Reducing single use plastics

Don’t let the blonde hair and blue eyes fools you, I’m a bit a of rebel inside and there’s lots of things I refuse to get onboard with out of sheer pig-headedness. When DVDs first started coming out and were £24, I refused to believe they would take off and still wanted everything on VHS (I’d been burnt by the minidisc craze). So not only am I rebellious and pigheaded, I’m also stupid.

One of the main reasons I never got onboard with the whole ‘single use plastic’ stuff was because people who were into it, were ridiculously into it, and in the same was a lot of vegans bang on about it, I didn’t like the feeling of being dictated to or preached too and I retreated back into my stubbornness.

Thankfully, I have one particular tenacious friend who wouldn’t let me get away with being a brat. Steph has been trying to get me to reduce my plastic and be generally more ego conscious and after about a year of nagged me, she’s finally made me see the light and helped me make some changes.

Because here’s the thing. We can’t individually save the world. There are some things that are virtually impossible to get without the use of plastic. But if everyone makes small changes then that can make a big difference. And once you get into the habit, or find some products that work for you, or are easy to purchase, then you can help the environment with very little extra effort.

Here’s the small changes I’ve made:

Cosmetics

The switch to a shampoo bar was a painful journey for me. I like the idea; it’s essentially a bar of soap for your hair, thus negating the need for a plastic bottle of shampoo altogether. The first one I bought from a shop in Tynemouth was awful. It made my hair greasy and unmanageable and I just hated it. So I tried a different one, from Lush, which is where Steph got hers; same thing. I’d read that when you start using less sulphates on your hair, it can go greasy as the natural oils rebalance, so I tried to persevere but my hair never got better. I tried one last time, a different shampoo bar from Lush called Honey I Washed My Hair which is formulated for fine hair. We finally have a winner! I love it now! And despite my reservations of the £8 price tag, I reckon it lasts at least twice as long as your average bottle of shampoo. I’ve also now invested in a conditioner bar too, which takes a little more work; you have to really work it through your hair to feel the benefit but I’m liking it so far!

Speaking of soap, I’ve also switched from face wash to charcoal soap for two reasons; 1. The plastic thing – it comes in paper packaging and 2. I suffer from cystic acne sometimes and this soap from the Body Shop is incredible for treating that! So, good for the environment and my chin!

Considering all the different options there are for facewash/handwash/shampoo to be obtained plastic free, I think the make up industry still has some way to go. Look down your local make up aisle in boots and it’s pretty much all plastic. My foundation comes in a glass bottle which is better, but I see no reason why a massive company like Boots No7 can’t offer to refill your foundation for a few pounds less. I got the No7 beauty advent calendar last year and the amount of plastic that was used in the structure of the calendar alone made me sad. Not to mention all the tiny sample bottles of plastic that the gifts came in. That would put me off buying one again.

Household

It’s an area we could undoubtedly be better at but as a household, but Dave and I are trying to be more eco conscious. Before lockdown we stopped using plastic sandwich bags to take our lunch to work and had lunchboxes instead, which ok, is still plastic, but at least not single use. I’ve banned the use of cleaning wipes in the house, as they’re full of chemicals and take about a billion years to biodegrade.

The biggest bugbear for me at the moment though is the coffee pods for our Tassimo machine (#firstworldproblems). I know that Nespresso machines do reusable pods that you can put your own coffee in but they don’t seem available for Tassimo yet. They do offer a recycling programme for pods, which is great, but there’s no drop off point near me, so the 4 pods we use at a weekend just get chucked out, which again makes me sad. Hopefully Tassimo pull themselves up to speed soon.

Furniture

Ok so it’s not plastic per se, but in the same way that I’m pretty keen on the whole second hand clothing game; similarly we like to do our bit for the environment with our furniture too. Dave and I have been together over 16 years and not once have we bought a brand new sofa. We’ve been very lucky to capitalise on friends or family upgrading their furniture so for the price of  van hire and a case of beer, we’ve inherited second hand suites. In fact, just last weekend we picked up a new sofa, chair and footstool we found on Facebook Marketplace, not too far from us, and exactly the style and colour we were after. We hired a van, had a little trip half an hour north and are now the proud owners of some new (to us) threads. As you can see, I’ve put the new sofa to good use already. That there is a good snoozin’ sofa!

The price benefits aside (collecting this cost us £150 in total including van hire) I really like the idea of utilising something that is in perfectly good condition, keeping it out of landfill for at least a good couple of years and decreasing the demand for brand new things. Honestly, the cost of something like this brand new was well over a grand. That’s a grand we can be sending on our next holiday, when we’re finally allowed to leave the country!

I’m not going to lie, lockdown has hindered my crusade to save the world. Particularly in the beginning, we we limiting to 1 supermarket shop a week since we had a secure delivery slot so that meant reverting back to single use plastic for things like shampoo, conditioner, body wash etc. I also completely accept that a plastic free existence doesn’t come cheap, we’re busy people with busy lives and the cheapest and most convenient option isn’t always the most ego friendly. It took me a while (and a lot of nagging) to get there, but I really do think that making a small change can help. Then you can feel smug and virtuous. And who doesn’t love those character traits?!

1 Comment

  1. mickeygee
    September 16, 2020 / 3:02 pm

    A bean to cup machine will be more expensive, but the coffee is better and you will save money in the long run over buying pods. Worth a thought?

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