Yep, you can find lots of lists of plastic swaps.
Bring your own cutlery. Don’t use straws. Carry a reusable water bottle.
They’re all important.
But we thought we’d offer up a different type of swap. More of a switch in mindset, that can automatically become its own plastic-zapping machine.
Swap ‘one day’ for ‘right now.’
I was talking to a friend the other day, and though he has HiBAR in his shower, he still habitually reaches for the big plastic tub of pump-action shampoo. He said “well, I guess I sit somewhere in that uncomfortable middle, of people who SAY they care about plastic pollution, but don’t ever do anything about it.”
I appreciated his honesty, but I still made him pay for our coffees, as punishment.
The truth is, plastic pollution might feel like a far-away problem. Far away physically - like, in the middle-of-the-ocean or in an out-of-sight-out-of-mind waste facility. Or, far away in time, a problem that won’t really effect you in your lifetime.
But the need for action is urgent. Microplastics are already in almost everything we eat and drink. Stressed populations of wildlife – life we depend upon for our own sustenance – are further threatened by plastic pollution.
“One day” it will be abundantly clear to everyone on the planet that single-use plastic is a scourge. So, why not act today, right now?
Swap ‘perfection’ for ‘progress.’
It’s pretty difficult in our modern world to live 100% plastic-free. The people who manage it are leaders, gurus, magicians, gods and goddesses. We kneel before them.
But for us regular mortals, it’s a struggle to be perfect.
In fact, if perfection is our only ideal, then we can find ourselves suffocated before we even begin.
So go easy on yourself. If you’re using less plastic today than last week, you’re on the right path. Keep at it.
Swap ‘acceptance’ for ‘choice.’
Do you know who got us into this plastic-mess?
You probably want to say ‘big multinational companies that pump out single-use plastic 24-7’, and yes, they do bear great responsibility.
But the other culprit is you, dear human.
Or rather, you, us and the generations that came before.
Single-use plastic was not even a thing until the 1950s.
The novelty, convenience and affordability of plastic-packaged goods seduced us all.
We humans created the problem, by making billions upon billions of individual choices.
Dark! But it also means we can get out the same way. By using our formidable powers to choose products and experiences that avoid single-use plastic.
Believe this: companies will want to make money, one way or another. If they make less money, because they lose you and your friends and family as customers, then s**t gets real for them, and they change.
Swap ‘habit’ for ‘wait a moment.’
Just the other day, I took my family out for our first post-vaccination restaurant meal.
I admit it had been a while, and I needed to reacquaint myself with the notion of a menu, but still, I was halfway through my first glass of water before I realized I was drinking it through a PLASTIC STRAW!
How did that get there? How had I not noticed?
And yes, it’s just a straw, but it’s something way way bigger than that: It’s habit. A whole lifetime of cruising through large parts of my day on autopilot.
Think about that the next time you’re in the grocery store.
You’re cruising, you got a million things to do, and you reach out towards the grab-and-go bag of apples.
Stop right there! Let your hand hover mid-air. Swivel your head a few degrees this way and that… see over there? The apples that are NOT pre-picked for you? They’re the same apples. Just, sans plastic.
Grab-and-go with them. It’s worth that wait.
Swap ‘despair’ for ‘optimism.’
This is our favorite swap. In fact, we’d say it’s the queen of all queens of swaps.
Because, if somehow the world has convinced you that we’re all doomed, that the planet cannot heal, that certain problems are just so huge that they’re unsolvable, it becomes one of those self-fulfilling prophecies. If you don’t believe things can get better, that ensures that they won’t.
Believe me, I am not a natural-born optimist. I have achieved my status as a team cheerleader through years of hard work, sweat, blood and pain. (Kidding, but who does not love that old joke… “The beatings shall continue until company morale is improved!)
But, optimist, I am. Because for me, it’s the only rational approach to life. If I don’t believe in progress, in improvement, why get up in the morning? Why fall in love? Why have kids and raise them right? Why start a company that makes lovely little shampoo bars? Why bother with anything, really?
Swap ‘compromise’ for ‘lookin’ good.’
Ok, had to slip this one in at the end.
When we started… actually, the REASON we started, is we could not find a plastic-free hair care product that actually put beauty first. And we tried everything that was on the market. Because truth be told, we just wanted to wash our hair. We did NOT want to start a company. So. Much. Work.
We felt like people shouldn’t have to choose between looking and feeling their best AND being kinder to the planet. Why not have both? In fact, if we can’t have both, eventually, we’ll have neither. We’ll have a planet thoroughly swamped with plastic, and we’ll all look sad and glum and our favorite wildlife will all be gone and we’ll all have horrible hair because that will be the very last of our problems.
So step up and demand better. Encourage your favorite plastic-free brands to stick to what they’re doing, and to get better and better at it. Have a voice in persuading plastic-packaged brands to take a walk on the wild side (aka, the bright, glowing, plastic-free future we all know is out there somewhere.)
As we say, “save the planet, and look good doing it!”
About the author:
Dion Hughes is a co-founder of HiBAR. He despises plastic more than the average person, but believes that human beings are clever and well-meaning, and entirely capable of solving big problems.
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