Have you ever been in the supermarket with your plastic free goodies and spotted the person next to you in line buying basically an abundance of plastic with some food somehow hidden under it all? How do you usually react to this person?
If you've been consciously trying to reduce your plastic consumption then you'll have likely become even more aware about the presence of the material. Plastic is literally everywhere. It's almost unavoidable.
You'll also have realised that by trying to change your habits to lead a low-waste lifestyle, you've had to adjust your usual routines. Maybe that means preparing your food in advance to avoid take-away containers or going to a different store to find lose produce or carrying your knife and fork with you to avoid the plastic option. Either way, you've probably thought that it takes a little more effort and is a lot less convenient (but that doesn't mean it's not worth it).
With this extra effort that you're putting in, you'll have surely come across some of the following moments;
Practically juggling all your veggies at the check-out but still refusing the plastic bag.
Getting funny looks when you whip out your container at a restaurant to take home your left-overs
Being slightly inebriated but never forgetting to shout "No plastic straw" to the bartender.
We can all relate to those times. But maybe one of the hardest experiences when you're on your journey to zero-waste, is watching the rest of the world continue "business as usual". People piling their shopping carts with individually plastic wrapped cheese slices or plastic bottles with plastic labels contained in their 6-packs with plastic casing and a plastic handle. It's a plastic world.
We all know that feeling. You feel deflated. There you are, putting in your time, energy, spirit and passion to help make the world a cleaner place and you see the rest of the world using single-use plastic like it's going out of fashion (which it should). It's heartbreaking.
In those moments we can experience a whole range of emotions. Probably the first one is defeat, then maybe sadness, then perhaps anger or frustration. This can often lead to judging others, feeling annoyed with them and asking yourself "what are they doing, don't they know about the dangers of plastic?".
At this point is when our plastic activism can take two different routes. We can either be annoyed with these people, maybe make a comment, judge them and feel bitter about it. Or we can chose to practice non-judgement. We can acknowledge the situation without making it a personal issue.
Many times, people are much more likely to listen to our point of view if we don't angrily throw it around expecting people to listen. If we calmly approach the subject, it is more likely that our point will be well made.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, why not try to gracefully suggest an alternative option, or just raise the topic of plastic pollution? We don't need to be verbal everytime. By simply acting in a positive way and showing that it is possible to make changes, we can have a great influence. Lead by example.
By practicing non-judgement we can encourage others to join us in our efforts to reduce plastic consumption on land. This has a great impact on the state of our oceans. The less plastic that we use and produce, the less plastic there will be to end up in the ocean. It's as simple as that.
So stay positive, have conversations, share tips and advice, try to communicate your message and remain hopeful.
By Lydia Gaskell