Plastic Free is a Practice, Not a Perfect

I went to a yoga class first thing this morning. For those of you who know that I work with clients as a Yoga Therapist, that probably doesn’t seem like an earth-shattering announcement. But it was BIG for me, because I haven’t been to the studio as a student for a really long time. We all perform better when our thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals and values are in balance. Yoga is my tool for creating that harmony.

Coming back to the practice after a hiatus, I don’t look back, beating myself up for the days, weeks, or months that I haven’t shown up. I just re-commit, and get excited to feel that I am connected again: to something bigger, and to myself. I don’t write off the practice because I can’t “do it perfectly,” or because I have an injured toe, or because I’m feeling less flexible today than I was in my 20’s. I do what I can.  

It’s the same with Plastic.

Our family is in month 3 of shifting over to a single-use-plastic-free lifestyle, and we continue to invite this guiding principle to shape our daily actions and choices. Now that mindyourplastic is taking up so much of my mental bandwidth, I have to carefully organize my energy. I need yoga more than EVER to ground me in what’s good, and to live and share our process in a constructive way, because, lets face it, it is NOT inspiring to absorb loads of awful news about the planet. My friend Dr. Emily Colwell gave me the words I needed to describe my desired approach: “high vibe.” What’s “high-vibe?” It’s a way of looking at this process that invokes positive feelings of action, that inspires and that focuses in on all that we CAN do. And we can do SO much, even when there are some things we just can’t do, or really don’t want to do. Even then, we can still do SO much. Isn’t that awesome?

In the spirit of practice, I have some humanness from our Plastic-Free journey to share with you guys. We continue to purchase fruit with the attached, tiny plastic sticker and kale with a plastic-lined wire that holds its shapely bunch. We buy dog food in a 35-lb bag that is certainly coated in plastic, inside and out. In February, we consciously chose a half-gallon of Trader Joe’s Ice Cream in a plastic coated carton over a Yeti-filled to-go mug, because it was late. We both wanted ice cream, and I was just too tired that night to have the Plastic Free conversation at the local ice cream shop. I traveled for a week with my daughter and accepted peanuts on the airplane because I wasn’t prepared. I drank 4 bottles of Gatorade out of altitude sickness desperation. We’ve granted our 3 year old his choice to poop in a disposable diaper, throwing out 7 plastic-riddled diapers per week (yes, we know we could have switched to cloth, but we chose not to). And do you know what? I feel solid in all of these moments, too.  I am not beating myself up. I am celebrating what we HAVE done in line with our pursuit, and letting the rest GO.

Why the confessions? Perhaps the circulation of Lent-driven plastic-free choices is rubbing off on me. We’re human, we recognize our own humanity, and, we see yours. Changing ingrained habits is hard, period, and reminds me that this is simply another form of a Practice. This is not a Perfect.  We’re learning. Emma and I are simply inviting a form of mindfulness into the process of shopping and obtaining that has never been there before, and sharing that with hopes that it might open a space and inspire others - opening our eyes and becoming aware. There are still some moments that 100% Plastic-Free just cannot work, for whatever reason. That is OK. We aren’t judging ourselves, and we aren’t judging you. I’ve heard some feedback that our process is too intimidating to take on. Please don’t take on our process. Take on yours.

I’ve seen this sentiment circulating on Instagram and think its worth a share: We don’t need a handful of people doing Plastic-Free perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly. So for today, what’s your high-vibe, best-self step? You can only answer that for yourself. I can only answer that for myself. But let us all start where we are, use what we have, and do what we can.

Plastic-Free Tip: Wondering how to get berries if you want to skip the plastic? Check your salad bar and buy by weight! We often see blueberries, black berries, raspberries, and strawberries all on the same salad bar! Now, if you want Organics, you might just wait until they are in season and buy at a local farmer’s market in cardboard pints.