You might have noticed it's been a very long time since I wrote an update here. The truth is, I've been extremely busy planning a wedding, getting married (!!!) and organising a huge load of stuff for a big move to NYC next month. Phew!
Sadly I've been a little slack on the plastic-avoiding side of life, what with so much going on. But that doesn't mean I gave up completely - noo, no. I just mean I didn't write any posts, I maybe didn't refuse to buy halloumi cheese, and also didn't freak out when our wedding venue provided our hot cocktails with straws.
But luckily, I had a few permanent changes already set up, so I didn't need to worry about those things being neglected in all the buzz. And a lot of those things involved one particular room in the house: The Bathroom.
When I first decided to reduce my plastic usage, I realised the bathroom was going to be one of my biggest challenges. So, I've put together a list of ideas that I hope will inspire anybody else out there who is thinking of embarking on a similar journey. Gents, you might want to skip no. 6...
1. SWAP SHOWER GELS AND LIQUID HAND WASH FOR A GOOD OLD FASHIONED BAR OF SOAP
If you do nothing else, do this - it's incredibly easy and just makes so much sense.
There are plenty of different soaps out there for all sorts of skin types. It's easy to find them packaged in paper, or even better, not packaged at all (try Lush, or wholefood shops such as Mother Earth in north London). If you have time on your hands you can even make your own (I haven't tried this yet, but was given a soap-making book for Christmas and am excited to have a go).
Get a natural soap with minimal ingredients and perfumed with natural essential oils. Your bathroom will smell amazing and you'll be keeping one more plastic bottle out of the world - yes!!
2. TOILET PAPER: THINK INSIDE THE BOX
There are a couple of loo roll brands out there offering a plastic-free alternative.
At the moment I use Ecoleaf, who use Bioplastic packaging, which is made using potato starch and is biodegradable. Plus the paper itself is recycled and is made without using bleach.
Another brand (that I haven't tried yet but they look seriously cool) is Who Gives a Crap.They use only bamboo, making their product forest friendly. When you order online, the goodies come simply packaged in a big cardboard box.
3. MAKE THE DENTAL SWITCH: BICARB AND BAMBOO ARE YOUR NEW HEROES
This might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it works for me. So I will pass on my knowledge...
A really good way to de-plasticify your bathroom is to buy one of these babies:
The Environmental Toothbrush is awesome and is easy to find in health food shops around London. I love that it comes in simple cardboard packaging. Apparently the bristles are a special type of biodegradable nylon, although I'm still trying to find out for sure... Either way, it still goes a long way to prevent this kind of yuck beach situation:
If you're really serious about reducing your plastic usage, you can also try making your own toothpaste and mouthwash. There are plenty of advantages to doing this, the main being that you can control what ingredients are used and stop exposing yourself to potentially harmful chemicals added to commercial toothpastes.
You can find my recipe for toothpaste here and mouthwash here. Most of the ingredients can be bought plastic-free. The essential oils are more of a challenge, but it's possible to buy them in 100ml bottles instead of the tiny ones you usually find. Unfortunately they do have a plastic cap, but a little bit of oil goes a long way.
As for dental floss: I'm still using up an old one and haven't tried other plastic-free versions yet, but legend has it you can buy a silk floss that comes in an extremely cute little glass vial. A vegan alternative is floss in little cardboard sachets from Radius, although I don't believe the floss itself is plastic-free.
4. SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER: HAIR CARE AS WELL AS AIR CARE
I love my shampoo and conditioner bars. I have come across a variety online, but I just buy mine from Lush because it's my local!
They have a really good range of different scents and styles, all smelling divine. Their Jungle conditioner bar is a favourite of mine, it's also lasted me a good six months. It makes the bathroom smell amazing. Tips for use: keep it in a soap dish with a little water in the bottom. When you need to use it, the bottom will be softened and will rub easily onto your hair.
For days when you simply cannot be arsed, I have another super solution for you:
DIY dry shampoo!
You can find a recipe for it here. It's the simplest, easiest thing to make actually EVER. So you no longer need to upset your nose with that horrible stinky commercial spray! Woohoo!
5. DEODORANT: BANISH B.O. WITH A CALIPPO
Deodorant was one of the first things I swapped when I decided to cut out plastic. I would get through a few plastic roller bottles a year, and not only that, but they contained aluminium and all sorts of toxins which have been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease. So I decided it was time to stop.
I found a few deodorants out there that were plastic-free.
I was a little disappointed to find that the Lush options didn't quite work for me, but I will share them below for those who don't have such fussy pits.
I tried the Aromaco bar first. It wasn't strong enough for me, but my husband now uses it and it seems to work for him. I also bought the T'eo, which smells DELICIOUS.
Sadly it wasn't effective enough for me either, so I now only use it for freshening up as it smells so great. But while I'm on the subject, if you do try this product: rub it onto your hands and it pat on, rather than applying the bar directly onto your underarm. It is scratchy and this is a good way to avoid rubbing your delicate skin raw!
The deodorant I highly recommend is Organic Essence Relentless All Day Deodorant. I pick it up in Planet Organic or in Mother Earth, London. I'm sure it's available in other health food shops, but I haven't seen it anywhere else yet.
Anyway, it's AWESOME because it's made with lovely natural and organic ingredients, and it comes in a biodegradable paper carton like a Calippo! I use the lavender one and it smells delightful and does actually work (except possiby at certain times of the month when I apparently turn into a sweat monster). Here's a wee link to a post I wrote when I first tried it and, over six months later I'm still using it and haven't gone back.
A word of advice if using this product - you don't need a lot, rub it in with your fingers, and give it a little time to absorb into the skin before getting dressed.
Another fun piece of information for you: I know the ingredients sound simple, but I wouldn't recommend trying to make your own...
I tried to recreate this with a combination of coconut oil, beeswax, bicarbonate of soda and lavender oil, melting it and mixing it all together. Unfortunately, the grainy, sandy texture of bicarbonae of soda doesn't disolve when heated with the other ingredients. Let me just say that this stuff gave me chafing armpits for days!
But if you want a recipe for an exfoliating, moisturising, deodorising foot scrub, I'm your girl.
*** UPDATE MAY 2017***
Er, I changed my mind about the deodorant. You can read my update here.
6. SANITARY PADS//TAMPONS: WHY PUT PLASTIC AROUND YOUR HOOHOO?
Here's a bloody good one for you ladies (sorry, couldn't resist).
So I finally did it, I tried a MOON CUP. I'm not going to lie to you. It was weird.
However, if you truly believe in reducing waste AND saving cash, this could be the option for you. It's made of silicone and is reusable, saving you many trips to the shop.
This is definitely more for the tampon-wearer than the pad-wearer. If you're not a fan of having things sitting around up there, I recommend using pads by Natracare and Organyc. Here are some fun facts from Natracare:
They both use organic cotton, no nasty chemicals, and they only use biodegradable plastic substitutes. I personally find both of these brands miles softer and more comfortable than commercial brands like Bodyform and Always (don't even get me started on Always' perfumed pads - disgusting!).
They also both sell cotton tampons with biodegradable packaging.
7. SWAP YOUR CRAPPY LILAC/PINK RAZOR (THAT NO, WILL NOT GIVE YOU NAOMI CAMPBELL LEGS) FOR A MORE DISTINGUISHED, SUPERIOR BLADE
We've all been there. Wake up in the morning, go to shave, but then realise your razor is just totally not hipster enough! Aww man!
But don't worry, the safety razor is back from the past to help you with all your hipster needs.
But seriously, we should all use these. However hipster or dorky we may be.
The safety razor might not be much better at bringing the out supermodel in you, but it sure will bring out the WWI soldier. "What", you say, "cover me in blood"? Well, yes, maybe if you're not careful.
You do have to be a little more cautious when using this, but with a bit of practice you'll soon be whizzing along. The razor itself is plastic-free and reusable (instant win). You can buy replacements blades in little card boxes, individually wrapped in paper. They are incredibly cute - and recyclable.
I bought this one from Shave Lounge, it is a slight investment at the beginning but the blades are very reasonably priced which I believe would save money in the long run. I contacted the company before ordering, asking if they could send my order without plastic packaging, and they were very accommodating and lovely.
8. DITCH THE MICROBEADS AND SCRUB YO' ASS WITH SOMETHING PROPER
There are loads of delightful ways to give yourself a good rub down without causing excess plastic pollution.
Firstly, if you have time, you can make your own oily abrasives with ingredients like sugar, salt, ground rice, nut butters and oils. The problem with this is that finding the ingredients without plastic is a little more challenging.
So my current preferred item is this wondrous worker of magic:
This is Buffy. I picked one up at my local Lush shop (I know I plug this brand a lot, the main reason for this is that it's local to me and therefore one of the main places I shop. So let me just stop there and make a BBC-style announcement: OTHER BRANDS ARE ALSO AVAILABLE! I just haven't tried them yet).
Made with almost 100% natural ingredients, including cocoa butter and ground rice, this bar gives you a really good scrub and an amazing moisturising session in one. I love it.
Other options out there to try are natural luffas or wooden exfoliating body brushes.
9. A HEALTHIER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE MAKE UP SWAP
Make up has been a hard one for me and I haven't quite managed to find all the solutions yet.
BUT I have found two items that I would love to tell you about.
They come from the lovely Twink Beauty on Etsy, and they are: mascara and blusher.
The mascara comes in a little metal case, and makes me feel like I'm in the 1930s when I use it.
It took a bit of mastering, but I have now figured out the technique! It comes in a hard dry "cake", to which you add a drop of water to make it workable. The only problem for me was that I ended up with quite a wet lash paint, which instantly undid all of my eyelash curling efforts.
So if any of you do plan on purchasing it, here are my tips: add a very tiny drop of water and spread it over the full surface area. Leave it to soak in for a few minutes. Then the consistency will be less watery and more like that of commercial mascaras. Twink do provide brushes but I just use an old brush from a Benefit mascara I already owned.
Mascara cake with a little water
Plastic-free mascara result
The blusheralso comes in a little metal container, and is a loose powder. You have to be careful not to spill it everywhere, but other than that it works a treat.
The owners of the shop are incredibly environmentally conscious and will go to lengths to package your order without plastic, but do ask for no mascara brush if you feel that way inclined.
Just a little disclaimer here to say that I have found other mascaras and blushers that I preferred. But that was before I took on this plastic-free challenge, and I believe this is a pretty darn good substitute. The only other downside with Twink Beauty is that they ship from the USA, meaning postage and duty charges might sting a little.
10. TIPS FOR KEEPING Q-TIPS OUT OF THE TIP
I know I shouldn't, but I love a good cotton bud in the ear!
But I hate a plastic stick being thrown away every time I want to de-wax. Not good.
The buds themselves are organic cotton, which I've recently discovered is so important. I recommend watching The True Cost on Netflix for some background information, it's eye-opening stuff.
The sticks seem to be made of paper like the lolly pop sticks from the old days, and the packaging is biodegradable. Sorted!
I hope this list has been of some use or inspiration.
I'm still searching for solutions to other problems, namely concealer that stays put, facial moisturiser that doesn't either sting or crack my skin into a dry desert, and nail files (so far sandpaper has kept me going, but it's quite unglamorous). I think I have to assume that buying new nail varnish is out of the question for now.
Feel free to leave comments for other ideas and suggestions in the box below!
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
BROOKLYN'S NEW FAVORITE STORE
May 15, 2017
ORGANIC ESSENCE RELENTLESS ALL DAY DEODORANT - LAVENDER: REVIEW