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:
- 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.
- … or for homemade solutions, buy from summernaturals.co.uk
If you want to try any of the homemade solutions below, I recommend buying products online from summernaturals.co.uk. 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!
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 myplasticfreelife.com 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: http://www.trashisfortossers.com/2015/04/diy-organic-whipped-body-lotion-bye-bye.html
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 trashisfortossers.com 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 savesomegreen.co.uk
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).
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
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 summernaturals.co.uk 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. Honouryourflow.co.uk, 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. http://moralfibres.co.uk/diy-reusable-cotton-wool-pads/
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.
Solution: menstrual cup/reusable sanitary pads from earthwisegirls.co.uk
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: http://www.lunette.com/home.html