Plastic-reduced parenting, one month later…

Last month, I made a modest goal to reduce single-use plastic in our grocery shopping/food habits and in our bathroom habits. I’ve successfully stopped using most plastic bags & produce bags, tried to find produce that is not wrapped in plastics, etc. I even shopped at the farmers’ market (since farmers’ markets tend to have less plastic wrapping than grocery stores), though the one near our house is so damn expensive it’s hard to commit to shopping there long-term. I also made a goal of reduced bathroom plastic, and while I haven’t needed to repurchase anything for A or myself yet, I have chosen where I will buy my next package-free options (LUSH seems to have what I need, honestly).

As we transition to plastic-reduced lives, I think we need to put a lot of conscious thought and energy into it. Once living plastic-reduced/plastic-free becomes a habit, it can fade into the background and not require so much thought and planning. But right now, during the transition, it should. And the goals I set last month have already faded into the background, so I think it’s time for the next push. Once something gets easy, it’s time to make it hard again. This month, I’m doing that through ‘no-buy July.’

My husband and I have committed to ‘no-buy July’, where we limit our frivolous spending (obviously necessities are allowed, but no extra toys/clothes/eating out, etc.). Trying these two big goals (plastic-reduced and no-buy July) at the same time may seem like I’m spreading myself too thin, but in reality, they are mutually supportive. When you don’t buy as much, you don’t use as much single-use plastic. Funny how that works. Consumerism is the motivation behind single-use plastic. So reducing consumerist tendencies reduces our plastic use. There are other benefits to no-buy July as well (I hope! Only six days in at this point…), but even reducing our eating out means that we are less likely to get takeaway and therefore less likely to use plastic utensils and to-go food containers.

It’s difficult to live plastic-reduced as a parent. We’re tired and don’t always have the energy to do the slightly harder (but less-plastic) option. We feel poorer and don’t always want to buy the slightly more expensive (but less-plastic) option. We’re marketed to like crazy, which means we buy toys/clothes/convenience food wrapped in plastic. That’s why our family has chosen to set incremental goals, instead of going cold turkey. It makes a radical lifestyle change something that seems doable. A isn’t old enough to talk about plastic-reduced living yet, but I hope he sees the precedent we are trying to set for him. We are doing it imperfectly but trying nonetheless!

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