Thank you, and goodnight!

Wednesday marked not only the end of my 4-year uni degree, but also the end of my month-long mission to avoid all single-use plastic, and what a mission it’s been!

This past month has been such an eye-opener in so many respects, from the obvious learning more about plastic-waste, to the more obscure learning how to use twitter. I’ve been on live radio and in the local newspaper, I’ve baked more cakes in the past month than the rest of my life combined, I’ve dabbled in all sorts of homemade concoctions, and I even visited the coast to enjoy the beautiful ocean I love so much. One of the things I’ve come to appreciate is that not all plastic is bad. It’s fantastic stuff, it really is, and of course, all the reasons why plastic has become so big (versatile, durable, waterproof etc.) are the same reasons which mean that plastic has such a detrimental effect on our environment. As with many things, it’s not the material but what we do with it that’s the problem. By avoiding single-use altogether I’ve taken plastic-avoidance to the extreme, sometimes pedantically so, in order to make a point, but we don’t necessarily all have to do the same. Until I did this challenge I didn’t look twice at plastic, I barely even noticed it. And now all I see is the way the easiest changes to our habits would make such a big difference. My personal goal post-challenge will be to avoid sending any rubbish to landfill. On top of this, there are a few small changes I’ll put into permanent effect such as choosing the cardboard option instead of plastic, avoiding chewing gum, thinking twice before eating crisps and substituting some cabbage for lettuce where applicable. These are tiny changes but if we all made a few, we could really make a difference. I hope my mission has also led others to re-evaluate the role of plastic in their own lives, in their culture and in the oceans (where of course it shouldn’t be having a role at all). Additionally, I would just like to mention microbeads, which you may have already heard about (this issue is really worth a whole blog post to itself but alas, I’ve run out of time). Microbeads are tiny particles of plastic often found in face scrubs and other bathroom products, and because they get washed down the drain they end up in the ocean where they won’t biodegrade for more than a thousand years (you know, being plastic and all). There’s an international campaign to ban the bead which you can sign here, and scroll that page down to find out more about the pressing issue of microbeads.

So now, at the end of this long month, I am happy to show you the extent of my plastic use below (+ 1 straw I subsequently lost). The biggest offender to my plastic-free regime was contact-lenses and the solution. I of course steered clear of daily lenses and if it wasn’t for my birthday and graduation I would likely have worn glasses the whole time. A better financial and environmental option would be laser eye surgery which I hope to look into in the not-too-distant future. I also didn’t find a solution for tablets, some cellotape was used during the birthday celebrations, and I didn’t manage to intercept one straw from my drink one night. But after 30 days, I don’t think it’s too shabby a result if I say so myself!

End of challenge

I’ve become something of a walking encyclopaedia for plastic-free websites so for those of you who have been inspired to give plastic-free a go, or if you’re just curious to look into alternatives, I would definitely recommend these websites as places to go for all your plastic-free enquiries:

  • Plastic Free July – originally set up in Australia, plastic-free July is now spreading internationally and has a whole range of plastic-free alternative suggestions and recipes. Join up to go plastic-free yourself for the rest of July!
  • Zero Waste Home – tips and recipes on living waste-free, including the brilliant 5R motto
  • My Plastic Free Life – blog-turned-to website, it’s a comprehensive guide to everything plastic-free
  • Trash is for tossers – blog written by an American girl Lauren, who leads a zero waste lifestyle in NYC

Finally I would like to thank everyone who followed this blog, sponsored me in my mission (any last-minute donations still delightfully accepted!) and those who sent me words of encouragement, from all over the world! I’d particularly like to thank my parents for getting so on-board with me living plastic-free and even joining in on many occasions, also to my sister Helen for the fantastic header design on short-notice and to Katie and Anna for backing me the entire time.

Thank you, and goodnight!

To infinity and beyond

Becoming plastic-waste obsessive leads you to notice other kinds of waste, which may not be plastic-related, but is definitely just as avoidable, and it’s everywhere you look! To get the ball rolling, I’ve listed some of the simple changes I’ve made during my plastic challenge in order to reduce the amount of waste I send to landfill.

Both tissues and kitchen towels are single-use items and often come in plastic wrapping of course. They’re both easily avoided by reusing and washing hankies or teatowels, though if you do feel they’re occasionally needed, did you know you can put them in the compost or green bin?

Pens were an odd item to find a way around on my plastic challenge but the answer was simple – whenever possible, use a pencil! Sharpen it over the compost bin and you’re all set.

The photo on the left is a dress from Topshop for £30 while the dress on the right I bought from Oxfam for £9.99. We often forget about the textile industry but it leads to so much waste. Patch up your old clothes and hunt around for second-hand ones for yet another way to save your money and the environment at the same time.

We see wrapping paper for a moment before we tear it apart and get to the good bit. So why not use newspaper instead? It’s cheaper, can be recycled and it does the job just the same!

Chewing Gum

Did you know that chewing gum is made from plastic? It used to be made from natural rubber but now it’s from a synthetic alternative, and then think about what happens after you’re done chewing it. Avoid the stuff all together!

Mission Advancement to Devon, England

Sponsor me:

With just FIVE days left of my plastic challenge, please click on the above link to help me reach my goal of raising FIVE hundred pounds for the brilliant Marine Conservation Society UK . We need to combat these FIVE massive ocean gyres before it’s too late so whether you have a few pounds or pennies to spare, they’ll all be hugely appreciated – THANK YOU!

Much later than originally promised (and planned), I am finally heading back down to Exeter in time to round off my plastic challenge on the day I graduate (Wednesday), as it happens.

This seems like a great opportunity to start selling the plastic-free products I’ve been using as perfect travel companions! In general, they’re more compact, lightweight and versatile than their plastic counterparts. The lack of liquid is particularly good for journeys by air: you can take them easily through airport security and they won’t explode in transit. In preparation for my week in the South West, I’ve packed my shampoo bar in its tin, nested my deodorant and soap together, and decanted some toothpaste into a little tub from Lush. Good ideas for storing other items (such as bits of food/liquid or cleaning products – bicarbonate of soda etc.) are to upcycle old spices jars, use these little jam jars collected from Devonshire cream teas or reuse good old plastic pots.

Provisions whilst I’m down there can be bought from The Real Food Store (brilliant, local independent store) or Seasons (a particular highlight is the loo roll in biodegradable wrapping), both in Exeter town itself. A little way away and a bit pricier is Darts Farm (in Topsham) which sells its own produce as well as that of local suppliers.

Zero Hero gains a year-o

The end is nigh! With just 7 (SEVEN!) days left of the plastic challenge the end is definitely in sight. If you haven’t already, I would love it if you could sponsor me for this month-long epic mission: I’ve researched and tried out plastic alternatives, become a mini expert in all things plastic, explored the world of twitter, gone on live radio, and all the while massively reduced my plastic footprint. It’s not always been easy and I’ve learnt you have to stay one step ahead of the game in order to succeed, but at the same time, it’s been such a rewarding experience and I’ve learnt so much along the way. Thank you all for your brilliant messages and words of encouragement, this final push should bring me home so the extra pound, 2 or 10 to support me in my plastic-free endeavour would be hugely appreciated:

Now on to the adventures of my plastic-free birthday…

Somewhat appropriately for the plastic challenge, I spent my birthday by the ocean basking in the sun and even going for a dip in the sea. Moving out of Exeter, my university town, and back to where I grew up in Cambridge, the one BIG thing I know I will miss is the amazing stretch of coastline in the South West. The ocean is incredible, it just is. As if to remind me of this, one of the last times I visited the coast around Exeter, I was lucky enough to see a whole pod of 15 or more dolphins metres from the coastline jumping and leaping through the waves on their way West (sorry, no photographic evidence, I was too busy jumping up and down and screaming with delight). We have to do everything we can to protect life in the ocean and the fragile ecosystem it contains, we just do.


But back to the important issue: my birthday. My friends and family rallied behind me for my birthday plastic-free style. Presents were wrapped using paper or newspaper, cards were from recycled material and the homemade Victoria sponge cake was plastic-free. My friends also specially located la fermiere yoghurt which came in ceramic pots (and can be upcycled) with a foil top, so my plastic-free month was no longer yoghurt-free! I also gave strict instructions not to buy me anything unless I explicitly ask for it. This is not as harsh as it sounds – one of the most wasteful things would be to buy a gift for the sake of it (I have more than enough stuff and am currently trying to get rid of things, not collect more!). I will be travelling to Patagonia later this year, so items for the trip or contributions to get me going were all enthusiastically received, but I saw no need for buying things I wouldn’t necessarily have any use for. Going out for drinks, I had to be on the ball to make sure drinks came in glasses, and to intercept any plastic straws (of which there were many and I didn’t always succeed). And so I turned 22 plastic-free and happy, knowing my plastic-footprint was looking better than ever.

Kitchen solutions: check.

Going plastic-waste-free in the kitchen mainly involves foodie plastic and cleaning products and as such I’ve listed my solutions for various kitchen-related items below:

Food-relatedReusable bottle

  • It goes without saying that food packaging involves a heck of a lot of plastic so the first step would be to keep an eye out for alternatives in cardboard packing, tins or glass.
  • Food storage also involves plastic in the form of plastic tubs, bags and clingfilm. Plastic tubs are particularly reuseable, and the ones in our family we’ve had for years and just keep washing and reusing so they’re a really useful form of plastic. Frozen food bags and clingfilm, however, are easy to avoid by using tubs instead, or, if possible, glass jars or greaseproof paper (which you can put in the compost or green bin).Stainless-Steel-Straws-
  • Buy a reuseable metal water bottle like this 500ml one from Oxfam to save a tonne of plastic from bottles, not to mention the amount of energy that goes into bottling the water.
  • If you use straws, buy a load of reuseable stainless steel straws from

Cleaning – Ecover

Ecover cleaning products are great – they’re an environmentally aware company so use natural detergent in their products.Ecover

  • Washing powder and dishwasher tablets both come in cardboard packaging (although recyclable plastic encases each dishwasher tablet), and you can buy huge washing-up liquid refills to cut down on a load of plastic
  • All their other products (and there’s one for every cleaning need) come in plastic which is a combination of recycled plastic, Plantplastic® and ocean plastic and is fully recyclable (lids and spray caps included).

Homemade Cleaning

Let me introduce your best friends here: white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Almost all homemade solutions involve one or both. An important thing to bear in mind here is that you don’t need a separate product for every little task – if it’s cleaner, it will clean whether it’s a surface or the floor. You can find detailed instructions for how to use your vinegar and baking soda from but I’ve pulled out 3 ideas from various plastic-free sites below:

  • All purpose cleaner – reuse an old spray bottle with 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water
  • Washing-up liquid – either use bicarb or bulk castile soap
  • Window cleaner – use an old newspaper to wipe vinegar on the window and dry with a clean sheet of newspaper

You can buy products for homemade products at various places including, and most supermarkets.


  • Cleaning cloth/brush – biodegradable washing up brushes are available from or amazon. Skoy cloths are biodegradable, you can wash them in the dishwasher/washing maschine and reuse them for ages, but they can be expensive to get hold of. An alternative are twist cloths which are also biodegradable but come in less-than-desirable plastic packaging. But the best thing by far is using old pieces of cloth or teatowels which can be washed when needed. This should also mean fewer kitchen towels are used which is better for the environment as well as your purse of course!
  • Bin liners – this one is tricky. You can buy biodegradable bin liners, or line your bins with old newspaper but by far the best solution is to not to use a landfill bin at all! Now before you scoff and turn away, just hear me out. Almost all types of plastic (as well as the usual cardboard/tins/glass etc.) are now recyclable, even the film plastic from e.g. cereal boxes, so it wouldn’t be impossible to avoid landfill altogether. If that sounds a bit too ambitious then how about starting by reducing what you do send to landfill? Use a smaller bin (so smaller bag), make sure you have up-to-date recycling information for your area and use it to the full, and maybe make the occasional change in what you buy so that the materials are recyclable. Sounds doable, right?

Checklist for Launch

As many of you are aware (and thank you all for your well-wishing messages), I turned 22 yesterday, so you may think today’s post would be birthday orientated. However, I’ve decided to wait a bit longer before doing a ‘how to have a plastic-free birthday’ post since I have an extended-family birthday day this weekend, where no doubt I’ll pick up a lot of tips!

In the meantime, I’ve written my 5 top tips (or checklist for launch, if you will) for how to make a change towards a plastic-waste-free lifestyle. You can read my checklist below and I’ve posted it as a page accessible from the top menu bar. These are really simple but key things to do if you want to become more plastic-free but it seems a bit much to cut it out altogether. If you want any advice on buying plastic-free items or about shops in the Cambridge/Exeter area, please do leave a comment in the section below and I’ll do my best to give you an informative answer.

Finally, I am delighted to announce that my Zero Hero Mission has found its way into the newspaper! For those in the Cambridge area, pick up a copy of Cambridge Evening News TODAY, and for those not, check it out online here.


Checklist for Launch: 5 Top Tips to say ‘over and out’ to plastic waste.

1. Reuseable bags

8.3 billion single-use plastic bags were used in 2013 by customers of UK supermarkets (WRAP, 2014) and only 1 in every 200 were recycled (BBC). The figures are astounding which is where the new government policy comes in which will ‘introduce a 5p charge on single-use plastic carrier bags in England from 5 October 2015’. So get ahead of the game and swap your plastic shopping bags for some sturdy reusable bags, and make sure you have them handy even for those unplanned shopping trips!

2. A reuseable bottle

Swap plastic drinking bottles for any metal reusable bottle and you’ll instantly save a load of plastic waste as well as money!

3. Go local

Buying local (and seasonal) produce has multiple benefits: you’re more likely to find food un-wrapped, less energy goes into transporting the products and you’re supporting local producers at the same time.

4. Go Lush

Get rid of all your bathroom bottles in one sweep by heading to Lush for naked packaging. For more information on bathroom alternatives, head to my bathroom blog post.

5. Plan ahead

Eat lunch at the office? Grab a coffee on the way to work? Buy a cheeky sweet snack to keep you going? Save on plastic on the go by preparing lunch at home, taking a reuseable thermos mug (the price of a cuppa might even be reduced for you), and bake (and take) your own goodies!


Bathroom solutions: check.

Some of the biggest changes I’ve made during the plastic challenge have been in the bathroom. It’s now two weeks of zero plastic waste so I think it’s about time you know all the secrets of a plastic-free bathroom. In this post I’ve listed each item complete with a breakdown of where to buy, how much and my personal recommendations for the product.

If, however, you don’t want all the details but just 2 key tips then this is what I recommend:

  1. Get yourself to Lush…

I’ve basically turned into a walking talking advert for Lush and this is why: they use ‘naked’ packaging which means they sell you the product without any packaging whatsoever and when this isn’t possible (e.g. solid suncream), the plastic wrap is biodegradable. This is the ideal solution but if you do opt for a liquid product, the plastic bottles they use are recyclable and recycled, and you return the black tubs they use back to them so that they’re melted, resterilised and remoulded into the tubs again – a closed loop system, voila! Plus they have outlets all over the country so if you pop in while you’re in town, then no transport cost for you or the environment. Bring some cloth bags or tubs and ask them not to wrap the products in tissue paper – I know this is much better than plastic packaging but it’s still unnecessary.

  1. … or for homemade solutions, buy from

If you want to try any of the homemade solutions below, I recommend buying products online from They will of course come in plastic containers (which they’ve confirmed are recyclable), but the great thing is you can bulk buy which massively cuts down on plastic waste. Ask them to reduce the plastic when they pack it up and they send it through with the minimal amount of plastic necessary.

If you would like any more details on products or how I’ve found them, feel free to ask!



Solution: solid bar from Lush/homemade shampoo

Price: £5.75 – £6.75 for 100g/£3.05 for 600ml, both last roughly 90 days

I was amazed at the effectiveness of the shampoo bar. For just a small amount of shampoo it creates a proper lather which, if there’s excess, I use as soap for the rest of my body. A huge plus (for me anyway) is that it’s great for travelling – it’s light, small and it won’t explode in transit.

Pre-plastic challenge I was using homemade shampoo for 2 months and I think it’s great. It’s something of an art to evenly distribute it throughout your locks but totally worth it. You can determine the concentration of soap yourself so you’re completely in control of your own product. For a solution of 600ml, I recommend: 150ml castile soap, 75ml glycerine, 30-40 drops lemon oil (or any oil you prefer), 375ml water. This recipe also works as soap (see below).



Solution: solid bar from Lush

Price: £9.00 for 100g

I actually no longer use conditioner and haven’t done so for a few years now. I ran out once and decided that as far as I could tell, there was no difference to my hair so why bother with the expense and the faff. Many of my friends disagree though and like to use conditioner. This alternative from Lush is quite expensive but I don’t know and haven’t tried any home remedies – if anyone has any suggestions please share and tell us what you think about the results!

Body/Hand soap


Solution: solid bar from Lush/homemade recipe (see above)

Price: £3.10 – £4.10 for 100g/£3.05 for 600ml








Solution: solid or powder from Lush/homemade

Price: solid £4.95 for 100g, powder £6.25 for 80g

The solid bar from Lush is a brilliant product which you literally just rub on and you’re sorted for the day. One 100g block of will likely last 3-4 months.

The author of recommends a simple homemade mixture of bicarbonate of soda with a few drops of tea tree oil (and applied to the underarm with a reusable cotton pad (see ‘make-up remover’) or any cloth). These are the basic ingredients of Lush’s powder deodorant and will be significantly cheaper. Tea tree oil is antibacterial and antiseptic so you’re good to go with this simple solution.



Solution: tub from Lush/homemade

Price: facial = £12.50 – £32.50 for 45g, Hand & Body = £11.95 for 240g/ £8.05 for 400g

I personally think the best plastic-free moisturiser is the home made version. I found this one from the girl who writes ‘trash is for tossers’ where she explains how she makes whipped moisturiser from coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and almond oil. Check out her recipe here:



Solution: Safety razor

Price: £30 – £60 (+£5 for 50 more blades)

Conventional shavers with disposable heads waste a lot of plastic let alone the fully disposable ones. This solution I found does involve throwing away the blade once blunt, but there are often scrap metal places which are willing to recycle them. It’s easy to use and the blades last ages so it ends up cheaper than its plastic counterparts.

Another solution to the hairy problem is IPL (Intense Pulsed Light, basically laser removal) – I had it done on my underarms throughout the past year and it’s great but of course it’s expensive. I found a deal on Groupon which made it more affordable.


Solution: toothy tabs from Lush/homemade

Price: £2.50 – £3.50 for 40 tablets/80p for 100ml

Lush has come up with a pretty pricey solution to the problem of non-recyclable plastic toothpaste tubes. But to be fair they’re great and can be cut in half to last double the time.

I use the homemade recipe from which has lasted me 2 ½ months and which is working great: 4tbsp coconut oil, 2tbsp baking soda, 40 drops peppermint oil.



Solution: biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes from

Price: Pack of 6 for £16.00 (£2.67 each)






Solution: solid bar or cream from Lush

Price: £8.95 for 100g/£15.00 for 250g

Plastic is unavoidable here since by law they have to wrap even the solid bars. But this is still better than normal shampoo bottles since the plastic wrap is compostable and the bottle (for the cream) made from recycled plastic (and is recyclable itself).



Solution: Lush

Price: mascara = £12.00, eyeliner/lipstick = £14.50 for 5g

At first glance this sounds expensive for only 5g of make-up, but 5g will last you (or me anyway) so long, plus make-up in general tends to be expensive. They have an amazing range of colours in a solution which can be used as eyeliner or lipstick (or anything else you can think of) so the simple versatility of the product appeals to me as a great alternative make up solution.

The glass bottle, plastic cap and wand can all be returned to the store where they will recycle and reuse the components.

Make-up remover and pads

Make-up remover

Solution: Lush/coconut oil & washable cotton pads

Price: £11.50 for 100g/£20 for 5kg coconut oil

The price quoted above for coconut oil is from if you bulk buy. I’ve found it works well as a remover although some make-up I own (see below) can simply be removed with water.

Cotton pads are not only themselves bad for the environment due to their single use nature, but they of course come in plastic packaging., despite a name sounding very ‘you go girl!’, sells washable scraps of material as cotton pads or you could always make your own from any spare material. For the creative ones among you, you can even find crochet designs online for making your own pads e.g.

Toilet paper


Solution: Ecoleaf compostable wrapping

Price: £4.50 for 9 rolls

Ideally, I would buy loo roll loose but I have yet to find a shop in either the Cambridge or Exeter areas which does this so I’ve found the next best thing: compostable wrapping. It biodegrades totally in a non-toxic manner and of course the compost can then be used as fertiliser.


Menstrual issues

Solution: menstrual cup/reusable sanitary pads from

Price: £10.00 – £18.50/ around £6.00 each

So let’s start with the elephant in the room: the ‘ewwwwwwww’ factor. Both options seem too gross to get your head around and I’m not actually in a position to give much advice about these two. I have the implant and don’t have periods anymore (which is one eco-friendly-er solution), so I haven’t ever used either of them. It might take you a while to come round to the idea of either, but to help you along the way (or scare you off, let’s see!) Lunette’s website has a good description of the menstrual cup and how it works:

A strange planet

The mission has landed on a strange and all-knowing planet called Twitter. I am gearing myself up to become a twit and if I’m lucky (finger crossed) people will start following me around and maybe even start shouting about what I’m saying (I’ve got this right, right?). If all goes to plan, you should be seeing a little bird symbol next to the F on the right (I’m told the bird is the one carrying messages around between people, blimey he must be tired) so click on that and start following me everywhere I go!

And we’re live in 4, 3, 2…

This morning I got up at 6am, drove the 25 minute journey to my destination, waited there for another 25 minutes and then finally was led to the studio for a whole FIVE minute live chat on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire about my plastic challenge – totally worth it though! Click here and skip to 1:55 to hear yours truly talking about loo roll live on air. You’ll hear I mention bathroom amenities quite a lot, and if you’re curious to know more the wait is almost over (I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seats). Next post will be in the next few days and will focus on the details of my bathroom solutions.


Week 1: Complete

With the first week of the plastic challenge down, and three more to go it feels like a good time for a mission update of my latest plastic-free exploits.

When I last wrote about the food shop, I was having difficulty finding a few key plastic-free items, but I’m glad to report that after a couple of trips to local farmers markets, armed with empty tubs for the products, I found success! By swooping in with my reusable packaging, I managed to buy cheese, salad leaves and olives plastic-free and at a reasonable price, as well as coffee in paper packaging. I also bought The Laughing Cow cheese (cardboard+foil) as an affordable back-up cheese should I run out.

In fact, the last few days have been remarkably food orientated. For the first time, I joined Feedback’s Gleaning Network on a farm near Kings Lynn, Norfolk where we were saving as many parsnips as possible from going to waste as part of a BBC program on Britain’s waste, presented by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (due to air in September – I’ll definitely be watching).



Back in Cambridge, I popIMG_2837ped along to Chesterton Festival to help man the Cambridge Sustainable Food stall, complete with a ‘guess the secret vegetable ingredient of these cakes’ activity, and free parsnips to hand out in order to engage the public in a discussion on food use and waste. (On a side note, I was really chuffed to get a discount on a coffee I bought there due to bringing my own (waste-free) mug, so just shows you, plastic-free really is win-win!)

I also attended the village ceilidh with a complete set of crockery, cutlery and a drink to avoid use of the disposable set, as well as brushing up on my very rusty baking skills by making some plastic-free fairy cakes with flour dating from 2011 (in case you’re wondering, they taste absolutely fine and yes I’m still alive).