By Duncan Cox
With so much publicity and television programmes about plastic, the family have been looking at the whole issue of reducing our plastic waste:
The supermarkets love wrapping veg and fruit in plastic. In fact, I challenge anyone tofind a cucumber that isn’t! To combat this, we have bought re-useable zipped and breathable bags that we are using on our trips to the farm shop or supermarket.
With much of the country we transitioned a long time ago to liquid soaps around the house. We’ve taken the decision to change this back. There is actually a large range of local small businesses in Newcastle who make handsoaps so we haven’t been limited in our options. We’ve invested in some timber soap trays that allow it to dry between uses and hopefully save playing the ‘chase the slipper soap round the bathroom’ game that we might have played in the past!
Shampoo & Conditioner
Having been determined to find a shampoo bar I headed to Lush on a recommendation. A “Jason and the Argan Oil” was not cheap but I was promised 80 washes from a single bar and I got to take it home in a small paper bag! I had clear guidance about how to use and to let the bar dry after each use. I’ve kept a tally and managed to get to 46 uses. I wasn’t perfect but this wasn’t helped with the bar breaking up towards the end. I gave it another go with another bar but even less this time due to being lazy when it came to drying out the bar in-between uses. As with all of these, it’s a process of trial and error and choosing a solution that works. I have found another option which is more the consistency and appearance of more conventional soap after a trip to a new shop in Newcastle called Something Good – will see how this one works out.
I’ve never been a fan of sprays since the whole past issues of aerosols. Stick deodorants are again single use plastic so I went hunting for an alternative. I found one on a market stall in Cambridge when we visited; UK made and contained in cardboard. Pretty good option.
Again, based on recommendation I trekked to Lush for their toothpaste tablets. It did feel very expensive for a small bottle and I haven’t kept score but the primary issue with this alternative is that these do not have Flouride in them. After speaking to our dentist, I am currently trying to alternate between the tablets and a fluoride toothpaste to avoid negatively impacting my dental health. I did find some tooth tablets on the Cambridge market stall which they provided in a paper envelope, but this felt a little odd! I had an exciting conversation about a fluoride option so this one is worth a continued push!
Washing up liquid and the other fabric liquid and conditioner
We have tended to use Eco rated but they are generally in single use plastic bottles. We’ve now seen shops offering re-fillable options so you can just re-use your bottle and keeping the Eco offering going. We need to finish using the bulk store we’ve built up but will be taking this step next!
Our inspired next door neighbours have had a glass milk bottle delivery for the last few years – we’ve been going through 20 pints a week as a family so we didn’t feel able to pay the uplift per pint but we’ve also been reviewing our milk consumption and think that we can get this back to nearer 10 pints or so. We’ve therefore decided to take the plunge and will let you know how we get on!
While writing this blog, the issue of Christmas wrapping came up. Whatever your views about Christmas itself the amount of waste that we generate in this country peaks across the Christmas period and wrapping paper accounts for a large proportion of this. I’ve historically been the one determined to strip all the sticky tape off so that we can recycle the paper we have but many of the papers are glossy or have metallic shapes and end up not being recyclable. I remember Mel Awasi’s briefing about re-usable gift bags and there’s some good guidance at recyclenow.com about the ‘scrunch test’ but we thought for us it would be great to use a simple paper and ribbon combination with the intention of using less (I’d love to say none but there’s bound to be one or two pieces I’ll be unwrapping on the day!). Imagine how many less bin bags we would fill if we could all do this one thing a bit differently. Yes I know even these rolls are wrapped in plastic which is a sadness but we’re trying!
I hope this is a little use to anyone who reads – I also know there are a growing number of no waste shops run by some fantastic entrepreneurs so do support them and perhaps take the next step of ‘refuse’ in the recycling hierarchy.