Wednesday, 31 October 2012

SAVE ME from skincare, over-packaged, over-plastic, over-hyped

My name is Emma and I am a plasti-holic.

There, confession done accompanied by the relief that spilling one's guts often affords. But here is the story...

I drink a lot of fizzy pop. I only like the stuff in plastic bottles. I eat a lot of bagged salad; it tends to come in plastic bags. I stuff plastic bags into my rucksack, then go out with only my handbag and need to add yet more plastic bags to the collection under the sink. And finally I am OBSESSED with skincare; possibly the most over-packaged products there are.

I read about the worthy aims of Plastic Free world and my skin crawled with shame. Ulterior motive – I'd love to give up my 20 years or so diet coke habit and wondered if aiming to be plastic-free would make that easier... (Oh, please!)

I am here then at the start of my journey to plastic-less. Beginning with the fizzy rubbish i.e. ditching diet coke. I would also be interested to know more about skincare and toiletries that don't come accompanied by plastic wrapping, cardboard and all of the rest.

Google it and there are concerns about the use of plastic packaging and skincare in terms of chemicals in the plastic leaching into your skin cream. Yeuch. So, official advice is to choose glass packing where possible. Or you could try making your own skincare...

The best products in terms of packaging I can find (and I'd welcome suggestions) come from an American company Organic Essence which boasts biodegradable, home compostable packaging. The company isn't here yet, but it's due to arrive in the UK later this year. You can email them to ask where the products will be stocked.

Another alternative (possibly the easiest one) is to think of skincare, and especially facial skincare, as marketing hype. If you eat lots of fruit and veg, lean protein and wholegrains, drink plenty of water, don't smoke, drink in moderation and exercise, good skin tends to happen anyway.

I don't know if I'm yet ready to abandon my serums, creams, lotions and potions but I'd certainly like to find more environmentally-friendly options...

Monday, 29 October 2012

You Are Not Alone.......

While browsing the web and looking for more plastic-free resources, I came across a site that resonates well with our aim to use less plastic:

Besides being cleverly written, the site contains an abundance of information and resources on how to reduce or eliminate plastic from our lives.  It cites places from which you can buy plastic-free products and even has an A-Z plastic-free index.

Three cheers for our friends from Huddersfield!

PS:  I'll try to find the film "Trashed".  If I do, who is up for a video potluck at ours?

Friday, 19 October 2012

Are you up for the plastic-free challenge?

If you're inspired by our plastic-free month challenge, why not give it a go yourself? We can provide you the login codes of this blog site, so you don't need to set one up yourself. We hope that this plastic-free platform keeps getting new bloggers to spread the word and give new insights and tricks for plastic-free living.

Happy to hear from you!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

How did we do?

After having lived plastic-free for a month (only three occasions where cheeky plastic popped up out of nowhere!), now it's time to check the balance. How did we do? What were the difficulties and what was easier than thought?

5 weeks of non-recyclable rubbish

So how did we do? Well, I can only speak for myself as my better half spent 10 days abroad... We're still on the same bin bag for 5 weeks now, with 90% of the content consisting of plastic and other non-recyclable waste bought before we started the project. I think we can probably do with one bin bag for an entire year (new challenge?). That depends of course on what we adopt in the future...

It was easier than we thought. Once you know where to buy what, you just embed it in your daily or weekly shopping routine. We did encounter some difficulties with specific products. We had to compromise on surface cleaner. And we didn't buy any ice cream and crisps for a month. Other potential problems were errr... a brush for dishes. The rest is all doable if you're willing to go the extra mile.

What will we keep on doing plastic-free?

- Needless to mention but of course we will keep on refusing any plastic bags
- Buying meat and fish using tupperware boxes when we can
- No more fizzy drinks in PET bottles
- Milk in glass bottles
- Fresh orange juice instead of Tetrapak juice
- Baking cookies instead of buying the plastic covered one
- Refusing and avoiding all pointless plastic wrappings (bread, veggies, fruit etc)
- A bar of soap instead of liquid in a plastic container
- Washing powder in a cardboard box rather than liquid
- Toilet paper in starch wrapping (ecoleaf)

What will be a plastic-free compromise in the future?

- Toothpaste (toothy tabs are great for camping, but not for daily life...)
- Liquid shampoo
- Coffee beans (we'll buy 1kg packs of our favourite Espresso from the Edinburgh Tea & Coffee Company)
- Supermarket pizza (this one is Jan's- I quite liked our homemade plastic free pizza)
- Crisps

I'm sure it'll take a while before we take out the next bin bag!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Zen and the Art of Plastic-Free Shopping

The first few days we only went to small specialised shops to get our meat, fish and cheese. Our perception was that the big ones wouldn't co-operate. But going all over town for a bit of cheese isn't always practical. So why not give supermarket monster ASDA a go and see what we can get there without compromise.

Armed with a bag full of Tupperware containers we walked passed the Deli counter. We were tempted by a ready-to-eat chicken for £4.40, loose and no wrapping. "Could you just chuck it in this?". First time, no questions, no problem. The second time a younger lad looked weird at us saying: "We never do that!". "Wrong, your colleague gave it to me in my Tupperware last week", exhibit A: (see pic above which we actually had to show him, because he didn't believe it)."So could you please leave any plastic and just put it like it is in the container". Priceless to see his face. But having this said, it never has been a real issue. Morrissons and Tesco put bacon, cheese, sausages and mince meat in your container without hesitation. As long as you don't make it an issue yourself. No explaining, just expect them to do it. It works! And often it's even cheaper than the pre-packed products.

Here's some tips for plastic-free shopping

1. Always carry a Tupperware container with you when going to the shops

2. Be confident about refusing plastic (suggest for example to wrap it in grease paper or normal paper, otherwise they will get confused!)

3. Do your research where to buy what. Almost everything in the big supermarkets is packed in plastic!

4. Sometimes it is good to start a conversation about why you refuse plastic. Many people simply don't think about it. It might influence them positively!

5. And if you can, go to the shops by bike. It'll keep you really fit!

Monday, 1 October 2012

So How Did We Do?

Our plastic challenge month has come to a close.  While not able to eliminate completely all plastic from our lives, Team Sandport still had a good result.  Check it out:

And not all plastic!

The photo you see above is two full weeks of packaging - metal, paper and plastic.  We used to empty this bin every few days because it was so full, mostly comprised of plastic fizzy water bottles.  (Good job, too, since the council has not emptied our bin store - rubbish and recycling for over a month!)

Meanwhile, purchased a long time ago and placed in a box room far, far away.........

In event of Armageddon, please break seal.

And now what?  Will we continue the 1.5 hour journey across town for that one commodity wrapped in paper?  Will we forgo Head and Shoulders shampoo even though Lush doesn't make a non-liquid alternative (not an issue for Jim, clearly)?  No, we've learned what is practical and which plastic reduction measures we can incorporate into our lives easily.  If these have resulted in significantly less plastic passing through this household, then we've achieved our goal.

See all of you at the bar.  The first round is on us.  In glass.
Plastic RealFoods

Before we started this challenge a month ago, I had the presence of mind to contact some of our so-called organic, crunchy granola, eco-aware, I-haven't-shaved-my-armpits-in-a-year Edinburgh-based grocers, i.e., Earthy and Realfoods.  Earthy's website did not provide an e-mail address so I stopped by the Cannonmills branch to have a word with them.  Plastic seemed everywhere but at least some packaging was paper and the staff were sympathetic to our cause.

However, RealFoods DID have an e-mail address.  So on 23 August, I sent them this e-mail:

Good afternoon,

Friends and I are embarking on a plastic-free month.  We intend to buy food, drink and other products that contain no plastic nor come in plastic packaging.  My role in this initiative is to research and source products and the shops that might carry such goods.  We are particularly interested in the following:

Household cleaning products such as dishwasher detergent, fabric softener, bathroom cleaner, etc.
Personal grooming products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.
Dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.

Do you stock these products in non-plastic containers?

Many thanks.

Realfoods finally answered me......but not until 22 September.  Their response?  I give you Exhibit B:

Hi Laurie,

Apologies for the delay in responding to your mail.
I believe a lot of our packaging for the products you mention are in plastic, and at this stage your month has probably passed. Let me know if there is anything else i can help you with.

jean - Realfoods

That's what I call solidarity with the environment!  And if you have ever been to Realfoods, you know that they package even amounts as miniscule as 15 grams of edible nasturtiums in non-biodegradable plastic.  So that's alright then!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ice cream is ok!

It's taken us a whole month to realise that our local coop has an own brand ice cream which is- you guessed it- PLASTIC -FREE!! Well (mostly plastic-free, apart from the film round the top which is so small I'm choosing to ignore it).

I can't believe we only noticed this today, which is officially Jan's last plastic free day. A month without ice cream has been one of the toughest things (!)...

Ice cream is ok! Let the plastic-free living continue!

Newhaven Fest 23 September

It is so easy!

If you know where to buy your plastic-free stuff and you compromise on your cravings a wee bit it is actually quite simple to do. Even in the big supermarkets just ask them to put it in your tupperware (like cheese and meat). They'll be happy to do this (and some even praise you!). Look at today's shopping.

6 rashers of bacon and 3 sausages: Crombies - £4.21 - no waste
Refill 250 grams espresso coffee beans (they grind it for you if you want): Real Foods - £4.87 - no waste
Greens, bagel and cheese: Morrissons - Cheese from the Deli counter is much cheaper than the pre-packed stuff £6 per kg - no waste
Black Isle Beer: £1.50 (on deal at Tesco!) - glass bottle and metal lid

We emptied our bin bag when we started the plastic-free month (18 days ago) and that very same bag is only 1/3 filled with stuff we bought before this month. The rest is recyclable waste. Feelin' good about it!!

Friday, 14 September 2012