Tips to reduce plastic waste - Part 2
Our last blog focused on how you can reduce your environmental impact, using fewer single use plastic products by having a reusable bottle or cup, using metal straws, and reducing plastic bag use and food packaging waste.
These are not the only areas where we can reduce our plastic consumption, as plastics have become such an ever present in today’s society. Below are some more tips on how to reduce your environmental impact around the house, with a particular focus on personal care.
Soap, shampoo and deodorant
Personal care products like soap, shampoo and deodorant can seem like one of the areas where it is most difficult to move away from plastic packaging. You do not see shampoo and conditioner sets in the chemists or supermarkets that come in glass bottles!
Fortunately some proactive individuals have started to counter this with advice and products that can keep you looking and smelling clean and fresh, without filling up landfills.
YouTube videos can show you how to make your own soaps, shampoo bars, and deodorant sticks. These can then be wrapped in muslin cloth or paper if you are going away, or kept in a soap tray in your bathroom or by your sink.
If you don’t have the time, ingredients, or faith in your DIY abilities then there are lots of wonderful people handmaking products for you to buy. You can find a fair few of these on Etsy. The best thing about these products? All natural ingredients, with no environmentally harmful chemicals included.
The beautiful shampoo bar pictured below was made by our good friend, Cedella. You can follow her eco-adventures over at The Nice Soap Co.
It seems like products that are designed to keep us feeling clean and beautiful are amongst the worst offenders for plastic packaging! We are enormous fans of Jess at Talking Rubbish Norwich, and she has produced this blog about how she has reduced plastic waste from her make-up routine. Some beauty products do have reusable packaging that you can repurpose and re-use, but focusing on ethically produced and packaged materials and homemade alternatives is a great way to get your beauty regimen on the right eco-track!
Baby wipes seem harmless. They are sold in soft, neutral, welcoming packaging and often advertised as ‘flushable’ or ‘degradeable’. Despite this, they are one of the key constituents of ‘fatbergs’, the unappealing term applied to the masses of debris, coagulated fat and waste that cause blockages in the sewers of even the most developed of countries. If they are doing this kind of damage in our sewers, imagine the impact on waterways and oceans.
Compostable wipes are available and a definite improvement on wipes that do not break down. That said, a compost bin which is predominantly composed of these products will not break down very effectively, so these should be used sparingly. Where possible, reusing flannels and/or cutting up old towels or clothes is a great solution. These can be sewn and hemmed to stop fraying, and washed between uses.
Razors and toothbrushes
These are another set of products that are seemingly only available in plastic versions, particularly the disposable options, and even safety razor disposable blades have a lot of plastic waste attached to them.
The way to get around this is to look for sustainable products. Bamboo toothbrushes are one such product, and are just as effective as disposable plastic brushes when it comes to your oral hygiene. Look for natural fibres on the brush head as well!
Razors seem even more difficult to replace, but going back a few years and thinking ‘retro’ is one way to do it. Safety razors that use a single blade are still widely available, and come in an array of natural materials. The blades are usually wrapped in paper, and are simply replaced when they become blunt. If you are more daring, then a ‘cut-throat’ razor is even more ecologically sound, and can be sharpened at home to reduce your waste still further.
Menstrual hygiene products
This blog by Wendy is excellent, offering eco-solutions and advice on different ways to have an environmentally friendly period. As with all these tips, it’s about finding the solution that is right for you.
Biodegradable rubbish bags
We try to compost and recycle where we can, but it’s not always possible. In addition, councils often have policies where you can be penalised for putting rubbish in bins without bags, so this is another area where it can seem difficult to reduce your plastic waste. Biodegradable bags are becoming more and more widely available, with advances in technology producing bags made from things like tapioca starch (they’re even technically edible) and plant life, to produce bags that break down naturally rather than sticking around for years, or even decades.
Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle… Where this isn’t possible, making choices that are mindful of your environmental impact is a great alternative and small changes can make a big difference!