Overcoming our Brain: The Psychology behind a Plastics Challenge
This can be the same, if you try to make changes to your lifestyle for the environment, like going vegan or plastic-free. In this blog, we will unpack the psychological factors at work and how undertaking a month challenge like Veganuary or the Lent Plastic challenge or Plastic Free July can achieve long-term behaviour change.
Read on for the psychological drivers that influence our behaviours.
Why giving something up is painful and daunting?
Also due to our survival instincts, we also struggle with long-term comprehension, but are more focused on the immediate future which is why, for so long, we have struggled to comprehend climate change as explained in the book ‘Don’t even think about it‘.
By doing a month-long challenge, we can tell our brain, it is not forever which is less daunting and painful.
Rather than the loss, we can also focus on all the things we are going to bring into our lives and how we can replace the items we are giving up by finding recipes and solutions. And our brain will love this process because our brains enjoy solving problems, which is why crosswords and computer games are so popular
The allure of convenience and plastic packaging
Trying to overcome convenience can be challenging, but it is why when you seek out alternatives you need to find things that are quick and easy- which is all the recipes in Lent Plastic Challenge are simple and straight forward (because I don’t have much time, and I actually switch off from a recipe with lots of ingredients).
At least 21 days to change our plastic habits
It is believed that we need at least 21 days to create or break a new habit, hence why month-long challenges work so well. To avoid overwhelm it is important not to take on too many new behaviours at once, which is why during any plastics challenge we suggest doing a couple of items a week, rather than going all-out plastic-free at once, because this can be overwhelming and too much to remember for a life on autopilot.
The importance of public commitment
So getting your friends, family and work colleagues involved in a challenge, or joining a Facebook plastic-free group (there are local, national and international ones); and making a public pledge will increase your success rate.
Apply behaviour change thinking to your challenges
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