Just One Thing: Less Plastic

14 04 2008

It seems that humans love to complicate things unnecessarily. This is especially true when it comes to setting new goals. Many of the advice columnists and goal experts (I assume they have such titles) will tell you that forming new habits requires an outline detailing each step. They will also tell you that you need a deadline and a buddy and many other things that the average person just won’t do.

Here, then, is a thought: pick just one thing–to strive for, to think about, to motivate. Make it short and catchy, something you can chant (if you want to) when weak moments hit. One I’ve been trying out, and that you’re welcome to steal, is “less plastic.” Notice, now, that it doesn’t say “no plastic” or “how dare you buy plastic?!” or “plastic is evil.” These thoughts have a way of creeping into our goals and become nasty dialogues with ourselves that can’t possibly help matters. They certainly aren’t inspiring or peaceful, which is how I like to think “less plastic” derives its power.

I am trying to think about “less plastic” when I stand before two options for dinner, and one involves the individually wrapped what-have-you’s. I am trying to think of “less plastic” when I remember to take my canvas shopping bags in the car before heading to work for the day. And I’m trying to think “less plastic” when there is some cute, useless thing that I don’t need cluttering my little apartment.

There are many ways to apply this goal. Certain types of plastic, and the processes that form them, emit chemicals that we are better off without. Buying gently used toys, appliances and other goods, for instance, reduces packaging, which proves annoying anyway. It also keeps used items out of landfills longer. For an even greater environmental benefit, go truly green: natural or naturally-derived materials such as wood, metals, and ceramics make for heirloom possessions that are kinder to people and the environment. Reusing plastic containers instead of new plastic baggies for food storage also counts. Finally, let’s not forget browsing vintage furniture or clothes on a fun outing; finding creative ways to reuse and cherish your possessions; and looking for investment buys of good quality rather than suffering buyer’s remorse on cheaper goods.

So, you see the potential in a little phrase, a simple goal. No bells and whistles–no outlines, deadlines, or buddy systems–just a thought that applies to and encourages in many situations. I’d love to hear about other “goal mantras,” especially those that result, like this one, in saved money, environment, and peace of mind.

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12 05 2008
The Greening Tree

[…] For more plastic reduction inspiration, check out my previous post Just One Thing: Less Plastic. […]

15 05 2008
Just One Thing: Less Packaging « The Greening Tree

[…] One Thing: Less Packaging 15 05 2008 This idea often aligns with the Less Plastic tip, but I believe it’s important–and powerful–enough to mention on its own. The best […]

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