I am not a eco warrior or any kind of warrior really! However I do believe that one person can look to make a difference and it is always worth trying to make that difference!
Plastic is our enemy – it didn’t use to be, well actually its always been very naughty, I think we just didn’t realise it, and now I feel terribly duped and rather stupid, I didn’t stop to think every time I bought a bottle of water, single use carrier bags or my veggies all nicely scrubbed and ready in their two layers of plastic.
But now, the evidence is there where we can all see – the destruction our throwaway lives have wracked upon the world, in full and glorious colour – our amazing oceans on the brink of destruction! But as I said earlier, I am not a warrior, a marcher or shouter – but wanting to make my own difference, I have been trying my very hardest to reduce the amount of single use plastic and other not so great stuff in mine and my family’s lives, and what better to do with that information learned, than share it!
So here are my top, subdued, anyone can have a go, let’s not go over the top, time for a cup of tea and a biscuit kinda tips for making your footprint a little more friendly to the world.
1. Ditch the plastic straws – let’s start with the easy one….! Most people with kids will have plastic straws in the cupboard or drawer – parties and milkshakes demand them in equal measure! Plastic straws are cheap but actually paper straws are not much more expensive! And such an easy swap – no one need suffer from a milkshake drunk strawless!
2. Continuing in the theme of grandmothers and sucking eggs, getting on top of your house’s recycling – no sneaking the odd bottle into the rubbish! Across the country different council’s offer different levels of recycling, some differing with what they do or do not recycle for you! So find out exactly what your Council will and wont! And be prepared for trip now and again to your nearest supermarket’s recycling point.
3. Easy ones done – so straight in with something which requires a little more resolution – shampoo and shower gel bottles! And I have to say this is one of my favourites because it has selfishly made my bathroom look so much better! My bathroom was totally full with bottles – shampoos and conditioners, shower gels, bubble baths and body washes – different ones for me and different ones for my husband and child and all of those extra ones, that seem to end up lying around!
But not anymore – I have helped the planet, my bathroom and my hair is happier than it has ever been – hurrah……..
How? By swapping from bottles of shampoo to shampoo bars and ! Easy?
They are far more eco-friendly for a few reasons – firstly of course most have no plastic packaging, they last a long time and are smaller than traditional bottles, so require less space. They also tend not include all those parabens and other possible nasties!
But are they any good? And for everyone?
Yes – they are good, different to your usual shampoo but good nonetheless. Once you realise you dont need as much as you think you do (if you use too much a residue makes your hair feel waxy), and it lathers up way more than you think, you are well away!
I have tried a few different types – there are plenty to choose from! Its easy to go online and find plenty of choice, and if you head to the High Street, Lush stock a wide range of really rather yummy smelling bars including ones suitable for kids, for those with dandruff or itchy scalps and for everything in between.
And Lush and other places sell rather nifty tins to pop your bar in – saves so much space!
Are they economic? Yes and no! – yes they last a long time, a heck of a long time but they are not very cheap to buy and when you can pick up a decent shampoo for less than a quid it’s hard to really know if they last long enough to see some savings!
I have also fallen in love with Bubble Bath Bars – which as the name might suggest are rather yummy smelling bars you run under the tap when running a bath and which give you a lovely smelling bubbly bath!
You can also find shower gel bars and jellies all with much less packaging – I have less success with these, not really finding anything i want to use everyday. But I keep looking.
I have not tried all of these, but here is a list to get you started!
NATURAL COLLECTION – Solid Shampoo
THE SOMERSET TOILETRY COMPANY – Soap (love this)
ECCO-VERDE – Solid Shampoo for Kids
4. Back to an easy one……..ditch the water bottle, how easy to pop into a shop when out and buy bottled water, but not only is it an incredibly pricey way to purchase what you have already paid for in your taps, it is also terrible for the environment, pwhen you are out you are less likely to ensure the bottle goes into recycling and more likely to throw it in the nearest bin! Plus the energy needed to bottle and transport all of those small plastic bottles is eyewatering. So think ahead, bottles suitable can be bought from most supermarkets and used over and over – and if you want cold – just pop in the freezer overnight, and hopefully by the time you need a drink it will be melted into chilled water! I know that to be truly environmentally friendly, you should have a metal bottle. But I am ok with buying a plastic bottle, with the knowledge I will use it over and over. There are considerations to be had regarding how harmful some of the chemicals used in plastics are to our overall health, but I am not an expert and I am not an eco-warrior, yes a reuseable water bottle will eventually end up probably being thrown away but I will make sure I use it until I cannot anymore! (Tesco – actually do a £1.50 Tesco Value Bottle which is made of fairly soft plastic so it doesnt break when dropped, I have spent a small fortune buying my son hard water bottles for school, only to see them broken with one drop – this bottle is cheap, plain and does the job brilliantly).
5. And so we head back into more effort required territory. One of the worst offenders is those single use plastic bags we all use in supermarkets (not carrier bags but the bags supplied for loose veggies and baked products), they tend to go straight in the bin and end up in landfill. I thought for a while about this one, buying from street markets with paper bags is a lovely idea, but most of us do our shopping in a supermarket because we don’t have time and/or a street market! But paper bags, now there is an idea!
So I headed to eBay and bought for a few quid a stack of paper bags – recycled ones to boot and now when I go to the supermarket I use these instead, and no one has stopped me. Be prepared for a few comments, but I just tell the cashier I try not to use single use plastic and they shrug, nod decide I am a weirdy and get on with it
In an ideal world this should not be needed, the supermarkets should be doing more, they are responsible for some of the worst examples of over packaging their food and giving very little thought (fingets croosed, there seem to be a few changes recently) to food waste.
Another horrendous item to drop in this same vein is plastic containers used to hold together four cans of drink, they envariably do not get recycled, I can remember years ago there was advice to cut them up so fish didnt get caught, at no point then did we start screaming about how fish would get anywhere near them!!
6. Another easy peasy – remember your shopping bags! I am terrible at this, but I now have a couple of bags in my car, in my office at work and of course at home, along with a nifty fold-up one in my handbag!
Those 5p and 10ps do mount up, I have bought a shocking number of bags since they started charging from them, and it 0has really taken me up until now to get into the right frame of mind to stopping buying them.
7. Microbeads – for a fair while these little ecological horrors escaped our notice, but now I think we all know just how terrible for the environment these tiny terrors are! The good news is they have been mostly abandoned, but you can still find some products where they lurk – avoid
8. Avoiding convenience food is on the list because although all of our food from supermarkets comes wrapped in far too much packaging, convenience or microwave meals are some of the worst offenders – plastic coated cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic – terrible to recycle. This is a small tentative item in the list becuase crikey sometimes life is too busy and dinner on a ping is a welcome thing, but I am trying my very hardest to plan meals and so not only reduce realiance on convenience food, but also cut down massively on my family’s foodwaste.
9. Ditch the tampons – I have been thinking about this for a while – it seemed like such a huge step and honestly I was not sure how I would deal with a menstrual cup, but actually not a big deal and you save money each month too. They may be made of plastic but they are reused many times over.
But are tampons and sanitary pads bad for the environment, after all they are small and mostly made of cotton? But they do contain plastic – pads have waterproof plastic linings as well plastic in the mesh that sits against your skin. Some tampons have plastic applicators or plastic within the applicators, and some are wrapped in plastic.
The estimate for an average woman’s usage of tampons is approximately 11,000 to 16,000, which all adds to our wastage footprint.
There are a few menstrual cups on the market all around the £20 ish mark. I went for Tulip Menstral Cup and gotta say it’s a bit of a revelation! Easy to use, reliable and no more worrying whether I have remembered to buy tampons – am hooked!
RUBYCUP – do wish I had bought on of these, as or every Rubycup bought, one is donated to a girl in need in the developing world and as most of us know periods are not an easy business for many women around the world.
10. My last one, and hands up – I have not managed yet!! But I will! No more liquid soap – go back to bars of soap! That was how we all used to wash our mitts! I love hand soap, when I was kid we never had it, and I am now slightly addicted, I rarely use the same one twice, and love the very smelly ones! I am also slightly nervous about germs transferring from bars of soap – but there are good antibacterial bars out there and if you give a thought to the pump dispenser on a liquid soap – that must be germ heaven.
So I will swap – once this yummy banana flavoured soap is used up – it’s back to basics.