DAYS 29&30 – SO LONG & THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH!

It’s the end of the month but not the end of saying no to single-use plastic. Even after the greasy doughnut Plastic Challenge disaster, I have no intentions of throwing in the towel and accepting all this needless, plastic over-packaging.

There are some things which have proved difficult or impossible to find without single-use plastic including medicine, dental floss, ground coffee, crisps and biscuits. But there have been plenty of easy swaps, such as buying fresh bread from the bakers, veg in paper bags from the grocer, organic oats in a paper packet from the supermarket and raisins from the bulk buy shop.

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They cost the same, so now I’m only buying plastic-free organic oats!

Realistically, a single-use plastic free life is hard to lead, but this month has opened my eyes to even more options: I like to think I was relatively eco-friendly in my shopping habits beforehand but this has made me think and look even harder than before.

There are things which I will, no doubt go back to: I admit I am looking forward to using conditioner on my hair. I found using egg so unpleasant that I didn’t repeat it and opted for frizz instead. But I do intend to purchase an un-packaged shampoo bar to replace my plastic bottle of organic shampoo and I will also research other home-made conditioner options.

All in all, I think a lot of good habits that have developed this month will stick. Yes, the supermarket is often more convenient, but using the high street shops is more sociable and gives you a certain feel-good factor about supporting local, independent shops. Oh, and the produce is often way nicer and not always more expensive.

I have been amazed that we have gone an entire month without crisps and biscuits (except the occasional home-made ones). It’s not been all that bad, honestly, but I imagine they will both creep back in to our lives. However, I will be searching out sources of gorgeous Italian paper-bagged biscotti in future.

I really believe that if enough people vote with their purses and also write to manufacturers, shops and councils, things can change for the better….although two nudging emails and three weeks later, I’ve still not heard a peep from my local council’s recycling team.

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Even recycling involves rather a lot of single-use plastic

Finally, there’s one plastic moan I haven’t covered yet: Dog poo bags. Yes, I realise many are degradable, but many are not. And why oh why do people insist on leaving them in hedges and hung on trees in some of the most beautiful places? I do expect dog owners to clean up dog mess, but this bizarre ritual of preserving it for decades is totally moronic on many levels.

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One of many dog poo bags in the hedge at our local, idyllic beach

On that unsavoury note, I’m off to read my book on Zero Waste living, and write my birthday wish list which so far consists of Kilner jars, a bee hotel and a food processor.

Many thanks to the Marine Conservation Society for creating the Plastic Challenge.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE

DAYS 20 & 21 – SIX MORE EASY ECO-SWAPS

After writing about things we’re missing whilst on the no single-use plastic “diet”, it seems only right to share some more things which have been easy  to replace. I hope this might inspire you to make a few small changes too:

LOOSE VEGETABLES – Buy them loose instead of packaged, particularly as it usually works out cheaper. You can take your own re-usable mesh bags with you, or stick the fruit and veg straight into your basket. Oh yes, and I finally managed to buy strawberries without a plastic punnet from a local honesty stall!

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Hooray! Strawberries without plastic from a local stall

USE LIDS – Instead of cling film wrap for leftovers we tend to use takeaway and ice-cream tubs. Look out for the PP symbol or number 5 on the bottom to show they are “food safe”. I’d love to invest in some non-plastic alternatives eventually and I definitely need more Kilner jars in my life!

BICARB OF SODA  – It has a multitude of uses as toothpaste and shampoo, but my favourite is as a household cleaner  – it really is very effective. Simply sprinkle it on, rub with a damp cloth then rinse. It works brilliantly on both bathroom and kitchen sinks. You can buy it from bulk food shops using your own re-fillable container.

COCONUT OIL – It’s fantastic for cooking, as a moisturiser, in toothpaste and I’ve also been using it as make-up remover applied with rags cut from an old nightie to replace plastic-packaged cotton wool.

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Cut up old clothes to make useful rags

REFILL BOTTLES – Some brands such as Ecover are easy to refill. I know of three places within only a few miles who can refill Ecover washing up liquid and cleaning product bottles, so keep your eyes open! It’s also slightly cheaper than buying new.

COMPOSTABLE TOOTHBRUSHES – It’s easy to change your plastic toothbrush for a compostable bamboo version. They’re reasonably priced and better for the environment. You can also re-use your old toothbrush for cleaning awkward nooks and crannies around the house – just make sure everyone knows it’s no longer meant for oral hygiene!

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Swap your plastic toothbrush for a compostable one!

I hope these Easy Swaps have inspired you to choose less single-use plastic.

DAY 12 – KETCHUP CATCH-UP

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:

MY VERDICT:

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!

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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!

DAYS 6 & 7 – SCRAMBLED EGGS AND SLS

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?

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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!

MY VERDICT:

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.

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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.

DAY 7: SHAMPOO BARS & SLS:

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!

 

DAY 5 – HISTORIC HOUSES AND 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.

 

DAY 4 -“NO POO”BICARB SHAMPOO

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.

MY VERDICT:

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!