In what is a huge win in the War on Waste, Australian Supermarkets are no longer be giving away plastic bags at the checkout. Sure, there is the financial sting of being charged for bags if you forget to BYO, however these thicker plastic bags that you will have to buy are actually worse for the environment. Its time to make a conscious effort to form new habits for the sake of positive and lasting change – which we promise is a lot easier than it sounds!
How the hell are habits formed?
As creatures of habit, it is human nature to repeat actions that reward us.
Habits are simply patterns of behavior that we associate with certain cues and develop with repeated experience. When we have formed a habit, our brains go into automatic mode, allowing it to function largely outside of our awareness, which frees up our minds to focus on other decisions.
But how long is it going to take me?
Habits are a process, not an event.
Scientific studies have found that learning a new habit can take from as little as 18 days to over a year. It all depends on what the automatic behavior is that you are trying to learn.
The good news is that learning to remember to BYO bag will be relatively easy to do as you will experience a repeated consequence for forgetting. Either only buying what you are able to carry or being forced to buy a new bag at the checkout every time you shop. There is nothing like a hit to the wallet to increase your motivation to change your habits.
Alright… How do I do it?
There are 3 main principles to changing a bad habit, which are going to be really easy to adhere to in the BYO bag dilemma.
1. You must derail your existing habits and create a window of opportunity to act on your new intentions.
Luckily the supermarkets have taken care of this for you by no longer providing you with free single use plastic bags as an option.
2. Remember that repetition is key. Remember that repetition is key. Remember that repetition is key.
If you are buying groceries, you are going to find yourself at a checkout, so repetition is not going to be an issue.
3. There must be stable context cues available in order to trigger a new behaviour.
You will always have to carry your groceries after purchasing them. So there’s your stable context sorted.
Ok. Sounds easy enough… how can I start?
As we now know, habits are formed by association. So have a think about what associations you have with shopping…
Do you always write a shopping list?
Make the first thing on it “BYO BAG” – Then start to put your finished list inside your shopping bag. That way you will have no choice but to take your bag if you are going to use your list.
Do you drive to the shops?
Store your shopping bags in the car, so they are always at the ready.
Still forgetting them? Try tying some coloured ribbon to your keys as a reminder.
Do you do your shopping on the way home on public transport?
Reusable bags don’t have to be cumbersome – there are plenty of lightweight and compact options that can fit in your handbag. Another great habit to get into is to put your shopping bag back in your handbag as soon as you have unpacked your groceries.
Do you walk to the shops?
Hang your bags on your front door handle. Having them at the forefront of your mind will make them very hard to forget.
Need a verbal reminder?
Get your kids in on the action and give them the job of BYO Bag police. We all know how persistent a child on a mission can be.
Bringing your own bag is the new habit that we all have to form for the good of our Earths future. However as hard as you’ll try, there are going to be times when circumstances will make it impossible to do the right thing.
SO OUR BEST BYO BAG TIP IS…
Carry a back up!
That way if you are ever in the supermarket and happen to see someone struggling because they don’t have a bag, you can pass it on. Consider it a karmic service, for your community and your planet. One that will be paid back in full, on numerous levels for a lifetime to come.