Rather excitingly I was on the phone to a journalist last week. [This really happened, before you ask.]
Journalist: “Can I ask about being plastic-free in the bathroom?”
Me: “Well… I’ve got a bamboo toothbrush and solid tooth tabs … and ummm well the bathroom is really tricky”
Also me …Kicks myself wildly for missing out on a prime opportunity to rattle off twenty-five easy plastic free swaps to a captive audience.
With the benefit of hindsight and with my laptop precariously balanced on the side of the bath as I peruse my very nearly plastic-free bathroom cupboards, I feel the need to set the record straight.
No more soap dispensers… a quick and immediate swap to solid soap (mmmm lovely smelling glycerine ones in my cottage for guests, and I have a little pot in the cupboard that I keep my soap in). In fact, as there is no need for a body wash with my trusty pieces of soap it’s actually two swaps and as it’s super light and non-liquid is perfect for travelling too. Just a quick note on the soap dispensers… as they are a complex mix of plastics they render themselves almost un-recyclable… just because it says ‘recyclable’ on the side doesn’t mean it will actually be recyclable in your area.
No more hand lotion dispensers… the same reason as the liquid soap…
Cleanser and cotton wool pads… I swapped both of these items for ‘face halos’… (mine are from Enjo, lots of companies sell them though) which you use with WATER and then pop in the washing machine when you’re washing whatever you’re washing. THESE WORK!! Amazingly you don’t actually need to smear your face with a lotion out of a plastic bottle and then use and throw away (AFTER ONE USE) a multitude of cotton wool pads. So… slight outlay at the beginning… but then you use them over and over again.
Toothbrush… BAMBOO … and it makes me feel like an extra from Mary Poppins every morning as I brush!!
Toothpaste… I’ve tried solid toothtabs (I like them, also fab for travelling, just pop the exact number you need in a teeny tiny pot)… at the moment I am using a paste in a glass pot with a metal screw top lid… once you get used to not frothing like there is an Ibiza Foam Party in your mouth it’s fresh and has whitening powers!
Safety Razor… yes the biggest urban myth of our era is that we need to pay huge amounts of money for plastic encased razors. Turns out a good old fashioned safety razor (Bambau do a lovely one with wooden handle) for probably less than a set of ‘disposable’ razors. The spare blades literally cost less than a take-away cappuccino. I have it on good authority (from a MAN) that it’s a better shave and as a double whammy it saves money, lots less packaging (and none of it plastic) AND is more sartorially elegant than a pink plastic monstrosity could ever be.
Moisturiser… For my face I’m using one from a brand which takes back their packaging for recycling… lots of companies do this… and it creates a closed loop recycling system. I don’t think the answer to the world’s waste problem is recycling but if you can’t entirely avoid it, in my world, this felt like a step in the right direction.
Body Lotion… A massive saving as I avoid the ‘body’ aisle and pick up a glass pot of coconut oil. Scoop a little bit out and it becomes a liquid in the palm of your hand. It’s a miracle beauty product… if your hair is a bit dry just rub it on the ends, if your skin needs a bit of a plump just apply as you would a serum, if you’re going out with bare legs apply for a lovely sheen… ALL FOR £3.44… and if you run out of olive oil you can COOK WITH IT TOO!!!!
Nails… A year ago I couldn’t imagine not having my nails done every three weeks… but as I started my #plasticfreeweek the thought of having my monthly appointment to have nail extensions made my moral compass go haywire! My lovely beauticians helped me through the first few weeks of sore fingers and paper thin nails and now I can’t imagine how I ever had TIME to go every few weeks to have them done … not to mention the approximate £300 saving I’ve made!
Contact Lenses… well … this caused me a dilemma too…Despite being recyclable plastic if you put them in the green bin (which I used to) they will be filtered out at the recycling centre as they’re too small. I didn’t want to swap to glasses and when I looked into monthlies I didn’t think the plastic saving as great enough plus you then need a chemical cleaner Lots of research later I came across Terracycle which is an international business which recycles difficult to recycle plastics! They already had contact lens recycling schemes in other parts of the world but none in the UK… so I started posting on FB and writing emails to suppliers… and saving my contact lenses up…. And in March 2018 a local optician – Valli Opticians – set up the UK’s FIRST contact lens recycling scheme (Accuvue now also have joined up with Terracycle, so worth a quick Google to see what is on offer in your area).
Cleaning products… I used up the multitude of products I had in the cleaning cupboard to start. Then tried bicarbonate of soda (it works.. another miracle item… bake a cake with it and then sprinkle it in the oven to clean it!). Then I tried Borax … again… a miracle item which worked wonders on my tiled floor with a scrubbing brush and lots of elbow grease… didn’t need a gym session that day either! Recently though I decided to try chemical free cleaning in the bathroom and I invested in Enjo bathroom cleaning cloths which turn bathroom cleaning into a five minute job, leaving everything gleaming and you just pop them in the washing machine afterwards and reuse.
Who Gives a Crap… honestly turned me from someone who couldn’t say the word ‘toilet’ in public into someone who regularly waxes lyrical about the benefits of this wonderful loo roll! Made from bamboo, wrapped in paper, delivered in a cardboard box, half the profits go to the charity… need I say more…
Feminine Hygiene products… for someone who couldn’t say ‘toilet’ … well you can imagine… lots of products out there to avoid plastic and reduce waste. Email me direct for a private blog post where I’ve asked friends for their recommendations.
Shampoo and conditioner…. So a gift from a friend meant that I didn’t need to buy shampoo or conditioner FOR ELEVEN MONTHS. When it ran out… I moved to a solid shampoo bar.This one is a work in progress for me, but I’m NOT GIVING UP. I’ve bought some shampoo cubes now and will let you know how I get on!!!
Deodorant… guess what… it’s a solid bar which I cut up into small pieces and keep in teeny tiny little screw top pots.I was worried it wouldn’t work… but sometimes I get a little waft of something rather exotic and wonder who has the lovely perfume on… and then realise the waft came from under my own arm!
Tablet blister packs… no solution for these yet, so I’m saving my blister packs in the hope that a Chemist chain sets up a Terracycle recycling scheme (it’s also focussed my attention on how many headache tablets I take, so I’m addressing that too….).
Tubes… there are the odd few items which I haven’t been able to avoid (Ibruprofen gel comes in a metal tube but has a plastic lid) so for these BUYING BIG means you cut down on the amount of packaging and I’m saving the screw tops to send to the LUSH recycling scheme.
Ok, not quite twenty-five, but quite a FEW… I can’t yet give up the self esteem benefits of the odd spray of fake tan (let me know if you have some tried and tested plastic free swaps for this).
Even better, plastic free swaps have made my purchasing habits MINDFUL… no more walking down a super market aisle and mindlessly swishing beauty products into my basket. Plus the lack of plastic and streamlining of the number of products in the bathroom is LIBERATING.
About me: I’m Mama to 25 year old Scarlett and 7 year old pug Monkey, living our #threethings #plasticfree life for the last year and plotting our progress in my blog https://www.mamassecretlittleboutique.co.uk/book