Since starting my new job back in March, I have been spending increasing amounts of time reading and writing about the climate crisis and sustainability. It has been interesting and frightening to realise just how oblivious I had allowed myself to be in the face of what is happening to our planet. It has also prompted me to try and live more consciously and sustainably day to day. I had already made some small changes but wanted to do more, so when I saw that Who Gives A Crap were hosting a challenge for #PlasticFreeJuly it seemed like an excellent opportunity to begin making more changes.
The challenge involved switching out at least one plastic item for a plastic-free alternative each week in July. Who Gives A Crap suggested potential changes that could be made in the kitchen, bathroom, around the home and to lifestyle items. It was a brilliant experience to explore alternatives to the plastic items I was using every day and I’ve been thrilled with everything I’ve tried which makes it easy for them to become permanent changes – which, after all, is the whole point!
Here’s a round up of the switches I made (plus some I’d embarked on already) and the plastic-free products I’m loving as a result. (None of the products in this post were gifted or sponsored – they’re all just things I love!)
Who Gives A Crap Toilet Paper (and Kitchen Roll)
We’ve been using Who Gives A Crap toilet paper for a while now – both at home and at work – and we love it! The cheerful paper wrappings brighten up the bathroom and are printed with entertaining and informative bits and bobs so you’ve always got something to read on the loo! The 100% recycled toilet paper is good quality and because their boxes contain either 24 or 48 rolls and you can set up a regular delivery schedule, we never have that momentary panic when you realise you’re down to your last roll and don’t have time to get to the shop for more! Best of all, 50% of their profits go towards building toilets for those in need. There are around 2.3 billion people (roughly 40% of the world’s population) who don’t have access to a toilet and around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. Toilets are proven to be a great solution to these issues—they provide dignity, health, an improved quality of life and increased economic prosperity. As Who Gives A Crap say: “Toilets are magical!”
They’re an all round awesome company. Head over to their shop and give them a try.
Lush Shampoo Bar
I have very thick hair and, as such, end up going through a lot of shampoo. That’s means a lot of empty plastic bottles being chucked in my recycling bin each month. I was a little sceptical about shampoo bars. They seemed expensive and – because my hair is not only thick but also fussy about which shampoo it will react well to – I wasn’t convinced they would work for me. Enter Lush’s Montalbano shampoo bar. I loooove this shampoo bar so much. It smells incredible, gives a great lather and leaves my hair feeling lovely and clean and fresh. It also lasts amazingly well and I get at least as many washes out of it as I would from a standard bottle of shampoo. I bought one of their metal tins to keep it in so it stores and travels easily and I can reuse the tin again and again each time I buy a new bar – bye bye plastic!
Lush have a whole range of yummy shampoo smells to suit all types of hair. You can order online or head into one of their shops where that staff are always super friendly.
Beauty Kubes Conditioner
Although I adore my Lush shampoo bar I hadn’t had the same kind of success with their conditioner. They just didn’t work with my hair but I can’t do without some kind of conditioner so I was still on the hunt for a plastic free alternative. A friend pointed me in the direction of Acala – a UK based eco-friendly health and beauty store – as a great place for loads of plastic free items and whilst I was browsing (and drooling over) their lovely ranges, I came across Beauty Kube Conditioner Cubes. They were a little more expensive but I thought I would give them a go. I am a total convert. These little cubes are amazing! They are compressed powder that you mix with a bit of water in the palm of your hand to make a conditioning paste. The cubes are pretty small and I was again a little sceptical about how far they’d go – turns out, a little goes a long way with these beauties! They do a great job of keeping my hair feeling smooth and healthy and, because they come in individual cubes, when I was travelling last week I just packed as many as I would need for the trip. No more lugging a big bottle of conditioner for a long weekend away!
I highly recommend giving these conditioning cubes a go – and also checking out the other lovely things Acala has to offer!
Metal Razor from Friction Free Shaving
Much though I would love to go totally low maintenance in the shaving department I do prefer being smooth legged. Although I have never used disposable razors, always opting for the changeable head ones, that’s still a lot of plastic and the plastic body always gives up the ghost eventually. I’m not keen on waxing (ouch!) and hair removal cream has so many nasty chemicals in it that that wasn’t a good option either. I have had some success with hair removal pads in the past – the kind that you use to sort of sand off your hair (which sounds truly awful when I put it like that) – but they also produce a lot of plastic waste. So I decided to invest in a metal razor. After a little shopping around I opted for the rose gold razor from Friction Free Shaving. The razor is beautiful and gives a great close shave. FFS also have a blade recycling scheme so although there is still a tiny bit of plastic present in their blades they are actively working to make sure that plastic doesn’t end up in our oceans. And as a bonus, their replacement blades are cheaper than they type you buy in the supermarket! They also have some really lovely gift sets and complementary products to make your shave even smoother.
Fat Panda Bamboo Toothbrush
One of the plastic items in my bathroom I’ve been meaning to switch out for a while is my toothbrush. I hate the feel of an electric toothbrush so I’ve always stuck with the bog-standard kind. I decided to switch to a bamboo toothbrush as part of the plastic free July challenge and, after a friend recommended them, I chose Fat Panda brushes. I was amazed by what good value for money these brushes were – much cheaper than the plastic ones from the supermarket! At first I was a little disappointed as I prefer firm bristles and these felt quite soft but they actually still give a really good clean so I’m happy and this is another permanent switch for me.
I often use clingfilm in the kitchen to cover leftovers, wrap veggies that I haven’t used all of when cooking etc, which generates a lot of single use plastic. I had been meaning to try beeswax wraps for a while so when I saw some during my browsing on Acala I decided to give them a go. I love these colourful wraps and they work really well. The create a good seal for covering food and I actually used the little one to wraps my conditioner cubes in when we went away, which worked like a charm. I will probably get some more of these at some point as they are definitely handy to have around and much better than constantly using and throwing away clingfilm!
Modibodi Period Pants
This was one of the most significant changes I made for my plastic free July challenge. It’s also the one I’m most thrilled about. Periods are a messy business and as well as being a (literal) pain, they also produce an inordinate amount of plastic waste if you’re using tampons and sanitary pads. I have been contemplating switching to a menstrual cup for a while but some health issues over the last few months, which have made my periods increasingly painful and prevented me from even being able to use tampons comfortably, had put me off. But them I saw Bronte, of From Bee, With Love, talking about ModiBodi period pants and I thought I might have found my answer. So I took the plunge and ordered a pair to try.
OH MY GOSH WHERE HAVE THESE BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! These are an complete game changer. Not only are they absolutely effective as a sanitary product but they made me feel fresher, more confident and more comfortable in my period. It’s so much nicer to pop on underwear in the morning without any of the usual period paraphernalia and go about my business. Easy to clean and care for and just super comfy underwear, I’m confident I’ll never go back!
So there you have it: a round up of my new favourite, plastic-free products for a more sustainable lifestyle.
Do you have any sustainable products or shops you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!