Updated: Jan 7
Recently I really wanted to make some big changes to reduce my plastic consumption due to environmental and health concerns . On a global scale only 9% of our plastic waste is recycled. Recycling requires energy, so if we can reduce waste, its a win-win! The chemicals found in plastics have been linked to: infertility, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, brain function and weight gain to name a few.
What an overwhelming task it is as plastic is now ubiquitous in our everyday lives. I have always been interested in living in a way with the least impact on one's environment but it does feel an overwhelming challenge and an impossible task at times.
Faced with the challenge, I was prepared to explore alternatives and actually it became an empowering quest. I was interested in my response as I took on this challenge as rather than overwhelm me, it spurred me on to make more changes to my life and I began to feel empowered. I realised learning about bushcraft and our ancestor‘s skills gives me the same feeling as ditching the plastic... a freedom and independence and going back to basics. So I would like to share with you the 14 ways in 14 days to help give some inspiration. Even if it's only one change, start with that one change. I hope that rather than overwhelm you, this article will inspire you to select an area you would like to change!
PLEASE NOTE: I am getting no financial incentives in reviewing these products or businesses, so they are completely unbiased.
1.) Zero waste shops
Locate your nearest zero waste store. My is “Cups and Jars” in E7, Forest Gate, London. The idea behind a zero waste shop is that you bring in your own containers and fill them up with various staples such as oats, muesli, rice, pasta, legumes, quinoa, flour, nuts, spices, herbs, cooking oils and lots more. This store also sells toiletries and other eco products.
I knew other people got there milk delivered locally in glass bottles (I’m in East London). I found out the company is called Parker Diaries. https://parkerdairies.co.uk/ On their website Parker Diaries it says they deliver to East London, City and West End. However a quick search on google and asking other people local to you on social media, to see if you have a company locally to you if they don't deliver to your area. This company collects your empty glass bottles to clean and reuse.
With the glass milk bottles I get delivered from Parker Diaries, there is one called gold top, which has has a layer of cream on top. Pour this off and use as cream.
4.) Make your own yogurt
I actually left this to day 14 as I thought it would be complicated and actually it was very straight forward and the most as satisfying. Heat 500ml of milk on the stove top till just before it boils. Let it cool down so you can put your finger in the milk (make sure it doesn't coll more than this). Add 1 tablespoon of yogurt with live cultures to a thermos flask, add half the milk and shake. Add the rest of the milk and leave it for about 8 hours without moving the flask. Open and shake out the contents and put in an airtight container and store in the fridge. You may have to start off your initial yogurt with a tablespoon of a store brought one, but if you make it regularly, you can just keep using your own to keep it going for subsequent batches.
4.) Local butcher
The first time I went to the shop with the aim of using no plastic, the only think I could think of was to take my new 2 litre glass Kilner jars. The butcher laughed and said I could have wrapped the meat in paper if I had asked! Use local butchers or supermarkets if they have a butcher in store that allows you to use your own containers or ask if they can wrap it in paper.
5.) Shampoo and 6.) conditioner
You can now buy shampoo and conditioner bars (they look like soap bars).
I am impressed by the shampoo but not so sure about the conditioner. So I have been buying the conditioner from the zero waste shop as they have a large dispenser you can fill up your own container. Lush sells shampoo and conditioner bars and also I have tried a company called friendly soap. I have liked both brands. https://uk.lush.com/article/mighty-shampoo-bar
https://www.friendlysoap.co.uk/ The good thing about Lush is that they told me in-store that if you brought one and didn't like it, you could bring it back to exchange for another.
I started to use moisturising bars by Lush. The shop assistant says hers lasts 6 month but mine only lasts about 6 week, so I guess it depends how liberally you use it. A friend of mind just uses coconut oil! So that's another option.
Instead of your roll on or spray deodorant, try this plastic free alternative. Some of these crystal deodorants are sold in a plastic casing (go figure!) but now they have one that is 100% plastic free! I use it morning and night and have found it as good as any other deodorant. The one I use is from https://crystalspring.co.uk/collections/crystal-deodorant/products/plastic-free-deodorant You can also buy if from https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/
9.) Limescale remover
As well as plastics I wanted to reduce the chemicals I am using to clean the house. But in turn this has also reduced the plastic containers they come in. The easiest one was limescale remover, 50% water mixed with 50% white vinegar. I also brought the vinegar from the zero waste store, where you can fill up any empty bottle so zero waste, zero chemicals.
10.) Mirror cleaner
You can use the cleaning product you have made for limescale for cleaning mirrors as well.
11.) Floor cleaner
You guessed it, vinegar again! 1/2 cup vinegar in 4 litres of hot water to clean tiles, laminate and wooden floor boards. You would think by now the house would start smelling like a chip shop, but surprisingly the smell disperses very quickly. You can add a few drops of essential oils if you wish to any of the above If you are craving a sweet smell!
This plastic free razor is an expensive outlay at the beginning but I think well worth it as the main part could potentially last a lifetime. You only have to replace the small blade which you can buy refills for. It come with 5 refills and then after that refill blades are £3.50 for 5 blades. A great gift to yourself or someone else. www.nakednecessities.co.uk
You can buy floss in glass containers that you buy a refills for. You get two refills for the same price as the initial purchase of start up glass container that comes with the one reel of floss. And it’s works well. Only down side it the floss is not biodegradable but I will use this one until I find a better option. The brand I am using is Georganics.
14.) Wooden toothbrush
Next time you want to replace your toothbrush, ditch the plastic toothbrush and go for a wooden one. It feels just the same and cleans just as well. The one I have tried is from www.environmentaltoothbrush.com.au
Good luck and please feel free to share your ideas!