“Since it’s invention some hundred years ago, plastic has become an integral part of our daily lives. But every year some eight million tons of it ends up in the ocean and there it can be lethal.” David Attenborough, BBC Blue Planet II
I’ve been trying to cut down on my use of plastic for about a year now – with a particular focus on reducing the plastic and chemicals I use in my bathroom. I’m only just making a start with this (and its been quite hard work!) but my philosophy is that going plastic free has to be easy, affordable and blissful.
Here are the successful switches I’ve made in my bathroom from plastic to plastic free. If you are thinking of making the switch to plastic free yourself this could save you some homework…….
I used to use lotions and potions that came in plastic tubes with plastic lids. Now I use soap. For over a year now, I’ve used Funky Soap’s Marula Oil Handmade Soap. I have been beyond pleased with this. My skin is clear (no spots!) and smooth and the fact that this soap makes anti-ageing claims soothes my vanity too! The soap comes wrapped in a sort of greaseproof paper with a paper sleeve but unless you buy in bulk postage is expensive. I’m now trying out a more affordable option: Friendly Soap’s Shea Butter Facial Cleansing Bar which is also wonderful.
Again the shower gels in plastic containers have been ditched in favour of soap. My favourite has been this one from Sainsburys basically because it’s tea tree and its cheap BUT it’s plastic wrapper can’t be recycled. (Why Sainsburys? Why?) Instead I now use this from the fabulous Friendly Soap people. It’s Tea Tree and Tumeric and it doesn’t come in a stupid plastic wrapper.
Stainless Steel for shaving
I’ve switched to a stainless steel safety razor which I imagine will last me for the rest of my life! No more shelling out and then eventually throwing away mouldy plastic razors and the copious amounts of plastic both they and their replaceable razor blades are packaged in. And for an added bonus I got my razor for free from my boyfriend! It did take a while to get used to using it. You have to be careful! I cut myself to shreads the first couple of times, but now I have the knack I’m never going back to the rubbish plastic ones.
Shampoo and conditioner
It’s been a journey….I started by going full-on “No Poo” by ditching my plastic bottled shampoo and conditioner and using natural substances i.e. various food products such as bicarbonate of soda and even apple sauce to wash my hair. It was a disaster. When I decided to try again, I used actual shampoo and conditioner products made by beauty companies aiming to be natural / organic/ ethical and eco conscious and eventually I got there. It took a while. If you are thinking of making the switch from chemicals and plastic to natural and recyclable packaging, you’ll need patience and quite a bit of trial and error to find the products that work for your hair. Your hair will be horrible to begin with but if you can stick with it, the greasiness will subside and your hair will be lovely in the long run, I promise!
I’ve used products from Lush, Living Naturally and Wild Sage & Co. All had their good points and their downfalls. I am now using this Lavender and Geranium Shampoo Bar from Friendly Soap, again because its such great value for money and also because it works brilliantly for me. I finally have shiny, soft, hair that I don’t have to wash as regularly as before. To condition and rinse, I use a homemade rinse that I make myself by diluting 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into about 7 fluid ounces of water and pouring into a spray bottle – yes its plastic but I refill and can reuse over and over.
I’ve tried Coconut Oil from Aldi but found it doesn’t moisturise my skin enough. The best and most moisturising alternative I’ve found, though it’s pretty pricey, is this Dream Cream from Lush. I love it! And I even love the Olive Oily smell it has too!
I’ve tried a few deodorants and have either found I felt wet, was smelly or they bought me out in a rash. I have know settled on this one from Living Naturally. It’s really fast drying – in fact much quicker than my old plastic packaged big brand roll on and I don’t smell: result! One thing to note though: you’ll need to get into the habit of shaving your arm pits before bed so that your skin has the time to recover before you apply this.
And finally, when I can’t find a plastic free product I Terracycle!
Terracycle describes itself as an innovative recycling company that has become a global leader in recycling typically hard-to-recycle waste. Terracycle works with big brands to offer free recycling programmes for consumers that will recycle the plastics your local council can’t / won’t. The one that is relevant here is the Personal Care and Beauty Recycling Programme which Terracycle runs in partnership with Garnier.
I take all of my plastic packaging that isn’t a plastic bottle – (which my council will collect and recycle) to the Terracycle collection bin at a local supermarket. This programme accepts packaging from any brand and it’s free. Ultimately, I want to eliminate plastic containers from my bathroom but whilst I am working on this, recycling these plastics through Terracycle is a better than them ending up in landfill.
Of course, what we really need the big brands to do, is not package their products in non-biodegradable plastic in the first place!