By Bruce Klaic
It’s been a month since World Oceans Day which gave us 24 hours to reflect on the impact humans like yourself (I’m assuming) are having on the Oceans. The week before that we had World Environment Day encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment and now we are a week into Plastic-free July which gives us a month to shed ourselves of bad habits and say “No!” to single use plastic.
Firstly, let’s take a moment to recognise these movements and how, across the planet, these groups are coming together to help make sure we have a cleaner and brighter future.
If you’re reading this blog (which you are) you probably understand the guilty feeling of not doing enough for our environment, or even just the feeling of being overwhelmed by what seems like a daily battle against the evil plastic machine that is the world.
You can of course rely on organisations like @worldenvironemntday, @responsiblecafes and @plasticfreejuly to help guide you on your sustainable journey, but ultimately the responsibility lands on you.
For war-on-waste newbies and committed veterans alike, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin in this epic waste battle, so we want to help you avoid the dreaded analysis paralysis and give you some tangible takeaways that I’ve learned along the way.
“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”
Aristotle said a lot of smart and confusing things but this one, especially after one-too-many long blacks (hello, anxiety), never rings truer. What do I mean?
For me, learning that coffee cups, greasy pizza boxes and Styrofoam could not be recycled was a big moment. Before that day I thought I was a shining example of sustainability (I also thought watching Sex and the City meant I was informed about women.)
I recounted all the times I had “recycled” a pizza box, coffee cup, and those Styrofoam pods you get from Amazon, and got angry. My first thought was, “well what the hell am I supposed to do!? Are you saying I have to do more!?” (very mature). In reality, I was really angry because I realised I never actually had a handle on anything and decided to find out how much I didn’t know (like it’s possible for someone to be a Miranda AND a Samantha!) But, as my wife would so kindly point out, I took it too far.
I went from not properly recycling pizza boxes to feeling depressed when my wife came home with take-away Thai food because of the plastic containers… depressed by Thai food!
The rabbit hole was deeper and uglier than I could have imagined. I was getting burnt out just by my negative outlook. It was all very daunting and I did not know where to begin.
So I decided to go back to the basics and start small.
What ultimately helped my analysis paralysis was following the KISS guideline – Keep It Super Simple, courtesy of Onyalife.com. So in the spirit of keeping it super simple, here are just five things to help anyone, whether a veteran or a newbie, on the right track to reducing their environmental footprint:
- Use reusable bags whenever you go shopping.
This is one of the easiest things you can do. Simply take 3-4 reusable bags with you whenever you go shopping. This will immediately cut out all of your plastic shopping bag waste.
- Identify which products you buy contain plastic.
Make a list of the products you purchase that contain plastic. This is the first step towards finding plastic-free alternatives.
- Choose the three easiest plastic products to replace.
Then choose the three easiest products for you to replace and make a plan to buy plastic-free alternatives.
- Write down why you’re making the change to a plastic-free life
This will make it feel more real to you. Then place your note somewhere you will see it often to act as a reminder.
- Start using a reusable coffee cup.
For the entire The Lifehacker’s Guide to Living with Less Plastic (The Ultimate Cheat Sheet to a Plastic-Free Life) https://www.onyalife.com/guide-to-living-plastic-free-life/
- join @responsiblecafes to get the latest news and free resources about how to make sustainable actions the norm.
So what is the next step in my waste journey? Stay tuned as I will be talking to important members of the waste community about their journeys and their top tips on how to live a sustainable life.