How to break the plastic habit (and replace it with a new one)
Let’s talk bad habits. They interrupt our life, prevent us from achieving our goals and even more importantly often negatively impact our health- both mentally and physically. And they’re a big source of wasted energy.
So why do nearly all of us still do them? Well, because they can be blumming hard to break. And our relationship with single-use plastic and its convenience is nothing more than a hard to break habit. The reality is, we don’t eliminate bad habits, we replace them.
All the habits you have in your life right now – good or bad- are there for a reason. In some way or another the habitual behaviour provides a benefit to you even if it’s bad for you (or the planet) in other ways. Because bad habits provide some type of benefit in our lives, it's very difficult to simply eliminate them. This is why simplistic advice like ‘just stop doing it’, rarely works. Just stop buying your food at the local grocery store (where everything is covered in plastic) isn’t going to work as the habit of convenience in your already busy life is always going to win.
Plan for failure and celebrate the wins. We all slip up every now and again and that’s ok. Going plastic free is a journey. A journey that starts with awareness, and the fact that you are reading this article means you have taken step one; you are aware that a change is needed.
Awareness is what will show you how to actually make change.
- When does the convenience of single-use plastic usually slip in?
- How many times each day?
- Where are you?
- Who are you with?
- What triggers the behaviour and causes it to start?
Simply tracking these issues will make you more aware of the triggers and give you dozens of ideas for stopping it.
A great way to start is just by tracking how many times per day you use single-use plastic and what is it/what for. Each time your bad habit happens, make a note on your phone. At the end of the day, count the tally marks and see what your total is. The point of this exercise isn’t to make you feel guilty, just to make you aware of the whys, where’s and the how often’s. Then, you can start to implement the ideas to break the habit.
So, let’s focus on how we can break that cycle when it comes to the convenience of single use plastic habit and stick to good choices instead.
- Join forces with somebody.
Ever tried to diet to alone? Whilst your partner/housemates/family are all binging choccie on the sofa after dinner? Hard isn’t it. Breaking the plastic habit is the same. Instead, pair up with someone and quit together. The two of you can hold each other accountable and celebrate your victories together. Knowing that someone else expects you to be better is a powerful motivator.
2. Surround yourself by people who want to live the way you live.
It’s not a case of ditching your current friends, rather expanding your circle to find some new ones who are passionate about lowering their impact too.
- Visualise yourself succeeding.
See yourself at the market on Sunday’s or doing an audit of your bathroom on a monthly basis so that you know what needs restocking (from Acala of course!) in good time. Visualise yourself absolutely smashing the plastic out of your life, smiling, laughing and enjoying that success with your plastic free buddy.
- Choose substitutes for your plastic habit.
The only way you’ll beat it is to plan ahead for how you are going to respond when you’re heading home from work and just need to grab something quick for dinner. Or when the local drugstore is calling for that glitter you REALLY need for the weekend ahead. How will you respond when stress and convenience prompt your plastic habit? Example 1: bulk cook so that you always have something in the freezer for this situation. Example 2: lentils will work right?
Whatever it is and whatever you’re dealing with you need to have a plan for what you will do instead. Planning ahead is definitely the key to breaking the plastic habit.
- Realise that you don’t need to be someone else
Often, we think that to break our bad habits we need to become an entirely new person and give up our current lifestyle. The truth is that breaking the convenience habit of single-use plastic isn’t about a huge lifestyle change that is unlikely to make you happy therefore meaning you won’t stick to it, it’s about easy switches you can fit into your existing lifestyle. We’ll be bringing you loads of examples of this over the next few weeks.
- Finally, use the word ‘but’ to avoid negative talk
As we said right back at the beginning, going plastic free can initially be very challenging and there will be days when you don’t get it quite right. Don’t judge yourself for those days, whatever happens, finish the sentence with ‘but’…
I forgot my reusable cutlery today BUT I’ve just put it in my bag so that I’m ready for tomorrow.
I ran out of toothpaste and I had to buy a plastic tube from the supermarket BUT I’ve got two natural, zero waste tubs on order so I’m prepared next month.
Are you ready to beat plastic pollution this July? Stay tuned for a competition over on our Instagram where we’ll be asking you to tag your plastic free buddy for the chance for you both to win some Acala goodies to help you on your plastic free journey.