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On Sunday I posted Facebook that I was completely free of plastic bags. Naturally I felt all empowered, got a few likes and felt very proud of myself. But three days in, after a few little ‘accidents’ in the market (you know forgetting the cloth bags) I began wondering how I could ramp this up and make it more real. And then this message (see below) from my friend Delphine from Iloilo City came in later that night: I realised I wasn’t free of plastic bags, and actually I wasn’t even close.
Delphine’s message inspired me to write about my intention to live without reusable plastic bags and to really commit to reducing the amount of plastic I use generally. To reach out and share my experiences as well as my best tips. So here is tip number 1. Get everyone involved to reduce plastic consumption.
Delphine: Plastic Bags, No Thanks!
By “everyone” I mean be vocal about what you are doing, hold yourself accountable, ask for help, and be an inspiration to others.
Getting everyone in the household on-board will make your goal much more achievable. A great example of this is was me (just a few days ago) getting off the ferry from Guimeras Island and my adopted son Jerry buys himself some snacks and I watch aghast as he asks the street hawker for a plastic bag. Like a martyr I’d carted dripping wet swimmers in hand all the way from the other side of the island (refusing to use a plastic bag). Yet within minutes (maybe it was seconds) of him eating those snacks I grabbed that plastic bag and used it to carry my wet things all the way home. I realised I need to share with him what I want to achieve and why. I needed to get clear about what I was doing too. And here’s our funny little introduction to that.
Unless you live completely alone and interact with no other human beings, not using plastic bags involves co-operation. Think about your staff, your flatmates, your spouse, your parents, your babysitter, your tutor, your house-guests. If you explain what your doing (without being overbearing and judgemental) and ask for their co-operation, it’s less likely your son’s tutor will deliver the lesson plan in a single-use plastic bag or your house-guests will unload their bottleshop purchases out of plastic shopping bags into the fridge.
Getting your friends involved is also awesome, because (like Delpine) they ask you the hard questions.
2. Get an accountability partner (or hundred)
We humans are a fickle bunch (if we weren’t I’m sure all the money spent on sports team coaches, personal trainers and tutors would be donated to charity). Putting your intention to live without plastic bags out there to social media (as well as family and friends) keeps you accountable. Like me three days in and Delphine sees my facebook post, messages me calling me an inspiration and what have I actually done? Not much more than post an aspiration. Now (because of her) I’m clearer in my intention and sharing my progress realistically and truthfully.
3. Ask for help
Learn from the growing body of people who want to reduce the amount of plastic bags floating in our oceans, clogging landfill and harming wildlife. There are whole websites dedicated to living without plastic: https://myplasticfreelife.com/, http://www.pfree.co.uk and http://www.byebyeplasticbags.org are three quick examples. Read and adopt the best ones for your lifestyle.
There have also been some great articles published on major news websites like The Guardian: How to Live Without Plastic Bottles, ABC News: Tips for Living Without Plastic Bags, or Sunstar: Iloilo City to Impose Plastic Ban Starting July.
4. Be An Inspiration
Use some cool hashtags, share your best tips on social media or your blog, and inspire others to do the same. Twitter and Instagram are the hashtag heros and here’s a few to use.
#noplastic #banthebag #noplasticbags #plasticbagfree #plasticbagsnothanks #nomoreplastic #activism #earthtweet #ecofriendly #eco-friendly #environment #gogreen #greenisgood #green #greenisgood #innovation #plastic #recycle #reuse #saveourseas #SocialGood #sustainable #waste #zerowaste #reducewaste #plasticpollutes #lifewithoutplastic #plasticnothanks #plastics #noplasticplease
Tweeting or Facebooking out what your doing keeps you focused on your goal and creates a network of people across the globe who want a better future for our planet. Don’t start in a blur (like me), get clear about what you are doing and why.
So I’m determined to find alternatives to plastic bags, break the plastic bag habit and find a more sustainable way of living. I’m going to share my progress and what I learn along the way and I hope you will synchronise with me in saying #notplasticplease .
© 2017 Melinda J. Irvine
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