Over the past 18 months, I’ve been making an extra effort with reducing plastic consumption and making more ethical choices around the home, and I want to share my ideas and inspirations with you in hope that you will be inspired to make some changes too.
These efforts have been partly spurred on by the BBC documentary ‘War on Plastic‘, and mainly, because it feels good to slow down and inject some mindfulness in to our day to day behaviours around consumption and waste.
There are of course broader environmental topics that I often chat to my children about, not just around plastic consumption, but general lifestyle choices too, which I’ll discuss in the next post.
To get me going with the small but lasting changes I’ve made at home recently, I started off by making a list of every single-use or throwaway item that is purchased in our family shop on a weekly or monthly basis. The majority of items were either toiletries or household cleaning products. I then went through each item on the list and found alternatives, which would either remove the need to keep purchasing more packaging altogether or provide a kinder and more ethical solution.
The biggest challenge was finding the time to commit to new habits – but once I got over that mental block (I realised it was just my mind making excuses), I have actually found that taking the time to ponder my shopping habits and the slowness it has brought in to my life is hugely rewarding in itself.
For now, here are a few of my top tips and buys;
Who Gives A Crap?
A subject which generated a lot of mayhem and excitement earlier this year – bog roll! Lucky for me, I am a loyal customer of the online toilet paper brand ‘Who Gives A Crap?’ Aside from their lively and humorous branding, this team have a seriously commendable business model. Not only are the products 100% recycled, the company is also B Corp™ certified (for the highest standards of social and environmental impact), and they donate 50% of all of their profits to sanitation projects in underdeveloped nations – that is amazing! We also enjoy making a colourful loo roll fort when the big box arrives on our doorstep. What’s not to love about them?
Shop Local (and reduce / re-use and refill!)
It’s absolutely lovely to live close by to a refill and eco-friendly store. I am lucky to have two to choose from – Re:, run by the brilliant Lindsay and Navneet in Flore (which has an extensive range of dried goods available as well as household and toiletry items), and also The Sheaf Street Health Store in Daventry.
When I first started changing my habits, I was excited to visit both locations, not only because I love supporting small businesses, but because of their refill services, and I have been a regular customer at both for the past year and a half.
If you have a refill store nearby you, you’ll know it means loading up a shopping bag with empty containers and jars and refilling them on arrival. At first it felt a bit strange to walk in to a shop with a bag full of empty containers, but just as we got used to bringing our own carrier bags to the shops, it quickly started to feel normal and actually quite satisfying.
I am able to refill my laundry liquid, floor cleaner, bathroom cleaner, all purpose cleaner, washing up liquid and liquid hand soap containers. Both stores also stock loofahs (for washing up as well as showers!), re-useable sandwich wraps and bamboo toothbrushes, which we also buy.
Whenever I look at my large Persil container and my Fairy Liquid bottle I shake my head in amazement – they are both still in perfect condition and I have refilled both containers approximately twelve times since March 2019. That means that approximately 24 two litre and one litre plastic containers have been saved (at both ends of the production lifecycle) so far. I am just one household, but imagine if everyone in my street went out of their way to do this simple thing every few weeks too.
And if you prefer to order online or don’t have an eco-friendly store nearby, Peace with the Wild supply a range of beautiful eco-friendly items.
We’ve gone back in time to 20th century living and soap bars have made a return to our lives! Surprisingly I did get a few strange stares when I mentioned this to friends, I think because the shower gel companies have managed to convince us that soap bars are messy and therefore unfashionable or incompatible with modern living – but after a short period of time, I didn’t look back. I purchase soap bars for baths and showers from my local health store (mentioned above) – they’re sold loose in baskets with zero packaging and they smell lovely.
Soaps also make lovely gifts too. Myrtle and Soap have a gorgeous range of hand-made eco-friendly soaps and other cosmetics.
Alongside the return to soap bars, we’ve stopped buying plastic shower puffs too, instead opting for loofahs, which are 100% natural and super soft and they can be thrown in to our garden compost bin once they’ve worn out!
I have been a proud Nuud customer for over a year. They are fairly new players in the vegan / eco-deodorant market and I can honestly say their chemical and fragrance free deodorant cream is super effective – I wouldn’t buy any other brand now. The sugar cane tubes are quite expensive – I purchase 2 x 20ml tubes for £24.95 which typically lasts 3 to 4 months (I’ll be honestly, I do use it every day, not every few days as the website recommends!). However, there are some rave reviews and friendly facts on their website; it’s definitely worth a look.
Friction Free Shaving
The topic of razors was an important consideration when I began to look at my regular household purchases. For years I always bought ladies disposable razors from my local supermarket. This would mean that on average, 52 plastic razors would end up in my bin every year. Sadly I had never questioned this before and had always just bought what I thought was available to me. In doing a little research, I came across FFS – an online shaving subscription service for women who are all about sustainability and effortless beauty. I purchased the attractive rose gold metal razor handle and signed up to the razor blade monthly subscription service. The razors are great. The packaging is eco-friendly. And, very importantly, I am able to mail the used blades back to FFS where they are broken down for recycling (as explained in detail on their website).
These are another favourite of mine – the product, the ethos and the cheerful brand leaves you with a rather warm and fuzzy feeling. Nothing Fishy are the vegan alternative to cod liver oil tablets. When I was a child I was made to swallow a big spoonful of cod liver oil every morning before school. It made me gag, but my parents took omega 3 intake very seriously and so I would gulp it down with an expression of stoic cooperation. I wanted to carry on this happy tradition with my children and shopped around for a vegan alternative (and hopefully with less of the nasty aftertaste too). Nothing Fishy make vegan omega 3 capsules from farmed algae. By cutting out the middle man (fish) and going straight to the source (algae), these supplements are vegan-friendly, sustainable and they help to protect our oceans (as well as protecting us humans from toxins) . There is a subscription service available too and the packaging is fully compostable.
Links and Resources;
To re-cap, all of the links and resources mentioned above are re-listed here for your convenience, along with a couple of others for added inspiration;
Omega 3 capsules
Refills and eco-friendly household and toiletry products (Daventry area)
Online eco-friendly suppliers
Plantable Greeting cards
Join an online group to share tips and advice with like-minded folk. The local group for Daventry can be found here;