Do you ever feel like it's just "one of those days"? This was me this week. I had a bad night with my poorly 3 year old, I'd been up since 4.30am with the baby and it was cold and miserable. My husband and I were grumpy with each because we were SO TIRED and I just felt run down and rubbish. My morning coffee didn't do the trick and the seemingly long walk to school didn't seem so appealing today. Especially not with aforementioned 3 year old, a moany 5 year old and a clingy 7 month old. So we caved in and took the car.
Mondays are usually fab, after the school drop offs we do a baby class, I catch up on the never ending lifemin and manage to get (at least some) stuff done. I even enjoy a hot coffee! This particular Monday was not going to be one of those days. Instead of getting any jobs done, we managed to sort through some old clothes and prep dinner. Not all bad, but I felt defeated and the baby had been grisly all day, so we jumped in the car for the afternoon pick up too. This made me feel even worse. Not a good environmental choice. I then also forgot my bread bag on the bakery run and we ran out of milk from the milkman, resulting in having to buy an extra plastic bottle. To top all this off, my car then completely died on us. It was bleak and cold and this was the only day I had left the oven on. Gah!
By the time we got home it was 5 o'clock and dark. The jump start our friend had tried hadn't worked, so we were left with no choice but to walk home. (The pity party was in full swing!) We were all cold and dinner wasn't ready, the house was a tip. I was not happy and was full of Mama guilt about the unnecessary plastic and the drives to school. But then I stopped and put myself in check.
This was just a bad day. Every other day is better than this one. Every other day, we walk more, don't use plastic milk bottles and remember the blooming bread bag. (And more!) I then began to mentally tick off all the things I had done well that day: I didn't use a single disposable baby wipe, we'd cloth nappied all day, I'd cleaned the house without using harsh chemicals, I hadn't used any cotton wool and despite the bread bag fail I had remembered my netted shopping bag. I had washed my clothes using washing powder in a cardboard box and I had washed my hair with a plastic-free natural shampoo bar that morning. I'd also washed my hands multiple times with a bar of soap. This made me feel better.
Being plastic conscious is a way of life. It isn't a crash diet or a fad. It isn't "hippy", "eco-warrior" or "crunchy". It's just necessary. My plastic conscious journey feels a bit like being on a healthy diet; most days are good, but sometimes it feels hard, especially when I feel tired and old habits try to sneak in and I crave quick and easy convenience. It is so easy to feel bad. So many inspirational bloggers talk about how they have achieved zero waste status and have given up way more than me, their Facebook and Instagram posts make it look effortless. But that is not real life. Right here in the harsh, unfiltered world, it can be messy and imperfect. It's realistic. Putting too much pressure on ourselves and setting unrealistic goals will always set us up for failure. Making swaps one or two at a time, and changing our habits slowly for the long-term is more likely to result in success. In diet terms, I am not someone who can just give up carbs cold turkey!
For what it is worth, here is my advice: have realistic expectations about what works (and what doesn't work) for you and/or your family. Reduce plastic, reduce waste, reuse what you can and cut down your plastic footprint, but don't expect it to be achieved overnight. Don't compare yourself to others, be kind to yourself and keep your ultimate goal at the forefront of your mind: just aim to be better. Trying your best is enough. Each plastic free swap you make is excellent. Every time you reduce your waste is a win. Little and often is the way forward and if you have a bad day, remember this: A bad day is just that - one bad day. Tomorrow will be better.
Together we CAN tackle the enormous problems of excessive waste and plastic pollution, but we won't succeed unless we change our habits for the long-term and that my friends is a marathon, not a sprint.