stores, stockpile instead of recycling or ask). This isn't about going out and buying a bunch of eco things. Utilise the tools you already have at home, this will save you money and save the precious resources. If you do need something, buy from a brand that is doing giving back and making quality. This way it will last and you are supporting causes not just lining pockets!
- FOOD SHOP for a range of different ingredients you know you enjoy, and you can buy plastic free. Create a meal plan based off the plastic free items you have access to.
- GET COOKING and prepare all your meals for the week, at a time that suits you. Freeze them. If you live a busy lifestyle and eat out regularly, this will be your key to success. Make sure you have excess food prepared for the time your friend pops over for dinner, or you’re starving and need extra fuel - food packaging is a major source of our daily waste so targeting this will really cut down what you are throwing away.
If the ‘p’ word still freaks you out and you are wondering about food specifically, don’t stress. We’ve also sorted a few more steps for you in our Plastic Free Fridge Guide.
Hack 3: Adjust your Mindset to NAIL IT!
Finally, Plastic Free July is not just a challenge of habit and practicality. It’s a mental game. Self-control and discipline will stop you from grabbing a chocolate bar from the lolly stand at the end of your plastic free shop. It will remind you to bring your food containers when you grab takeaways, and help you lunge over the bar to swat the straw out of the bar tender’s hand. Here are the mindset shifts you might need to make in order to successfully get through Plastic Free July...
Set Your Ultimatums…We have found the best way to stick to eco goals is to make them absolute. Here’s a few ideas:
- No Coffee Cup with you? Sorry no coffee for you today or take 5 to dine in
- Thirsty but don’t have your bottle? Pop into a cafe and ask for a glass of water. I’ve never been told no (and if that happens they have issues so don’t be disheartened!). If you’re in dire need go for the more sustainable option choosing cans instead of bottles.
- Reusable Bags get set by the door after use so they go out again!
- Your takeaway curry is a no if you don’t have the container with you to put it in.
ACTION: List your own ultimatums now depending on your goals you chose in Part 2.
- Attempting a less waste life alone is admirable, but your chances of success will sky rocket if you have a plastic-free-partner-in-crime. Here’s why... (drop down)
- You’ll keep each other in check when you’re on the verge of giving in. Plastic free tricks and failures will be shared, and imagine the texting banter you’ll have!
- Partnering up, or better yet, doing it in a group, will make the challenge so much more fun (plus, bonus points for getting more people on board and helping the planet).
- No one around you that’s into it? Find a group online. Zero Waste In NZ! Is a wealth of ideas and resources and it will give you daily inspiration. You can also use the ‘Search’ bar on the left hand side and look at posts from the past - your questions have most likely been asked by someone else!
And reminding yourself of your WHY….
- There’s no point doing Plastic Free July if you don’t care about the cause. That’s a recipe for failure. Define your ‘why’ right now, write it down, and stick it to your fridge, or somewhere you’ll see daily.
- Your ‘why’ may be the oceans, the turtles, your children, your nieces and nephews, the beaches you love to walk along, the waves you love to surf, or the forests you adore adventuring in, your own health because you don’t want to be eating plastic in years to come. We all care about something!
Plan, prepare your tools, find a friend, define your why, and adjust your mindset! YOU’VE GOT THIS!
We are doing weekly updates through July to keep you on-track and motivated - sign up HERE to get them delivered straight to your inbox so you don’t miss out.