Mental health, occupational therapy, Personal

The Stages of Changing to Plastic Free

The move to removing single use plastic bags from our economy is coming, with one of NZ’s leading supermarket chains removing them from use next week.

It’s a time of change for a lot of people. Change for the better for our environment. I’m so excited about this movement but I also acknowledge that change is a journey, and takes time.

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There are those of us who are well on our journey of going plastic free. Cutting out single use plastic bags is a great start, but it’s really only the tip of the iceberg. Fellow #plasticfree warriors are championing the use of stainless steel straws, bamboo dish brushes, solid bar soaps and shampoos… the list goes on (and on)!

My own personal journey to plastic free has been about 5 years now, since attending a cloth nappy workshop with Kate Meads, and making small changes since then.

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When it comes to a #plasticfree shopping trip, I do sometimes wonder whether I’d be able to sustain this if I was more pressed for time. Like for example if I went back to paid employment. This was yesterday afternoon’s errands; Bin Inn to refill some pantry containers, then onto the fruit n veg shop. . It takes a while to get organised; making sure I’ve thrown the bag stash in the car, checking which containers need refilling. . I’m fully aware that as a SAHM I do have the luxury of time to do this in. I often ponder whether I’d be keen to make such an effort if I were doing it on my weekend. I wonder whether I’d still prioritise it as much? I hope so, but you never know, the convenience of the supermarket would be pretty appealing most likely. . What do you guys reckon? How do you fit it in if you’re in paid employment? Do you just have to be super more motivated and organised, or what? . #plasticfree #zerowaste #reducereuserecycle #ecoliving #ecolife #banthebag #bininn #byobag #refill #ecomama #sustainableliving #instathoughts #justwondering #instatruth

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Sometimes it can be hard to remember what it was like to start our plastic free journey. Some people are still at the very beginning of it, and not having Countdown give them a plastic bag is a BIG DEAL.

In light of this, I have been reflecting on the stages of change that occur when people make major lifestyle changes. Because that’s what this is really, when you break it down. It’s a lifestyle change to have to remember to provide your own bag, or carry things in your own backpack or arms even (shock horror).

Major lifestyle change occurs in stages. 

These stages have been studied and can be applied to MANY different life situations.

Because I’m a geek, and I think about these things a lot, I’ve applied these stages to making plastic free changes in your life. Hope you find it interesting.

“Cycle of Change” (Prochaska and DiClemente).

cycle-change-thumb
(Image via http://socialworktech.com/2012/01/09/stages-of-change-prochaska-diclemente/)
Stage One: PRECONTEMPLATION

The first step on the cycle of change is called ‘precontemplation’. This is when a person has little or no awareness of the impact of their behaviours or lifestyle on others. This stage is sometimes called “denial”.

Have you ever spoken to anyone about zero waste concepts, and they look at you like you’ve got a hole in the head? Yeah, well those people are most likely in this first stage of the change cycle.

It’s likely that they have very little concept of the impact their plastic consumption has on the world. That means that there’s no reason at all why they would even consider using their own produce bags… let alone use bar soap to save using a plastic bottle!

These are the people that are in outrage that Countdown are phasing out single use plastic bags. These people are the ones who are have been stashing plastic bags in their cupboards because they think they can’t live without them. They are more concerned about the impact on themselves, rather than on the world around them.

Talking to these people about bringing your own non-plastic bag might feel like banging your head against a brick wall. Just remember, they’re on a journey too – just at the very beginning of it. They have been forced into the first stage of change by someone else changing their world. They will be feeling a little confronted by that and will probably react defensively.

Stage Two: CONTEMPLATION

The next step is called “contemplation“. This is where people are aware that making a change might be a positive thing, but still waver in their decision. They probably don’t mind that NZ is phasing out single use plastic bags. They are probably even a little bit thankful that Countdown has made the decision for them. This is because they have a bit more awareness of the environmental impact that plastic bags can cause (compared to those in the first stage).

These people are encouraged by positive feedback and by people helping them feel that every small change counts. They might even be open to thinking about making other plastic free changes in their lives too, but only if they don’t have to work too hard at it or make too many decisions about it.

Stage Three: PREPARATION

Then you’ve got the ‘preparation‘ stage. This is the research stage. People are committed to change and start to move beyond the simple act of not using single use plastic bags and start to look further into other plastic free options for their lives. Yay!

They might start looking at blogs or websites to  research options for different plastic free alternatives in your home. Or they might join a great Zero Waste Group on Facebook(join! It’s a goodie!).

An-inspirational-picture-quotes-that-states-if-you-change-nothing-nothing-will-change.-Good-life-advice
Image by Catherine Nessworthy via Mayhem and Muse.com
Stage Four: ACTION

Next comes ‘action’. This is the exciting stage! Well, it’s exciting if you’re like me and are a #plasticfree geek already!

This is when people actually start to make more changes; they buy some reusable produce bags and actually use them for the first time (I remember the day I did this and it felt SO GOOD). They might purchase some stainless steel straws instead of buying another packet of plastic ones, or take some containers from home to Bin Inn to be refilled. Boom – the bigger changes to living a plastic free journey and it’s SO EXCITING.

Stage Five: MAINTENANCE

Some plastic free changes are easy and some a bit harder. The next stage of the cycle of change is the ‘maintenance‘ stage, and this is where people need to keep up those changes. Keep the faith that these changes you’re making are awesome and helping to save our planet. Keep the faith that these changes you’re making are influencing others for the better. Keep the faith that you’re helping plant seeds in other’s minds; seeds that may not have been there before.

tomorrowsflowers

Stage Six: RELAPSE

If you do happen to have a while off your new plastic free habits, then remember, you’re only human. Change takes time to really cement, and most people fall back into old habits occasionally. Relapse is actually the last stage in the cycle of change.

With each relapse, there is learning that happens. Which eventually means that each relapse is shorter and shorter. So even though you might occasionally lapse back into using some single use plastic, never fear my friend; next time you probably won’t.

I’ll just post that model of change again incase you want to take another look at it:

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WHERE AM I ON THE CYCLE OF CHANGE?

I’m now at the stage in my reducing waste journey that I’ll let fruit roll around in my trolley rather than use a single use plastic produce bag. A year ago I don’t think I would have done that. But it’s just a new normal for me now.

All of the changes I’ve made towards reducing our single use plastics have slowly been adopted over the course of about 5 years.

Five years ago, I had very little idea of the concept of “zero waste”.

Five years ago, I was still buying plastic straws and accepting plastic bags at the supermarket with no thought at all for the environment.

But now, I’m firmly in the maintenance stage of the cycle of change. 

Know better, do better. We all have to start somewhere.

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REDUCING HOUSEHOLD WASTE ~ house tour in my stories about how these products help reduce our household waste. I will add it to my highlights reel 👀 . Clockwise from top: Norwex plate covers, beeswax wraps, ss straws, second hand kitchen utensils, bamboo pot scrubber,bar soap, refilling pantry containers, reusable produce bags, bar shampoo & conditioner, menstrual cup, bar stain remover, Norwex cleaning cloths, DIY all purpose spray + baking soda, cloth nappy + wetbag, second hand toys. Tap pic for suppliers 👍 . Whew! These are changes I’ve gradually introduced over the last five years. I genuinely have an intense passion for using and role modelling products and a lifestyle that help reduce the impact of single use plastic on our planet 🌏💚 because every small change counts, and we are raising a generation of change makers 🙌 . #plasticfreejuly #bethechange #reducereuse #sustainability #sustainable #saveouroceans #savetheworld #savetheturtles #clothnappies #shopsecondhand #bininn #generationchange #zerowaste #towardszerowaste #zerowasteliving #inspiredlife #livethelifeyoulove #ecoliving #ecoparenting #ecofriendly #flatlay

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Random fact about me: I used to work at a sprout factory. Yep, back in the day it was one of my random jobs that paid my way around Australia as a 20 year old. We’d grow and pack alllllll the alfalfa, mung bean sprouts, chick peas etc, but I never ate them, I only thought “super healthy crazy” people ate them 😂. . And now look at me, packing them in the kids lunchboxes 😜. What a 180! . Also in Mr 3’s bento we have @my_kids_lick_the_bowl weetbix slice, and also a no bake muesli bar, both made by the husband on Sunday. . Yum. . #superhealthycrazyperson #kidslunchbox #lunchbox #lunchboxideas #kindydays #preschooler #sprouts #randomfacts #instatruths #crunchymama #crunchysprouts #mixedvegeslunchboxes

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NAPPY STASH / I didn’t use many cloth nappies last year – low energy with three under five really didn’t give me any impetus to make my washing pile any larger! Have been using a few lately, even just one a day makes a difference to the landfill, right 👊🌏. . Most of these I bought second hand. The thought of using second hand nappies would have grossed me out pre-kids. But! How your mindset changes when budget and the environment come into it! Learning about the right cloth nappy strip cleaning method helped too 😊. Such a learning curve that was! Ever thankful to The Nappy Lady @waste_free_with_kate for the super helpful workshops. . #clothnappies #stashshot #clothstash #ecoparenting #ecoliving #reduce #secondhand #mumlife #kiwimamalife #lifewithlittles #honestmotherhood #motherhoodthroughinstagram

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