Going Plastic Free
This is something that I have challenged myself to do, reducing and eliminating as much plastic waste from my life as I can. I have found some things to be quite easy and others much more challenging.
Jump to: Bathroom Kitchen Other Food
In the Bathroom
Making changes in the bathroom has been the easiest. Here are some simple replacements you can make:
Replace a body puff with a loofah sponge. it arrives flat but quickly expands once it's been in water!
Switch to a shampoo bar. Don't expect your hair to appreciate this straight away. My poor hair doesn't quite know what's going on still, which is why I largely look like the orphan of the storm at the moment!! However, that's mostly becuase my hair has been washed daily for many years, so I am dealing with weaning it off that as well as the change in product. I'm sticking with it though, I just need to experiment with different products.
You can also replace conditioner with a conditioner bar. I have found that I don't really need it though. Instead, I have started using an Apple Cider Vinegar cleanse, to try and stop the waxy feeling from the shampoo.
***UPDATE*** I didn't get on too well with shampoo and conditioner bars but I found Beauty Kubes and they rescued me! My hair loves them, 27 kubes in a box so they last a while. You can get conditioner kubes too. They do have a men's version as well!
Replace deodorant with a natural deodorant stick in a cardboard tube. The first thing that struck me about this one was that it is very small, a lot smaller than they appeared in the photos! However, I have found them to last just as long and be comparable to my old deodorant.
***UPDATE*** There wasn't any problem with the deodorant stick above, but I decided to try other things too. I got this Himalayan Salt deodorant bar from The Naked Pantry in New Milton. Also, I have since made my own deodorant bar, re-using the cardboard tube from the previous deodorant. Both seem to be working as well as any other deodorant.
This isn't a direct replacement, but similar products. The plastic tube is a daily exfoliating fash wash, the other is a foot pebble from Tropic - either could technically be used anywhere!
You can replace flannels with bamboo cloths, they are very soft!
One of my favourite switches, I bought this glass dispenser and the contents from The Naked Pantry in New Milton. You can see the label on the front with the weight, this is so that I only pay for the weight of the contents, not the container. It cost me about 64p to fill the container! I took one back to refill and that cost me 46p, as it was part full. The pump is around £2.50 I believe, I will double-check the next time I go!
This was another easy switch. Replace plastic razors and blades with stainless steel, Mutiny Shaving have some great sets for both men and women. Alternatively, try Sa:Bu hair removal bars. I have only tried it once and it didn't appear to be effective, but I will definitely try it again as it is definitely worth a try.
Switch shower gel for soap bars. I use mine in a soap bag, helps to get the lather. The Frankincense and Orange one you can see in this photo is my favourite! It's actually now in a gorgeous coconut bowl on the sink for hand washing.
This switch isn't obvious from the photo, but the loose rolls were purchased without any packaging, sold by the roll. It is also possible to get Renova toilet paper in paper packing instead of plastic or you could try Who Gives a Crap toilet paper!
Another easy switch to make is your toothbrush - at least for those that use a manual brush. be careful though, a lot of brushes aren't fully compostable as the brushes still contain a certain amount of non recyclable product. You have to cut the bristles off before composting the handle. There may now be brushes that are 100% compostable, but always read the small print.
This one has actually been harder. It is easy to find replacement products but I have to say that I haven't got on with these at all. The toothpaste has a very strange taste and it doesn't foam, which I struggle with. You can buy toothpaste tablets, which would be good to try, but I am planning to try making my own.
***UPDATE*** Toothpaste has continued to be a challenge! I didn't like the ones I got previously, show above. I did make my own but i wasn't a great fan of that either! However, I did find these toothpaste tabs and they are now my permanent replacement. Finally! Happy days!
In the Kitchen
There are plenty of easy swaps in the kitchen too, here are just a few.
Here are some of my kitchen swaps and my little coconut shell dish which is actually in the bathroom.
The solid bar is stain removed, I actually haven't tried that yet but will update here when I have. The loofah sponge is like the bathroom one, but doesn't expand so much, it's more of a pad.
Beeswax Wraps can be used instead of foil and cling film
These are a brilliant change from washing tablets or pods, or any of the plastic options. You have a little bag to put around 5 soapnut shells in and that goes in with your washing, that's it! Each set can be used 4-5 times and when they are fnished you can compost them. This bag was £9.99 and it suggest it contains 250 washes. It's going to last a while!
My favourite purchase! These were on sale in Bookends in Christchurch, I got this one for £9.99. I use this for work and I also have water bottles that I carry so I don't have to buy single use drinks.
I bought a lot of ingredients to enable me to make my own cleaning products. I haven't got so far with this but that's largely because I still have a lot of products to use up - I was a little over-enthusiastic! I have started making cleaning liquid with vinegar and citrus peels, that should be ready to use now, it just needs decanting. I've been saving up recipes so I will make some updates on my progress.
Glitter!! I have to confess that I am a bit of a glitter addict! Having to give up my glitter was almost a step too far until I came across this on Facebook. It really is super sparkly and completely biodegradable, being made from plants, and all the packaging is recyclable.
It's easy to switch away from plastic coated wrapping papers. These were gifts that were given to me, beautifully wrapped in brown paper and string. You could even use the glitters, above, to decorate it!
For my birthday and Christmas, which a fairly close together, I challenged my family to find gifts that were eco-friendly, non-plastic, upcycled etc. My Dad got on the case quickly and bought me this. It is a bird feeder kit, with the feeder being made from recycled yoghurt pots! I thought this was brilliant, all in recyclable packing too. (We won't talk about how I almost set fire to my kitchen whilst making it though ... oops)
Food has been, by far, the hardest area to address so far. I don't drive, so I tend to get a monthly shop delivered. I do live within reasonable walking distance of the supermarket, but essentially I am lazy and, like most people, prefer convenience. However, this is something that I will have to seriously address as doing food shopping, plastic free, online is next to impossible.
I tried very hard in January to shop plastic free and I had a lot of success, making changes to my diet as needed, but it wasn't perfect and I have to confess I did slip one day, it's too easy to do!
I had to mostly change my diet to vegetarian, which I don't mind but is quite a big change as I have eaten very low carb for years which has involved a lot of meat - but I simply couldn't get meat online without plastic. My body is not 100% happy with the change, but we'll get there! I am not a fan of salad which makes life trickier, although I will eat more now than I ever have.
I switched my breakfast from bacon and egg to omelette with ham and peppers. For work I always make Huel, that sees me through and keeps me full, then in the evenings I have a meal - well, sometimes, mostly I cheat and have a veggie grill and an egg, or egg on toast!
Vegetarian frozen food comes in cardboard boxes, with no plastic wrapping inside. It is also quick and easy to cook (remember ... lazy!). There are non-veggie frozen items that are in the same cardboard, I just chose to go with veggie for this month because I'm aware that eating less meat reduces my carbon footprint and is friendlier to the planet.
Wine is fine in glass bottles ... let's all breathe a sigh of relief!
Vegetables were mostly fine, except the cauliflower which always comes in a plastic bag - this really needs fixing!
The biggest failing was cheese. I tried ordering from the counter to see if they would wrap in paper, but no. They wrapped in two layers of plastic instead.
I also had a problem with bread. I don't always have bread but I decided to have some as I had spotted a sourdough toastie loaf and I'm a sucker for sourdough! I got all excited because the packaging looked as though it was paper, but unfortunately when I contacted the company about it they confirmed that it is non-recyclable, so that was a fail too.
Other than the bread, cauliflower and cheese everything was plastic free - and there were no enforced plastic bags because there was no fresh meat. This was a big success as usually my shopping would be packed full of plastic packaging, so i was very happy with myself.
Unfortunately I then ruined it with one bad day as I hadn't bothered to make my lunch for work so I made the mistake of popping out for a sandwich - I came back with sandwiches (in cardboard with plastic windows), crackers (plastic wrapping), pork pies (plastic packaging) and peanuts (plastic bags). Sigh. That was a huge fail.
I'm not going to beat myself up, I never said I was perfect and I am trying very hard. I am reducing my consumption gradually and that's the important thing.
Give it a go, see how much plastic you can reduce, share with me on my social media so I can see how you're doing!
OK, so things have changed a little since I wrote the above. I think I'll leave that for the blog though! Food continues to be a challenge but supermarkets do seem to be catching on gradually, so I live in hope.