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Goal setting for plastic free July

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

Hi and thanks for checking back in. As some of you know, me and my family have recently moved to Australia so the blog has taken a back seat for a while, but I have some ideas for cool blog posts coming up!

Plastic bottles by mali maeder -

Today’s post is about goal-setting, with particular reference to Plastic Free July. I’ve been trying to reduce my overall consumption, but particularly plastic and single-use plastic for a while. I only recently found out about Plastic Free July, a global initiative that started here in Australia.

Now you guys all know that I love my goal setting and I love habit setting and that a month is my preferred option for looking at creating a habit. Why? Well because generally if you do something daily for a month, you stand a really great chance of being able to keep that habit going. So if you’d like to get the habit of reducing your plastic use, this is a great time to start.

Know your why

My first step in goal-setting is looking at why do you want to do this? Get as specific as possible. Helping the environment is the overarching reason for most, but why do YOU want to do this? My personal why is because I want to create a more sustainable way of living that will benefit my child and any children she has, because I want to say that I did my bit.* I want her to be able to grow up in a world where sea turtles can swim without being caught in our rubbish and where it is the norm to have a society that takes responsibility for its own consumption.

Purple and blue sea turtle by Amanda Martino -

What is your goal?

What exactly do you want to achieve? I remember several years ago I was inspired by a friend of a friend who was managing to reduce her waste to a jam jar size every month. Whilst I think as a household, we’re away off managing that (especially in temporary accommodation where we can’t have a compost heap!), I would like to seriously reduce our overall waste. Last week, we filled our kitchen bin 4 times. By the end of July, I want to reduce this 1 a week. I’ve been able to set a realistic and specific goal because I took some time to work out what my current reality is. If we were getting through 8 bin loads a week, then 1 a week was never going to be achievable. If we were at 2, I’d think 1 would be too soft a goal.

Who else needs to help or know this?

My goal is quite easy to measure, but I need to make sure that I have the cooperation of others in the house. I know who to ask for support, who else needs to pitch in and who needs careful management. A team goal needs team buy-in!

Plan your action

The next step in the goal-setting is the planning. How am I going to reduce our waste? I have bought several glass containers for things like pasta, flour, rice, sugar, nuts, cereal and kitchen cleaner. I’ve identified somewhere to fill said containers (the very lovely Lets Be Natural in Phillips, ACT). I’ve identified some potential hurdles, such as crisp consumption. We all enjoy a good packet of crisps, but the packaging is immense. Whilst I know that it is now possible to recycle crisp packets, I’m looking at alternative options such as our own popcorn put into reusable containers, homemade sweet potato chips (I found this great recipe here which I’m going to try and mixed nuts. I’m committing to not getting any take-away cups this month so if I forget my to-go cup, that’s it, no coffee. We already use our own bags when shopping and rarely have takeaway and if we do, we re-use the containers.

Can you make it a habit?

Something I’m going to really try hard on this month is stopping plastic straws arriving with drinks for our daughter. We have some steel straws but they are in our shipping and so we don’t have them right now. I’m going to ask whenever we eat out if they have plastic straws and if so not to have one. This is just about habit-forming so I’m mentally linking ordering kids drinks with asking about straws to help me establish that habit.

Check back in with your goal

I’ve signed up to the plastic free July challenge, so I’ll have lots of emails and hints and tips to try as well as prompts for checking in. Also, I’ve told you guys all of this so at the end of July I hope to be able to report a reduction in our waste!

Let me know how you are using goal-setting to aid your own personal plastic use revolution!

* I’ve read some interesting articles lately that suggest taking individual steps as consumers achieves very little compared to the steps that large corporations should be taking. Whilst I don’t dispute that, I also think that we need to distinguish between what we can control and what we can influence. I may be able to influence corporations by applying pressure to them and to the relevant Government via my vote, but I can also influence them by my consumer choices. I can also definitely control what we do in our household. I don’t think it needs to be one or the other; I think we can do both. But we do need to be mindful that there are wider reaching actions we can undertake in tandem with our individual initiatives.

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