"Plastic free" July. The Master Document.
If you follow me on instagram you would have saw that I was going to give you all my tips for going plastic free for "Plastic Free July". My plan was to roll them out each day but it was decided it would be easier to compile them all into a master document on the blog. Before we begin I am just going to add in a little disclaimer about going plastic "free". As much as I hate plastic with an absolute passion we just can't get away from it. There are some plastics and disposables that are needed such as ones used in healthcare (though the NHS are looking at ways to dramatically reduce plastic usage in other areas of the hospitals yay!) or for infection control purposes. Another huge annoyance is that bigger companies are making little effort to reduce plastic packaging on their end meaning that a huge number of people are being priced out of being eco friendly.
So we can't really go plastic free. It isn't built into society yet and no one has the time to make absolutely everything from scratch - unless they get rid of the 40 hour working week lol. I am going to talk you through the best eco/plastic free swaps that I have found over the years. Theres gonna be suggestions from what you can do in a supermarket to little shop local swaps you can make for your favourite items. The journey to using less plastic isn't dripping in bamboo cups or beige everything and it certainly isn't a one size fits all method. As a disclaimer most of the brands mentioned are my personal favourites. If you want to look for something that is local google the item and then a comma and your hometown to bring up local producers in your area.
Lets start with Covid. Ditch the vinyl gloves and just sanitise your hands or better still wash them. Gloves give a false sense of security and with proper infection control measures should be changed after every dirty task. In this case with a looming virus each item you touch can be considered dirty. If you are going shopping sanitise your hands upon entering the store, only pick up items you are are actually going to buy and then sanitise your hands on leaving the store. Try and not touch your phone or keys (I have a clip to clip them to my belt loop once I have locked the car) whilst you are shopping and before you have re-sanitised your hands.
As far as masks go they are now compulsory when you are inside. From an environmental stand point you are better purchasing a couple reusable masks. You can get some nice ones from The Little Green Larder in Dundee, Katie Birdie in Fife or from Kelly Reilly. Hand sanitiser bottles are going to be a problem but at the moment they are part of the infection control plastics and are needed. You can switch to soap bars rather than liquid as anti-bacterial soaps aren't needed in terms of fighting a virus.
Onto bathroom, the easiest place to start switching. If you have a bathroom filled with plastic bottles PLEASE use them up first. There is no point in throwing things away purely to make a more eco swap. Next have a look at what you actually use. I eventually switched out face washes for a simple soap bar, I found that the Lush (I don't really advocate the use of Lush products anymore purely from their loose morals and sulphate filled products) charcoal soap bar worked for a bit then discovered that Kim from Leaf Natural Food Wraps stocked a gentle peppermint soap bar that is handmade by a lovely lady in Falkland (two villages away from me in Ladybank), this soap bar is gentle enough to use on the face and I use mine for my hair. It could also be used on the body. I will only say this once. Transitioning your hair is a nightmare and not for the faint hearted. It will look like you have a massive fear of soap for weeks, to help use a bicarbonate of soda scrub to remove build up once a week and rinse with diluted acv. KEEP AT IT. Dont use anything other than those products as the "transition" period refers to your hair detoxing and shedding all chemicals and coatings from normal shampoos/conditioners and learning how to regulate itself. Its so worth it!
For a face scrub I was making my own from leftover coffee ground and coconut oil until I discovered the Aberdeen based Solasta Skin , the lovely Jess makes handmade micro batches of body scrubs, face oils, bath oils and bath salts that are all vegan, cruelty free and packaged in glass. Items are posted plastic free with handwritten notes!
We are spoiled for choice when it comes to soap makers in Scotland and if you choose local/handmade you can get them with no plastic packaging AND they are gentle on the skin. Choose from Supernatural soaps, Willow and Plum or Bodylushious Skincare.
Toothbrushes can be switched to bamboo ones and these can be picked up cheap as anything from The Little Green Larder alongside toothpaste tabs. You can also switch your plastic sponge for a natural alternative such as a wooden body brush, crocheted shower puff or cloth. Toilet rolls wrapped in plastic are literally rubbish, paper wrapped alternatives can be ordered online.
If you aren't using reusable sanitary towels yet then you should be. They are soft, cosy in the winter (110% not underrated) and free you from the need to pay to bleed. They also last years and don't stain which is some kind of absolute SORCERY cause its red on white but there you go. Reusable pads hold all the things and won't leak unless you have old baggy pants on. Get rid of the old baggy pants. Obviously if pads aren't your thing there are many a cup and period pants for you to try. I like these Earthwise ones cause they have foxes and aren't plastic and make the gash itchy ヽ(ಠ_ಠ)ノ
Kitchen/Cleaning. Same disclaimer if you have things to use up such as clingfilm or cleaning products then use them first (keep the empty cleaning bottles though). I was looking at the kitchen in terms of utensils etc and thinking "well most of this can be bought without plastic" but upon further inspection of the poor pans we have bought and need to replace again I realised that for an "eco" kitchen - you should be buying things that are built to last. Pots, pans, utensils, cutlery, plates, mugs are all things that I have replaced a few times over the years mainly because a) I cant afford fancy bits and b) I used to love a late night ASDA trip. After my only big pots handle snapped off a couple weeks ago and also the rest of the pots make a weird smell if they get hot which cannot be healthy, I decided I am going to adult the fuck out my kitchen and save for good pots. In theory these will be the last pots I buy. They won't be rubbish and they won't be ordered from amazon. My favourite plates are gold lined blue and white porcelain ones I got from the charity shop a few years ago and for mugs that don't need replaced constantly we have tin camping ones. If you haven't already then you must invest in some wax wraps from the ONLY place to purchase wax wraps in Fife. Kim from Leaf Natural Food wraps makes a whole range of wraps and pouches that can be washed and reused again and again for wrapping up bread, leftovers and soap! She makes her wraps either using beeswax or vegan and unlike other wraps on the market they do not disintegrate or melt when they are washed. They are also 100% handmade right here in Fife.
For cleaning its pretty easy to replace all the products in your cupboard with vinegar, essential oils, soda crystals (thin plastic bag but you can bulk buy in cardboard) and leftover fruit peelings. Theres tons of articles to make your own like this one here. You can also switch your washing up liquid to a bar of soap, ditch the sponges and wire wool for coconut scrubbies, compostable sponges and dish/veg brushes all of which can be bought from this lovely Scottish supplier Eco Ness. Beware of supermarket/"green" brands such as smol (dishwasher and laundry tabs that are delivered plastic free but are still super harmful to the environment), ecover and method (now owned by Johnstones that test their products on animals, also plastic packaged) not to mention the prices are bumped up because they are "green" when vinegar costs £1, comes in glass, can be diluted into any product and can be used as a steriliser like ?? no brainer. As a last side note soap nuts are a pile of rubbish and are about as useful imo as putting an onion in your washing machine. Avoid. If you want to get rid of plastic just buy a box of soap powder with no handle. Done.
Food shopping. A tough one. A tough one for me to write about because I can shop local on the cheap because I only feed two people and I have lots of free time to prep things as I have no children. It gets harder the more people are in your family (I come from a family of 7). Seeing the work and effort other producers I know put into either raising quality produce on the farm to growing their fruit and veg I now prioritise eating fresh and local produce > eating produce that's been flown in and may not be ethically produced. I also eat for health. There are hundreds of diseases that can be prevented purely by diet and lifestyle choices such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol.
When I think about fruit and veg I think about it in 3 tiers 1) loose supermarket, 2)loose local (direct from a farm like Ardross) and 3) big F u to the tories and grow your own.
At this moment in time I get a Ceresly Good delivery each week or two, I am attempting to get to tier 3 by autumn. Emma has been working with a ton of local producers during the crisis and is delivering fresh and local produce all over Fife and Dundee for free might I add. It started as eggs and tatties but has blown up to a farm shop on wheels. She has an app you can download and shop on on her fb page. A small swap here could be literally just eggs and tatties. Proper fresh potatoes and eggs from chickens that are actually happy. Miles travelled if you stay in Cupar? 2 and a bit. Emma also happily takes egg boxes off your hands so there's a reusing opportunity also!
For any meat we go straight to Minicks in Ladybank. Minicks allow you to bring your own tubs to fill which cuts right down on plastic. A £20 pack feeds the two of us for a couple of weeks if we meal prep and pad out the meat with more vegetables.
For cupboard bits and pieces we buy tins, glass jars and paper bags. Annoyingly we arent close to a refill shop to fill jars constantly but when we can, we do. I tend to buy rice/pasta in bulk to save the millions of small platic bags and its more cost effective (10kg bag of rice £10, lasted 7 months). If there is something we want in plastic and there is no tin/glass alternative then its either made from scratch or we just dont have it. This can be used for freezer food also, if you normally buy bags of chips then switch to boxes of waffles instead or make your own if time allows. You can even buy butter wrapped in foil rather than in tubs. However if you do buy in plastic tubs then keep them and reuse them!
Cheese and fish can be bought wrapped in paper from local businesses such as David Lowrie Fish in St Monans, The Fish Kettle in Cupar and Mellis Cheese in St Andrews (who are also stocked by Ceresly Good). For my vegan friends looking for proper cheese check out Left Coast Culture.
Moving on to the treat yo self section of the food shop. Treats should be treats imo (means you can spend a bit more on them). Do you like chocolate? Do you like funding child slavery? Ditch the cheap stuff. Research the companies you buy for. Nestle have come under fire for absolute tons of stuff over the years from knowingly getting mothers in Africa to switch to their formula milk rather than breast (wot). Swap to a local producer for chocolate, coffee, ice cream or kombucha.
Oh look it's the part where we talk about water bottles and takeaway coffee cups. Just get rid. This was a focal point for the media in the war on plastic - even though as we have highlighted there are hundreds of other things to tackle as well. It goes without saying you should get a nice coffee cup like these lovely Steph Liddle ones and a reusable water bottle. You can make up a little pack of reusables you carry at all times cup, bag, bottle, cutlery. You can get a fab selection of reusables made in Perthshire from EcoVeta including reusable wipes and cutlery holders for small people. Pack your lunch, chuck it in a pouch or a box.
Think about plastic in all other areas of your life. Do you buy your furniture second hand? Do you dig in the auction house at Dunshalt? Do you buy plastic free candles or oils? Are you into wax melts? Are your clothes made of plastics or are they made from all natural materials and if you order online how are your items packaged, can you find a supplier that cares more about their packaging? Do you keep a diary or journal? Su Florence (Florrie) makes these beautiful hardbound plastic free books right here in Cupar. All the books are affordable and can be customised with stamps or different types of paper. I love mine. Think about gifts too. Buy people things they can actually use and remember the less is more mentality when buying.
If you jumped on the TLDR train - buy loose, use brain, reuse > recycle. Get creative with your rubbish and make small swaps when you can. If they are long term then that's great but if they are only for one week of the month that's good too.
If your switch is from coke in
plastic to booch in glass then 10 points to you.
Tag me in your swaps @badgalboocha!!!