Back in June I wrote about some of the changes I’d made to reduce my use of plastics and how that had led me to think more about the products I used and their impact. At the start of the year I wanted to stop using plastic altogether and quickly realised just how challenging that would be….not sure if you’ve noticed, but that stuff is everywhere!! Anyway after a chat with some of my friends who are on a similar mission to reduce plastic I decided that the best approach for me would be to pick one thing at a time I wanted to replace and make that happen.
With my health continuing to be a real …err, as my mum reads this, lets say “challenge”, I am really struggling to make the changes I want when it comes to food packaging but I’m pleased to say that I have made several other changes since part 1 of this blog so thought I’d share what I’ve been up to and how it’s worked for me.
Before I get started though, I’m a crafter (hence the Happy Barnet Craft Challenge!) so if I get a chance to make something then all the better really but don’t be put off by this as you look through the changes. You can of course have a go yourself but if crafting isn’t your thing you can buy the things I made and still reduce your plastic use.
I’d fancied making soap for a while, especially after my neighbour made me an amazing care package with homemade soap in it. There’s a couple of different methods to make soap, I went for the easier melt and pour method. I followed the method on SoapQueen.com but changed the colours and fragrances to those I wanted. I chose a goat’s milk base with Lavender and Bergamot essential oils and activated charcoal. Sounds super fancy but honestly it was really straight forward and I love the end product, it’s been really great for my skin. I’ve given some as gifts already and had positive feedback. Spoiler alert…these are quite likely to be in a number of my Christmas presents this year!
Reusable face pads
After making the soap I decided to use my crochet skills and make some cotton face pads to replace cotton wool pads which are single use and just end up in the bin. I had a tonne of cotton yarn in the cupboard already so this project literally cost me nothing to make. I keep a little bundle in the bathroom and pop them in a small laundry bag in my normal wash. The are so small they really don’t add to my usual wash at all. I even handed some in to my neighbour to thank her for the soap!
Don’t worry if you don’t crochet yourself though (although, why don’t you? lol) you can buy them online or other reusable cotton pads too. If you do fancy having a go at making them yourself, you can use the stitchinmommy pattern for free.
Menstrual Cups and Period Pants
Now this change I’ve been giving a lot of thought to for quite some time. I knew I wanted to make a change and even though several friends of mine had started using cups they just didn’t appeal to me. I read reviews, browsed various online shops to see what else I could try and in the end I took the plunge and went for the stem cup from thetulipcup.com. What appealed to me was the fact that this was the only cup I’d seen that had a valve which allowed you to empty it without removing it. Unfortunately it just wasn’t for me. I would still encourage others to try this, after all out of all the changes I’ve made, this is definitely one where your personal preference matters the most! I wasn’t ready to give up though and after reading recommendations in a Facebook group for women, I decided to try period pants. I’d seen them before but they were so expensive I was unsure about trying them before trying the cup. This time though it was a different brand, Modibodi. They still offered the same kind of solution but at a cheaper price. I bought a couple of pairs to get started and have just ordered some more as they are brilliant! A total game changer for me. The first time I tried them I slept in them, no problems. Tried the second pair for a full day at work and no issues either. So comfy and ease to take care of, I wish I’d been able to try these years ago! With a lifetime average of 10,400 tampons being used, it’s brilliant that we now have at least a couple of different options to try…finally!
One more for the bathroom, toothpaste! I’d looked into a few options and I couple of my friends had tried Georganics natural toothpaste so thought I’d give that a go. I opted for the Peppermint flavour, they also have English Spearmint, Tea Tree, Red Mandarin and Ginger available. It comes in a lovely wee glass jar with zero plastic packaging and a compostable bamboo spatula. Before I bought it my friends gave me some advice and they were 100% right so I’m passing this on to you:
The texture is very different to your usual toothpaste and frankly at first it was not something I was entirely sure about. It doesn’t foam you see and it’s more like a clay than the sweet, bright white shiny smooth paste you’ll be used to.
You get used to it. You really do. I genuinely wasn’t sure at first but honestly that doesn’t last, especially if you think about all the things they have to add to make your old toothpaste all sweet, bright white shiny and smooth….eek!
It lasts. I bought my first 60ml jar in July and have only just had to reorder. This time I went for a bigger jar which is better value for money as you’d expect.
Washing machine ball
Moving from the bathroom to the kitchen, when I started to run low on washing liquid I had a look into what I could replace it with and as happens these days, related products started appearing on my social media feed! I went for the the Oko-vaskebold an ECO Washing Laundry Ball filled with ceramic pellets which *insert sciencey bit here* and creates the right conditions to wash your clothes with without chemicals. Yes it’s plastic but as it lasts for 1000 washes it’s a lot less packaging, shipping and chemicals than standard options. It’s also around £10 so you’ll save money quickly which is rare when moving to the plastic free world! I’ve used it for a few months now and for most washes I would say it’s been great, no problems at all, you just pop it in the machine along with your clothes and that’s it! I did have some problems with washes that had particularly stubborn stains and have since seen that some similar products suggest adding a small amount of your usual detergent to loads like that and to use 1 ball when the clothes are below 5kgs, and 2 balls more than 5 kgs. Even with these two points, I’d still recommend these eco balls, a big improvement.
Hold on, just realised it’s Sunday night and I have to pop the empties back on the doorstep…..right, that’s me back. Can you tell I’m still new at this!
I’m on week three of getting my milk delivered and in glass bottles. It’s a little more pricey than buying it in the supermarkets but I’m in a fortunate position where I can still do this. I was worried about the fact they were just delivering to me but already my next door neighbours have signed up so who knows, maybe more from my neighbourhood will too! The milk itself is great and I have also added orange juice to my order, bye bye tetra packs. I get my milk delivered from McQueens Dairies, I’ve set up a direct debit with them, I can put deliveries on hold whenever I like and reduce/increase my order when I need to. I know this isn’t the real point but there’s also something much nicer about milk in a glass bottle as well, isn’t there?
Plastic bags food bank
As I said at the start of this blog I’m still struggling with reducing my plastic when it comes to food. In fact as I have to do my food shop via click and collect (health issues means doing an actual shop is too much for me right now) I have to have my food in plastic bags so once again I’ve got a cupboard filled with these things. Luckily I remembered on my tour around my local food bank as part of my Tampon Mountain collection, I was told that they find plastic bags useful for making up the food parcels for people to collect. So I contacted the food bank near my work and asked if they would want any and they said yes, in fact they were running really short so a donation would be great. My colleagues and I have a food collection for our local food bank once every quarter and now we also hand in any plastic bags we’ve accumulated. Okay so it’s not stopping them completely but it is ensuring they are reused and in the process helping others out. Much better than sitting in my cupboard!
I hope these help encourage you as you look for ways to reduce your plastic waste and work towards becoming plastic free. I’d also love to hear your recommendations as I work towards my next blog post!