Next month is Plastic Free July. This is a month where normal, everyday people are encouraged to take the pledge to give up single use plastic, takeaway items, or dispense with the stuff altogether.
The knowledge that this month is fast approaching had brought with it much food for thought. My first being along the lines of:
The second being my own commitment to abolishing the use of plastic – what can be improved, what I’m failing at, why I’m not 100% there. Notice that my thoughts rarely detail the achievements I have made in my quest, those small sweet victories. Funny how the human mind doesn’t quite work that way.
Dealing with those moments of doubt
I’ve been having a lot of instances lately, where I’ve wondered why I’m bothering making the effort. This is all outside of the blog – I’m lucky to have found a community of people who have similar sentiments to my own and for that I feel very grateful. Yet outside this bubble world, you realise just how much work needs to be done. People just don’t care. Or, they’re more interested in convenience. And I understand that pledging to not use plastic does bring a lot of inconveniences with it and that can be a deterrent for some.
Yet, it’s actually quite easy to shove a small reusable bag in your purse, carry your own water bottle, or use a hanky instead of a stack of tissues. It doesn’t take any extra effort to use a flannelette to clean your face, rather than throwaway wet wipes. And when the option ends up saving you a wad of cash, like swapping over to a menstrual cup or reusable pads, I feel like saying “Well, duh. Why wouldn’t you? Do you not like saving money, or something?”
But once again – people just don’t care enough. We get stuck in our ways, lost in our routines and habits.
And then I start to feel rebellious, thinking Why am I making so much of an effort then? I have in many cases denied myself an item (usually food) because I don’t want to deal with the packaging. I once refused to buy chocolate in Switzerland because they wouldn’t let me use my own bag. Let me tell you now, that was a sacrifice and a half.
Sometimes I’ll cave and get takeaway, which leads to feelings of lingering guilt for hours/days/weeks. I still buy sour cream in plastic containers every month because it is one of my favourite foods ever (although I do hoard the containers and use them for other purposes).
It’s too easy to feel helpless
The strong support of a cause can lead you to some dangerous places. I mean, wars have been started over other people’s belief systems. Your cause could do more harm than good.
Yet, surely the desire to take care of the planet isn’t a bad thing? At the very least, it seems like the obvious thing to do. Happy planet + us taking care of it = beautiful things and longevity for our race. Abusing the planet at the rate we currently are… well, who knows what could happen.
I get mighty sick of the people in positions of power making soft decisions where this very important cause is concerned. Like that fact that only three states and territories within my own country have banned the plastic bag (Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania. You are all winners). Or how we have neglected our responsibility to our beautiful reef, instead supporting what is rapidly becoming an archaic form of energy supply. Decisions are continuously being made that will benefit few in the short term and none of us long term. And we willingly go along with.
So, it’s easy to become despondent. To believe there is truly no point in trying. To simply give up.
And I regularly have this conversation with my family and friends, that centres around: “What can we do?” There’s so much that is wrong with my country. There is so much that is wrong with the world.
What can you as one person, do to change the world?
Quite simply, you do what you need to do. That thing that keeps you awake in the night, that makes you want to rage against the machine.
Find out what that is and get involved. We have to believe in the sound of one hand clapping.
Go to rallies and protests. Sign petitions. Connect with likeminded people. Take a look at your day to day habits and see what can be changed. When you step into the booth during elections, be informed about the consequences of your vote (and always vote – people literally died for this right, so don’t take it for granted).
You can reduce your environmental footprint, just by changing a few habits. It’s easy. And how easy… well, that’s what I’m going to show you.
In celebration of Plastic Free July, I’ll be running a mini-series on the blog, filled with tips and tricks for reducing your waste output and greening up both your life and the planet! It will be quite similar to the one I published earlier this year, which consisted of these three articles:
- My 7-Odd Favourite Eco-Friendly Travel Items
- Green Up Your Travels With These Simple, Eco-Friendly Swaps
- 4 Helpful Phrases for Plastic Free Travel, Translated into Different Languages
I’ll also be sharing posts from other bloggers on my Facebook page. There’s a lot out of good’uns out there and they’re a valuable resource for anyone wanting to get started on their green journey.
So, to sum things up – what’s the solution?
I think it is to
Will you be participating in Plastic Free July? Doooooo it.