It’s that time of the year when we begin to think about the past year, what we’ve achieved, what we’ve learned, and what we wish we could have done better. It’s also that time of year where our focus is forward-looking and positive, anticipating a fresh start. From healthy living to better financial management to just being a better person, we begin to set our goals for the next year.
This year why not consider setting up effective goals towards a plastic-free lifestyle. Here are seven steps that will help you achieve your goals throughout the year.
Step 1 – Know Your Why. For a resolution to stick, it has to be aligned with your core values. It’s important to connect with your resolutions because feeling passionate about something will be more motivating and meaningful to you. If you’re passionate about the ocean, wildlife, the mountains, or simply the trees in your own backyard then going plastic-free will easily align with your passion. Reducing waste in our day-to-day lives is something we can all strive to be better at. (Check out Plastic-free Living- Is it for you?)
Step 2 – Be Specific. With any goals it’s important to be specific. The more specific you are the more likely you will be able to succeed. Describe your goals and make a measurable. An easy goal to begin your plastic-free journey, might be “to implement one plastic-free habit each month for the rest of the year, starting with refusing plastic bags at every store for the month of January”.
Depending on where you are in your journey your goals may differ. For me personally, the next step in my own plastic-free goals include researching how to eat a vegan diet without plastic and then implementing it.
Step 3 – Don’t just think it, ink it! A Stanford University study found that when people wrote down their goal, it increased the probability of them achieving it by over 70%. So, pull out your pencil, a pad of paper and get writing. Once your list is complete, don’t stop there: be sure to write down either on sticky notes or your favourite note app on your phone some motivational reminders as to why you’re doing this in the first place. This might even include some Instagram posts of your favorite lake, your hike through the mountains, the beautiful garden, or your children. The thing is, a plastic-free life style should be motivated by the things that you love because these are the reasons we choose to make our world a better place.
Step 4 – Design your environment. Never underestimate the power of your environment to support or sabotage your success. If there are people or things in your life that pull you down or off track, address them directly and set whatever boundaries you know you will need up front.
How does this apply to setting plastic-free goals? Well, if your family isn’t supportive of your goals it may be difficult to achieve them. If your goal for the month is to avoid plastic bags, and you ask your husband pick up something from the grocery store it’s important that he remembers you don’t want the plastic bag. If packing your lunch to avoid plastic waste at lunchtime is your goal, it’s important to be prepared with the right equipment (plastic-free alternatives) so you can be successful.
Step 5 – Narrow your efforts. Be sure your goals are attainable. As I’ve highlighted many times before it’s important to take it one step at a time. If your goal is to be completely plastic-free by the end of 2018, it would be more attainable to do this in small steps and start with just one major undertaking come January 1st . For instance the example in step two breaks up the goal throughout the year: “implement one plastic-free habit each month for the rest of the year, starting with refusing plastic bags at every store for the month of January”.
You could also take my one-month plastic-free challenge and apply it to your year. Or see below for goal examples!
Step 6 – Focus on the process. It’s easy to get caught up in an initial wave of enthusiasm, only to come crashing down when your initial efforts don’t produce immediate and amazing results. So, focus on the process itself, and remind yourself that every action counts when it comes to reducing your plastic waste. Remind yourself that it takes time to build a habit. With each step, and each refusal of the straw or bag, you are changing the world because persistence always pays off.
Step 7 – Forgive your failures. Don’t beat yourself up if you accidentally come home with one plastic bag, or the waitress brings you a straw before you the chance to say “no straw please”. These setbacks will not define your success in the year ahead or any year but how you respond is important. Again, remember why you’re doing this, remember it takes time, and remember to go easy on yourself.
Change is difficult, yet as hard as it is, everyone has the ability to make and keep meaningful changes in their life. Things don’t always go as planned, but with you firmly at the helm of your own life, change is possible by living intentionally and consciously, rather than by default.
I wish you all the best in 2018 and can’t wait to hear of all your successes going plastic-free.
Here’s a few examples of some short-term plastic-free goals to reach your ultimate goal of being plastic-free by the end of 2018:
- January: Get more involved with the global plastic-free movement. Join the PlasticFreeYYC Official Committee starting January 2018. (email for more information, or sign up here)
- February: Save money and save time: create a plastic free lunch for the month.
- March: To celebrate World Water Day (March 22nd), BYO your own water bottle everywhere for the whole month.
- April: April 22nd is Earth Day – why not make it Earth month. Commit your month of April to cleaning up our parks and waterways after the snow has melted.
- May: Save a turtle for World Turtle Day on May 23rd by refusing plastic bags every time there offered. Bring your own bag when you go shopping. Start with one month and see how your bagless habit grows.
- June: World Environment Day falls on June 5th and World Oceans Day falls on June 8th. Celebrate both by improving your shopping habits. June is a great month to shop at your local farmers market to purchase your groceries in bulk and with reduced packaging. (plastic-free shopping 101)
- July: Participate in the worldwide challenge of Plastic Free July. Going at full month without consuming any plastic. Bonus points for those who accomplish this while attending Stampede!
- August: Teach yourself how to can! Preserving fruits and vegetables through canning is the most useful skill to help you go plastic free.
- September: BYO travel mug for every coffee you buy. September 29th is International coffee day.
- October: With all the leftovers coming your way from Thanksgiving, challenge yourself by removing plastic food wrap and zip lock bags from your kitchen. Prepare yourself with reusable glass or metal containers and beeswax food wraps.
- November: Ask for no straw for each beverage you order in the month of November #Nostrawnovember.
- December: Prepare yourself for a plastic-free Christmas. Make your own decorations with popcorn, oranges, or cranberries. Make your own Christmas wrap using cloth.
By this time next year, you will be an expert at a plastic-free lifestyle and you may be ready to start a zero waste lifestyle!