Good afternoon fellow ferals!
To further aid my quest for a single-use plastic free life I have been on the hunt for alternatives to products I use every day. As you know, I’ve swapped out disposable coffee cups and carry a flask with me everywhere but I’ve also made a few other changes in my life that’s allowed me to produce much less waste in my day to day life. Plus, most of these are items I’ll take with me on multi day treks – very rarely will Jamie and I go the BnB route – we are far more likely to camp as often as we can. This means that I am HYPER aware of our impact on the environment around us, which bleeds in to us becoming more aware of the bigger picture. For example, if I accidentally leave a sponge laying around next to the river after washing up then, unless I go back and get it or someone else picks it up, there is a chance it may never ever degrade and leave that ecosystem; however, if I take a coconut fibre scrub pad instead, then it will break down and degrade over time. Does it make me less of an asshole? In my eyes yes; but I’m also still the idiot who has to go out and buy another scrub pad.
- Mooncups // If you haven’t read it already then go back and read my blog on stuff to know before you buy a mooncup. These are my favourite planet friendly alternative to tampons and pads and if you look after it then it will last you years. I won’t drone on because I covered these in great detail last week, but head over to that blog if you need a bit more insight.
- Steel Straws // Yes, I am ‘that guy’ that carries a steel straw everywhere. And yes, if I forget and I accidentally end up with a plastic straw in my milkshake then I will feel guilty about it for days. I bought two and offloaded one on my other half at the same time. He gave me a quizzical look (the same look I get every time I bring home a new planet friendly piece of goodness), but he carries his around everywhere too; and for that I am grateful. You can buy them individually or (more commonly) in packs of five; which I highly recommend so you too can be ‘that guy’ too and give one to every important human in your life. I also recommend picking up a straw cleaner too and just keeping it in the ‘dish brush’ pot next to your sink.
- Shower Jelly Tot // I have had very many mesh puffs and loofahs in my time, all of which inevitably end up in the bin at the end of their lifetime – but what if I told you there was an alternative? One that still goes soft and squiggy in water but can be chucked on the compost pile at the end of its life? Well, there is, they’re called Konjac Sponges – or in my eyes, a giant shower jelly tot. They lather wonderfully (which is saving me tonnes of shower gel), don’t fall apart after about 4 washes (the amount of times I have lost mesh puffs because they just unravel.. uugh!), they fit perfectly into the palm of your hand, they weigh nothing and take up no room in a pack (perfect for still having a bit of ‘luxury’ on multi-day hikes) and they are gentle enough to use on your face.
- Coconut fibre scrub pad // My new favourite! They are tough and feel almost like a wire scrubber but they are much gentler on pots – which means you can use them on all of your non-stick pans too! They also last longer than normal sponges and don’t hold as much grime. And then when it’s time to swap it out for a new one, where does it go? No, not in the bin like normal sponges – but in the compost pile! Yay!
- Soap Nuts // I was the most confused human about these odd little dried berries. They are an alternative to washing powder (no more microbeads – Hoorah!) and they are magnificent. They work out to about 12p a wash, which is phenomenal. They are very simple to use; pop 4-5 soap nuts in a cloth bag (you can usually buy them from the same shop) and chuck them in with your washing – wash as normal. 5 soap nuts will do about 5-10 washes; when they start to disintegrate it’s time to use some fresh ones. They don’t have any odour at all, so it’s recommended to pop a few drops of essential oil on to the cotton bag if you’d prefer a nice clean smell. They also don’t create froth and foam – which is a bizarre thing at first, but it turns out you don’t actually need them! I could rant about these wonders for ages but Chloe from Natural Weigh in Crickhowell has already done it! Here’s her blog on the who, what and why soap nuts.
- Bamboo Toothbrush // I always feel guilty about throwing away toothbrushes… so much so that I haven’t actually thrown away a toothbrush for about 4 years – they are sat in a pot under my sink and I use them for cleaning boots, radiators and other tiny crevices that I need to get into. They are pretty gross, but I can’t bring myself to throw them in the bin (weirdo, right?). So imagine my joy when I discovered Bamboo toothbrushes. Not only are they compost pile friendly and biodegradable, they are also SUPER soft – which is great for me because I have pretty sensitive gums sometimes (team this with LUSHs toothy tabs and you have the perfect planet loving, hippy mouth-care routine). I will never ever go back to plastic toothbrushes.
- Coconut-hair dish brush // The two that I’ve found come it two different shapes – One is a handheld scrubbing brush and the other has a long wooden handle. There are a bit tougher than the coconut fibre pad mentioned above, so they are great for really getting into those ‘burnt-the-stew-to-the-bottom-of-the-pan’ areas. Plus, you already know the best bit, BIODEGRADABLE!
- Solid Shampoo (and conditioner) bars // No surprise, my favourite ones come from Lush, but there is also a stall in our local market that sells them (it’d just take a bit a research to find your closest stockists). These suit me down to the ground because I can take them with me on multi-day treks. They are made from natural ingredients so I don’t feel guilty using them in rivers and streams (I am very well known for stripping off at the end of a long day and going for a swim/wash; it’s the most refreshing thing). The easiest way of storing them for travel is in little square tins. In the shower though, I keep them in a soap dish so they have plenty of drainage and can dry out properly in between washes (it helps them last longer). I am also incredibly impressed by the amount of time they last – now, I don’t have the most amount of hair, but I’ve had my current one for about 3 months and I reckon I’m about halfway through it. I shaved off all my hair and donated it back in December, and these shampoos are really looking after my new hair – It’s growing back super thick and baby soft! Thumbs up all round I say!
- Natural deodorant (in biodegradable packaging) // Much to the distaste of my partner I really do not get on with deodorants – the sprays are too harsh on my skin and I can feel roll-ons ALL day – they just feel like they are blocking all my pores. Plus, I find the smells far too overpowering. Until I found natural deodorants. Lush do a couple of good ones, but they actually aren’t my favourite this time (shock!). My favourite comes from a little company called Ku.tis
who are based in Llandrindod Wells. Not only are the deodorants made from 100% Natural ingredients, but their packaging is also completely biodegradable. My all time favourite is the Grapefruit and Rose deodorant – it’s gentle on my skin and the fragrance isn’t overpowering in the slightest. Win win!
- Packaging free shopping // Well… nearly. I was almost wet-my-pants excited when I learnt that my local town of Crickhowell was opening a zero waste shop (Natural Weigh) just a few doors down from where I live. To put this in simple terms – it’s like a pick and mix shop for cereals, spices, flours, tea, coffee, rice, pastas, dried fruit, eco-floor cleaner and SO many other goodies! They encourage you to take your own jars and Tupperware (but you can buy Kilner jars there too if you don’t have any knocking around) and you just pay for the weight of the product you put in them – simple! More often than not it works out cheaper than buying in packaging from supermarkets. The power couple who own the shop come from Marine Biology and Wildlife Trust roots (how cool?!) and decided to not only take responsibility for their own waste, but help other people take responsibility too. I understand that this may not be your local shopping experience – but small changes like buying vegetables without packaging (easier at farmers markets etc.), finding refill points for eco brands like Ecover, investing in plastic free alternatives (like the list above) or taking your own Tupperware to the butchers (my local butcher lets me do it, but it may be worth a quick convo so they know what they’re in for!) – It all makes a massive difference in the long run.
And there you have it! An extensive list of my currents favourites. If you have any alternatives that I haven’t listed above then leave me a comment – I would LOVE to see what else is out there. See you next week guys!
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