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I really love all of the sustainable lifestyle challenges that seem to be popping up these days, like Plastic Free July. I feel it helps to raise awareness of the impact we are having on the planet and gets people talking about the changes they can make.
However, I do also feel that a lot of them can leave people feeling completely overwhelmed which is not great! It is very easy to get overwhelmed when you are starting to live a more sustainable lifestyle, hence why I started this blog, to help you through the process step by step.
What Is Plastic Free July
In case you’re not familiar with Plastic Free July it’s a global movement to reduce plastic pollution. The aim of the challenge is to provide you with resources and ideas on how you can reduce your single-use plastic waste. You can find out more about the challenge on their website here.
Why You Can’t Change Overnight
I’ve really loved how many people over the last few weeks have said they are taking part but I’ve also noticed a lot of people getting quite anxious about it. They’re worried that they will still use plastic, they don’t know what alternatives they can use and they are finding the whole ‘no plastic for a month thing’ overwhelming.
I’m here to tell you not to panic. You cannot and will not change the world over night. It takes time and patience to start making changes in your life. No one is expecting you to completely give up plastic for an entire month that’s simply not possible in the society that we live in.
Unfortunately we live in a linear/recycling economy that leaves us with no other choice than purchasing single-use plastic items. Hopefully, in the future we will transition to a circular economy but that will take time.
Personally, it has taken me over 4 years to make the sustainable swaps that I’ve made in our home.
How To Avoid Overwhelm This Plastic Free July
Getting back to the point of this blog post, how can you avoid overwhelm when making sustainable changes at home?
As I previously said, you cannot and will not change the world overnight or in the case of Plastic Free July in a month.
My top tip is to focus on one area of your home at a time and work on making changes there.
I started with our bathroom as I felt we were producing a lot of waste there. I looked at the items that we were throwing away, just from our bathroom, did some research on sustainable alternatives for those items and then started to make the swaps.
It took me over 2 years to get to the point where I was happy with our changes and could remove the bin from our bathroom as we no longer needed it.
Do A Waste Audit
Doing a waste audit for your home is a really effective way to first know what it is that you’re actually throwing away and secondly slowly makes changes.
I have a whole blog post on how to do a waste audit for your home.
If you fancy giving it a go for Plastic Free July this year I’m running a free waste audit challenge in our Facebook group – Gypsy Soul with Gina Caro. Everyone is welcome to join in!
Remember the 9 R’s
Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed with it all I always refer back to the 9 R’s…
Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Re-gift, Repair, Rent, Recycle & Rot.
Rethinking is your starting point. That’s where you stop and take a look at what you’re already doing. That can include things like doing a waste audit.
Refusing is your next step. Refuse anything that you don’t really need like a plastic bag, a plastic straw and junk mail.
Reducing: There is a common misconception that trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle is going to cost you more money and that simply isn’t true. The whole point is to reduce the amount of things you use and need. By reducing what you buy you will save yourself money. You’ll also reduce your stress levels as having too much stuff around you is linked to increased anxiety and depression.
Reusing: This is the point where you will probably need to spend a bit of money. Buying a good set of reusable products for your home is a big part of living a more sustainable lifestyle.
You may already own everything you need which is great but in a lot of peoples cases they don’t have the items already.
My top tip for this stage would be to make one swap a month. One month perhaps get a decent reusable water bottle. The next month you can get a reusable coffee cup etc. Obviously, don’t go out and buy a reusable item that you’re not going to actually need just because it’s popular at the moment. Only buy what you really need and will use regularly.
Yes, the items are going to cost you money to start with but as you are going to reuse them again and again you will save money in the long run.
Also, try not to be tempted to buy a cheap product, they just don’t last and then you’re creating even more waste. I’ve made this mistake in the past and regretted it. If you can’t afford the product you want right now wait and save up for it.
Top tip: If there is a product that you want but you can’t justify buying it at the moment then why not put it on your birthday/Christmas list? For Christmas last year my Father got me a wooden clothes rack and my sister got me wooden pegs for the garden. People like to give gifts so it might as well be something that you really want and can use.
I also reciprocated by getting my Father a sustainable living starter kit for Christmas with things like reusable straws & reusable baking mats.
It has taken me years to find sustainable products that work for us in our home. If you’re interested in seeing what we use in our home and products that I would highly recommend then click here.
You can find out more about the other R’s in this blog post: The 9 R’s of Living a Sustainable Lifestyle.
Have A Plan Of Action
Whenever you have a goal, it’s always a good idea to have a clear plan of action. What is it that you actually want to achieve this Plastic Free July?
Are you looking to reduce the amount of single-use plastic you use?
Do you want to reduce the overall waste you produce at home?
What is it that you actually want to achieve? Set a clear goal and make a plan for achieving it.
Remember if you only manage to make one sustainable swap this Plastic Free July then you’re one step closer to living a more sustainable lifestyle.
I really hope that you have found this post useful and don’t forget to come and join us for my free waste audit challenge in our Facebook group here.
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life”
About Gina Caro
Gina is a content creator and award-winning blogger. Her aim is to help you live a more sustainable & simple life. Her blog covers zero waste, minimalism, wellbeing & thrift. She currently lives in Cornwall with her partner, two kids and Charles the dog.