5 Next Steps in Going Plastic Free

Posted on February 16, 2018

If you’ve been watching environmental news in the recent days, you’ve probably heard a lot about reducing single-use plastics. A big part of this push comes from the recent ban from China that eliminates a large market for buying recyclable plastics. Another, of course, is the huge problems to the world’s oceans. There are things that each and every one of us can do, today, that make a difference in this fight against plastics. Green Calgary encouraged people at the beginning of 2017 to give up plastic straws, instead using reusable or compostable straws, or simply going without.

This year, Green Calgary launched the year with a Bag Share to collect and redistribute reusable bags. That program has met with huge success. But what do you do after? How can you further reduce your plastic footprint?

1. Commit. You’ve already come this far, so commit yourself to a goal of moving towards plastic free! Take things one at a time to start and get used to them. Humans perform best when we get into the habit of something. You can try doing a big plastic free challenge to get an idea of what it would look like, such as Plastic Free YYC’s 4-Week Challenge, but if you can’t make every change right away, don’t worry! Just keep at it, one step at a time!

2. Make a goal. Now that you’ve committed, it’s time to make some goals. Pick a few different things you could try and start making an effort to work them into your schedule. Having clear goals makes reaching them easier! Start small and build up from there.

3. Track your progress. This part is much more difficult than it sounds. Making goals and tracking how you’re doing with them is a proven technique to achieving them, but it requires you to be intentional. Some ways to make sure it gets done? Set a regular alarm or reminder, make your goals along with a friend or partner who can support you and remind you, and keep a journal somewhere obvious where you’ll see it to remember to log your progress.

4. Share your successes. Nothing inspires us like a success story! Talking about what you’re doing and how can make all the difference! When you’ve succeeded at something, let people know! Each achievement will get you feedback, but will also give others ideas on how they can follow you! Share these stories with friends, family, coworkers, and on social (find links to our social feeds below).

5. Get help. It’s easy to find challenges in this process, so if you’re having difficulties, it’s okay to ask for help. Green Calgary is just one resource you can contact, too! Plastic Free YYC has resources to help, too, and the City of Calgary’s website gives you guides on what can and can’t be recycled. There are also many sources of inspiration on the internet, such as Erin Rhodes attempts to live plastic free for over two years! Green Calgary is also hosting its 2018 GreenTalks, and one of these events is Next Level Sustainable Living with Amanda Mitchell, where you'll learn how to be more sustainable beyond just reusable bags!

There are some easy changes you can make right now to cut down on your plastic use:

  • Do you use disposable plastic containers to keep things in the fridge? Slowly move towards glass containers and mason jars as your old plastic pieces wear out.
  • Avoid plastic in the grocery store by buying bulk and using your own containers for it, like mason jars. For fruits and veggies, bring breathable reusable bags to the grocery store for them.
  • When shopping for personal care products, such as soap, seek out brands that use little or no packaging. Many natural brands do this.
  • Buy clothing made from natural fibres where you can.
  • When you're out, keep a small reusable bag on you in case you decide to buy something. Don’t have a small bag? Our bag share is currently handing out free bags for those who need them. Please come down to the Green Hub at #100, 301 – 14th Street NW during our regular hours and pick one up! Only until the end of February! Find our store hours here.

How is your plastic free journey going? Is there something easy you do to reduce your plastic use? Share it with us! Contact us or share on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.