As part of our #BigPlasticClearOut, we’ve been attempting to cut back on unnecessary, single-use plastics at teapigs HQ for nearly two months now. Conveniently for us, this coincided perfectly with #PlasticFreeJuly – so we weren’t short of having likeminded plastic-free shoppers to share ideas for cutting back with.
We started off amazingly, making lots of simple switches to cut back on plastic, but to be perfectly honest, 2 months in, momentum is starting to dwindle ever so slightly – plastic pots of hummus are creeping back into the fridge, cling film has made its way back into communal team lunches and trying to rid the warehouse of plastic has become almost too big of a task to even know where to start.
It made us realise that there really is no quick fix here - it needs to be a total lifestyle change, similar to that of adopting a healthy eating lifestyle or deciding to become a yes man.
Humour us while we run with the healthy eating analogy briefly –
Day 1: You’re fully motivated, desk drawer full of healthy snacks, you even go for a power walk at lunch.
Day 13: Desk drawer is now home to an emergency pack of hob nobs.
Day 27: Full on desk drawer invasion, hob nobs and jaffa cakes galore, and your power walking gear has been relegated to Sunday lounge wear.
It’s just what happens when you approach something without committing 100% to a lifestyle change – you lose interest, and fall back into old habits, not to mention frustration with external factors you can’t control.
So, how do you stay motivated and keep that momentum going? For us, it’s all about education, passion and not beating yourself up too much. Here are 5 ways to keep the momentum up when it all feels a bit bleak….
1. Remind yourself why you’re doing it
While initiatives such as #PlasticFreeJuly are a fab starting point, the momentum can start to diminish as soon as the next monthly challenge takes centre stage. The solution? Education! We read books ('No more plastic' by Martin Dorey is a great quick read), look at heart-breaking photographs and shock ourselves with stats on a daily basis – the reason Blue Planet was such an eye opener, is that it was right there in front of us…no escaping it. So, until living completely plastic-free is a viable option and becomes totally engrained in society, we all need to make a conscious effort to remind ourselves the impact our throw away lifestyle is having on the planet (granted, not the funnest of tasks).
5 shocking plastic stats we like to whip out every now and again:
- We use 300 MILLION TONNES of plastic each year.
- Every day, approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans.
- Less than half of plastic bottles used in the UK are recycled – and over 150 plastic bottles litter each mille of UK beaches.
- 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually.
- It’s estimated that there is now 5.25 trillion macro and micro plastic pieces floating around in the open ocean
Also, make sure you’re following people on social media who will keep banging on about the important stuff. It really makes a difference!
2. Get outside
Getting outside and seeing plastic litter first-hand is also a biggie for keeping us motivated. We recently tried out plogging which combines jogging and picking up litter - you'd be amazed how much rubbish you can collect in half hour!
3. Try not to demonise ALL plastics
Slightly odd one, we know. But keep in mind it’s the reliance of single use plastic that needs readdressing. A Plastic Planet say ‘There will always be a need for plastic – medical science, aviation, technology, car industries – where plastic can more easily be reclaimed and kept within a closed recycling loop. Single use, especially for food and drink, is not defensible.’
4. Look for the positives
Search out brands doing awesome things, follow them and tell all your friends - a few of our faves are kabloom, vivobarefoot and yogibare. We bought a card from an ETSY seller recently and it came delivered with a stamp saying it was a naked card (no plastic wrap!) - it literally made our day.
If in doubt, follow this simple rule:
Reduce, reuse, recycle- that’s the hierarchy you need to keep in mind. Completely eradicating all single-use plastics from your work/home overnight isn’t realistic. Think about where you can reuse it, and move on to recycling as much as humanly possible if all else fails. Sadly our recycling infrastructure isn’t quite on par with other nations (Germany and Austria are leading the way, recycling over half of all waste) which brings us on to our final point….
5. Make some noise
Something we’ve found quite frustrating since starting our #BigPlasticClearOut is the need for more specialised recycling plants. Disposable take out cups - in theory - are not bad. Both aspects of the cup are fully recyclable, it’s just there aren’t enough plants in the UK offering this service.
More companies are moving towards plant-based ‘plastics’, but for this to be a success in the future, there needs to be more industrial composting sites, and more councils offering food waste collections. Currently less than half of UK councils collect food waste - bonkers!
So, lobby your local MP, speak to your local supermarket, start discussions on social, chat with friends - the more we talk about it, the less likely we’ll be to lose that momentum.
Phew – it all got a bit deep there, didn’t it? Good job we’ve got some hob nobs knocking about…
If you’re on a similar journey to reduce your environmental impact, we’d love to know how you stay motivated. Leave us a comment below or let us know on social – find us @ teapigs on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.
You might also be interested in: