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  • Sarah Burgess

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

When we are kids we have to learn new things every day. We fall off our bikes then get right back on again until we master it. We skip down the street singing out of tune at the top of our lungs totally unfazed and uninhibited. We’re so rarely in our comfort zones that they may as well not be there. Then we become adults and stepping just one foot outside that warm blanket of familiarity is unnerving and disorientating.

We moved to the US two years ago and it’s safe to say before that I was in a bubble. I had designed our family weekly schedule to be as routine as possible, so I didn’t have to use more emotional energy than was absolutely necessary. I didn’t need to think. Like so many, our life was chaotic and busy but things were rarely new and whilst I frequently made a fool of myself it wasn’t because I was learning a new skill.

When we moved to America everything changed. The language might be 75% the same but that was about it. For us it was the first time in many years we were way out of our comfort zone in almost every aspect of our daily lives and while we knew it was good for us, it was and still is a rollercoaster of emotions.

But change is good and by embracing the new, the different, and the difficult we have learned so much. By doing one thing every day or a week that is new our brains and bodies make it a habit and before you know it the discomfort is gone and your comfort zone is bigger.

Litter picking may seem a weird hobby to choose to break out of a comfort zone but it can be uncomfortable to many people. When we started Just1Bag2020 I would do my litter picks in places where people wouldn’t see me, or where I could pretend I was doing something else (like sea glass hunting on the beach). I remember early on I needed to do a litter pick and I only had 20 minutes before school pick up. It was raining and cold. I knew I could fill a bag really easily along a stretch of road near the school, but people would see me. My stubbornness not to give up on our goal overtook my fear of looking silly and I grabbed my bag and off I went. I collected two bags in five minutes and felt so good that I’d made a difference. What I had forgotten was it was early release so half the town’s parents were driving by me in the rain to get their kids from school! From then on, I figured people had seen me soaking wet on the side of the road picking rusty cans and dirty plastic bottles out of bushes. If they judged me I couldn’t see how it could be negatively and if it was I didn’t care. I learned to laugh at myself and do what made me feel good rather than what I thought people wanted to see. We’re cleaning up the town by picking up litter and we’re proud of what we do!

As we push to the end of the year we still need over 1000 collectors. That is a lot of people! Many of our supporters have told us that they meant to collect a bag for months before they finally plucked up the courage to do it. They are now addicted!

Breaking out of comfort zones can be hard. It starts with one step, then another. Give it a try and let us know how you get on.

Please consider collecting a bag for Just1bag2020. It may feel funny at first but what’s the worst that could happen? Send this to a friend that you think may like to join in. The more the merrier!

Thank you 😊


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