My journey to reduce my plastic only started in January 2018.  It is called a journey for a very good reason – because you are moving in a direction – a positive one.   If you think of it like a road – there are always people who are miles ahead of you, there are people who are miles behind, and there are some standing on the pavement watching.

It’s a road – but hilly one with massive potholes

What I didn’t realise when I started was the series of emotions, experiences and battles that come along with you on your road trip. If you have begun your own journey you may understand, if you have not started, I would recommend getting well prepared for these as it can be a bumpy ride:

Regret

When you take the first steps into reducing plastic, the first thing you often experience is regret.  Regret for the past – the nappies you used, the baby wipes, the crisp packets, cotton buds, the cups of coffee… 37 years of mindless waste.  Trouble is, there is nothing you can do about it, that was another time and another you that used all those things – its time to focus on the future – so regret nothing.

Embarrassment

Society in general are not on board this journey with you, eyes are shut tight, fingers are in ears and everyone is going “la la la la la”.  So when you go out into the world and declare your sudden change of heart and mind it can be a bit embarrassing.  You get funny looks, raised eyebrows or occasionally not very helpful remarks. But you know what? It is OK to be different – and eventually it will become normal.

Judgement

This is the one I struggle with the most, it is not people judging me – it is that people THINK I am judging them and the choices they make.  I have heard people say “I didn’t want to tell you about this, I thought you would judge me.” 

Well I want to put this out there once and for all –  I DO NOT JUDGE  How could I?  4 month ago I was buying the plastic and not giving a crap. I am also not living in a cave growing my own vegetables and knitting jumpers from my own hair – I still use plastic, just not as much as I once did.

There is however a lot of judgment out there, and I would say that you should step cautiously in the world of social media and zero waste living – sometimes it feels like there is a shoot down remark for every win:

” Wow! look people I found a naked cucumber”

Cue the replies:

“But its not organic”
“Oh! it’s Spanish – think of the food miles”
“I personally don’t eat food out of season”
“Cucumbers are used to club baby seals”

Remember a ‘WIN’ is a personal achievement, if it feels like a win for you, it is, no matter what anyone else says. Do not let others bring you down because they are ‘doing better’. Remember it is a journey, not a race.

Fatigue

I will not deny it – it is a lot harder to be ‘green’ – you have to make the effort to get your veg loose from a market, or to make lunch every day or remember your water and coffee cup.   You are putting added pressure on yourself and you have to be prepared for a little mental fatigue.  Slowly, slowly there is a change happening in our supermarkets and shops – in the next year it is going to start to get easier, trust me.

Guilt

This is a really big one too – there are times when the fatigue (see above) gets too much and I buy a packet of popcorn for my hungry daughter or I really cannot make it to the butcher, or I just want to eat a penguin.  But as you put the wrapper in the bin the guilt sets in – why didn’t I try harder, why didn’t I make the effort? – at this point you need to CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK.  Think about the achievements not the failures – you are doing better than most on this planet.  If you are struggling with guilt this is worth a read.

Anger

You know I said three paragraphs ago that I wasn’t judgmental, well I have my limits. My tolerance to the behaviour and choices of others stop short when it comes to littering.  People who litter, in my mind, have a total lack of understanding of how society / the planet / the universe works .  Individuals are so self important, that is couldn’t possibly occur to them that it is a bad thing – their actions not only cost the planet, they cost EVERYONE a fortune in clean up operations (including themselves).  I go litter picking with my daughter, I should not HAVE to go litter picking – ever.  There is simply no excuse, and according to the Marine Conservation Society it appears that it is getting worse.   I wish there were more people in the world like this dude in the video.

I do understand however that there are occasions where people believe they are not actually doing any harm, one of the biggest offenders of beach littering is actually flushing things down the toilet, and I have in the past been known to flush tampons (guilty face, regret, more regret, judge me now).  This was indeed ignorance about where our waste goes and what tampons are made of – oh! how I’ve changed.

Pride

When your sister messages you for a safety razor recommendation or a friend proudly shows you their new reusable coffee cup, or you daughter brings you the poster she has drawn about the affects of plastic in the ocean – you need to sit back and bloody well feel proud.  People say that one person cannot make a difference, but I read somewhere this week a really profound concept that blew my mind:

When we talk about the concept of time travel it is agreed that doing one little thing in the past could potentially change the whole course of the future.   What if we don’t make that change in the past, but make a change today? – One little change? – Imagine the future.

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