It’s time for another hair wash: After the initial fail of bicarbonate of soda shampoo due to operator error (I used too little of it), it turned out that bicarb is actually fairly effective. However, I’d also heard it rumoured that tomato ketchup made a great shampoo too.

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Not one to pass up on such a delightful prospect, I eagerly took the bottle of ketchup into the shower. One large dollop of the red stuff onto my hand (it was chilled from the fridge so probably would have been more pleasant at room temperature, if truth be told) and I keenly rubbed it into my wet hair and scalp.

I had a vague memory of ketchup in relation to washing hair but was reminded properly when someone mentioned blonde hair turning green after swimming. That was it! Ketchup is supposed to be great for removing the green stain of chlorine from bleached hair.

Even established hairdressers, Percy & Reed agree; “For blonde hair that has gone green from chlorine or salt water, shampoo your hair as normal, then rinse tomato ketchup through your hair and leave it on for about five minutes.”

Ah, okay, that was not what I did. I used the ketchup as my shampoo, and here’s what happened:


KETCHUP SHAMPOO – The washing experience itself was interesting as it conjured up vaguely pleasant memories of eating chips but felt a little at odds with taking a hot shower. After rinsing thoroughly, I keenly dried my hair to see the results.

I’ve always felt that ketchup was good for cutting through the grease of chips during dinner, but it turns out it doesn’t do much for greasy hair. In fact, it seemed to make it even more greasy. To add to that, my hair smelled of tomato ketchup – not good!


Basically, I took a photo as evidence, then went straight back to the bathroom to wash my hair again with the tried and tested bicarb of soda. The results: nice squeaky clean hair and no stench of ketchup – phew!

The ketchup bottle is now safely back in the fridge, where it belongs.

On a final, slightly unsavoury note, it seems that ketchup can actually be classed as a “no-poo shampoo” as it’s said to be great for washing dogs after they’ve rolled in nasty stuff. I have to say, I’d definitely rather the dog smelled of ketchup than fox poo!



There have been a few things along my “no single-use plastic” journey which have been relatively easy to replace, so I thought I’d share some of them with you:

CHOCOLATE: Hooray! Personally, I would find life hard without dark chocolate, so this one makes me very happy. But it’s not just the dark stuff; you can buy plenty of other types of chocolate without plastic packaging. Most 100g bars are in either recyclable foil & cardboard or paper and card. Virtually all supermarkets stock a wide variety, including milk, ginger, orange, salted caramel and one of our favourite treats Lindt Dark Strawberry Intense chocolate. My staple though, has to be Green & Blacks Organic 70% yum!

Replacing face and body moisturisers with one recyclable tin of All Round Cream

MOISTURISER: I have to admit that I’m generally not brand-loyal and often try out new eco-products that I’ve never heard of before. However, Lavera is one of the big players in eco-brand cosmetics and toiletries and I was pleased to find a large (recyclable) tin of their Organic All-Round Cream which is for both face and body. Previously, I’d been using a glass jar of night moisturiser (with plastic lid), a plastic pump bottle of day moisturiser and a plastic bottle of body lotion. All of them are eco/organic products and I will recycle all the containers, of course. Back to the All-Round Cream: I genuinely love it! It smells amazing and is rich and creamy and there’s no plastic in sight. Well done Lavera – I might have just become brand loyal.

SOAP: This is a fairly easy one if you have an independent health food shop nearby. I’ve noticed a number of places do un-packaged Faith in Nature soap. It’s that simple (assuming the shop don’t then put it in a plastic bag!) However, it looks like they only sell it plastic wrapped if you buy online.

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Out with the plastic tub of eco-deodorant and in with the tin!

DEODORANT: Over the years I have tried numerous “no-nasties” deodorants. To be honest I have yet to find one which works anywhere near as well as the alleged breast cancer inducing, aluminium- laden high street versions. I’ve always reserved those for sweat-inducing social occasions. However, particularly in winter, I find there’s usually no need for a mega-deodorant, so am happy with my eco-deodorants the majority of the time.

I was using Soapwalla deodorant which seemed to be fairly effective on normal days but comes in a plastic pot. I’ve since changed to Earth Conscious Hippy Paste deodorant in a recyclable tin, which smells good but doesn’t stop the stink on super sweaty days. They do however, make a donation from their sales to the Marine Conservation Society, which is a bonus!

LOO ROLL: I have found recycled Ecoleaf loo roll (why would anyone use anything else to wipe their bum?) in a biodegradable potato-starch wrap at our local health food shop. I’ve also seen it being sold in the organic farm shop so it’s fairly easy to come by. Prior to this challenge I used to line the bathroom bin with the plastic loo roll wrapper but now it will be the biodegradable version getting a second life before it’s sent to the tip.

Recycled loo roll in compostable wrap

DISH CLOTHS: Finally, I have found some not packaged in plastic hiding at the local supermarket! As well as only being wrapped in paper, the wrapper was gummed rather than sticky-taped together. Clean work surfaces, here we come!

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The elusive non-plastic wrapped dishcloths!

I hope this post might inspire you to look around and choose products without plastic packaging too as it’s not always that hard!


The day started with a trip to the doctor with my toddler. Luckily, it was nothing major and all I needed for him was paracetamol. This got me thinking about drugs and single-use plastic packaging. I do remember glass jars of tablets as a kid, and you can still buy them filled with vitamins and other supplements in health food shops, but prescription medicine? I’m not so sure.

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Junior paracetamol in a glass bottle but with plastic cap and measuring spoon

Off to the chemist I trotted with a tired toddler in tow and after lengthy discussions and investigating a few boxes of medicines, I found this brand, Junior Parapaed, which comes in a glass bottle – hooray! (Unlike the other more popular brands). But, it does still has a plastic cap and comes with a plastic measuring spoon – boo!

Judge me as you will, but I decided that as this is my challenge, not my toddler’s, that denying him medicine for the rest of the month would be utterly ridiculous and downright cruel! (I’m also not subjecting him to the disgusting, non-minty home-made bicarb & coconut oil toothpaste!) The only other option would be for me to ask someone else to buy the medicine for him, but that seemed equally stupid as ultimately it wouldn’t save any plastic at all. So I just got on with it and bought it, plastic cap ‘n’ all.

So officially, that’s it, the world of single-use plastic has beaten me; but hang on…no, I’m not giving up because I don’t think buying medicine for a toddler who can’t buy it for himself counts. Like I said, this is my challenge, not his!

But this incident has really begged the question of what I will do if I get ill or simply get a headache? Is it even possible to get paracetamol or ibuprofen packaged in anything other than single-use plastic and foil packs? You can still get aspirin in bottles, but they’re plastic of course – no surprise there.

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No sign of paracetamol sold in glass jars

When I asked in the chemist about non-plastic options, the lady reminisced with me about glass jars but thought that health and safety regulations had probably put a stop to them: It appears that ill people may simply be more likely to drop glass jars than people who frequent health food shops.





It’s World Ocean’s Day! You may have heard of it and you’ll probably see it on social media, but most importantly you can take part, and honestly, it won’t take much effort!


I’m not going to preach on about the wonders of the ocean. I’m sure that most of you have an appreciation of it, whether that’s from exploring rock pools as a child or swimming off a beautiful beach whilst on holiday. And let’s face it, none of us want to spend time hanging out on beaches covered in litter or swimming in oceans filled with sewage.

You can do your bit by joining or even organising a beach clean-up, which is a surprisingly enjoyable and satisfying pastime. The Marine Conservation Society organise the annual Great British Beach Clean, and last year volunteers picked up an astounding 100 plastic bottles per kilometre amongst all the other rubbish.

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Image Credit: Jacki Clarke

But surely we need to tackle the root of the problem? If we simply reduce the amount of waste we produce, then there would be less litter polluting our planet.

So here are a few QUICK TIPS TO REDUCE YOUR WASTE today:

1) Say “No” to single-use plastic bottles of water. Buy a reusable water bottle and fill up at home, work or when you’re out and about. I have an Onya bottle but have found the cap a bit leaky, however their sports cap is great and water tight.

2) Don’t use disposable take-away cups, either enjoy your time sitting in a cafe drinking from a crockery cup or invest in a reusable travel mug. There are plenty of stylish options like these bamboo reusable take-away cups.

3) Think before you flush! Don’t put anything down the loo except wee, poo and toilet tissue. Anything else should go in the bin. I am constantly astounded by the amount of sewage related debris on the beach because people think their toilet is a one way street to some imaginary waste tip.

Cotton bud sticks credit Marine Conservation Society

Image Credit: Marine Conservation Society

4) Say “No” to disposable plastic straws. Seriously, you don’t need a straw, and if you really  think you do you can buy reusable ones.

5) Choose products with less packaging. It’s often not possible to avoid single-use plastic, as I’m discovering, but there is choice out there. Do you really need that chocolate éclair packaged in a plastic tray within a box with a plastic window? Maybe you could buy a delicious bar of chocolate packaged only in recyclable foil and cardboard instead?

As long as there’s an appetite for over-packaging,  the litter will continue, but if we all make a small change in our shopping habits, the manufacturers and retailers will start to take notice. Lots of small changes can lead to a big one, so go on…

Choose to make one small change today!



DAY 6: So after the disappointment of my first try with bicarb shampoo, I had high hopes for eggs! It may sound a bit grim but I remember my mum using duck eggs to condition my hair as a child, so surely there must be something in this?


Eggs and Lavender oil –  and yes, the glass bottle from my cupboard has a plastic cap.

There are a few references to egg shampoo around but here’s the one that I used. Essentially, all you do is crack an egg into a cup, whisk it up with a fork, then add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil. Take this into the shower with you, wet your hair and then pour it on. Rub the mixture into your scalp and leave for a couple of minutes, then rinse in coolish water to prevent scrambled eggs on your head!


EGG SHAMPOO – I really, really wanted this to be the answer. I have long, fine hair which is prone to being greasy at the roots and a bit dry at the ends, so maybe I’m asking a lot of the humble egg?

I have to say that I definitely dislike the smell of raw egg, but the lavender oil did help. Also, pouring egg onto your head is actually quite difficult because it’s very runny, so I lost a lot of it down my back (urgh – cold slime!) But, I still had plenty left to apply to my hair, and after a couple of minutes rinsed it out in a slightly cooler-than-usual shower to prevent  any scrambling. The idea of the eggs cooking on your head in the shower sounds like a myth but I didn’t have the time or the inclination to test it out. The cool water was fine as it’s nearly summer and the bathroom is warm but I’m not so sure how pleasant this would be in the depths of winter.


The view from above of egg-washed hair – not as bad as I thought!

After drying my hair, overall it felt, quite honestly, still a bit dirty and greasy. It looks okay, but I think it still feels a bit unwashed at the back once again.


I’ve had suggestions to use shampoo bars available from Lush, which I used to use during my teenage years of endless festivals and camping (no spillage!) It turns out that the reason you don’t see shampoo bars around other than in Lush shops is because they own the patent. Good for them; not so good for the environment as it turns out. According to their estimates the shampoo bars have saved around 30 million plastic bottles from heading to landfill. Imagine if the big players in the shampoo industry were doing this too!

Personally, I was reluctant to use Lush shampoo bars as they contain the dreaded Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLS) which I have spent many years avoiding as it is allegedly a carcinogen. So I wrote to Lush asking if they plan a non-SLS version, which they don’t, however, they have said this: “please rest assured that the SLS we use is completely safe and we use less than half of the industry maximum level” and they went on to say that “any part of it that may be a carcinogen is removed.”

I’ve asked for a bit more information before I’m totally satisfied, so until then, next stop on the no-poo shampoo train is…ketchup!



I didn’t wash my hair on Day 5, but I did feel compelled to use some dry shampoo as it looked disappointingly greasy even after its bicarb shampoo wash yesterday, and I was going out in public!

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Stunning views down the valley at Castle Drogo

We went for a day out at the National Trust property, Castle Drogo, Devon, which was fantastic. The gardens and views across the valley were beautiful and we even got to “meet the builders” as the property itself is undergoing a long-term renovation. Although it is under scaffolding so the castle itself doesn’t look at its best, I can vouch for this being a great place for a walk with or without greasy hair.

In terms of single-use plastic, it was a fairly easy day. At lunch time, all the hot meals were served minus plastic whilst many of the fizzy drinks available were in glass bottles. So whilst the choice was limited, I was still able to have a delicious lunch. However, my partner did suffer as there were only small plastic sachets of ketchup available to accompany his burger. He willingly took it on the nose and tucked in to his meal with no ketchup (sacrifices must be made!)

Although this doesn’t appear to have much to do with hair care, I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that tomato ketchup is supposed to make a good shampoo! I will investigate this further and report back.



I like to have clean hair, but shampoo and conditioner come in plastic bottles. Many moons ago I washed my hair with soap at Glastonbury festival and remember a tangled dry mess on my head for many days afterwards. Surely, there must be something better for your hair than soap?

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Saying goodbye to my nice eco-friendly but plastic-wrapped bubbly shampoo!

First up to be investigated as a shampoo alternative is bicarbonate of soda, which I was super excited to find being sold in bulk. Not only am I using it as an ingredient for toothpaste, but it is meant to be a bit of a wonder-product for the household. It’s even supposed to be great for cleaning ovens (if I ever get round to trying that one, I will let you know the results!)

As bicarb has such wonderful cleaning properties it seems hardly surprising that it’s been suggested as an alternative to the usual plastic-bottled shampoo. So, I thought I’d give it a go. There are instructions for using bicarb as shampoo on this blog. Essentially, you add a little water to your bicarb of soda to make a paste and then rub it into your hair and rinse.


BICARBONATE OF SODA SHAMPOO – It’s a bit awkward decanting the powder into your hand whilst in the shower; I was worried I was going to either get it all wet or drop the whole lot. I managed to create a paste without spillage and added a few splashes of water (not too much or else it washes away), then scrubbed it into my scalp and hair.

It definitely wasn’t as satisfying as the usual lovely smelling, creamy lather of shampoo bubbles, but I  repeated as suggested, (although in hind sight, not as many times as per the instructions) and finally, rinsed thoroughly and dried it.

It seems that I should have applied and rinsed the bicarb shampoo a few more times as I didn’t reach the “squeaky clean, shiny hair” that was described. Apparently, the more you use it, the less you need.

Once dried, the front of my hair looked good and clean but the back and underneath still felt greasy.  So,  I’m not entirely convinced by this one yet, although it’s likely that I was too frugal with my application. I will give bicarb shampoo a few more goes but next up on the “no-poo shampoo” list, I’ll be trying out egg!


I started my third day (3rd June) of being single-use plastic free with my second venture into our local bulk-buy shop (I had a quick nose around it before the challenge started).

Inside there are lots of containers with scoops, including an actual pick ‘n’ mix for sweets (bonus!) although I did manage to resist them this time. You can get a good variety of stuff including dried fruits, muesli, washing powder (no eco-brands), salt, sugar and rice, but the organic options are limited to flour which I can buy in paper bags anyway.


The lady behind the till was friendly, helpful and not in the slightest bit judgemental about me bringing my own containers unlike when I had visited previously to enquire (different lady, different attitude). We soon established that although most of my containers (old takeaway tubs) were identical, the price she needed to deduct from each filled tub would depend on what it was filled with. She explained that this slight complication was due to them having a fancy hi-tech till rather than an old fashioned one. In reality, all this meant was that I had to tell her what I wanted to buy first, then she weighed the tub at the appropriate cost and wrote the amount on it that she would deduct at the end. For example, the tub for the bicarbonate of soda was 4p whereas for mixed nuts it was 23p, because their cost per 100g was different.

The good news is that once this has been done I either simply use the same tub with the label already on it next time, or write a list of the tub weight/product prices and take it with me. Good job we’ve had the odd takeaway in our time as we’re going to be using a lot of tubs! (I’m sure I’ll get to blogging about non-plastic container options at some point but for now I’m using the things which are already in our cupboards).

Whilst this might all sound like a big hassle, she did say that if I left all the tubs with her in future she’d fill them all and do the calculations so that I could simply pick them up later in the day. And to add to that, there’s the bonus that it is a genuinely cheaper way to buy many of these products.

I think we’re actually really lucky to have a bulk-buy shop nearby as I’ve been unable to locate any others. I’d be interested to know how common they actually are, so keep your eyes peeled and let me know!




Like most people, I want to start the day with lovely fresh breath and I have used eco-toothpaste to do the job for many years. But I’ve been unable to find toothpaste in anything other than plastic tubes. They are recyclable, but that’s not the point of this challenge, so even though I have a perfectly good and tasty stash of toothpaste staring at me in the bathroom, I’ve ventured into the realms of a home-made, no plastic version.

Actually, it  turns out that toothpaste is incredibly quick and easy to make: it’s literally just coconut oil and bicarbonate of soda mixed together with peppermint oil for that minty fresh taste. The recipe I used is here.

Bicarbonate of soda is a well-known ingredient of many commercially available toothpastes and allegedly helps to remove stains and restore the mouth’s pH balance. Combine that with coconut oil, which is said to have antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties (the ancient Indian technique of swishing coconut oil around your mouth or oil pulling has been shown to reduce plaque and gum disease) and this all sounds like a good recipe for fresh-breath to me.

Sadly, our bicarb from the back of the cupboard is in an overly-sturdy plastic pot and has already been around for a number of years (and no doubt will be here for a few hundred more). I remember being annoyed about this over-packaging at the time but lack of choice is one of the joys of shopping local.  I’m sure I have bought bicarb of soda previously in a cardboard box, although it would have had a plastic bag inside it, I’m sure.


MY VERDICT: Home-made bicarb toothpaste tastes pretty foul! There’s no getting away from it. Imagine putting a teaspoon of salt in your mouth and scrubbing, although I have to say that my teeth do feel super clean and the aftertaste is coconutty, so it’s not entirely unpleasant. I didn’t use peppermint extract as I didn’t have any, so maybe this would help (if I can find it being sold in a glass bottle).

I can cope with a bit of saltiness twice a day but I must sort out storage. I mixed the toothpaste in a glass ramekin but it needs a lid and as the coconut oil is fat, I don’t want to store it in plastic due to the leaching, nasty chemicals. What I need right now is a small glass jar. Until I find one, a little piece of foil will have to do (which I’ll recycle afterwards of course!)

***UPDATE*** 3/6/16

Hooray! I have found a local shop that sells unpackaged bicarbonate of soda, and here’s the proof in an old (but clean) takeaway tub:


If you were wondering – it didn’t cost 4p – that relates to the weight of the tub which they minus off the price of the goods.



It’s 8.30am on Day 1 of the challenge and I’m already stumped. I dropped the dish cloth onto the floor and into the “biohazard zone” under the high-chair, so it’s now residing in the washing machine. I automatically peered into the cupboard under the sink for a new one and…oh…we’ve run out. So, my first challenge of the day is: Where on earth do I find dish cloths not wrapped in plastic? Until I work out the answer to this question or think of a suitable alternative, the kitchen table is left un-wiped.


I am going to admit that whilst I have pre-prepared a number of plastic-free alternatives for this month, I felt it would be ridiculously wasteful and prohibitively costly to throw out things already opened and in use. As a consequence, I’ve been running things down in preparation (as the dish cloth scenario proves!) and my plan is to replace items with single-use-plastic free alternatives as they are used up or as I spot them in the shops. As I’m also inflicting the Plastic Challenge on my partner and toddler, they will both, no doubt be happy to mop up any hint of packaged food on my behalf.


At lunchtime I headed for our local, large organic veg shop with the aim of stocking up on all kinds of goodies: unpackaged fresh fruit and veg at very least. I had my old takeaway tubs in the car at the ready as I was determined to come back with berries of some sort, and as it’s an organic shop, I hoped they wouldn’t think I was entirely mad for taking my own containers (I’m easing myself in gently before facing the high street).

Whilst I managed a good crop of plastic-free shopping which should keep us going for a few days (hooray for brown paper bags which not only contain your vegetables but slow their inevitable demise), I failed completely on the berries. The strawberries were in plastic punnets (no lids) and the blueberries were in plastic punnets with lids. Undeterred, I put them in my trolley knowing that I had my handy takeaway tubs ready for them to be decanted into at the checkout. However, when I asked if they would re-use the containers I was greeted with a mumble about how legislation regarding re-using food packaging is very strict and they couldn’t possibly change the way they operate for the odd person like me. People like me? Odd! A customer who cares about the environment shopping at an organic store you mean? Hmphhh. Then I asked when the neighbouring Pick Your Own would be open and received a grumble about how they spray their crops. Yes, I said, but they will let me use my own containers…I feel a stern email to the shop manager coming on.

On the up side, I did manage to get most things on the list and was able to buy a slice of double chocolate cake packaged in only a brown paper bag. Now, I really do need to find something to replace that dish cloth!