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How to make it yourself plastic-free

There comes a point when living plastic-free  means making stuff. Sometime you just cannot buy what you want and so your only option is to get all Blue Peter, source the ingredients and actually produce something. Turns out it’s quite fun and not that hard! Here are some of the skills I have mastered..erm….sort of ….maybe.

Sew

Making your own clothes is probably the only way to get them totally plastic-free. Plus the only way I can afford fair trade organic clothes is make them myself. And I get to support local fabric shops
How, why and where to buy can be found  here

Cookbook

Who knew? Baking – it’s not that bad!  Check out the plastic free cook book here

Making Make Up

Its quicker then  trying to choose between a hundred different shampoos and it’s really simple, fun to do, so much cheaper  and  I get to control what goes on my  body, where it comes from and what environmental impact it has.

See all our homemade lotions, toothpaste, fake tan & the rest.  

Cleaning Products

i don’t make many cleaning products. I use bicarb neat and occasionally vinegar. Mostly I scrub with natural bristles. You can read about my cleaning products HERE

Compost

Take control of your own waste and make plant food Here

Ingredients

An introduction to some of the stuff you need to make the above

Made From Plastics

up-cycling plastic is a good way to use up waste plastic. Have a look at what these talented folk have done over in the arty crafty part of this blog   and check out my PINTEREST board. Lovely but by no means the answer to plastic over consumption.

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How to Refill

Imagine a world where you returned your empty milk bottles to be refilled and took your washing up liquid bottle back for more of the soapy stuff. Seems such an obvious way to save resources and cut waste doesn’t it? Well thankfully a few far seeing people still offer such great services. You can find them here.

Any we forgot? Please let us know in the comments section below. Together we can make changes!

U.K. water bottle refill schemes

Water Abroad We sterilize our own water using a Steripen …. but when a bottle refill service is offered we will use ...
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Refill/Bulk/Zerowaste Stores

Bulk buy or refill stores are places you can buy all kinds of food like rice, suet, even soup mix ...
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Cleaning products – refill system

Planet Earth offers a range of household cleaning products with a unique refill and reuse system. It works and has ...
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Cleaning products Ecover Refill Liquid Cleaners

ECOVER  do all of these products and you can get your plastic bottle refilled. To find where  Ecover have a refill ...
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Wine

I do have a social life. I occasionally get to  go out to dinner and wine is the present of ...
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Milk Refill Vending Machine

Recently our van trip has been milk free. Seems they don't do milk in bottles in France. But if you ...
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Oil Vegetable Cooking Refill

Vegetable oil is difficult to source plastic free. Buy in glass and the metal caps will have a little plasticized disc ...
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Beer

Of course you can get beer in bottles but those metal caps have a plastic liner or small disc to ...
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Milk & Milkmen

British consumers got through nine billion pints of milk last year. 90% of that milk was bought in a plastic container ...
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Water Refills World Wide

Find out first Of course water in many countries the water is actually safe to drink - you can find ...
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Washing Up Liquid Soap

Soap Flakes I did try to use soap flakes to wash up. I did not find it  pleasant. Yes it ...
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Pen Ink refillable

Here is a one of the worlds finest inventions as radical in its time as the computer has been in ...
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Reusables

I don’t think theres enough said about reusing stuff. By which I don’t mean recycling – recycling is great but it usually means the waste product is taken away then processed into something else.
We really don’t need a new bag every time we buy some beans. A cotton reusable bag is more than good enough. Yet we have become such a throwaway society we have almost forgotten about reusables.
Here are some products that dont need to be thrown away after a few uses.

Disposables

Sometime you need a disposable and when you do it has to be compostable.  Here are biodegradable bags for the butcher, paper cups for the office party and plastic free tampons. To name but a few. Find them here

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How to go to the loo plastic free

There comes a time in every plastivists life when there really is no alternative – what you want only comes plastic wrapped. Of course there is the truly noble option of doing with out giving it up completely. And for some products this is an option. Crisps for instance. But toilet paper?

Here are your options

  • Toilet rolls – loose or in compostable wrap
  • Cheap boxes of tissues. 
  • Water & Hand
  • Water & Wipe

Toilet Paper

Yes it is hard to find plastic free loo roll but not impossible.
You can sometimes buy loose rolls from the corner shop. Many asian supermarkets sell them this way.
Or these that come in compostable packaging. More information and suppliers here

Cheap boxes of tissues.

  • Not just for economic reasons. Expensive boxes of tissues tend to be reinforced with plastic.
  • Find out more here

If none of the above appeal you could go without.

Water & Hand

There is the jug of water and washing method. For this you will need a jug or bottle of water.

  • Fill the bottle/jug with water
  • pour the water over the affected area.
  • Clean with your hand
  • Dry

Ooo and don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards, with soap – though I am guessing I didn’t I need to tell you that.

Sounds grim but feels really clean.

bum hose featuredIf you do become converted you can  get flexible hoses plumbed in which make the job much easier.

When in India (and other places) I am quite happy to use this method. You can find out how to make your own portable backpackers bum washer here.

But back in England…. well most visitors to my house would fall down and die if called on to wash their bum with their bare hands so it’s back to loo roll. If I was really deep green I could use….

Poop Cloths

There are hardcore greens who use washable poop rags. Yes they are exactly what they sound like. Two problem with this – the first, as before, screaming visitors fleeing the bathroom; the second, a screaming me. I can not regard this option with anything other than horror. Washable nappies yes- but adult poop… urghhhhh. See, everyone has their sticking point.

Water & Wipe

A combination of the above. Wash first with water – no hand then wipe using a moistened tissue. You will use much less tissue this way. Or if you prefer reusables, your cloth will need far less cleaning.

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Scour, Scrub & Wipe

Although I use natural cleaning products like soap, bicarbonate of soda and occasionally Ecover cleaning products, I prefer not to. Cold water and elbow grease clears most things. I know I sound dreadfully Victorian, and house proud, but really I am not. It’s just that even home-made scouring powders involve some plastic and of course represent some environmental impact. It seems a waste of product when a good scrub does the job just as well.

But you need to have a good range of scrubbers on hand. I use everything from bristle brushes to wire wool to get the job done. In my opinion natural products  are good to go most of the time but occasionally synthetics come into their own.

This is my list of scourers in order of toughness

Knitted metal ribbon pad – the big boys of the scouring world will shift almost anything can not be used on plastic, non stick or delicate surfaces.

Wire Wool not as butch but still not good for plastic, non stick or delicate surfaces.

Luffa a natural and renewable plant product rather more abrasive than a cloth but still pretty soft. Good for cleaning plastic baths and washing up (not the same luffa obv.) Get them here

Synthetic scouring pads are good, where metal is too much and might leave black marks – think tiles but  luffa too weak. Plastic scourers are ideal for burnt on non stick pans (though after reading this you might want to phase out the non stick and so the need for plastic scourers). However they are plastic and while I do occasionally use them, I am not entirely happy recommending them. When I have to, I use these recycled products that come sustainably packaged.

Coconut Pads – while not quite as powerful as synthetic pads they are a good, non-plastic alternative.

 

Natural Bristle Brushes in a range of stiffness great for general cleaning, crevices, non stick pans and vegetables,

And finally for completely friction free wiping you cant do better than these biodegradable cellulose Sponges

More 

See a huge range of plastic free cleaning products HERE

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How to wrap gifts plastic-free

Reusable Wraps

Disposable Paper

As much as we love reusable gift wrap and bags, you have to know someone pretty well before you can snatch back the wrapping once the gift is opened. Gifting  for the first time? Maybe consider a disposable paper wrapping.

  • Shop local – You can still buy gift wrap in single, unpackaged sheets from card and book shops. Pricey but nice and not so green.
  • Plantable paper Try Eden’s Paper a 100% plantable wrapping paper.
  • On a budget – check out brown paper packages and other cheap wraps.
    Read more and find purchase details here

Fixings

Sticky tape

And to be properly compostable you will need to stick your paper with biodegradable sticky tape

Ties 

Of course one way to get the most out of your wrapping paper is to reuse it. In which case you done want it torn off. Walk away from the sticky tape and tie your brown paper packages up with  string.

A bit more effort than sticky tape but there are advantages

  • less chances are the paper will be less damaged when the gift is unwrapped.
  • looks very retro chic
  • tie it with a bow and the ties themselves be reused.

Lets start with string. From traditional brown hairy string to U.K. woollen twine, there are some great options.

Then there are ribbons and fancy ties.

Other gift and celebration related posts can be found here.

Add A Card

Greetings cards Cards  have been the bane of Pam’s life , (I mean greeting cards not gambling  – that’s all in the past) as many come wrapped in icky plastic. So what are the alternatives?

 

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How to buy Food

So you want to cut your plastic? Let’s start with …

Food
Try your local shops first. One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the local shops seeing what you can source. You might be suprised. Asian Supermarkets and Polish Delis are particularly good.

Here is a list of food types by category with purchase details

Loose Food A to Z

Find out if a shop near you sells bulk food loose. This is stuff that that normally comes plastic packaged ie rice, pasta and salt. And yes these shops do exist in the U.K. There’s just not many of them.

Heres a list of towns with shops selling loose food.

Supermarkets & Chainstores 

Because sometimes we have to shop there and yes you can get plastic free and zero waste stuff. Read up about them plus
eating for a week, plastic-free, only from supermarkets  – a case study.


Bags & Packaging

Shopping plastic free means taking your  OWN PACKAGING. Check out the plastic-free shopping kit here.

Milk 

Delivered in glass bottles but double check before you order

Other Products

Find the  plastic free products you want and the purchase details will be in the post.  You can search by search, or via these menus……
By Category Everything from food to watering cans to clothes

By Task Want to know how to wash the pots, throw a party or sew #plasticfree. Check out these posts organised by task!

Abroad

Shops and products we have used on our travels

Here is my plastic free tool kit…

a to z of plastic free Labels by task 2

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How to party…plastic free….

Organising a big bash? Nipping off out to buy some paper plates? WAIT!!!
Given the choice between washing up and disposable partyware, the answer may seem obvious. Or maybe you are a minimalist and don’t own much crockery. However at the end of the night when the black bin bags come out that decision may seem a little bit, well, environmentally unfriendly. Of course the wine bottles are going to the bottle bank and the beer cans will be recycled, but what about the coleslaw covered plastic forks, potato salad smeared polystyrene plates and dreg filled plastic cups. And bear in mind that most paper plates and cups are in fact lined with plastic!

How to avoid this kind of litter?
Go to the pub.
Hire reusable glasses plates and cutlery but you have to wash it up and return it.
Or, if you must, use….

Use Compostable Disposables

You can get
Cutlery made from PLA cornstarch and are 100 percent biodegradable and compostable. We have used and composted these -you can read our review here.
PLA cornstarch clear “glasses” can be got from shot size upwards. PLA cannot be used to make stemmed glasses, so wine glasses are not available yet!
Biodegradable plates and bowls made out of a variety of materials.
Paper cups lined with compostable PLA plastic can be used for hot and cold drinks.
Drinking straws need not hang around after the parties over. There are a load reusable or compostable options here. Plastic free straws

Buy

You can buy compostable disposables in bulk from
www.wf-denny.co.uk or call them on 0161 927 49 49 – orders in by 1pm will be dispatched the next day.
Vegware are also very good.
You can find some Amazon suppliers here

Plastic free booze

Plastic free booze is hard to find….glup!!!!. But we have managed to source some for you here… 
Other considerations If you are serving large amounts of wine, think wine boxes and not bottles. Though not in themselves particularly green (all tetra packs and foil), they are carbon cheaper to transport from far flung places than heavy glass bottles. To be greener still buy from close to home – French wine rather than Chilean.

Themed Parties

If your party is themed you will find some more ideas here
Halloween
Valentines
Christmas

Presents & Cards
Greetings cards

Wrapping Paper and Biodegradable Sticky Tape

Events

Make Your Glasses Reusable & A Souvinir

Featured Branded CupsThis is rather a good idea for festivals and other events where glasses are not an option but disposables result in a sea of waste. Reusable, plastic cups that can be branded to suit. Pay a deposit at the bar that can be refunded or the customer can choose to keep the cup as a souvenir. Read more here…

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Sew

This is an introduction to why you might want to and how you can start sewing plastic free. If you already know the answer you can follow the links to the specialist posts as listed.

Why Sew Your Own
plastic in ready made clothes
Guide to synthetic, regenerated, combination and natural fibres.
why I prefer natural fabrics over synthetics here.

Where to Buy 

organic cotton on a wooden reel.
Needles & pins in cardboard boxes
Scissors
You can buy all metal scissors from the C. Booths Hardware Shop in Huddersfield.
Fabrics Fibres & Wool
Fibres
A definition of natural, synthetic and regenerated FIBRES & Fabrics
Buy Fabric
on line suppliers
Local fabric shops.
British made Fabric
Kinds Of fabric – 
Zips & Fastenings
Fixings Supplies
Patterns

See
The clothes I have made here

Introduction To Plastic Free & Ethical Sewing

Making your own clothes is probably the only way to get them totally plastic-free. New clothes come packed in plastic and hung on plastic hangers. Even when they are made of natural fibres, the cotton used to sew them, buttons and care labels are all synthetic, plastic fibres. You can read more about the plastic in ready made clothes, here.
Plus the only way I can afford fair trade organic clothes is make them myself. And I get to support local fabric shops which is very important to me. As is buying U.K. made fabrics.

Here is my guide to sewing plastic free….

Fabric
First you have to decide which fibre – synthetic or natural. While they all have bad points, naturals are way better than synthetics not least because at the end of life they can be composted. Natural fibres are harvested from nature either from animals like wool and silk, or plants like cotton.  Most synthetic fabrics are derived from petrol. But there is a kind of in-between called regenerated fibres. The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources including wood, paper, cotton fiber, or  bamboo. It is then converted through a chemical process into a fiver. the later is often touted as an eco fabric but treat those claims with caution.

Wool cotton and linen are really the plastic free way to go for me.

Organic & Fair-trade 

As many fabrics are made in poorer countries, do try to source fair-trade when ever possible. There are good reasons for trying to also source organic. Cotton especially uses huge amounts of pesticides.

I can only buy organic fair-trade fabric on line. Which leads to problems with packaging. So many people will send it out in plastic bags. But there is one company, Offset Warehouse who in addition to having fantastic fair-trade, organic, eco credentials, and a great range of fabric they will post out in plastic-free packaging.

Local Shops

Problem is fair trade and organic don’t come cheap and I can’t always afford it. Also I cant always buy it locally. So, without beating myself up about it, I also buy natural but almost-certainly-non-organic, who-knows-how-it-is-made fabric because I like to buy from local fabric shops. Buying locally is also buying sustainably. There are many very strong reasons to support local shops. especially fabric shops. There aren’t that many of them, you get to see and learn about fabrics, the staff know lots, they get people into sewing they provide all the bits and bobs you might forget to order online and like all local shops they need supporting.

Locally Made Fabrics

This year I wanted to source some locally made fabrics. In the U.K. the locally made fabric is wool. It is especially relavent to me as I live in Yorkshire a place once famous for its woolen fabric. There used to be hundreds of mills churning out meters of the stuff but those days are long gone. Indeed you may be surprised to hear that there are any working mills left. I was. But my research revealed that Yorkshire cloth is still being made by a handful of mills. What they turn out now is a luxury product. If you thought organic fair-trade was expensive check out these prices. £ 50.00 a meter is the cheap end of the market and way out of my price range.

BUT  down on Leeds Market there are folk selling end of line end of roll lengths for very reasonable amounts. And I am sourcing lots more

Buy

on line suppliers
Local fabric shops.

Sewing Supplies

Needles, Pins & Cotton 

#pfuk cotton

These can be tricky to find plastic free so you will pleased to know we have found these online suppliers who will post out in plastic free packaging
Organic cotton on a wooden reel.
Needles & pins in cardboard boxes

Patterns

I buy paper patterns  from my local fabric store.You can  download them from the internet but you might need a bit of sewing experience for this to be completely successful.
There’s no doubt that patterns ar expensive but you can make a surprisingly wide range of outfits from just a few basic shape. Check out my patterns here.

Scissors

You can buy all metal scissors from the C. Booths Hardware Shop in Huddersfield.

Other Fixtures & Fittings like buttons, zips and the rest can be found here.

Machine

If you want to be really hardcore, plastic free you will have to sew by hand. I did make some bloomers and a headscarf that way. It can be done but meh! life is too short.  So unless you buy and old treadle sewing machine, you will be using a modern machine with some plastic. Consider it plastic to cut plastic.

Results

You can see what I have made, here

More

 

See how to do lots more tasks #plasticfree right here

 

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Disposables compostable

Sometime you need a disposable – wether its a compostable bag for the butcher, biodegradable paper cups for the office party or a plastic free tampon. Here are some options. They are all #plasticfree and biodegrade..  Click on the links to find suppliers.

Natracare Menstrual and Personal Care Products

Are you aware that most sanitary pads are made from approximately 90% plastic? An average pack of sanitary pads contains ...
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Vegware Fast Food Packaging

A while ago I got sent some Vegware stuff to review. Vegware make disposable compostable packaging from PLA plastic for ...
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Cardboard Cups & Pots

So you find what looks like a cardboard container full of yummy ice cream or you see that your favourite ...
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Disposables compostable

Sometime you need a disposable - wether its a compostable bag for the butcher, biodegradable paper cups for the office ...
Read More

Compostable Plastic Products

Compostable plastics come in various forms and are made in different ways. You can read all about compostable plastics here ...
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Paper versus plastic versus reusables

So if I don't want to use plastic bags then would I suggest using paper as an alternative? Well actually ...
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Paper Bags

If you want to buy plastic free food you really need to supply your own packaging. This will open up ...
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Disposable Cups

Disposable cups are made from plastic lined paper, polystyrene or plastic. To make paper cups water proof they are laminated with polyethylene, ...
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Straws Compostable

The picture shows a turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose (You can watch the video in full ...
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Cutlery – disposable & compostable

Though it's not the greenest option there are times when disposable partyware is the only choice. For our last big bash, ...
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PLA Starch Bags – compostable plastic bags.

PLA starch bags are described as a compostable plastic.Which can be confusing as they are a very different product from ...
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Pots – PLA compostable

These  deli pots are  made from  PLA plastic. This looks and acts just like plastic but is made from corn starch ...
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Important

All of the above are certified compostable. They break down naturally. They have to meet certain enforceable standards to be classed as compostable. You can read about composting standards here.

Buy

Being committed to local shopping, I prefer to buy that way whenever possible. I would encourage you to do the same. One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the local shops seeing what you can source. But sometimes you can’t buy local so I have put together an Amazon catalogue. of independent sellers operating through Amazon.

Amazon is a very dirty word at the moment and I thought long and hard before suggesting them.  Heres why I went ahead….. No we are not entirely happy with Amazons recent history. However, we have always found their service to be good and their packaging usually compostable.

If you buy a product via this link we do get an affiliation fee for this. This is not why we do it.

If You Care Paper Snack and Sandwich 48 Bags (Pack of 6, Total 288 Bags) 100 x Brown Kraft Paper Food / Sweet / Mushroom Bags
If You Care Paper Snack and Sandwich 48 Bag…
£22.20
100 x Brown Kraft Paper Food / Sweet / Mush…
£0.71 – £11.61
5 Litre x 180 bags Compostable Bags - Biobag Kitchen Food Waste Caddy Liners 5 Litre - EN 13432 - Biobags 5L Bin Bags with Composting Guide Ban the Plastic Bag: A Community Action Plan for a Carrier Bag Free World All-Green 6 Litre Biobag Compostable Kitchen Caddy Liners Food Waste Bin Liners, 150 Bags
5 Litre x 180 bags Compostable Bags – Bioba…
£13.49
Ban the Plastic Bag: A Community Action Pla…
by Rebecca Hoskins
All-Green 6 Litre Biobag Compostable Kitche…
£10.99
BioBag Dog Waste Bags On Roll (2 rolls of 20 bags) , 40-Count Bags (Pack of 5) by BioBag 25ml Clear Biodegradable PLA Pots with Lids x 50 (Food/Craft/Storage Containers) Biodegradable Tableware: Wooden Forks Pk 100
BioBag Dog Waste Bags On Roll (2 rolls of 2…
£61.80
25ml Clear Biodegradable PLA Pots with Lids…
£4.99
Biodegradable Tableware: Wooden Forks Pk 100
£4.80
Biodegradable Tableware: Wooden Knives Pk 100 Wooden Dessert Spoon Disposable - 100 Pack Luckies Brown Paper Lunch Bag
Biodegradable Tableware: Wooden Knives Pk 100
£4.55
Wooden Dessert Spoon Disposable – 100 Pack
£5.19
Luckies Brown Paper Lunch Bag
£9.16

 

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Exfoliate

Microbeads…. the newest way to exfoliate. These tiny particles, or microbeads, scrub away at the skin supposedly leaving it wonderfully cleansed.  These beads may well deep clean your skin but guess what? Unless otherwise stated, they are almost certainly made from plastic.

After using, they are washed off your face and down the drain and into the ocean where they become pollutants that don’t biodegrade. Truly, plastic is rubbish!

Here’s a really easy way to avoid this problem.

Reusable Products

Cotton Flannels – the old school way to clean up. Rub away the dirt and dead skin…it works, honest.

Want tougher love? try a luffa. These dried fibrous vegetables will buff up your blackheads and polish your butt.  I got mine, unwrapped, from TKMax. I cut off smaller pieces to do my face with. Gently scour.

Then there are natural bristle brushes for body brushing. This is exactly as it sounds. Brushing your body and I love this. I have had my brush for ages and I can’t remember where I got it, but these look quite nice – sustainable beech body with pig bristles – vegans and vegetarians you could try these with tampico fibres. 

Exfoliating Scrubs From the Kitchen….

All these have been recommended on the internet. I usually use the above so cannot really comment.

BE CAREFUL

it is probably good practice to do an allergy test and do some further research.

Disclaimers

If you are happy to bumble along with me and are aware of the risks of listening to someone who

a) doesn’t have any training in this field,

b) most of what they know comes from Google,

Welcome aboard but please, proceed with caution….

Bicarbonate of soda. Before I knew as much as I did about bicarb I did use this occasionally on my face when it got really greasy and blotchy looking. Since I have found out how alkaline it is I think it is best left for the the laundry.  I do not  advise that you use it on your skin.

However if you choose to,  its particles are rough enough to scour off dead skin but not so brutal as to leave you weeping.  You can get plastic free bicarb here.

Pumice is a textural term for a volcanic rock ...

Pumice is a textural term for a volcanic rock that is a solidified frothy lava typically created when super-heated (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Salt is good and scratchy and makes a good  scrub. It  is not as harsh as pumice, and you can use it in a plastic bath. I like it for my oily chest but would not use it on my face. You can find  plastic free salt here.

Sugar Scrubs – use sugar mixed with coconut oil.  This one seems to work well .

Oatmeal –  described as soothing, exfoliating, soft (no scratchy edges) and known for its gentle, skin-healthy effects. It also contains vitamins B and E. Grind  up plastic free oats in a food processor. I don’t use this on my face because I have get a reaction to it. I find it too brutal.

Coffee Grounds – grab them out of the pot rub them on.  Let them cool down first! I will use these occasionally and sparingly as it is a bugger to clean the shower afterwards

Other stuff….

For truly brutal exfoliation try pumice powder…arghhhhh. Best suited to hands, feet and really grisly elbows.  Use up to 10% in a moisturising cream base (find out how to make your own right here). Do not use the pumice scrub on sensitive skin. Do not use in a plastic bath – it may take off the surface. Can be bought from Aromantics.   (NB Comes in a plastic bag)

Other plastic free health and beauty products can be found right here

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Cut Your Plastic

Because oil derived plastics are cheap, plentiful and versatile we use them for just about everything including one use throwaway objects and packaging.

In the UK alone we generate 3 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, 56% of which is used packaging, three-quarters of which is from households. (waste on line).

Most plastics of course do not biodegrade so plastic trash lasts for a long time  possibly for ever. We are creating huge amounts of everlasting rubbish.

Plastic cannot be composted or left to rot like organic rubbish. This means that every bit of plastic rubbish, every sweet wrapper and crisp packet, has to be collected and specially disposed of. It not and it escapes out into the environment, it is there for ever. .Even when it is collected, disposing of it is not easy. Put it in landfill and it just sits there. It can only be incinerated in special facilities.Yes plastic can be recycled but only a small percentage of plastic trash is.

All disposal methods are expensive and come with an environmental cost. None are a solution for the overconsumption of plastic or the creation of everlasting trash. Because no matter how careful, some plastic trash  ends up as litter. That is  litter with a lifespan or centuries. Not surprisingly plastic pollution is increasing exponentially with disastrous consequences.

Then there are the hormone disruptors leaching into plastic-wrapped food, the powerful carcinogens created during the manufacture of certain plastics and the unknown additives whose toxicity has yet to be assessed.

What with one thing and another cutting the amount of plastic you use can only be good for you and the environment. More on bad plastic here

Here are a few tips to dramatically cut your plastic footprint

Refuse and reduce – say no to

  • That extra bag
  • Over packaged products
  • Bottled water

Replace -with sustainable alternatives

  • Natural fibre sweeping brushes
  • Cotton pants
  • Coconut pan scrubs 

Ditch disposables – get with reusables

Heres how

Carrier Bags

More than 8bn single use plastic bags given away in UK supermarkets in 2013. The easiest, quickest way to cut your trash is to  take your own reusable bag.

Produce bags 

Refuse to use those nasty flimsy bags they give you for your fruit and veg? Buy or make some   reusable produce bags take them shopping and buy loose food .

Take your own containers

By now you will be ready to take your own reusable containers such as tupperware or tiffin tins to the meat and fish counter. Eek! You may get a refusal but ask to see the manager and politely tell him what you are doing. You are allowed to do this.

Sometimes you need a disposable. You can get compostable plastic  deli pots and packaging. They can also be used in the freezer. And yes you can compost them in your own compost bin. Find out more here

Buy unwrapped, unpacked food. You can find shop reviews here  plastic free food resource

Plastic Free Milk 

The average person in the UK drinks 82 litres, or around 144 pints of milk a year. (source: Dairy UK) More than 80% of liquid milk is now sold by retailers in plastic containers. That a lot of plastic bottles. So get a milkman with returnable, reusable glass bottles – stalk your neighbors looking for empties or check here to see if there’s one in your area.

Ditching Bottled Water

Britain consumes 3bn litres of bottled water per year That’s 13billion plastic bottles.Get yourself a water bottle and fill it with clean, perfectly safe, far cheaper tap water. Check out this fantastic scheme.
Cutting Straws 

This one is so easy. Just say no to plastic straws and use your lips. Or think about getting reusable straws.

Cups 

Did you know that paper cups are plastic lined?  Take your own plastic-less cup to work or the coffee shop.

Cleaner Cleaning

Get yourself some bicarbonate of soda and use it to clean everything from your dog to your carpet to your teeth. Just don’t use the same brush. Add lemon juice, vinegar and elbow grease.If you prefer a product, Ecover do
a wide range of liquid cleaners and you can get your bottle refilled, (use the post code locator to find your nearest refill store)

Buy Natural Products

When you scrub and clean tiny fibres break off your brush or cloth and get washed down the drain. If they are synthetic they do not biodegrade. Micro plastic pollution is a big cause for concern.Replace synthetic with natural – you can buy lovely plastic-free cotton mops, metal buckets and coconut scrubbers. Wooden brushes with coconut fibres sweep just as well as the plastic kind and you can compost them when done.

You can find the wonderful plastic free products we have sourced over the past few years right here. Organised by category

Menstruals

Did you know there is plastic in your tampons?  Not just wrapping them but actually in them? In the UK alone, we buy more than 3 billion menstrual products every year. Thats a lot of plastic trash. You could try a Mooncup, (reusable internal protection), washable pads or Natracare cotton tampons. Read more here

Haircare, fakebake & teeth 

For hair use a solid shampoo bar or even soap instead of shampoo. For conditioner use coconut oil on dry hair or a  vinegar rinse for oily.  Try making your own toothpowder lotions and creams – it’s really easy and they work.

And lots more tips on staying pretty plastic free can be found here….

Inform and educate

  • Tell everyone what you are doing
  • Check out conscious raising artists
  • Go see the film Trashed
  • Download educational materials for use in class rooms.

Technofix 

Become a scientist and discover cleaner better plastics like these

Want to reduce more of your plastic rubbish?

You can find the wonderful plastic free products we have sourced over the past few years right here. Organised

 

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Travel

Crossing land borders in South East Asia has been unusually stressful this trip thanks to the big bag of  white powder I am carrying in my rucksack. No we are not funding our trip by an ill advised foray into drug smuggling but trying to back pack plastic-free. Which means no plastic toothpaste tubes. So we have brought a sack of home-made tooth powder with us. While carrying tightly wrapped packs of dentifrice may be innocent, it sure doesn’t look it. I dread the day I have to explain to some grim-faced custom official. The response I fear  involves rubber gloves.

So why do it?

Well we are visiting wild and remote places, the kind of places you have to walk to. Places with no garbage collection service and your rubbish goes onto the village dump just out of town. A system that has been in place forever and that used to work.plastic pollurion mabul featured

But in the old days of course most trash was biodegradable, animals ate some of  it, the rest would compost down, it was safe to burn and the ashes could be used as fertilizer. The system was not perfect, but people have lived like this for centuries and maintained  sustainable landscapes. The introduction of plastic rubbish has changed everything. Because most plastics  do not biodegrade plastic lasts for a long time  possibly for ever. It cannot be eaten, does not rot or compost down and it is difficult to burn.

You can see some photos of plastic pollution in remote tourist places on our Facebook page Planet Trash 

When it does eventually break up or degrade, it only breaks down into smaller pieces of plastic. It cannot be left in the landscape as before. Basically every bit of plastic rubbish has to be collected up and specially disposed of either by being  buried in landfill, incinerated or recycled.

Whatever your method of plastic disposal, it requires amongst other things a decent infrastructure, some roads, machinery, power, vehicles and a lot of cash. You don’t get that the places we go. So  now the ditches alongside the rice paddies are choked with plastic crisp bags, the beaches littered with plastic water bottles and  plastic bags cover huge swathes of land. Many communities can only deal with their plastic waste by burning it. Evil smelling bonfires of smoldering plastic trash are now as much a part of the backpacker experience as tinkling temple bells. These filthy fires add to air pollution and global warming and worse; certain types of plastic, when burnt release release extremely toxic carcinogens.

Bali rubbish featuredAnimals that forage amongst the rubbish for food will often accidentally eat plastic. Which is a poor diet and sometimes a fatal one. Here are a few facts;

If plastic trash is not dumped, rubbish is often thrown into rivers to be carried off down to the sea.   Encyclopedia Brittanica states, “it has been estimated that 6.4 million tons of debris end up in the world’s oceans every year and that some 60 to 80 percent of that debris, or 3.8 to 5 million tons, is improperly discarded plastic litter “. In our years of travelling we have seen plastic pollution increase massively and we  don’t want to add to that pile of everlasting, carcinogenic, potentially lethal trash. That is why we travel plastic-less.

Here’s how.

 

Top Tips

DON’T Buy bottled water.You may not need to – check out this site that tells you if the water is safe to drink

If it isn’t use a Steripen  to purify  water.   . This fantastic bit of kit works by UV light, weighs next to nothing, is tiny and purifies water in 90 seconds…. if you bought only one thing. Of course you will also  need a refillable water bottle

We shop at local markets and bakeries for unpacked tasty plastic free snacks and we  take our own bags to put them in – including a reusable carrier bag and produce bags. . Because so much street food comes in disposable plastic we take