One of the most recent statistics I read about plastic said that 93% of families are trying to cut back on their single-use habits. Count us in: we started quite strongly with reducing our kitchen plastics, and have now moved to the bathroom. For me, this is the hardest area to tackle: I like my assorted lotions and potions!
I began researching my options online, and Lush shampoo and conditioner bars received great reviews. This is how I found myself getting a hand massage from a lovely saleswoman at Lush on my lunch break as she showed me how they left the skin feeling clean and hydrated. While I know this is a sales technique, I took the hook anyway and bought a few different bars to try. And I was incredibly impressed. Both the shampoo bar and the 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner bar left my hair feeling clean and, in a surprise twist, seemed to speed up the drying time and hold a style longer than my usual products. The only disappointment was the conditioner bar; it didn’t seem to have much of an effect.
Next up was body lotion. I have dry skin and occasionally suffer from eczema, and one of my New Year’s resolutions was to lotion my skin twice a day to keep it hydrated. Good for the skin, bad for the environment as this has the potential to use a lot of packaging. Lush came to the rescue yet again with their recyclable black pots. These containers can be returned to the store when done, and you even get a free product for every five you return. I am mindful that many companies practice greenwashing—claiming environmental credentials that aren’t really there—but it seems that Lush is actually trying to make a dent in the amount of waste that’s produced.
Several years ago I read Rose George’s The Big Necessity, which highlights the huge health and social problems that poor sanitation still causes in much of the world. It was eye opening to say the least, and is one of the reasons that I was happy to support the company Who Gives a Crap: they donate 50% of their products to building toilets in developing countries. The toilet paper itself is made from recycled books and office paper, reducing the number of trees cut down just to be flushed away down the loo. The rolls are wrapped in decorated recycled paper rather than plastic, and can be recycled or re-used (friends and family, don’t be surprised if you get gifts wrapped in this). The only bit of plastic we unfortunately had to toss was the wraps holding the boxes together (I also ordered kitchen roll); I have a feeling this was probably added by the delivery company for ease of carrying.
One of the general upsides of cutting back on plastic has been that the number of products we use has dropped, allowing us to naturally declutter and free up space. But I admit there is still a lot to do to cut back on bathroom waste. For example, hair products, makeup, toothpaste, deodorant* … and what about toothbrushes? While bamboo brushes are available, my dentist certainly seems a lot happier that I am using an electric.
It is perhaps tempting to see a plastic-free or waste-free lifestyle as an impossible ideal: after all, the cost and time involved in sourcing or making the products also has to be factored in to ensure that they are genuinely sustainable for the customer as well. This is why I like the ethos of City to Sea, whose core values are built on the idea of inspiring a PALL lifestyle: Plastic A Lot Less. So using that as a starting point—and with the reminder of Voltaire’s “perfect is the enemy of the good”—I will be continuing to look for ways to reduce waste, without getting too bogged down in the quest for perfection.
* I have purchased solid deodorant bar from Lush, but have to admit the smell is putting me off trying it at the moment.