Fighting Plastic Pollution: A Guide to Effecting Wide Scale Change
The desire to lead meaningful lives is important to all of us. We all want to make an impact on the world around us, many of us positively.
In the words of John C.Maxwell ‘Most people want to change the world to improve their lives, but the world they need to change first is the one inside themselves.’ That’s why we started our plastic free July series with ‘How to break the plastic habit and replace it with a new one’. If you haven’t read it, check it out. It really is the starting point for effecting change on a wider scale; we must first attend to our own personal development before looking wider.
Then you’re ready to move onto making a positive difference in the world. But where to start? With the large number of urgent environmental and humanitarian issues around the globe it can seem overwhelming, so step one is to pick your passion.
Find your passion
This was the starting point for Acala. We found our why: beat plastic pollution. Then we found our what: provide people with a viable alternative to conventional stores and products when it comes to cosmetics and toiletries that makes it easier for people to buy consciously.
So, you want to fight plastic pollution, but what area of plastic pollution really bothers you? Is it waste in the office? Is it the excessive use of plastic padding in home deliveries? Or the non-recyclable bag your veg comes in?
Pick one aspect of this movement and make it your thing. How do you find your niche?
- Identify your interests and passions. What is the part of this movement that you’re also boring your friends and family with?
- Identify problems that you can solve
- Research what others are already doing in this area
- Determine where there is a gap/need for more work
- Become known for and test out your niche
Find your why and your what will follow.
Become known for your niche
So now you know what you want to focus on, it’s time to become known for your niche.
What is it about you that makes you an authority in this area? Are you educating others in the area? Are you advocating for it daily? This could be online through the powerful medium of social media; it is also through every conversation you have throughout your day. Find the medium that works for you and champion the hell out of your cause by leading by example.
Find your tribe
Where are the people that are going to help you fulfil your mission? And allow you to have a lot of fun whilst doing it! We all need our tribe and even more so when we’re trying to effect wide scale change.
Reaching out to others can feel scary and often overwhelming, so here are some tips to get you started:
- Number one in finding your tribe is be clear yourself on what you’re looking for. This should naturally come out of finding your niche but if it hasn’t then online is a great place to start. We’ve met so many like-minded, wonderful people through setting up Acala. All because we put ourselves out there and started to talk to about our vision online. Use hashtags, engage with others and you’ll find conversations with the right people naturally flow.
- Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, is to be brave. Put your niche out there and don’t be afraid to stand for what you truly believe in. Start a Facebook group or a Twitter chat. Reach out to likeminded individuals on a one to one basis. You never know where it might lead and what connections you might make.
- Finally, be picky but don’t judge. Stay true to your vision with integrity and kindness. Recognise that no one is perfect and that we’re on our own personal journeys.
Don’t let politics get in the way. Be the change that you want to see!
In the words of Ghandi, be the change you want to see in the world. Lead by example and don’t get side tracked or discouraged by politics, policies, setbacks and others. Check out Ghandi’s 10 rules for changing the world.
We live in a world of masquerades. With no one showing their true selves, it's easy to think that the advice you receive is based on experience, when most often it's not. The truth is most people would rather tell people what to do rather than follow their own advice.
Being the change rather than just talking about it will increase your authenticity and make you a better leader. It will also give you the self-confidence to create a successful campaign for change.
Start your own campaign
Start by identifying achievable goals
If you’ve got a broad goal, it’s time to get specific. Start with a smaller step, or ten smaller steps, that might ultimately lead to the macro change you and your tribe are looking for. This will allow you to celebrate each small success, self-promote and regroup to optimise techniques and desired outcomes.
Empower your tribe
Understand your strengths and weaknesses, and theirs. Honour their strengths by dividing up tasks accordingly. A rule to live by is that, quite simply, the more people are acknowledged, listened to and met with gratitude the more likely their support will be ongoing.
Choose your medium
Social media activism is powerful but must translate offline to the real world. Decide the channels that are going to help you best reach your desired audience and achieve your outcomes.
Regroup, reflect and go again
You’ve created a great campaign and you’ve had your first response from a retailer about the issue you’re tackling. Amazing! Celebrate the win. It’s important to celebrate all the wins, no matter how small. This will give you the motivation to keep going.
Then get back to business. What was it about the campaign that made that retailer reply? Is there a reason why more didn’t reply? Take the good from the first campaign, lose the things that didn’t work, and build on it. You’ll be stronger and more targeted next time around. Change doesn’t happen overnight; consistency and sticking power is key.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, have fun! Finding your niche can be such a rewarding thing. It can leave you feeling more empowered and fulfilled than ever before.
Ready to get going? We'd love to hear about your campaigns for change! Tag us on social media @acalaonline or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.