Update on my Plastic-free Journey

Of all the blogs I read, they all say the same thing–it takes time.

I started this journey back in October. It’s been roughly 2 and a half months and has not been what I expected. I honestly did not do a lot of research on it, the little research I did was to understand the benefits of going plastic free. What I learned motivated me to move forward. I knew this change was not going to happen over night because we rely so heavily on plastic–more than you know. I mean, think about it, there is plastic in milk cartoons, grape bags, yogurt, peanut butter and even coffee bags. Once you start this journey you open your eyes to all the plastic you use and invite into your home. There are even some products that you think are eco-friendly or plastic-free only to find out that container or cup is lined with plastic. It really is quite alarming. 

So, I decided I wanted to tread slowly, I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed or force this new lifestyle change upon my family.

I underestimated this change but it’s not something I plan on quitting. I want to see this through and do my part to help the environment.

I feel the need to back up and explain where I am coming from and what motivated me to apply this in my life. 

I’ve always felt a need to help the environment. In high school I loved doing the community service activities where we did beach and park clean ups. As other matters became more important I finally found myself asking what I am doing for the environment. I heard a lot about going plastic free but I always thought it was for environmentalists, activists or for millennial’s on a new trend. After watching many heartbreaking videos about plastic affecting our marine life I started to give this lifestyle more thought. Then, I learned from the Adidas Runtastic Blog (check out their article here) https://www.runtastic.com/blog/en/plastic-free-living/ that plastic doesn’t just go away. Plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces (micro-plastics) that eventually get into our groundwater or oceans. Where the fish live–the very same fish we eat. For some reason I thought to myself, I want to make this change. What is stopping me from doing this? The answer was, absolutely nothing. I decided I wanted to contribute to helping our oceans and forests, the very planet we live on.

There are a few things I have learned the past couple of months by starting this journey and I am going to share it all with you.   

Hopefully I can spark something in you to start this awesome, fulfilling and challenging journey. 

First off, I have learned that there is no such thing as going ‘plastic-free’. As Bridey Heing said, it’s better to think of it as, reducing the plastic where you can and reusing the plastic you can’t avoid. If you can’t reduce then reuse. Check out more from Heing here, https://food52.com/blog/22979-tips-for-reducing-and-living-plastic-free. When I started this journey I got caught up in the term, ‘plastic-free’. I thought I needed to eventually go completely plastic free. I learned this is extremely difficult, nearly impossible (I hate using that word but trust me, do your research, there are moments where you can’t control when plastic is being used). ‘Plastic free’ is actually a term to describe someone living a low-plastic life. It is about doing your part for your home and your planet. Which means you can take it as far as you want. There is no pressure to live such an extreme NO-plastic life. Everyone has their own preferences and way of doing things.

Which brings me to my next point. With my newfound awareness I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed and guilty. Every time I gave in and used plastic I would feel like I was breaking the law, like I was doing something disgustingly evil. This was turning my experience into something negative. As I was brainstorming to write this post I realized I have spent so many years, like 2 decades living a certain way. These habits I have are rooted deep within me. When we have been doing something for so long our brains are literally wired that way. I realized I needed to ease up on myself and take it one step at a time. It takes time and effort to change a behavior. There are setbacks, forgetfulness and inconvenience that happens when you start to make a change. So, stick it out and don’t be so hard on yourself if you forgot your reusable coffee cup.   

In order to switch your mentality and get the results you want, it is important to know why you want it. It gets tough and inconvenient!! Do you know how many times I have forgotten my reusable coffee cups, straws and bags!! Too many times to count. I realized it is super important to know why you want to do this switch. When you start anything new it’s so easy and exciting, but as the weeks go on, things tend to get more and more difficult. This is a big task to take on but my journey has really just begun. At first, I started because I wanted to contribute to cleaning up the oceans and saving the turtles but as the weeks went on I found myself wanting to do this for my household. Pushing through the discomfort and slight inconveniences, these past 2 months have been great! I feel aware and I find myself becoming more thoughtful in terms of what I am consuming in my day. I’m only 2 months in and I feel a competitive side coming out. I want to do better and challenge myself to see how far I can go. So don’t worry about getting everything right. It does take diligence, you are learning a brand new habit and I think that is pretty cool in itself. Eventually you will find yourself shopping at the stores that are Eco-friendly and promote the ‘plastic-free’ lifestyle. This should be fun, like a new game you want to win.

It’s so easy to compare yourself to others. We gotta leave that behind! There are many people who started this journey years ago and have learned more about living this way. Again, this all takes time. It’s not going to happen overnight, or in a week or in a month. Go at your own pace and have fun with it. Watch yourself transform your home into a low-plastic lifestyle.

Reusable plastic is a life saver. Learning I could still reuse the plastic that came into my home had me feeling all sorts of happy. This is where the word ‘free’ in plastic free gets a bit loose. I knew I could reuse plastic but I thought there was some foreign rule against it. Silly right! We often add unneeded pressure and limited beliefs when we start something new. Plastic doesn’t have to go to waste and can be helpful. Save the plastic that comes into your home and use it over a long period of time. Watch out for the plastic that comes into your home, like polyethylene and BPA plastic food wrap. It’s important to do some shopping and upgrade your reusable equipment. Don’t worry about finding alternatives because they are out there. You can use glass, stainless steel and even bamboo. 

I noticed I save money!!! To be honest I thought starting this might cost me more, but I’ve seen the opposite. Instead of buying things that are packaged or boxed in plastic I buy my fruits and veggies as is. You can buy your own reusable produce bags. I love using mine from Colony co. The sizes and materials are just amazing. So, here is a link to purchase your own from amazon, https://amzn.to/2sMZ1eP. Aside from Colony co, I also bought a him and hers reusable straw package from Eco-pals https://amzn.to/2Q3Ur3G. These are great to carry around because they fit anywhere!

Another awesome plus, you lose weight! You are no longer (or have drastically limited) buying frozen or boxed food. You become self-aware of where you are choosing to eat–picking places that are healthy and also Eco-friendly. This change is so beneficial, not just for your home and family but for the environment. It’s fulfilling to know you are doing your part and you begin to feel better. 

Let me know in the comments if you are thinking about starting your own ‘plastic-free’ life!!!! 

Until next time,