D'oh! I felt like Homer Simpson quite a few times this week. Thinking I had everything under control, only to realise there is a lot more plastic in my life than I first imagined!
I thought doing my shopping at the farmer's market and buying milk in glass bottles would take care of most of my problems... I forgot to account for all the cheese I buy, and the dog food, the dishwashing tablets, the packet of nuts, pretty much all the bathroom products and my favourite tea. Hmmm...
Week Zero is eye opening. It is allowing me to identify all those sources of plastic I've overlooked. Since I realised they have crept in, I have already found a plastic free alternative to toilet paper, tea, dog food, nuts and soap. However, I still don't know what to do about the cheese, dishwashing tables, shampoo and, to be honest, I am not ready to ditch other personal items.
I know plastic free July is not going to be literally plastic free, but I can guarantee it will be a whole lot less plastic than June. Should I feel bad about it? Is it worth doing it at all?
Wait, what!? Are these serious questions? I will answer it in a minute.
Reading a Facebook thread the other day, someone mentioned their challenges and financial constraints, she couldn't afford some of the plastic free brands of some staple foods. The other members offered suggestions and pretty much all also told her to "do the best you can, with what you have" - a very sensible, non-judgemental approach. It even sounds a little obvious, doesn't it?
But maybe it's not so straight forward. During this whole process of identifying problems, deciding I care enough to make a change, and actually taking action, I couldn't help but draw connections to the experience people go through when trying to change their eating habits. They understand that the food they eat is making them sick or unwell, they care enough about their health to do something about it, learn what it needs to be changed and take action.
However, often they are faced not with "do the best you can, with what you've got", but rather "you have no willpower", "you're not trying hard enough", or "you're bad for eating this". If you are thinking, who would say something like that? What cruel person would put someone down, instead of valuing their efforts, appreciating the small steps and the little wins?
Well, themselves mostly - their own inner voice. Yapping away, criticising every single effort.
So yes, those were serious questions - that when asked out loud, or applied to others sound pretty ridiculous but, nevertheless, pass through people's minds when they are dealing with themselves.
I see a lot of people eager to change, but at the same time wanting to solve it all in one go: "Let's do this! I'm excited! My eating will be perfect now!" Unfortunately that quickly transforms into "Well, it was the weekend, then I had a stressful day, and then there were school holidays, and you know what, it's Christmas soon, so I better start next year". Rather than focusing on improving, they are focusing on perfect. Rather than identifying their challenges and coming up with a plan of attack, they are ignoring it.
Harsh self-judgement and poor problem solving will not lead to progress, be it changing the amount of plastic you purchase, or the types of food you eat. Remember to be kind to yourself. Understand the direction you want to take, identify the barriers, decide which ones are the easiest to change first and start there, pick your battles and continue moving forward.
We've got this! Bring it on July!