Last week, we set our goals. This week, our challenge to work out how to achieve those! A goal without a plan is just a wish, so let’s make that plan. We need to work out how we are going to do it, what we need to do it, and when we’ll do it.

This planning exercise will take less than an hour.

The How

Let’s review our goals and problem single-use plastics and figure out how we are going to eliminate that waste. For each item, these are the questions to ask:

  • Is there anywhere you could buy the product in bulk (without packaging)?
  • Could you switch to a brand that packages the product in paper, metal or glass?
  • If it’s different to where you normally do your main shop, how would you get to the shop that sold the bulk or differently packaged product?
  • If it’s not possible to buy the product without plastic, could you substitute the product for another one that doesn’t come in plastic?
  • If alternatives and substitutes aren’t an option, can you make the product from scratch using ingredients that you can source plastic-free?

Here are some examples based on my own goals.

Goal 1: Remove 100% of snack packaging

It’s not possible to buy muesli bars, crisps or fruit jellies without packaging, so I’ll be buying substitute products. For example, instead of muesli bars that come individually wrapped in plastic, I’ll buy nuts, seeds and dried fruit and make up a trail mix. It’s healthier too! Instead of crisps and fruit jellies, I’ll buy rice crackers, chickpea crisps and dried fruit at the Co-op.

Goal 2: Remove 50% of pet food packaging

This goal is set at 50% because I already know that I can’t get dog food without plastic and I’m not comfortable making my own because I can’t be sure it’s nutritionally complete. But for treats I have two choices: buy in bulk from a pet store or market (check out Healthy Hound Treats), or I can make them. I can make biscuits from ingredients I have in the pantry and I can buy plastic-free meat from The Butcher and The Chef at Harris Farm Markets, Manly and make jerky strips. Realistically, it will be easier to buy pre-prepared treats but I’m not ruling out making some!

Goal 3: Remove 50% of milk bottles

This goal is set at 50% because even though the Co-op stocks bulk milk, our family gets so much milk in a week that we need to buy replacement bottles. My plan is to buy some milk at the Co-op twice a week and attempt to make some plant-based mylk to cover the other days. Pre-soaked cashews can be blended into a creamy milk in a minute or two. I already accept that I won’t have time to make this every morning, so I’ve set the goal at 50%.

If you get stuck trying to find plastic-free alternatives, post your problem in the Manly Food Co-op Community group or email the team at events@manlyfoodcoop.org and we’ll do our best to help find some solutions.

The What

In the second part of this challenge, we’re going to set ourselves up to win by getting prepared with the tools that we need to meet our goals. How many times have you forgotten your resuable bags, or forgotten your containers when you’d planned to visit a bulk food shop?

What we can bring with us when we leave the house really depends on our mode of transport that day.

Using the car today? Pack your car with your keep cup, a full waterbottle, a couple of resuable shopping bags and a few containers. If you keep a small cardboard box in the boot it will stop your containers from spilling out and rolling around. If you use your car regularly, it makes sense to keep a full set of reusables in it at all times.

Using public transport, on foot or your bike? Space is at a premium and you don’t want to carry anything too heavy. Reserve a section of your bag for a few produce bags and recycled paper bags for any bulk shopping you may need to do. There are fantastic fold-up shopping bags like this one that take up hardly any space, so it’s easy to carry one at all times.

About reusables – do you have enough? Would it help to have two keep cups so that you can use one while the other one is in the dishwasher? You don’t even need to buy one – any jar can be a keep-cup if you add a silicone band.

The When

How are you going to remember to do these things?

There’s two parts to this: remembering to bring our reusables and then fitting in extra tasks, like making something from scratch or visiting an extra grocery store.

Have you heard of habit stacking? It’s where you attach a new habit to one you’ve already got locked in. For example, you always remember to brush your teeth every day, so add something to that, such as putting your keep-cup and water bottle in your bag. The conventional method is to stack the new habit after the existing one, but I find it works best if I add it before. I think it capitalises on my tendency to procrastinate. Whatever works for you!

Next, review your calendar.

Could you include an additional visit to a second grocery store in your routine, or do you need to arrange Click & Collect or delivery? Don’t assume you’ll remember, our lives are too busy! How many times have you driven home on autopilot and forgotten you were going to stop somewhere on the way? Put a reminder in your calendar for when you’ll think you’ll visit a shop or when you’ll do an online order. And make it a recurring reminder throughout July!

If you need to make something from scratch that you don’t normally, how will you organise your day to make time? Again, put recurring reminders in your calendar if you need to prepare something extra for the next day.

We hope that working through the How, What and When will set you up to achieve your goals! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post in the Manly Food Co-op Community Group or contact us at events@manlyfoodcoop.org.