Chewing Gum

I don’t do chewing gum because not only does it come packed in plastic, it is actually made from plastic. Yes, while there are a few natural gums on the market  most chewing gums are actually synthetic…. plastic in fact.

As I am sure you know, chewing gum is a non-nutritive, non-digestible, water-insoluble substance that can be chewed, (duh!), without disintegrating, for a long period of time.

And that it consists of an elastomer, a chewy base, with added sweeteners and  flavours to make the experience more pleasant.

Up until WWII, the chewing gum base was usually made from chicle  a latex sap that comes from the sapodilla tree –  a  natural rubber. This has since been replaced with synthetic rubber, a plastic.

Which Elastomer

Elastomers in gum are what give it the chew.

These used to be and occasionally still are natural latexes such as couma macrocarpa (also called leche caspi or serve), loquat (also called nispero),tunu, elution and the most popular, chicle.

These days most elastomers are synthetic rubbers such as butyl rubber

The raw materials for making butyl rubber are isobutylene and isoprene. Isoprene is a byproduct of  naphtha or oil, and as a side product in the production of ethylene.

Other Stuff

Other ingredients according to Wikipedia  may include the following:

  • Resins: provide a cohesive body or strength, and are most often glycerol esters of gum, terpene resins, and/or polyvinyl acetate ( more about the latter below).
  • Waxes: act as softening agents and are most usually paraffin or microcrystalline wax.
  • Fats: behave as plasticizers and mainly come from hydrogenated vegetable oils.
  • Emulsifiers: help to hydrate, the most common being lecithin or glycerol monostearate.
  • Fillers: impart texture and the most commonly used are calcium carbonate or talc.
  • Antioxidants: protect from oxidation and extend shelf-life; the most common type is BHT.

The Gum Association says

Gum base ” is made of a combination of food-grade polymers, waxes and softeners that give gum the texture desired by consumers and enable it to effectively deliver sweetness, flavor and various other benefits, including dental benefits.

What are polymers?

A polymer is a string of molecules (monomers) that usually contain carbon and hydrogen. Polymers are found naturally in the human body, animals, plants, and minerals. For example, DNA is a polymer, as are the proteins and starches in the foods we eat.

Man-made polymers can be identical in structure to those found in the natural environment, but in many cases, these polymers provide guaranteed consistency, quality and purity that are not always found in some natural materials. This quality is particularly important for food-grade polymers used as ingredients.

What are food-grade polymers?

Food-grade polymers have been rigorously tested and have been determined to be safe for use in food. In chewing gum, polymers are what provide gum with its basic elastic properties. All polymers used in gum are food-grade and are legally permitted for use by international/national regulatory agencies, including those in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

You can read more about synthetic polymers here.

Safe To Chew?

So are these food grade plastics gums with their paraffin and  yummy vinyl acetate additive  are safe?  Well plastic and paraffin certainly don’t sound appetising and vinyl acetate was once  classified by the Canadian Government as a “potentially high hazard substance.” This was later overturned (2010) under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). The decision was based on information received during the public comment period, and  from the risk assessment conducted by the European Union.

Environmental Hazard?

YES!!! Because it is plastic, gum doesn’t biodegrade – which means it has to be carefully disposed of – either landfilled or incinerated. If it ends up on the street as much of it does, it sticks like mad to the pavement and looks really ugly. It needs to be specially removed – which costs a lot. “The LGA (Local Government Authority points out that the average piece of gum costs about 3p to buy – but 50 times that to clean up (£1.50). Most chewing gum never biodegrades and once it is trodden into the pavement this requires specialised equipment to remove. “

Natural Gums

If you cant give up gum there are some natural gums out there. I have not tried these so please let me know how they taste. And I guess they come plastic packed. Again do let me know.

Peppersmith U.K. do a natural based gum.

It contains Xylitol (wood sugar), Natural chicle gum base, Peppermint oil, Calcium carbonate, Gum arabic (thickner), Rapeseed lecithin (emulsifier), Vegetable glycerol (humectant), Carnauba wax (glazing agent).Suitable for vegetarians.

You can buy it at Holland & Barrett, other stores and of course on line.

Here is a review of 8 of the healthier chews available in the U.S.

Sneaky Plastics

Here are some more products that surprisingly contain plastic.


Toothpaste With Added Plastic

What’s in your commercial toothpaste? For starters ther may be plastic micro beads!Did you know that at least 12  Crest  toothpastes have been identified as containing  microbeads of polyethylene (PE).

Crest 3D White Radiant Mint • Crest Pro-Health For Me • Crest 3D White Arctic Fresh • Crest 3D White Enamel Renewal • Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White • Crest Sensitivity Treatment and Protection • Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Whitening Plus Deep Clean • Crest 3D White Luxe Lustrous Shine • Crest Extra White Plus Scope Outlast • Crest SensiRelief Maximum Strength Whitening Plus Scope • Crest Pro-Health Sensitive + Enamel Shield • Crest Pro-Health Clinical Gum Protection • Crest Pro-Health For Life for ages 50+ • Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Extra White+ Crystal Clean Anti-Bac • Crest Be Adventurous Mint Chocolate Trek • Crest Be Dynamic Lime Spearmint Zest • Crest Be Inspired Vanilla Mint Spark • Crest Pro-Health Healthy Fresh • Crest Pro-Health Smooth Mint.
This list may be out of date as companies have agreed to cut microbeads

And Crest are by no means the only company to do this. But you won’t know
as plastic isn’t and was never listed in the ingredients. Just to clarify – that’s even when the pastes did contain plastic beads. That’s a fact  I find worrying.

Why are they there? It seems they  added for decorative purposes only. However dental hygenists are concerned and I quote Trish Walraven
“I am not saying that polyethylene is causing gum problems. I’d be jumping too soon to that conclusion without scientific proof.  But what I am saying definitively is that plastic is in your toothpaste, and that some of it is left behind even after you’re finished brushing and rinsing with it.”
Bits of plastic get stuck in your gums! But  I strongly reccomend that you read her excellent article  in full and then consider using a different dentifrice.

Companies have agreed to phase out microbeads. At least in countries where there is a pressure to do so but frankly I would take matters into your own hands and search out a plastic free alternative immediately. You can find some options here

What Else Is In Your Tooth Paste? 

“Every toothpaste contains the following ingredients: binders, abrasives, sudsers, humectants, flavors (unique additives), sweeteners, fluorides, tooth whiteners, a preservative, and water. Binders thicken toothpastes. They prevent separation of the solid and liquid components, especially during storage. They also affect the speed and volume of foam production, the rate of flavor release and product dispersal, the appearance of the toothpaste ribbon on the toothbrush, and the rinsibility from the toothbrush. Some binders are karaya gum, bentonite, sodium alginate, methylcellulose, carrageenan, and magnesium aluminum silicate.
Abrasives scrub the outside of the teeth to get rid of plaque and loosen particles on teeth. Abrasives also contribute to the degree of opacity of the paste or gel. Abrasives may affect the paste’s consistency, cost, and taste.”
Read more about toothpaste and how it is made here

Break down of the ingredients

Standard (non-organic) toothpaste typically contain a set of ingredients that include:
Abrasives to clean bacterial film and debris from your teeth: Examples: Calcium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, hydrated aluminum oxides, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts and silicates. Silica is the whitening ingredient in most whitening toothpastes.
Detergents for cleaning and the foamy lather we expect from toothpaste. Examples: sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium N-Lauryl sarcosinate.
Fluoride – all American Dental Association (ADA)Accepted toothpastes contain fluoride, even organic ones.
Flavor including sweeteners such as saccharine. No ADA-Accepted toothpaste contains sugar.
Treatment additives such as tetrasodium pyrophosphate for tartar control, potassium nitrate or strontium chloride to reduce tooth sensitivity, Stannous fluoride and triclosan for reducing gum inflammation and removing plaque.
Humectants to keep the toothpaste moist. Examples: glycerol, propylene, glycol and sorbitol.
Binders to stabilize the toothpaste formula. Examples: mineral colloids, natural gums, seaweed colloids or synthetic cellulose.

Abrasives are the cleaning and polishing agents in commerical toothpaste.
They account for about a third of the toothpaste by weight.
Most abrasives are chalk or silica based.
They include dicalcium phosphate, sodium metaphosphate, calcium carbonate, silica, zirconium silicate or calcium pyrophosphate.

Abrasives differ in strength.
Abrasives help remove plaque and stains. However they can also,wear away the tooth enamel
The more abrasive the paste the more wearing it is

Relative dentin abrasivity (RDA) is a a way of measuring the effect that the abrasive components of the toothpaste have on a tooth.[7]
The RDA scale was developed by the American Dental Association The higher the abrasive value the greater the wear on the enamal. Toothpaste makers regularly measure their product’s abrasivity. It’s necessary for FDA approval,

BY US law, a dentifrice is required to have a level lower than 250 to be considered safe .

RDA Score
0-70 Low abrasive: safe for cementum, dentin and enamel
70-100 Medium abrasive: safe for enamel, dangerous for cementum and dentin
100-150 High abrasive: dangerous for cementum, dentin and enamel
150-250 Very high abrasive: harmful limit, damaging for teeth
250 and above Not recommended

4 brushing teeth with water
7 baking soda
8 Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder
15 Weleda Salt Toothpaste
30 Elmex Sensitive Plus
35 Arm & Hammer Dental Care
42 Arm & Hammer Advance Whitening / Peroxide
44 Squiggle Enamel Saver
45 Oxyfresh
48 Arm & Hammer Dental Care Sensitive
49 Tom’s of Maine Sensitive
49-52 Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Regular
51 Crest with Scope
53 Rembrandt Original, Closys
57 Tom’s of Maine Children’s
60 Biotene Gel
63 Rembrandt Mint
68 Colgate Regular
70 Colgate Total, Arm & Hammer Advance White Sensitive, Colgate 2-in-1 Fresh Mint, Colgate Total
78 Biotene
79 Sensodyne
80 AIM, Close-Up, Biotene Paste with Fluoride
83 Colgate Sensitive Max Strength, Tooth and Gum Care
87 Nature’s Gate
91 Aquafresh Sensitive
93 Tom’s of Maine Regular
94 Rembrandt Plus
95 Crest Regular
97 Oxyfresh Powder
101 Natural White
103 Mentadent
104 Sensodyne Extra Whitening
106 Colgate Platinum, Arm & Hammer Advance White
107 Crest Sensitivity
110 Colgate Herbal, Amway Glister
113 Aquafresh Whitening
117 Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel, Arm & Hammer Sensation Tartar Control
120 Close-Up with Baking Soda
124 Colgate Whitening
130 Crest Extra Whitening
133 Ultra Brite
144 Crest Multicare Whitening
145 Ultra Brite Advanced Whitening Formula, Colgate Baking Soda Whitening
150 Pepsodent
155 Crest Rejuvenating Effects
165 Colgate Tartar Control
168 Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint
175 Colgate Luminous
176 Nature’s Gate Paste
160-190 Crest Pro Health Formulas
200 Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control / White

While most seem to think an RDA of around 50 is fine these guys take it lower.
“The lower the number, the less enamel/dentin it is likely to be worn away. The higher the number – the more wear on your dentition. The ideal toothpaste would not have a RDA index higher that 7; therefore dentifrices with a low abrasivity index are desirable.”

Lush toothy tabs were graded accordingly, and here are the results.
Oral Pleasure: 31 (Low abrasivity)
Dirty: 43 (Low abrasivity)
Miles of Smiles: 43 (Low abrasivity)
Bling!: 54 (Low abrasivity)
Limelight: 64 (Low abrasivity)
Sparkle: 70 (Medium abrasivity)
Boom!: 96 (Medium abrasivity)


The Cleaning Efficiency Index’ (CEI)
This is a very interesting article but sadly I can find no links to original research. Google hasn’t come up with anything either.

Researchers studying stains, abrasivity, and cleaning ability found that a relationship exists between the relative abrasivity and the cleaning ability.  They came up with what they call ‘Cleaning Efficiency Index’ (CEI).
Let’s look at a couple examples of how this ‘Cleaning Efficiency Index’ works.
If for example, a product was low abrasive AND low cleaning ability, it’s efficiency index score was low too.  If a product was high abrasive AND high cleaning ability, it’s efficiency could still be low.
The Cleaning Efficiency Index really ranks the combination of abrasivity in relation to cleaning ability.
What researchers were looking for was a product ingredient that was low abrasive AND high cleaning ability.  This combination would give the highest ‘cleaning efficiency’ index score. Read the full article HERE


See all our posts on plasticfree dental care, HERE


Ask the dentist
Remove stains safely Orel Wellness
Structure of teeth


Greaseproof paper/ waxed paper

Baking paper – also known as greaseproof bakery paper or parchment paper, is grease proof paper that is used in baking and cooking. It provides a heat-resistant, non-stick surface to bake on. It used to be made by beating the paper fibres. Now it may have a plastic or chemical coating.

It can be used for cooking as a liner to prevent food from sticking to the pan.
It is also used to pack greasy foods like butter.
In the US it is more often called parchment paper.

Not to be confused with waxed paper. They may look the same but are different products. Waxed paper  actually has wax on it. This too creates a non stick surface but it cannot be used at high temperatures so cannot be used for baking.

Waxed paper was often used for wrapping food. In many cases it has been replaced with plastic laminated paper. It looks like waxed paper but isn’t.

Greaseproof paper was first developed as a replacement for parchment by the  engineer Otto Munthe Tobiesen in 1894
During the paper making process, the paper pulp is beaten hard so the fibres bond more firmly. This results in a paper of high density with a small number of pores. It is now less absorbant making it reisistant to grease, fat and oil.
Natural greaseproof paper does not have any chemical treatments or coatings. It can be recycled, composted or burnt.

The New “Greaseproof” Paper
Since those innocent days various different types of greaseproof paper have emerged. These no longer rely on the way the paper has been made but rather  are  treated, coated or laminated papers. They do not get their grease resistance from denser fibers but from various additives. However they look just like the original greaseproof paper.
They fall into into two types; greaseproof paper for packaging and greaseproof paper for cooking.
The treatments for “greaseproof” paper include
Plastic lamination
Silicone coating

Greaseproof Paper For Packaging

Greaseproof paper and waxed paper were often used for packaging. Though waxed paper was the more often used product. However the two are often confused and the names used interchangeably.  When talking about packaging the information applies to  both greaseproof and waxed paper or card.

They are used in the food industry for many things including wrapping food such as butter and making nonstick containers for microwave food.
Two common forms of treatment are
Chemically treated

Where the function of the product is merely to stop grease leaking through the product like for instance a butter wrap the paper may be coated with a thin layer of plastic. This is often the case with food packaging where a product wants to maintain an old time look. Don’t be fooled by those charming greaseproof paper bags and butchers wraps on the deli counter. Check them very carefully.
Obviously this kind of greaseproof paper cannot be used for cooking as the plastic will melt and burn.
Read more about laminated paper here

Chemically Treated
Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are a family of man-made chemicals? They are used
as a surface coating for paper and cardboard they make them water and grease resistant and so suitable for packaging processed foods.
They do not break down easily and can last in the enironment for years.
They have been found in both soil and water.
When they enter the food chain they are retained in animal tissue leading to a process called biomagnification, meaning that they are passed on up the foodchain from animal to animal and because they are stored in the body for years the amount increases exponentially as they travel up the food chain.

You can read more about them here

Greaseproof Paper For Cooking

This type can be used for both cooking and packaging. But is usually used for cooking. It is also called parchment paper.

Silicone Coated
To give parchment paper a really non stick quality some companies are coating it with silicone. Silicone is a kind of synthetic rubber. You can read more about that here .
Sierra say of its silicone coated paper “The baking paper’s silicone coating prevents food products from sticking to the paper or cooking pan. Silicone is an ideal release agent due to its pliability, natural lack of toxins, high insulationability, and heat resistant capability.”

If You Care supply genuine greaseproof paper products. But while the paper may be green and unbleached, the non stick quality comes from a coating of silicone. They claim their paper is compostable but silicone certainly isn’t biodegradable.
“Experts from the University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center said, “We would not recommend composting the parchment paper,” but acknowledged that they could not cite specific studies on the topic”

Quilon Coating
This is (I think) a Teflon product also used to give parchment papers a non stick quality. I know very little about it other than that some are claiming it is toxic. I am currently researching it. All input welcomed.

Uncoated Papers

Are they even available? If You Care never used to talk about the silicone coating on their greaseproof paper which makes me wonder was it always there or is it new? And if it is new, is it to replace the toxic Quilon coating (that I never knew about either). If the former, are all parchment papers coated with something and we just never realised?

More to think about

Reasearch is ongoing and any input is greatly welcomed.
Beyond gourmet and Regency wraps have been mentioned as being only parchment paper but have not as yet answered my emails. Neither have If You Care.

As yet I have been unable to find an uncoated paper for cooking so I won’t use any.
I buy butter that comes wrapped in paper which I just have to hope is genuine parchment paper. I have my doubts but it is the best I can do.

Why buy unbleached parchment paper?
Until the 1990s, chlorine was mostly used for bleaching paper because it does the job very efficiently. The downside is that the process results in dioxins. Paper mills a major sources of dioxins in the environment.
Dioxins are known carcinogens that bioaccumulate in the food chain. You can read more here. They are very nasty and we do not want them lurking in the water or our body fat. Thankfully safer alternatives are being developed. Please consider choosing one when you buy any paper product.

Unbleached – BEST
No process is used to brighten the fibre and the resulting paper is the natural brown colour of untreated wood pulp.

When buying bleached paper heres what to avoid and what to buy

Elemental Chlorine. NO.
This is the old school method. A chemical gas is used to brighten paper fibers but results in the most dioxins.

Elemental Chlorine Free. IF YOU HAVE TO
“Uses a chlorine compound, most often chlorine dioxide, that significantly reduces dioxins but does not eliminate them. Paper companies using ECF often say that dioxin is “nondetectable” in their wastewater. This refers only to the sensitivity of prescribed tests, and does not necessarily mean there are no dioxins. State-of-the-art tests are often able to detect dioxins when prescribed tests find them nondetectable.”

Totally Chlorine Free YES
Non chlorine alternative bleaching processes, including
ozone bleaching systems

None of the above result in dioxins or chlorinated toxic pollutants.

Processed Chlorine Free YES
When recycled fibres are used in the finished paper this tells you that the recycled content was originally bleached without chlorine or chlorine compounds as well as new the virgin fibres.

The Worldwatch Institute (Paper Cuts, 1999) reports that a mill using standard chlorine bleaching will release about 35 tons of organochlorines (dioxins and chlorinated toxic pollutants) a day. An ECF mill will release 7-10 tons per day. A PCF/TCF mill will release none.



Condoms & Lubricants

If all goes well on Valentines day you may well be planning some intimate moments. Time to check out condoms.

Condoms come in the following materials….

Latex: made of latex rubber from rubber trees a natural and therefore biodegradable. Which has led to claims that that latex condoms are biodegradable. Which is hotly debated! Latex condoms contain addatives to make them (amongst other things) stronger. Many people say that even if they do eventually decompose, (not proven),  it takes such a long time as to make any claims of biodegradability  misleading. Certainly the anti-balloon camp do not consider latex balloons to be biodegradable despite what the balloon industry say. So, for the time being, lets leave latex on the shelf for further study.

Synthetic materials: polyisoprene, polyurethane and silicone. All of these are non- biodegradable materials.

Lambskin: sheeps intestines – no good for you vegans out there but definitely biodegradable.

Lets find out more

Here is some blurb from the British Condom shop about Trojan NaturaLambs, the make of lambskin condoms they sell

“These condoms are made from a natural membrane and while that may sound strange at first, they are one of the most comfortable, intimate, and largest condoms on the market. Most notable is their ability to transfer heat.

NaturaLamb condoms also have the exclusive Kling-Tite draw string at the base for added safety.

NOTE: These condoms do NOT protect against STDs, only unwanted pregnancy!”

Some more….

I am sure the packaging will contain plastic elements but then so will all the others. This appears to be the best option for condoms you can compost. The next question is would you want to?


Lambskin condoms can be used with both water-based and oil-based lubricants. However most commercially produced lubricants come in plastic bottles and many contain paragons, a preservative that causes some people concern. If you want something completely natural, go for for coconut oil. If you like this blog you know we love coconut oil – but don’t take our word for it, read this is a great write up about coconut oil in the bedroom.

NB If you find the smell overwhelming you might like to buy an odourless coconut oil. In Yorkshire? – you can buy coconut oil here

If you want to go for a traditional product here’s a good write up on what is available in the world of lubricants.

Buy From Amazon

Trojan Naturalamb Luxury Non Latex Condoms (10 Pack) Biona Org Odourless Coconut Oil 610 ML x 1
Trojan Naturalamb Luxury Non Latex Condoms …
Made from sheeps intestines
Biona Org Odourless Coconut Oil 610 ML x 1


Amazon Products

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.

Yes we do get an affiliation fee for this, and 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.



Cardboard laminated

When I started my boycott I soon realized that giving up plastic would be no easy ride but I didn’t really know just how insidious plastic was. In my ignorance I made mistakes. For instance I thought shiny cardboard was shiny because, oh I don’t know, it had been varnished or something. It wasn’t until I put some in the compost heap and saw it disintegrating into separate components that I discovered it was covered with a thin layer of plastic.

Why? The plastic strengthens the base material, makes it waterproof and protects any printed design work

Examples of laminated card include business cards, labels on clothes for sale and some  food containers.


and don’t forget , paper and card can also be plastic lined to make waterproof containers. Those paper cups are not just paper. Sigh.

Find other sneaky plastics here….


Cardboard Boxes With Plastic Liners

The plastic free cocoa quest has suffered something of a setback.

Last week Mother came bustling in flushed with pride.“I don’t know what all the fuss is about”, she carrolled handing me a box of cocoa from Sainsburys.

Yes, a cardboard box, of cocoa.As if!

How many times have I told her “Squeeze and listen!”.

Most food products in cardboard boxes are further wrapped in plastic bags. To find out if this is so, you have gently squeeze the box and listen for the tell tale crackling of the plastic bag inside.

And yes, you look a right idiot in Supermarkets doing this

Sure enough the cocoa was further packed in a plastic bag – and not even one we can recycle.

Look here for other sneaky plastic.

Find out more about the cocoa quest here



Cardboard Cups & Pots

So you find what looks like a cardboard container full of yummy ice cream or you see that your favourite coffee shop does paper cups. You remember something about waxed paper. Hooray.
To make paper or cardboard water proof, they are laminated with polyethylene, a plastic resin. These products are in effect very thin plastic containers reinforced.

Other Issues
cardboard containers are made from virgin wood because there are major problems using recycled paper. Regulations are strict about what materials you can use to package food and drink and recycled paper isn’t strong enough.

Because these cups are made from paper and plastic they are difficult to recycle. The parts have to separated. Though this can be done it is a complex procedure which adds to the cost of the recycled product.
many recyclers say that they don’t recycle paper cups. Though some claim to. It’s a murkey scenario at best.

Compostable Alternatives
There are compostable cardboard products for food on the market. They are lined with a clear, certified-compostable, cornstarch plastic (PLA).
Vegware for example do a full range.
But  there would need to be far more, large scale municipal composting schemes for this to be a properly effective answer but can check out this rather sweet cup to compost scheme here.

Biodegradable, Compostable Plastics

What is biodegradable? Biodegradable products break down through a naturally occurring microorganism into simple, stable compounds which can be absorbed into the ecosystem. More about biodegrading here

What is compostable? To be classed compostable, items must biodegrade within a certain time (around the rate at which paper biodegrades), and the resulting biomass must be free of toxins, able to sustain plant life and be used as an organic fertilizer or soil additive.

Composting Plastic At Home
FYI While most agree that some  plastics are indeed compostable, many say that they can only composted in large scale municipal schemes. I have used and composted a number of compostable plastic products 


Fooled again? Check out the lesser known sneaky plastics here



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.


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


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


Foil and Paper, Plastic lined

Now of course I know that nearly all paper products used to package food that have a thin plastic liner.  Foil too is often reinforced this way. And Cardboard.

Why? The plastic strengthens the base material, makes it waterproof.

Plasticized paper products include almost all paper products used in food packaging for example wraps of sugar.

The same goes for most foil wrapped food products including butter. And the metal seals for wine. Damn!

Worse still it can be very hard to spot.

To find out if paper or foil is plastic coated you can try tearing it  which may cause the plastic and paper to part company. Often this won’t happen and the product will tear almost like paper but if you look carefully you will see a very fine frill of clear plastic.

If you are still not sure try soaking the wrapper in water – eventually the paper or foil will separate from the plastic film.


Other plastic lined products include cardboard, tins and cans.
Find other sneaky plastics here….


Plastic In Menstrual Products

Those disposable pads and tampons? Not cotton wool as you might have thought but plastic. Sigh!


Along with cotton buds, tampons, applicators and panty liners make up 7.3 % of items flushed down the toilet in the UK.
For every kilometre of beach included in the Beachwatch survey weekend in 2010, 22.5 towels/panty liners/backing strips, and 8.9 tampon applicators, were found.
About 90% of the materials used to make sanitary pads and liners are plastic and include polyethylene, polypropylene and polyacrylate super absorbents.
Every year, over 45 billion feminine hygiene products are disposed of somewhere.
Read more here


There is no doubt menstruation can be a grubby business. So three cheers for the mooncup using, reusable wearing, all green and lovely ladies of clean. Here’s what they use


Because of the nature of the product, where it has to go and what it has to do the options do contain some plastic. Shop bought reusable pads may be made of synthetic fibres and have a waterproof backing (though some don’t). Silicone is non biodegradable and very plastic like.  But they are reusable and so cut your plastic consumption by massive amounts. You can find out lots more via the product links.

Reusable menstrual pads / sanitary towel. They are as they sound. Reusable pad you wash after use. You can buy them ready made from smaller suppliers on Esty to bigger  mainstream companies. You can even make them yourself. Read more here – buy or make Reusable menstrual pads / sanitary towel

Internal / Menstrual Cup  –  This is  little silicone or rubber cup that you use internally. It collects the flow and is then emptied washed and reused. Before you squeal and scream read this


Not only do towels and tampons come wrapped in plastic, the fibres used to make them are often synthetic plastic. About 90% of the materials used to make sanitary pads and liners are plastic and include polyethylene, polypropylene and polyacrylate super absorbents. Natracare to a great range of  almost plastic free menstrual products. Try these

Tampon with applicator made from organic cotton with a cardboard applicator in a paper wrapper.

Other Interesting Options 

About which I know very little

Sea Sponges 

There’s an interesting read  here with instructions on how to make your own  and  reviews of ready made here.

Buy Local First

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.

Buy from independent online traders

If you can’t buy local please do check the links above to the suppliers and buy direct from them and support their online businesses.

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

Gladrags Menstrual Color Cotton Pads - 3 - Pack Mooncup Menstrual Cup Size B 1pieces Mooncup Menstrual Cup Size A 1pieces
Gladrags Menstrual Color Cotton Pads – 3 – …
Mooncup Menstrual Cup Size B 1pieces
Comes in 2 sizes – check before you buy you can read a review on
Mooncup Menstrual Cup Size A 1pieces
Natracare Regular Pads Natracare Organic All Cotton Tampons With Applicator - Regular 16 Reusable Hemp Sanitary Towel
Natracare Regular Pads
£1.90 – £18.27
Natracare Organic All Cotton Tampons With A…
see review on our website
Reusable Hemp Sanitary Towel
Reusable Cotton Sanitary Towel - Flowers & Birds The Busy Woman's Guide to Cloth Pads GladRags Color Day Pad
Reusable Cotton Sanitary Towel – Flowers &a… The Busy Woman’s Guide to Cloth Pads
by Tracy Puhl
GladRags Color Day Pad
£6.00 –
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.


Metal Lids With Plastic Linings

Back in the early days of the boycott I didn’t think of glass jars as an issue – after all they weren’t  plastic so it wasn’t a problem. Of course it was you numbskull.

Look at the lids – that white sticky stuff – the seal? That’s plastic that is…

Googling around and I found this from the containers and packaging site

“Plastisol liners are one method that helps seal metal closures onto containers. Plastisol is a PVC gasket that is used in metal continuous thread and lug (sometimes called twist) closures. It is normally applied to metal lids in a ring shape on the inside of the lid at the point where it will match up with the landing of the bottle.

Plastisol material starts out as a solid. After being heated properly, Plastisol becomes liquidus and forms around the landing of the container that is being sealed. When the material cools it begins to cure, or solidifies, which then creates a tight vacuum seal.”

PVC? Not sure I like that idea.There’s lots more information here on the poison that is  PVC. And despite the industry claiming it is perfectly safe, research is being done into alternatives.  Why you might ask – and so do I. Answers? I have none but”The environmentalist group Greenpeace has advocated the global phase-out of PVC because they claim dioxin is produced as a byproduct of vinyl chloride manufacture and from incineration of waste PVC in domestic garbage.”


One alternative could be this from k-online

The development of PVC-free compounds for lug-type twist closures and the corresponding production processes took place before the background of the 4th Amendment 2007/19/ EC of the Plastics Directive 2002/72/EC, which no longer permits the use of some phthalates as plasticisers in PVC-based seals of closures that come into contact with food. This marked an end to the exceptions with which EU and national authorities made allowances for the industry’s difficulties in finding solutions to the migration problems. Accordingly, manufacturers of metal lug closures, food producers, bottlers and retailers are under a great deal of pressure to bring products to market that are environmentally friendly, user-friendly and, above all, comply with statutory regulations.

This TPE is free of plasticisers and PVC and is useable with a wide range of lug-type twist caps (from 38 to 82 mm in diameter). Besides those properties that are indispensible in a sealant – good processability, pasturisability, compliance with the law – this new PVC-free compound ensures compliance with the valid migration thresholds even for oily foods with longer shelf-lives (e.g., antipasti). This was confirmed * in multiple individual tests. Thus vacuum twist seals with sealant compounds by Actega DS are the preferred solution for low-migration food storage and help food industry customers keep their products from becoming entangled in the problems associated with unhealthy packaging. Moreover, the new product also addressed the need to maintain a reliable vacuum until the closure is first opened and user-friendly resealability.

So I try not to use jars.

Look here for other sneaky plastic.


Tin Cans, Plastic Liners & Health

So you think, no that you’ve given up plastic but at least you can buy stuff in tins. At least I did for a while. But sadly for me no most tins are plastic lined either with a polymer (plastic) coating or epoxy resin (also plastic) And this is tru for food, drink and even cosmetics.


Aluminium drinks cans have a polymer plastic lining. It’s there to stop acids in the beverage from corroding the metal which is not good for the can or the flavor of the contents. If you don’t believe me, Check out this experiment, as done by Steve Spangler,

Nearly all tin cans are plastic lined with epoxy resin.
Epoxy resins, are used because of their “exceptional combination of toughness, adhesion, formability and chemical resistance. These coatings make it possible for food products to maintain their quality and taste, while extending shelf life.
In tins the liner can be white or yellow or transparent in which case it is  undetectable.  In most cases it is best to assume that your can has a plastic liner.
It helps to prevent canned foods from becoming tainted or spoiled by bacterial contamination.

Read more “Metal food and beverage cans have a thin coating on the interior surface, which is essential to prevent corrosion of the can and contamination of food and beverages with dissolved metals UK FSA, 2002).”

Tins used to store cosmetics are also lined with epoxy resin this time to prevent corrosion.


You might wish to know that when the can is recycled, the liner is burnt off.


“The History of the Liner – Technicians at the American Can Company, even before Prohibition, began toying with the idea of putting beer in a can. As early as 1929, Anheuser-Busch and Pabst experimented with the canning process. Schlitzeven proposed a can design that looked like a small barrel.

The major problem the early researchers were confronted with, however, was not strength, but the can’s liner. Several years and most of the early research funds were spent to solve this perplexing problem. Beer has a strong affinity for metal, causing precipitated salts and a foul taste. The brewers called the condition “metal turbidity”.

The American Can Company produced the flat or punch top can in 1934. The lining was made from a Union Carbide product called “Vinylite”, a plastic product which was trademarked “keglined” on September 25, 1934.”

Bad for you?

You might not want to know that the lining contains Bisphenol A (BPA) a chemical building block that is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.
So what?? To cut a long story short it would seem that BPA is toxic and does leach from plastic liners into the food.

The Bisphenol A Organisation argues that it is in such small amounts as to be negligible.

Based on the results of the SPI study, the estimated dietary intake of BPA from can coatings is less than 0.00011 milligrams per kilogram body weight per day. Stated another way, an average adult consumer would have to ingest more than 230 kilograms (or about 500 pounds) of canned food and beverages every day for an entire lifetime to exceed the safe level of BPA set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

It is true that several scientific panels including the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Food, the National Toxicology Program and the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis have concluded that the claims that low doses of BPA affect human health have not (yet ), been substantiated. While accepting that animal testing has produced adverse results, they can find no concrete evidence that humans will react the same way.

BUT BPA is now considered by many to be  a hormone disruptor, a chemical that alters the body’s normal hormonal activity. There are many counter claims on the internet and in the media  that BPA  is lethal. You can read all the arguments  here

Why  use BPA at all  you might ask ? Here’s some information from the

It must also be noted that  despite claims that BPA is as safe as safe, research is  ongoing into alternatives. And maybe they have found one. According to Food Production Daily

“Researchers in the United States have developed a chemical derived from sugar with the potential to replace bisphenol A (BPA) in a number of products, including the lining of food cans. The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) said Professor Michael Jaffe had received a US patent for an epoxy resin based on isosorbide diglycidyl ether that could make consumer products safer.

“The patent will enable us to create a family of isosorbide-based epoxy resins that have the potential to replace bisphenol A in a number of products including food can linings”, Jaffe told

Note  the statement by Food Production Daily that this will  make consumer products safer. And I hardly need say that the creators of this new product are clear in their statements that BPA is not a good thing.

Hmmm – the choice is yours. As for me I boycott nearly all tins and cans – tonic, tomatoes, coconut milk, tomato puree and baked beans are the exceptions. I don’t like the plastic or the BPA.

Related Articles

You can find more reports, studies and media scares on BPA here

And how to make epoxy resin here