Trying to cut out single-use plastic from your routine can feel… overwhelming. We hear it over and over from friends when they talk about their own attempts. As if feeling surrounded by the stuff is not daunting enough, when they look around they see so many other people merrily using as much plastic as they want. It is pretty easy to feel defeated before you even start. So, my simple advice is to focus on your own habits and doing what you know is right and leave the comparisons to others at the door.
Here’s what worked for me:
Plastic has become so pervasive we don’t even notice it most of the time. It has worked its way into almost every product we buy. Whether the object we’re purchasing is all or part plastic, wrapped in plastic, shipped in plastic, or simply carried out in a plastic shopping sack, we’re almost always getting some with everything we use. So, unlike Fight Club, the first rule of reducing your plastic use is taking notice of it – pay attention to all the plastic you use in a day and how much you’re forced to throw out.
Incredibly, humanity lived for thousands of years without plastic and managed to wrap food, make clothes, ship materials, and fabricate tools that made life simple! Our reliance on it is ultimately voluntary, and there are often versions of what we’re using that are durable and more sustainable. Take a minute before using another single-use plastic item to think about whether there’s an alternative – preferably a reusable one – you could switch to. Usually, there’s something in the paper, foil/metal, or glass family that can swap in.
If you try doing Step #2, you’ll realize it can be a challenge. Do yourself a favor and take a moment to appreciate your successes as they happen. They may seem like small steps or minor exchanges, but they all add up and they all matter. To succeed in this effort, we need to find plastic savings in almost every aspect of our day-to-day routines.
Tell folks about your success as you find those alternatives. Spread the word and let your friends and family know what your workarounds are. It’ll save them time and let them focus on finding other new options. And try to share the sense of satisfaction you feel from helping shield the planet and future generations from this tsunami of single-use plastic. We all want the best for our shared home.
We’d love to hear from you as well. If you’ve figured out some great replacement options for single-use items, let us know @gojybe so others can benefit from your experience – and we can tout what you’re doing.