I’m totally about to appropriate a religious text here, but my intention is not to offend!
I beat myself up about all things zero waste and plastic free on the regular, and it’s not helpful. I’ve looked at other people’s trolley’s in the supermarket and thought to myself, “Dear God, educate yourself,” not remembering that that person pushing the trolley was me less than a year ago. So I decided to write ’10 Plastic Free Commandments,’ which have all come from things I have personally done or said that I have looked back on felt a pang of guilt or regret, or wished that I’d been more understanding. This is a personal reminder to myself, but if you’re out there in the world reading this post, and find some of your own inspiration, then that is amazing too ❤ So, here goes nothing!
- Thou shall not compare yourself to others and feel upset about your own efforts.
The beautiful thing about working toward zero waste and plastic free living, is that everyone is doing it differently. Some people have a focus on reducing single-use plastics in their lives, and some people are really interested in reducing food waste. And that is awesome because it means there are so many people out there doing great things that you can learn and draw inspiration from. Everyone is on their own journey, working at their own pace, with the resources they have. Let other people’s efforts inspire you, not bring you down!
- Thou shall not hashtag your Instagram photos of plastic wrapped items #zerowastefail.
I did this once and I was met with a reply from my beautiful friend Hannah which read, “#progressnotperfection.” I am someone who likes to do things perfectly, and my brain likes to trick me into thinking that if I haven’t done it perfectly, there was no point even trying in the first place. That thinking style, for me anyway, can be productive at times, but it can also be very unhelpful and damaging to my self-esteem.
There is no such thing as a zero waste fail. The fact that you are even giving thought to a zero waste and plastic free way of living is amazing! Lindsay Miles wrote an amazing article titled, “Why You Can’t Fail at Plastic Free July,” which I totally recommend reading if you’re prone to beating yourself up like I am.
- Thou shall not let an unexpected straw ruin your dining experience.
The other day I was out for lunch with a friend who ordered a milkshake. And SWEET BABY JESUS it came WITH A STRAW?! Well, well, well my snooty little nose (disclaimer: my nose is actually quite big) shot straight into the air. “OH. MY. GOD. A STRAW. I can’t do this anymore.” I literally said that. How embarrassing. Luckily this was a friend who knows me very well and just laughed at me despite how ridiculous I was being. I think most of me was upset at myself for forgetting to bring my own straw, but I seriously had to collect myself and make a conscious decision to enjoy the rest of my meal.
The world we live in is not set up in favour of zero waste and plastic free living (yet!). There are going to be sneaky straws, and little plastic containers of butter that sneak onto your plate at brunch. Rather than letting it ruin what is likely quality time with your family or friends, accept that sneaky plastic happens, enjoy your damn meal, and maybe use it as an opportunity to spread awareness of single-use plastics to cafes and restaurants.
- Thou shall not pass judgement upon others.
There have been many times where I’ve looked at shopping trolleys filled with plastic bags and thought something mean. Just two nights ago, I saw a man rip a produce bag off the roll at Spudshed and my eyes rolled so far back into my head that I thought I would never see the light of day again.
‘Rachel. Stop. That person was literally you less than a year ago. Get your head out of your arse and stop being such a prick. ‘
I don’t think anyone goes out of their way to cause harm to the environment. I’m 99% sure that man didn’t rock up to Spudshed that night rubbing his hands together thinking, “How can I best fuck up the planet today?”
A year ago, when I was buying plastic bin liners packaged in plastic, I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t even once think that it could be harmful to the planet. I probably even thought, “Yas girl slay look at you buying bin bags for your new house like an adult.” My point is, no one is deliberately going out of their way to cause harm. Everyone is on their own journey and that’s okay.
- Thou shall do everything you can, within your means, every day.
Anyone Social Workers or Psychologists in Western Australia will know that I just stole the above line from Child Protection and Family Support HA.
It’s so good though! Zero waste and plastic free living is lifestyle that is easier if you have a number or resources – reliable transport and a reasonable income are two examples of this.
For some people, this lifestyle just isn’t feasible. As a Social Worker, I can see that for many of the families I work with, ‘zero waste’ ain’t on the top of their to-do list, nor do they necessarily have the means to make it work for them. Imagine having ten children and no car and buying bulk food for ten children in glass jars from a shop that is a forty minutes bus ride away from your house, then carrying your full jars home? It’s just not going to happen and it’s unfair to expect that is lifestyle is accessible to everyone.
Just do what you can with what you have 🙂 and remember just because you cannot do everything, does not mean you should do nothing.
- Thou shall celebrate the little wins.
I remembered my straw today! Win.
I refused to buy a takeaway coffee today because I forgot my reusable coffee cup! Win.
I found a new item in the supermarket in plastic-free packaging! Win.
I made my own almond milk! Win.
Tiny wins are still wins and they deserved to be celebrated!
- Thou shall not beat thyself up over little road bumps.
I forgot my straw today! It’s okay. There are another 364 days in the year.
I bought a takeaway coffee today in a take away coffee cup. It’s okay! you’re only human.
I bought some pasta in a cardboard box but it had a plastic window. It’s fine. You had to feed your family.
I bought a tetrapak of almond milk. It is so okay. You’re still doing great.
- Thou shall preach the plastic-free life at all times. If necessary, use words.
That is a bit ironic considering this entire blog is words haha. What I mean by that is, I would like to go about my life leading by example, without being preachy or pushy or telling people what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Rather, I’d love to be at the supermarket and be asked a question about my Onya bags, and start a conversation about the plastic-free movement that way. Or I’d love for my family to ask me why I am asking them to save me any glass jars they have lying around. People are resistant to change if they feel they are being pushed or forced into it and I don’t want to be the girl doing the pushing or preaching.
- Thou shall remember the world is not set up in a way that is entirely conducive to plastic-free living.
If you’re ever feeling flat about not being able to source something without plastic packaging, it’s probably not because you haven’t tried. It’s likely because this world just isn’t set up for it. There have been so many changes in the world recently. For example, in Western Australia, the two major supermarkets have just banned plastic bags. These changes will keep happening as this movement progresses, so never fear, and continue to be a sweet little beacon for plastic-free living.
- Thou shall remember plastic is sometimes unavoidable.
If you are admitted to hospital, or see a doctor, or a dentist, the chances are there will be plastic from those processes that go to landfill and that is not something to feel guilty about. Maintaining your health is important. I hated myself after having to have my ankle strapped with plastic tape at football the other day. How stupid. It was either that or I snap my ankle. I will save the tape and try to reuse it for something, but the fact that it was used in the first place is nothing to feel bad about. Taking care of yourself is important.
- BONUS COMMANDMENT! Thou shall remember you are amazing ❤
Lots of love,