This past weekend I was in a four-day training for NLP ( Neuro Linguistic Programming) and we learned of this idea that every day in our life, we are constantly filtering and deleting things from our reality. The trainer, Matt, referred to it as the Gorilla. We watched a video of a few men and women dressed in black and white passing a basketball back and forth. We were told to count how many times the basketball passes back and forth between people wearing black.
When the video was over, Matt asked us some questions. One of them was, "How many of you saw the gorilla?" I had happened to see it but didn't think much of it. It was literally a person dressed in a gorilla suit walking right through the mix of people passing the basketball back and forth.
He then asked if we saw other things like a giant letter 'S' in the background and the person in the black shirt wearing white socks, etc. I hadn't noticed either of those. The idea is that all of us have filters and throughout our day, we are constantly omitting and deleting things from our reality. Basically, we see what we want to see.
Over the course of the weekend, I thought about all the areas in my own life that I omit and delete which is basically, to some extent, every area. We all do it. But it made me think back to a morning I was walking Rocky and all of the sudden it was as if someone turned on a light switch and I saw the trash and garbage all over the ground for the first time ever. In reality, I had been thinking more about my own carbon footprint and the environment and thus, opened my reality up a bit to include it in my sight.
It was everywhere and it made me really sad and a little angry. How is it in this day in age we are still so careless with our beautiful planet?
This got me thinking about the little things I could change in my own life to make an impact. It was really one of the last things, in my opinion, I needed to focus in on. I was already so aware of what goes in and on my body, it's was time to take a little more responsibility for my contribution to waste.
I'll be 100% honest though, this area makes me nervous. We are all creatures of habit and like our little comforts. Giving up ALL plastic use for a month was going to really test me and I had to get really honest about this. At the same time, it was like the gorilla. My eyes had been opened and now I could no longer unsee it.
I really wanted to know; how can I live with less while still obtaining the quality of life I truly cherish? ie: fixing up my house, eating a certain way, using certain products, etc. Is there a better way to go about all of this? Can I still be totally fulfilled all while consuming and using less?
This is about getting more conscious and taking more responsibility.
I know for me, I hold onto a lot of things. I wouldn't say I'm a hoarder. I'm a bit too type A for that. However, if you open my cabinets, I have A LOT of stuff. It's just really organized, labeled and in alphabetical order. However, it dawned on me awhile back that I don't need all this stuff and I'd really love to learn to live with less. Way less.
So I've committed to doing so. For the whole month of March.
For the whole month of March I will not be buying or using anything that involves plastic. There are a few exceptions to this rule.
1) I am going to continue using whatever I currently have in my house like plastic spray bottles that I clean with, my plastic waste bin under my sinks, hangers, etc. Over time however, I'd love to transition these idem out. Slowly.
2) I am going to use biodegradable plastic poop bags for Rocky. Sorry, but I ain't picking up his poop with anything else but a plastic bag over my hand. It’s seriously what I imagine it would be like to pick up human poop. It’s gross. They will be biodegradable though.
3) There are a few supplements I take that are non-negotiables for me. Untill I can find a better sorce, I need to continue taking them and unfortunately, they come in plastic bottles. Grrr.
Prep for a Plastic Free Month
So how does one prep for this?
I had a bit of time to think about how I wanted to go about a plastic free month and thus, plenty of time to prep for it.
These are some of the things I took into consideration to prep:
1) Gather all my reusable shopping bags and make sure they are accessible.
Fortunately I already have about ten reusable shopping bags. These will be attached to my hip whenever I leave the house now. No more laziness on my part!
2) Find those reusable produce and bulk item bags I got several years ago but never use.
I got these several years ago when I was trying to reduce my footprint a bit. I got lazy and stopped using them after about two times.
3) Save everything that comes in a glass jar and go to a thrift store and purchase a few bigger sizes.
I already try to buy most things in glass jars. Peanut butter, mustards, coconut butter and oil, etc. I even just found these at Sprouts! So stoked about this!
I save all my jars and use them for water glasses. However, I have enough of those so the overflow will now become storage jars. I simple remove the labels. For those hard to remove labels, here is a little trick.
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup baking soda
6 drops Lemon Essential Oil
1) Mix all in a bowl.
2) Spread mixture over label and wait 15 minutes.
3) Run under warm water and pull away label. If any areas stick,
just use your fingernail to scratch off a bit.
4) Wipe clean with a cloth.
These are awesome to store items in the refrigerator or pantry. I needed a few bigger sizes so I just went to my favorite thrift store and bought a few for a dollar each. Unless you are canning, you really never need to buy brand new jars.
4) Take inventory of what I currently use and how I will handle it if I run out during the month. ie: shampoo, conditioner, etc. Even my tampons have plastic on them!
I follow a woman on Instagram who has made this her mission. She now educates others on how to go plastic-free. She is really inspiring and I've learned a lot from her. She lives in Australia and goes to this amazing bulk store where they have EVERYTHING in bulk and you just bring in your own containers. shampoo and conditioner! It’s dreamy. If anyone knows of a place like this around Encinitas or in the greater San Diego area, PLEASE let me know.
As for tampons, I finally got the Diva cup. I've had several people recommend getting this but I was super nervous. Turns out it's really easy to use and I never have to use tampons again. Which is amazing because those little little guys are bleached and to be honest, I really don't want something with bleach going up my most precious lady parts. :) It’s a sacred space for sacred things!
5) Do a test run grocery shopping.
The other day I did a little test run and it was hard. It's really mind blowing what has plastic on it. Even my pure maple syrup has a plastic top. However, one of the things I realized and that totally excited me was that this is going to greatly cut down on the random items that end up in my basket. That, in my opinion, is a major win!
6) Start slow if need be.
Not everyone needs to go all in right off the bat like me. I'm doing this to see where I can be stretched a bit. It's easier because it's just me. I don't have a partner or kids to incorporate. With that being said, I don't think that should be an excuse either. I think this is an awesome thing you could do WITH your kids!
7) Get Honest. What do you really need?
Here is a look inside my medicine cabinet. PS – who else LOVES looking in people’s medicine cabinets? It’s werid, I know and I promise I don’t do it randomly! But you can really learn so much about someone in their medicine cabinet. There fridge too! I LOVE looking inside people’s refrigerators!
But really? How much do we need. Raise your hand if you are like me and have about five different lotions, three different face washes, a plethora of hair products, makeup out the wazoo and the list goes on. I don’t even really wear makeup and I have shit ton of it!
It’s time to get real and get rid of stuff. Well, use it up first, find the products you truly love, and stick with them.
8) Less is more
Marketers are really clever. Like, really clever. So much so that they have this incredible way of convincing us that we will finally reach the level of happiness we hope for by consuming and buying more. There are a few areas I will be obstaining from for March and indefinitely.
a) Sorry Target but you and I are breaking up. I know your clothes are cheap and adorable but you see, they fall apart so easy and sometimes I just buy them because they are cheap and they sit in my closet for ever before I wear them. I want my purchases to mean more and they just don’t with you anymore. Just your clothes. Not your homegood ;)
b) Only quality makeup and hair products. Cheap comes with a price. Most of the time the products that are cheap to buy are loaded with chemicals and in my opinion, even worse, tested on sweet, poor, helpless animals. So, without breaking my bank account, I’m only purchasing products that I truly align with. My goal is to eventually get rid of the medicine cabinet and replace it with a mirror. I can do it!
So that is it for now. It’s been about five days and it’s going really well! Stay tuned for an update about mid-month.
In the meantime, leave a comment below telling me some of the things you think you’d have a hard time giving up. I’d love to create a resource for you to help you reduce your waste!