I’ve learned some important lessons about managing change when going plastic-free that I’m willing to share with your today.
My family and I embarked on a plastic-free challenge towards the end of 2019. It’s was pretty much my decision, and I just assumed my family would be on board. And, for the most part, my husband and my kids went along with it with little issues.
Until I was hit with resistance over a specific product my husband loved… I left our usual brand of soap that’s supposed to be soft on the skin for more natural and naked bars of soap.
And… I got a big push-back. That’s when it hit me that maybe my approach to this big family change was a bit off.
Understanding Change Management
Part of my real word job is working as an I.T. Tech, so I’m no stranger to change management. If you’ve ever tried to get an entire company to switch over to some new program or technology, you’ll know how resistant people can be to change.
Many people resist change because they are afraid of the unknown, sometimes sticking with the current situation, no matter how bad it might be, because it’s easier than overcoming fear.
How to Managing Change When Going Plastic-Free
There are ways of implementing change in order to avoid an outright family rebellion. I’ve simplified my strategy to these 4 steps, which is similar to a continuous improvement cycle used in various industries:
If you included the whole family in the planning process, and let everyone come up with ideas of what the family as a whole can do to reduce plastic, you’ll be met with less resistance. The members of the family are coming up and taking ownership of their ideas and you’ll have less resistance
2. Communicate and Educate
In order to get everyone on board, communicate and educate the family on why this change is important. Talk about the disadvantages of plastic, and how going plastic-free would benefit the environment.
3. Implement the change and overcome obstacles
Now that the family is on board with a plan in hand, it’s time to slowly implement the changes. When going plastic-free, expect the process to be a long one and not an overnight success story. Plastic is convenient. Our lives revolve around everything that’s convenient.
It’s important to celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Also, forgive your fails, but try again.
4. Adjust, improve or refine the plan accordingly
If things are going well, add a few more plastic-free changes to your new routine. If you experience push-back, review your plan, skip the things you can’t change right away, revisit it later.
Tips on getting your family on board with going plastic-free
Take it Step By Step
Change, like new habits, don’t happen overnight, they happen slowly. Don’t force it, just try and reinforce it.
Make the change positive
Don’t focus on the negative, focus on the positive. Try ” look at how much plastic we are no longer sending to the landfill, or, here’s how much money we are saving by not buying this.
Lead by example
My children are a reflection of my husband and I. They copy the things we do and say (good and bad). When going plastic-free or any other big eco-changes you plan to implement, it’s important for the kids to see their parents embracing the changes first. They are sure to follow.
Enlist a helper
Kids tend to be passionate about animals so, getting them to help shouldn’t be too difficult. My 6-year-old is quite passionate about whales and sharks. He knows that plastic that ends up in the environment and oceans hurts animals.
I can enlist him to be my special helper (it works in his grade 1 class) and he can help reinforce and spread the message about reducing our dependence on plastic. Starting with something as simple as using metal straws instead of plastic ones was an easy sell.
Don’t expect perfection
When going plastic-free, eco-friendly, waste-free, whatever you choose to call it, the answer is not to look for perfection, instead, look for action. If my husband wants his specific product, no matter what it’s packaged in, I will let him have it. We are doing so many other beneficial changes at the moment, like switching to bamboo toothbrushes, using reusable containers and bags when shopping and not buying plastic wrap or baggies and so on.
So, to conclude, managing change when going plastic-free (or other big eco-friendly initiatives) is as easy as “Plan, Communicate/Educate, Do, Improve” . Have you taken on a huge change in your family?
What tips do you have to share with the readers of Green Slice of Life? Add your tips in the comments below.