What You Need to Know About Using Less Plastic at Home

Maybe you've heard already, but it's Plastic-Free July! We have a love hate relationship with Plastic-Free July for a few reasons.

1. Plastic Is Everywhere

Plastic is so pervasive, it can feel difficult to escape. When you're focused on making planet-friendly shifts easy, it's hard to not get dragged down into exhaustion and lose progress on the simple steps for a bigger impact over time.

2. When Plastic Is Everywhere, it's Hard to Make Avoiding it a Habit

Because plastic is in everything, going plastic-free is challenging to implement and then have it become second nature. It's difficult to find a glass or package-free alternative to everything.

If we get really discouraged, feel exhausted by decision making on each product, it can push us to give up not just on lowering our plastic usage, but also on planet-friendly changes overall.

This is where best practices from behavior change design and how to effectively build habits can help.

Use Behavior Change to Make Reducing Your Plastic Footprint Easier

Again, focusing on the hardest problems to solve can feel like the most important, but can damage our perception that we are fully capable of making planet-friendly shifts. Here are three easy steps to reducing your plastic use.

  1. Pick one plastic item that you use regularly. The top listed plastic items in the Tree Shrugger community are:
    • Plastic shopping bags
    • Plastic disposable water bottles
    • Plastic or styrofoam to-go drink cups
    • Plastic take-out containers
    • Plastic produce bags
  2. Find an alternative that you already own. If you really can't find something reusable from what you have, check to see if you can borrow from a friend. This will help you more effectively learn if what you have is already a good solution or exactly what features you want and need in a product that you have to buy.
  3. List the Features That Matter to You. Take a minute to list your three most important features for an alternative. For example, if you're looking for a to-go cup, does it need to have a handle? A lid? How long do you want it to keep your drinks hot? Ask friends or search online to find some products that fit your feature list. This makes it more likely you'll land on the best fit for your life rather than the best advertised solution. Also you'll be really aware of it's features and benefits while you use it, which will make you enjoy it more! And that really does help make new alternatives stick, actually enjoying and appreciating new ways of doing things. And the more you enjoy that regular use over time, the bigger positive impact for the planet!
  4. Make Your Alternative Easy to Use. When you're building the habit of using a plastic-free alternative, make sure it has visibility and is easy to grab when you need it. What's in front of your eyes is easier to remember. That won't necessarily work for every plastic swap, but is a good place to start. Beyond keeping it visible, think about when and where you will want to easily reach it and how to best make sure it's in there to easily grab! Store your reusable bags by the door, and place your to-go cup by your coffee pot so you see it in the morning before you leave.

Ready to Cut Even More Plastic Out of Your Life? Try This

Now that you've started making headway on reducing plastic waste in your life, you may start to notice it everywhere, even more. Feeling the urge to do all the things and switch everything to non-plastic alternatives?

Notice Without Pressure. If you find an alternative you're fired up about right now, and you have used up your supply of whatever plastic product you're trying to replace, great! Make the switch! But don't put too much pressure on yourself; view this as above and beyond action, and not your first priority if you're still trying to get your first habit off the ground. But if it feels do-able, go for it!.

Give Yourself Time to Build the Habit

Give yourself at least 2 months to find your groove with your first habit.. If you are feeling up for picking the next thing, repeat the process!

It's honestly that simple. Small changes of a long period of time add up. Start small, and you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish, and how not-hard it feels.

But Don't We Need to Go Zero-Waste?

When we make realistic plans to start long term habit changes, it can feel small or insignificant. But when you think about how easy it is to take on too much and lapse, get discouraged and feel exhausted, small consistent changes over time offer a bigger environmental impact than grandiose life changes that require daily research and decision making.

Simple, repeatable habits really do win the race, and make the most impact. As a bonus, the experience is ultimately more enjoyable and less stressful in the present. Double bonus, You often feel freer and more inspired to tackle additional swap ups or shifts with some wind at your back? with simple, repeatable habit changes.

Eager to pick a small repeatable habit change around climate change specifically?

We've got a Tiny Planet Pack that helps you find your simplest habit shift to reduce your carbon pollution footprint by 1%. Still have questions? Don't hesitate to send us an email. We'd love to chat!

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