"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has" -Margaret Mead
Change is difficult whether it is changing your eating habits, your exercise routine, the route you take to work or the way in which you tie your shoes. Human beings are creatures of habit and habits occur OUTSIDE of our awareness. Science shows that even if there is a better way of doing something, when we are confronted with a situation, our brain automatically pulls from a mental file cabinet made up of past experiences and outcomes instead of choosing an appropriate response. This means we often sleepwalk through life because we are functioning based on past experiences and outcomes. In fact, 40% percent of the time we aren't even thinking about what it is we are doing, according to the article "How we form habits, change existing ones" in ScienceDaily (sourced by Society for Personality and Social Psychology).
The article goes on to say that despite being inspired or emotionally charged by an educational program or workshop, the final result was changed intentions not changed behaviors. Change is difficult. Studies show that it can take anywhere from 15 to 254 days to truly form a new habit, according to D. T. Neal, W. Wood. Wood goes on to suggest that there are two major ways to move along making a change to an existing behavior:
1- Disrupt old habits & create a window of opportunity
Example: If you are wasting gas by speeding on the highway on habitual route to work, try reducing your gas budget so that you are forced to take an alternate route to work, one which requires you to travel at a lower speed.
2- Repetition is key.
Example: Remember it takes time to cement a new behavior so, lather, rinse, repeat.
3- Stable and steady context cues to establish a new pattern.
Example: Gas up after you receive your paycheck so that are reminded each time you get paid that you are using less money for gas.
Now that we talked about how difficult change is and how to do it successfully, here are some small changes we can make in our every day lives to reduce our footprints:
1- Buy and USE reusable shopping bags. No more plastic or paper bags. Invest in 10-15 reusable bags (Like ours, they are awesome!)
2- Use mesh reusable produce bags instead of the plastic ones the grocery stores provide
3- Buy and USE reusable water bottles and coffee tumblers. Keep a couple clean ones in the car so that you have them when you want to stop somewhere to fill up.
4- Stop buying pre-cut fruits and vegetables that are packaged in one time use plastics. Not only is it more expensive to buy produce this way but it creates so much waste. Besides, that means someone else has chosen and touched your food...
5- Invest in re-usable food wraps made of organic and compostable materials instead of using plastic sandwich bags and plastic wraps
6- Use stainless steel straws instead of disposables
7- Use plant based, compostable trash bags or don't use a bag at all...just put the garbage in the bin and wash it from time to time (composting will keep your bin from getting too yucky)
8- Repurpose EVERYTHING! Before you throw something away...think! Can you repair it? Can you use it for something else? Can a neighbor use it? Can it be donated? Can you turn it into something else? You can also list unwanted items on www.freecycle.com or www.buynothing.com
9- Make a meal plan to reduce perfectly good groceries from going bad in the fridge
10- Start a compost pile for food scraps, don't scrape food into the trash
11- If you have to throw something into the trash, crush it/break it down as much as possible
12- Go paperless. Cancel as many paper mailings as possible especially junk mail
13- Stop using disposable plates, cups and cutlery
14- Eat out less & have your waitress hold the one time use placemats, straws & napkins. Bring your own reusable containers for any leftovers you might bring home.
15- Eat less take out
16- Bring your own lunch to work or school in your own reusable containers
That is just a few. Do you have some ideas to share? Send us a message, we would love to hear!