For the second time, I’ve given up on Beth’s Show Your Plastic Trash challenge – I think it’s a great idea, and it’s really eye-opening, but I keep failing the rule about No Guilt. I just can’t analyse the things I’m sending to landfill and not feel guilty about it. However, I do want to do something to record my attempts to live in a more environmentally friendly way, so I’ve resurrected this old blog to post about things I have done, and things I’m working on.
Plastic-free or lower plastic successes
Toothpaste – I now use Lush’s Toothy Tabs which are plastic-free from the point of purchase.
Toothbrush – bamboo handles reduce the disposable plastic content considerably.
Vegetables – Abel and Cole’s weekly box is organic and low on plastic.
Nuts and dried fruit – a market stall in Leeds sells them in bulk, in paper or low-plastic bags.
Books – using the Kindle, the library, and local bookshops reduces plastic packing in the post; amazon’s own wrappers are all-card.
Fruit juice – buying apple juice concentrate and fruit squashes or cordials in glass bottles takes it down from three or four Tetrapaks to one cap.
Bread – buying flour in a paper bag and making bread at home reduces wrappers considerably.
Soy milk – a powered kind comes in a big tin and is low-plastic and space efficient. The downside is that it doesn’t taste as good as the Tetrapaked ones (and I’ve only found one brand, so I don’t know whether it’s the method or the brand).
Craft materials – by being selective about crafts, buying from markets and local shops rather than chain stores or online, and buying in larger quantities, I can reduce the plastic wrappers associated with my hobbies.
Shampoo and conditioner – by using Lush’s solid bars and some vinegar from a glass bottle, I can cut disposable plastic out of washing my hair entirely.
Soap – Lush again. I may have regarded this part of the low-plastic challenge as an excuse to shop at the nice-smells shop!
Deodorant – I don’t find that I need an antiperspirant, and have been making my own deodorants/body sprays for some time using water, re-use spray bottles, and essential oils. The only disposable plastic is the caps of the oils bottles, but the oils go a long way.
Takeaway – finding the local place which does vegan pizza in a cardboard box was the key to this.
Things others have improved but I can’t seem to:
Other food wrappers – a lot of basics just don’t seem to be sold without plastic. I can buy rice in big sack, but it’s still in a plastic sack; I can buy a big bag of pasta, but it’s still a plastic bag. I can buy dried beans and lentils (less shipping costs than tinned), but they’re still in a plastic bag. I think this is due in part to the lack of bulk-buying (from open bins) in the UK.
Things I can’t work out how to cut:
Medication wrappers – I anticipate needing routine medications for most of my life. They all come in plastic. There isn’t really a choice. None of it is even recyclable.
Envelope windows – I try and get off mailing lists, especially those of charities who are wasting my donation by sending me endless shiny post. My banks mostly let me have statements online-only. But some people (the hospital, the council, the tax people) are always going to write to me, and they all use plastic window envelopes.