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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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Tea; leaves, pots and strainers

These days most of us automatically reach for the teabags but is that really the best choice? Certainly not from a plastic free zero waste point of veiw.

Nasty Bags

Whats in your tea bag? Paper and tea you wish but actually no.
Firstly is your bag made from paper? Are you sure? Because when you think about it if it really was made from paper why doesn’t it go all soggy when you submerge it in boiling water?

Well it could be because the actual bag that you thought was paper, does in fact contain plastic and so are only between 70-80% biodegradable.
Then there is the sealing. Wikipedia claims “Heat-sealed tea bag paper usually has a heat-sealable thermoplasti
OR the paper may have been treated with Epichlorohydrin to make it stronger
Andthose bags are so white because they have been bleached with chlorine.

Plastic Free Tea Bags
There are plastic / chlorine free bags out there but they are very expensive and often come individually packed in plastic bags.
You can read more HERE.

How To Use Loose Tea 

So to conclude most teabags are rather nasty, containing both chemicals and plastic. The few that don’t are fearfully expensive and come plastic packaged.
In short, loose tea is a better option. There now follows a guide on how to buy and use loose tea to make the perfect cuppa.

Buy

First you will need to source some loose tea.

U.K. wide

PG Tips are selling tea in a cardboard box. In supermarkets! Way to go PG.

This photo is thanks to the lovely Plastic Is Rubbish FB group who came up with these reccomendations. They are a great source of personal experience and up to date information.

PG Tips is “Unilever is a British-Dutch transnational consumer goods company co-headquartered in London, United Kingdom and Rotterdam, Netherlands. Its products include food, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. Wikipedia”

Whittards are. U.K. wide chain that will sell you tea loose.this from twitter
“Hi there, yes if you visit our store with your own container, we can fill it with either tea or coffee.”
They have over 50 shops. You can find one https://www.whittard.co.uk
NB you will have to take your own plastic free or , better still, reusable packaging. See below for links.

“The company was founded in 1886 by Walter Whittard. It expanded in the 1980s and 1990s, and was bought by the Icelandic Baugur Group in 2005 for around £21 million.”

Locally

There are tea merchants who specialize in fine teas. Health food shops also are good for a go.
You can find a list of tea and coffee merchants here.

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 alist of towns with shops selling loose food.

You might need to take your own bags.

Pots, Strainers & Balls to you Mrs!

Next you will need a teapot and, unless you fancy taking up fortune telling, something to stop the leaves getting in your cup. You can get great teapots from charity shops. I favor the stainless steel 70s version, good for traveling in the van with. You can get all metal tea strainers if you look. Try the market, Ebay or  Amazon. I am not a big fan of tea strainers. They dribble and you need a saucer to put them on. And you have the icky job of removing the tea leaves from the pot afterwards, a soggy business at the best of times. No, I like these mesh balls. You put the tea in them then put them in the pot. At the end you empty them in the compost bin without worrying about nasty plastic mesh. Easy as!  You can even get some teapots that have integrated diffusers built in.

You can find a full list of loose tea merchants here. If you know of any please leave details in the comments.

Just One Cup?

If you are brewing up for the WI, a teapot is fine but what when you want a quick cuppa for one?
You can get cotton bags that you can fill to make your own reusable teabags but really who can be bothered with that kind of faff.

I have found that a steel mesh single cup infuser works perfectly. It sits on your mug, you fill it with loose tea, let the brew, brew then remove. Really no effort at all and very easy to empty into the compost bin after. Mine was given as a gift but I have found something similar on Amazon

Brewing Up

So now we are good to go. Put the leaves in the pot (or the mesh ball first) add boiling water and let it brew.

and again…

Don’t be so quick to empty the pot. You ca muse those leaves again to make a fresh pot. Even keep them in the fridge and reuse the next day.

When the tea gets a bit weak you can ad a pinch more.

Honestly. I learnt this from the Chinese tea shop where they sell 50 year old tea for a hundreds of dollars a gram. Yes apparently tea, like wine, does improve with age. Who knew?

Milk?

If you take milk, you will need to get yourself a milk man who delivers milk in glass bottles and possibly a milk jug!

More

Find other sneaky plastics here….

Buy Teapots & Strainers

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.

If you can’t buy local, please do check the links in the posts.  They link direct  to the suppliers.  Do consider buying from them and support their online businesses.

If you can’t do that then I have put together and Amazon catalogue. Yes I know…

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 these links are for 3rd party sellers, we have always found the Amazon service to be good and their packaging usually compostable. In the absence of anything else we feel we can recommend them.

Kitchen Craft Stainless Steel Double Handled Tea Strainer- boxed Tea Ball Infuser 2" 18/8 Stainless Steel. Tea Ball/Strainer Mesh Tea Infuser Tea filter Reusable
Kitchen Craft Stainless Steel Double Handle…
£5.50
Tea Ball Infuser 2″ 18/8 Stainless Steel.
£0.71
Tea Ball/Strainer Mesh Tea Infuser Tea filt…
£1.52 – £2.19
Kitchen Craft Le'Xpress Tea Strainer, Stainless Steel Stainless Steel Spoon Tea Leaves Herb Mesh Ball Infuser Filter Squeeze Strainer 2 Cup Glass Tea Pot with Infuser
Kitchen Craft Le’Xpress Tea Strainer, Stai…
£1.65
Stainless Steel Spoon Tea Leaves Herb Mesh …
£1.60
2 Cup Glass Tea Pot with Infuser
£21.63
Glass Stainless Steel Loose Tea Leaf Teapot With Infuser 750ml/500ml --- Size:L VonShef Modern Stainless Steel 600ml Glass Infusion Tea Pot Loose Tea Leaf Coffee Infuser Sabichi 750 ml Glass Teapot with Infuser
Glass Stainless Steel Loose Tea Leaf Teapot… VonShef Modern Stainless Steel 600ml Glass …
£4.99
Sabichi 750 ml Glass Teapot with Infuser
VonShef Satin Polish Stainless Steel Tea Pot with Infuser. Available in sizes Small, Medium & Large Designer White Ceramic Tumbler Brewing System
VonShef Satin Polish Stainless Steel Tea Po…
£6.99
Designer White Ceramic Tumbler Brewing System
£15.00

.

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Buy On Line Plastic Free

One of the real joys of buying #plasticfree is sourcing the stuff in local shops. The excitement when you see milk in glass bottle in the newsagents is beyond words.

But sometime you have to buy on line. And then you come up against the prickly problem of packaging

There is nothing that enrages plastic activist in me more than researching a product that claims to be plastic free and environmentally friendly, purchase online, wait eagerly only to find it comes plastic packed.

Plastic free and plastic reduced products are of course a great step forward in the battle against plastic. But when I am buying a product I want to know how the product is packaged. There is little point buying a wooden comb if it comes in a plastic bag.

If it comes via an online, postal service, onward packaging needs to be stated. I want to know how the product will be packed and the more information the better. Down to what kind of tape is used (whether it is plastic or not) and whether the invoice will be in a plastic bag on the front of the box.

Which is why I like he following companies who offer plastic free products but also consider the onward packaging.

N.B. But no matter what I say, check and double check for yourself. One mans plastic free is another’s little bit of sticky tape.

Anything But Plastic Online Shop

Anything But Plastic sells alternatives to plastic products in order to reduce everyday plastic consumption and help tackle plastic pollution ...
Read More

Fabric Offset Warehouse

Offset Warehouse is a social enterprise which brings together a huge range of hand-picked eco fabrics and haberdashery, ideal for ...
Read More

Greencane Tissues/ Paper Products

A while ago a company called Greencane sent me some tissues through the post. Not just tissues but toilet paper and kitchen ...
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And here are my latest finds…

Sin Plastico
We are a plastic free and zero waste store. That means, we ask our makers and distributers to send us everything in bulk or with the less packaging as possible.
We do use Kraft and corrugate cardboard to wrap and fill the boxes. And even our tape is made of paper and vegetal glue.

They are based in Spain but ship to the UK. They have a great range. Check it out HERE

Based in the UK Is Boobalu with a great range of stuff

You will receive your order either in reused, recyclable or biodegradable packaging. Green mail bags are biodegradable and pink mail bags are recyclable. You can also choose plastic free packaging at the checkout page.

And many thanks to the lovely Plastic Is Rubbish FB group who came up with these suggestions

Less Plastic

always either reuse cardboard boxes that have come to us or our friends and neighbours, or use brown paper wrapping with brown paper tape. We pad our parcels with recycled/reused paper or newspaper. Also have you seen our infographic trying to inspire other online businesses to do the same? Visit the WEBSITE

Myriadonline

for toys and craft supplies. Use cardboard and paper packaging including paper parcel tape.

A really lovely shop full of wooden toys and wool felt balls. Recommend you have a look HERE

And Keep

Please have a look at www.andkeep.com. Eco-friendly, sustainable and reusable products. Postal packaging is always recycled. I’m a public speaker on plastic Pollution too and passionate about helping people to make more mindful purchasing decisions while helping them on a plastic-Free or zero waste journey. All packaging is paper or cardboard.

Read more HERE

Ingreens

A great selection of stuff can be found HERE
isn’t my shop I was a recent customer and it came in newspaper. They say
Packaging & Postage
Running an online shop is not without it’s own waste issues. Even though we consider this platform a place to be a conscious consumers, we acknowledge we will build up packaging. We have put measures in place to ensure we are responsible and try to lessen our environmental impact.

We have asked all of our suppliers to refrain from using plastic when packing our items. In the factory world, poly bags, bubble wrap and stylofoam are commonplace. Understandably the items need to remain intact, yet not at the cost of the environment. So far, all suppliers have accommodated our no plastic. For example, our bamboo supplier made s an enormous cotton bags instead of bubble wrap, our stainless steel straws arrived loose with newspaper, and the straw cleaners arrived wrapped together in wire. Our coconut bowls were individuals wrapped in used newspaper.

Most importantly we reuse everything to send our our own orders.

Your parcels:

For months in the lead up to the launch we have been saving packaging and also asked neighbours and friends to donate theirs. We haven’t invested in any packaging yet, when we do, we can assure you it will be from a sustainable source. At the moment, your orders are packaged in a circular economic way, that you can continue.

We make the ‘padding’ from shredding junk mail and books are falling apart.

Sellotape:

Plastic sellotape is rife in packaging. We are looking for a company that specialises in recycling sellotape and hope they will be happy to receive the sellotape that mounts from our inbound deliveries. So watch this space!

Paper Parcel tape:

We don’t use sellotape we use paper based tape that can be recycled or can biodegrade.

Nuturissmo
“where I get my makeup from, their packaging is all compostable and they sell things like kjer Weiss refillable makeup. Lots of plastic bottles on there too but overall they are a good co.”

From the website
We want to be part of the solution so we practise responsible sourcing and make eco-friendly decisions. We stock products that avoid excess packaging and that provide packaging that can be recycled. Our own delivery boxes are 100% recyclable and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approved which helps prevent the use of illegally harvested timber. Our tissue paper is provided by a sustainable company and printed with eco-friendly soy ink, not petroleum-based ink, and it’s 100% recyclable. We use 100% natural starch-based packing peanuts to secure your products inside they box; they are a far more environmentally friendly solution compared to petroleum-based polystyrene packing material. We favour 100% recyclable packaging, fair-trade, locally produced and biodegradable products, all of which help reduce waste and pollution.

I haven’t had time to research this site but it looks interesting and they do consider their packaging. So while not plastic free I have included them as make up is very tricky to find. See for your self HERE

The P-f U.K. directory

The companies featured in the directory are aware of the issues surrounding plastic and may well post plastic free. Check out the write ups for more details or contact them direct.

Find them HERE

Other Online Products

Find by product. Most of the products featured on the blog have an online option to buy. It is always worth contacting businesses and asking if they can post you product plastic free. Offer to cover the costs of a cardboard box if needs be.
Look here for individual products.

We a try to link directly with a business we know and have used but we cannot always do this.
And sometimes cost considerations mean we want to offer a range of options in different price brackets. In these cases we try to find other more affordable on Amazon.

Amazon is a very dirty word at the moment and I thought long and hard before suggesting them. No we are not happy with Amazons recent history. However, we have always found their service to be good and their packaging usually cardboard and so compostable. Though of course this cannot be guaranteed. You can read more of our reasons in the post.

Amazon catelogue here.

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How to wrap gifts plastic-free

Which wrap should you choose? Well we prefer reusables over all else so here are some wraps you can use over and over again…

Reusable Wraps

Wrap your presents in cloth and tie with string
Or just use cloth and the ancient Japanese method of knotting. Called furoshiki. YOu can find more info here .
Try this reusable crackle paper made from recycled tents.
Make or buy a fabric gift bag
Try this stretch wrap from Wragwrap
fabric bottle bag from Wragwrap

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 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 ...
Read More

Vegware Fast Food Packaging

A while ago I got sent some Vegware stuff to review. Vegware make disposable compostable packaging from PLA plastic for ...
Read More

Cardboard Cups & Pots

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

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 ...
Read More

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 ...
Read More

Paper Bags

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

Disposable Cups

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

Straws Compostable

The picture shows a turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose (You can watch the video in full ...
Read More

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 ...
Read More

Pots – PLA compostable

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

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