3 minute read
Throwaway culture is so ingrained in our society, and trying to find a solution can feel overwhelming. The message used to be to recycle, but only 14 per cent of plastic ever produced has been collected for recycling and just five per cent has actually been recycled. We don’t live in a zero-waste world – yet – but small changes make a big difference.
I’ve been using a shampoo bar for a while and love it – it lasts for months and leaves my hair soft. Next, I switch my disposable razor for a metal one with recyclable blades. Initially, I’m unsure, but it works well. There are bamboo options too, but some still contain plastic. We use so many products but it’s often a choice between convenience and considered purchases. When I really start looking, I realise there’s a lot I don’t need or for which I can find an eco alternative.
I replace my hand soap with a wooden dish and natural palm oil-free soap bar, which is sold naked. (I recommend Friendly Soap's vegan and cruelty free soaps.) It is slightly more expensive, but I feel good about the change. I head to a zero-waste shop and fill a glass bottle with shower gel. Alternatively, try just using soap and buy an eco soap pouch to give extra lather and exfoliation. Zero-waste outlets are opening gradually and, because you’re not paying for unneeded packaging, their products are reasonably priced.
Oral care is a big one for me. Unfortunately, there’s not yet an environmentally friendly alternative to throwaway electric toothbrush heads, and many biodegradable manual brushes still have plastic bristles. As a vegan, I don’t feel comfortable using a toothbrush that biodegrades but uses animal hair. However, Georganics has recently introduced a new sonic toothbrush and will recycle heads for you.
Toothpaste tubes are usually non-recyclable (a few are metal). I like Georganics’ natural tooth powder – sold in a reusable glass jar and cardboard box, plus it’s SLS-free. Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) can be toxic to marine life and is often a derivative of palm oil. Adapting to a tooth powder takes time, but now I prefer it. My mouth feels clean and a friend even commented that my teeth look whiter. Plastic-free floss and mouthwash are also worth trying.
I also change to a natural deodorant in a glass jar and I’m surprised by how effective it is. See my recommendations below!
Through research, I’m discovering alternatives that are not only plastic-free but that I love, too. It’s gradual, but I’m proud to be filtering the plastic out of my life, one step at a time.
Eco finds: join the action in the war against plastic
- How to Give Up Plastic by Will McCallum (Penguin, £12.99) - Packed with simple ideas to reduce your waste, this book is written by the head of oceans at Greenpeace UK.
- Indigenous Beauty, The Natural Deodorant Co and Nuud all make highly effective eco alternatives to traditional deodorant
- Truthpaste and Georganics make natural, plastic-free oral care. Try Georganics Oil Pulling Mouthwash and Toothpowder, £6.90 each
Read more from Ellen on her eco journey in the magazine each month and follow @Ellen_Tout