Now before we get started, I just have to say that I undertook this challenge for a variety of reasons. First of all it was to help do my part for the environment (cliché I know); secondly it was to see if it was even possible while living in a metropolis where convenience reigns supreme, and thirdly it was a personal challenge to see if I could really stick to it. I am sad to say that I couldn’t do it completely, and it was one of the hardest challenges I have ever put upon myself, but I am extremely proud of the effort I made and continue to make.
Your success is built on good habits
I leant that if you really want to remain successful in the long-term – not just with this challenge, but in general – then you really need to develop good habits. Prior to taking on this challenge I would always try to pack my handbag as light as possible, with little clutter. This meant no space for a reusable bag or water bottle. One of the hardest things to begin with was remembering to bring these along with me, as I was used to accepting a plastic bag for every purchase I made throughout the day, as well as going through multiple single-use water bottles too. At one point I even purchased a cheap poncho to keep dry in the rain as I hadn’t had the foresight to pack an umbrella or raincoat. Now, my bag always has space for my compact womens rain jacket!
How to say “No”
Admittedly, before taking this challenge, I would have considered myself a pleaser/appeaser. I was rarely the type of person to say no. Be it with food, work or a drink after work, I rarely said no. This was not always a bad thing as it helped with my career progression, but there were many times I agreed to do things I felt uncomfortable with, but said yes anyways under the guise that it was a good thing to put myself outside of my comfort zone.
Within the first day of the challenge, I don’t think I had ever said “no” more times in my life. I was turning down offers of snacks from colleagues, plastic bags from cashiers (including one after I had bought my brand new womens waterproof jacket), and had to even purchase pricier items from the farmers market, as the supermarket products were wrapped in plastic. This was a real eye opener and only a taste of things to come. It was immediately evident how much we are made to rely on plastic for so much, yet much of the time it is unnecessary.
There is always an alternative
One of the most common excuses made by those who continue to produce plastic waste is there is are no other alternatives. I beg to differ. At first I thought this was true, but after doing some research and really considering where I purchased my groceries and such, I realised there really is always an alternative. Take bamboo toothbrushes for example – I had no idea these existed until I was forced to throw away my plastic one. Bars of soap and shampoo made from natural chemicals and packaged in brown paper were toiletries I had previously never expected to find without any trace of plastic, and this truly was a lesson that there is always an alternative; you just have to look hard enough!