We’re all aware of the damage plastic is causing to the planet. You don’t need reminding because you’re bombarded with images every day, whether it’s on social media, in the newspaper, or on TV. But let’s be honest here, plastic is not the only problem. It’s our wasteful society in general.
Single use plastic is one part of the problem that most people concentrate on because it’s easy to fix. You’re also learning new habits that can help reduce waste in other areas of your life.
The first step is the hardest because you’ve got to overcome the belief that it’s just too difficult. It was something I struggled with myself and is the main reason I’m writing this and subsequent blogs.
Once you know how to approach zero waste living you can get on with the easy and fun part.
Be realistic about cutting your plastic consumption and it’s so much more achievable. You might not achieve zero waste this year, next year, or even five years from now but you can make a difference with very little time and effort.
Here are three tips to get you started.
Make small changes one at a time
Try to do it all at once and you’re more likely to fail. Take one step at a time and give yourself the time to get used to a new habit.
The ultimate goal of being able to fit one years waste into a 16-oz mason jar will not happen overnight. There are things you have to learn, and you don’t need to make it too difficult for yourself. Do what you can when there’s an opportunity.
A great place to start is to ditch the plastic water bottle. Yes, they come in very handy when you need a drink, but why not plan ahead and take a reusable container filled with your favourite drink instead?
Keep a supply of reusable bags in your car and one in your handbag so you’re not tempted to reach for the plastic carrier bags when you’ve nipped into the supermarket on the way home from work.
Make small and gradual changes and you’re more likely to succeed.
Don’t aim for perfection
We’re all far from perfect, me included, so don’t get super-frustrated when you’re putting out your rubbish bins at the end of the week. If you’ve reduced the amount of waste going to landfill consider it a victory and then search for ways to reduce it even further.
Doing something is better than doing nothing at all, and you have to do what works for you, when the time is right.
There will be things you need to buy that come wrapped in plastic. We don’t live in an ideal world, and the supermarkets won’t not change their ways overnight either. Recycling is after all an option, although not a solution.
Make the easiest changes first
Start by getting some basic reusable items, for example, reusable grocery bags, produce bags, containers, cutlery, coffee and drink cups, and water bottles.
You don’t need to swap out all these at once if you don’t want to. You might, for example, already be using products you can use time and time again. I’ve still got a good supply of plastic containers I use for storing food in the freezer. I’m not about to get rid of them until they wear out.
When you’re shopping for your groceries, look for plastic-free alternatives. Look for items that come with no packaging, take a wander around your local fruit and vegetable market and see what’s on offer. Plastic free shops are also popping up all over, so keep a look out for one in your local town.
If there aren’t any bulk stores nearby, aim to shop locally as much as possible. If you can take your own containers or bags, so much the better. Also look for opportunities to buy directly from the producer, as these often come without all the packaging.
I’ve come to enjoy shopping in my local shops and at the market, it’s such a personal experience.