The world produces more than 380 million tonnes of plastic every year, and this can take up to 500 years to decompose. So is it possible to kick the habit? Happiful's Kathryn Wheeler gave it a go
Cards on the table, when sustainable online shop Let’s Go Plastic Free challenged me to give up plastic for a week, my first reaction was a nervous: “But how?”
I try to live an environmentally-conscious life, but the idea of living ‘plastic-free’ had me stumped. Yet, armed with some reusable goodies from Let’s Go Plastic Free, and some extra treats, I was up for the challenge and ready to face my own plastic habit.
So where to begin? How about, the trusty toothbrush – the first thing you reach for in the morning? This week I swapped my electric toothbrush for a bamboo brush from Truthbrush, along with some natural, plastic-free toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash tablets from Georganics. I love the way the bamboo toothbrush looks, and it feels the same as any ordinary toothbrush – though if you’re used to an electric brush, it obviously has less ‘omph’.
Into the shower and I’m trading my normal bottled shampoo for some eco-alternatives. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of solid shampoos and conditioners, but just never got around to trying them – until now. The handmade solid shampoos from Proud Mary smell divine, and go on easily once you’ve worked it through your hair. My tip: don’t be surprised if they don’t lather up the way that common products do – persist, and know that they’re working their magic!
Around the home, I had everything under control. Reusable cleaning cloths? Check. Beeswax food wraps? Check. Natural surface sprays and washing liquid? A squeaky clean check. But then it came to venturing out to do a food shop – the part of the week I was most concerned about. Zero waste shops are starting to pop up around the country, and you can find one near you by heading to zerowastenear.me. But for me, it was off to my local supermarket and while, when I had a choice, I picked items that weren’t wrapped in plastic, some things were unavoidable and this marked my first collection of plastic in the form of packaging. Total count for my single-person household? Seven pieces of single-use plastic.
Tapping into a bit of self-care in the evening is one of my favourite ways to wind down, and a good skincare routine can be really soothing. This week, I tried out the Bambaw reusable makeup remover pads – which are like large cotton pads – along with the Proud Mary Honey-Bee all-in-1 Face Bar. The result? A clean, makeup-free face, pampered by the gentle texture of the bamboo pads – that feel like an indulgent treat on the skin. A winner in my mascara-free eyes.
Shaving is another wasteful area of the beauty industry, so I gave up my reliable plastic razor for a metal pencil razor from KAIRN – a plastic-free, genderless shaving company – pairing it with some gorgeously scented shaving oils and balms from their range. I’ll admit, the safety razor did intimidate me at first but, after watching a couple of how-to videos on YouTube, I was off. For now, I may be sticking to using the pencil razor on the straight lines of my leg, but with time I’m sure I’ll build up the confidence to try a knee, or two.
By making small swaps in our everyday lives, we have the power to make a huge difference
By the end of the week, I was actually surprised at how easily the challenge fitted into my daily life. Yes, there were areas that were more difficult than others, but if there’s one thing I’m going to take away from this challenge, it’s that it doesn’t actually have to be hard to make some simple, eco-conscious changes that have a big impact in the long-run.
So often when it comes to these things, we deal in absolutes. But by making small swaps in our everyday lives, we have the power to make a huge difference. You don’t have to give up everything at once – and you shouldn’t feel pressured to throw away all your plastic in favour of fashionable eco-products, that’s counterintuitive – but with time and a little bit of experimentation, we can all find methods of making a difference in a way that works for us.
Bee Green Wraps Reusable Beeswax Food Wraps
These gorgeous wraps will keep your food safe so you can ditch single-use clingfilm. £4.99–£10.99
Georganics Dental Floss
This compostable floss comes in a smart glass bottle, and delivers the results you’re used to. £4.90
Onya Bread Bag
Carry your bread home and have it to hand, or freeze it for later in this ‘vintage-inspired’ airtight bag. £13.95
KAIRN Bergamot, Juniper, & Orange Shave Oil
This shave oil will leave your skin soft and soothed, and comes in stunning
plastic-free packaging. £19