I’ve been on a using less plastic and recycling less in general journey for nearly 2 years and it’s still not getting easier! Much of the time thinking outside the box is needed or just saying no to plastic is general is easier. Many non plastic alternatives might at time seem more expensive but in the longer run are more cost effective as you’re not replacing them as often. Sometimes I ask myself is it worth it when I see the amount of disposable plastic that’s used, how many people don’t bat an eyelid using it. When I read about turtles and whales being found with plastic straws lodged up their noises or stomachs full of plastic bags mistaken for jelly fish it is.
I’m gradually fazing out items for plastic free items. Rather than go all out changing everything, when something needs replacing I opt for the plastic free or less free option. I’m not throwing out (she says) good items if there’s no need yet. It’s not easy. Sometimes I find the item I’m after only for it to arrive covering in plastic! Smh. Here are some plastic free alternatives I’ve found the past couple of months.
I wanted to replace my existing toothbrush holder for no other reason than I was bored with it. Okay, I think it was once brass but became even with cleaning green and the noise it made crashing to the floor whenever I knocked it over wasn’t easy on the ears. I’m clumsy and the bathroom floor’s stone, porcelain was out of the question. I wanted a bamboo one as I knew that would be unbreakable. As usual Zara Home came through (I think it’s bamboo. The page lists it as wood. It’s light and feels like bamboo) which meant less packaging ordering online. It was cheap I think around €8 though it only fits about 2 bamboo toothbrushes and 1 toothpaste. Everybody here likes different toothpaste. I did make my own, however I found it didn’t clean that good in the long run and I’m wanting to reduce my coconut intake. Coconut plantations can be just as disruptive to the environment as palm oil. It’s just labelled as the good nut.
Seagrass Laundry Basket
Little AJ bless him before he said final goodbyes, couldn’t find the litter box leaving the kitchen floor with pee puddles. The previous seagrass basket soaked up some of the puddles and I knew even with cleaning the smell wouldn’t come out. This one I got from Muy Mucho. More expensive, however it’s better quality and I’m hoping more durable.
I don’t get Renova. They’ve recently launched or revamped their unbleached toilet paper yet comes wrapped in plastic. Their new Strong and Balance toilet paper both bleached comes in paper (edit update, my local supermarket where I found it, doesn’t sell the entire Paper Pack range which includes a recycled paper option) Shouldn’t be the other way round? It’s a start so I’m not complaining! It’s a little more expensive than the supermarket own brand I was using, but I was so excited finding paper wrapped toilet paper! I think others are too judging by how much I have to reach into the shelf to grab a pack. I feel for the copywriter who sells toilet rolls.
I found 2 brands that sell chocolate the old fashioned way like back when I was a kid. Foil and paper and or cardboard. No plastic wrap. One is Veritas own brand and the other Kaoka. Kaoka’s chocolate orange is the best!
Thankfully now my climbing gym has chalk or as the Spanish call it, magnesio stands (they should for how much monthly membership they charge). I looked into how harmful chalk mining is to the environment and I’m surprised it’s not spoken about more. I don’t think there’s a solution to it. I get sweaty hands and need the grip. I’ll be honest I forgot about the environmental impact when I need grip or in my class. That’s a whole other debate and topic. Before my gym installed the chalk stands I opted for Decathlon chalk cubes whereby you smashed the chalk up. It was the only 95% plastic free packaging I could find. The cube comes wrapped in paper with a wired coated plastic tab to secure/keep the chalk in before decanting to your chalk bag. It’s not cheap for weight vs price compared to others, 50g/€1.99 however it lasted quite a while.
This is perhaps my biggest find! I couldn’t contain my excitement finding it to the shop assistant! Out of curiosity needing to replace my existing ironing board cover thinking there wouldn’t be a plastic free alternative, I looked up zero waste ironing board covers and found out about wool covers. However most are only available in the USA with Amazon.com being the only site to ship to Spain. There are also pages on how to make your own, but this is me we’re talking about. However with shipping and taxes to Spain it was nearly €50! It would be my last resort. Wool’s a good anti flammable material which is why it’s used. After checking out amazon.co.uk, amazon.es and my local supermarket something said try Spain’s only department store El Corte Ingles. Bingo! Double bingo, 2 options all their own brand! One just the wool cover you cut to size for €9.99. Again this is me we’re talking about. Thankfully they also had a M/L cover, wool backed with a natural cotton cover for €16.95. I had to overlook being vegan and hope the wool source is good; the sheep were treated well. It comes unfortunately in plastic and with a stupid piece of example material on the outside. However the cover’s plastic free, easier to recycle and should last a good few years. It fits like any other ironing board cover. Aside from a wool smell ironing that doesn’t transfer to clothes and clothes not pull smoothing over the ironing board edge as you pull up say a pillow case which happens with new ironing board covers, it’s perfect.
Plastic free pens I’m still having difficultly finding. I used a pencil for a while but didn’t get on with it. The decorative bit I noticed on a few was plastic and most erasers are made from vinyl. I like Bic Biro style pens. I know some zero wasters use fountain pens. I get normal pen ink all over my hands, so imagine me with a foundation pen. I know you can get maize plastic style pens but they seem to be bulk buy only. Some ballpoint pens are refillable so when my current supply runs out I’ll check them out. Recommendations welcome! I’m intrigued by the Fisher Space pen. Says it can write under water and upside down!
Clothes I’m buying less. Aside from workout clothes, winter coats and jackets, trainers, shoes and bras I avoid man made fibres such as polyester and nylon if I can. Thankfully in addition to cotton, more clothes are being made from viscose and modal both natural fibres. A lot of plastic microfibres from clothes during laundry end up in the water system, in fish and then in higher quantities higher up the food chain. A lot of mixed fibre material can’t be recycled either.
Food packaging and beauty products continue to be my number plastic waste. Thankfully all the supermarkets and shops I shop at happily accept my cotton muslin produce bags. Some still put a weight price sticker on, but I can’t shop at the organic shop all the time! I’m not out and about in time for the markets either. If I can find a plastic free alternative I’ll go for that such as rye crackers in paper packaging opposed to plastic. I still go for plastic free tabs around jars if I can but the amount of plastic food packaging is unbelievable. I mean at at the end of the day when some supermarkets here restock the shelves, the pallets in the isles are wrapped in massive plastic cling film plastic. They’ve only been taken from the store’s stockroom to the isle! Diesel the cat’s chicken while I’d love for him to be vegan, cats can’t, I get his chicken from the organic shop. Less antibiotics in their system from factory farmed chicken. I like to think and hope the chickens had a better life and one bad day. The organic shop wraps meat in greaseproof paper and in a maize plastic bag, all compostable. Sometimes I have to get vac packed from there however it’s still a lots less plastic than from the supermarket.
Beauty products I’m noticing more natural and organic facial oils and masks are coming in glass containers. There’s still a plastic lid however it’s a start. Toners, moisturisers, lotions, cleansers and makeup come in plastic tubes, pots and compacts. Do I need to wear it all? Probably not, I’ve always loved skincare and cosmetics. I’m buying less, say no to freebies and listen to my inner voice that says, no don’t buy it/restock. When I listen usually find a better product or the product no longer works for me saving a product that won’t get used as it’s left in the drawer while I use the new find.
Are you on a recycle less plastic freer journey? What’s been your latest why didn’t I think of it before find? Once you start to see how much plastic is used, you can’t unsee it! Please share in the comments below!
Previous Recycle Less finds here