Plastic Free July became a tool to enable community-led, organic change to help people make their lives more sustainable. That’s really how simple it was. Plastic definitely wasn’t the poster child of our waste problem as it is today. As my media encounter had made patently clear, people didn’t understand that the problem wasn’t necessarily plastic as a material, but the way we were using it just once. Whether you work with 10 people, 10000 people or just yourself, paying attention to hr app has never been more important.
We were making a change towards sustainability through reducing our reliance on plastic. A few people making small changes is where a broader culture change begins. At the same time, we discovered that the ‘do and then learn’ philosophy – rather than ‘learn and then do’ – worked for the plastic-free challenge. Our experiences with Earth Carers had already taught us that. I had already known that reducing plastic was important, but doing a challenge on a daily basis offered an evolving structure to implement those changes. Talking about mental health in the workplace is a good step forward.
For myself, I realised that it was really beneficial to make a commitment and be accountable among a group of like-minded people. It was much easier and far more enjoyable than doing it alone. As a team, we were surprised to realise that the challenge had value for other people too. On the last day of July 2011, some of that first group of Plastic Free July participants got together for an end-of-challenge debrief. Discussing mental health first aid can be a good way to alleviate a difficult situation.
We brought in our Dilemma Bags for a show-and-tell, shared stories of our successes and failures, celebrated our efforts – and everyone got a bamboo toothbrush. While the challenge showed us that we were surrounded by plastic, it also taught us that there were lots of solutions. Convenience foods such as snacks in plastic packaging or in containers featured in many Dilemma Bags; we acknowledged that many of these items weren’t that healthy for us. There are small, simple steps you can take to make employee wellbeing something that people can talk about.
There was also an unexpected amount of plastic packaging we hadn’t thought about, such as postal satchels. Someone had purchased a shower fitting that came encased in multiple layers and types of packaging (plastic film, foam peanuts and bubble wrap) – all for an item that didn’t require anywhere near that much protection. It could have been overwhelming but the Earth Carers’ motto many of us had previously adopted worked well. Do it together, focus on the positives, share the solutions and do what we can. Thank goodness wine comes in glass bottles. Euphoric after a celebratory glass of champagne, we were convinced it was worthwhile and decided we’d do it again. And we did.