Wash and brush-up

I had intended to write a little more in ‘Plastic-free July’ about reducing the amount of ‘short-term’ plastic in our house, but somehow the month got away with me and here we are on the 27th already!

As I’ve said before, I think it’s impossible to cut out single-use plastics without a complete life-style change. However, it is possible to re-use and repurpose plastic items and to look for alternatives to many plastic objects so that we minimise the amount in the waste stream. In recent weeks I have found (or re-found) several plastic-free options related to cleaning and grooming which I thought might be good to share.

More like a hedgehog than a tortoise

More like a hedgehog than a tortoise

I already introduced you to my plastic-free washing-up brush, but it now has a companion at the sink – a tortoise! Years ago I found a vegetable scrubber in a local wholefood shop (alas no more) made with plant fibres and a metal core to hold them together. I used it for years and years until, eventually it started to shed its bristles and I had to give up on it. At the time I assumed that I would easily find a replacement but, despite a thorough search, I had no luck and ended up buying a plastic brush. Admittedly the plastic version did last a long time (certainly not single-use) but recently its bristles flattened and it ceased to function. Luckily, I came across a really great website selling a variety of green household items and they had a version of my old original brush… called a tortoise (although it looks more like a hedgehog to me)! They come in packs of two, so I already have my replacement lined up… or perhaps I’ll pass it on to someone else. On the web site they are shown as coming in plastic packaging, but mine arrived au naturel.

I haven't got a panda to test it on, but I quite like it

I haven’t got a panda to test it on, but I quite like it

It was from the same website that I bought myself a new toothbrush to try out – bamboo handle and bamboo bristles. We still have an electric toothbrush that I use once-a-day and this is mainly plastic, but the rest of the time I’m using the bamboo one and it’s holding up rather well (I am usually rather hard on my toothbrushes). There are a number of bamboo toothbrushes on the market, but this one seemed to get the best reviews. It’s quite small and has a small head, but it does seem to work and none of the bristles have fallen out, so I am reasonably impressed so far.

And finally, my little plastic-free shopping spree yielded a coconut shell soap dish. I have been using soap rather than shower gel for some months now. First because I can buy it locally-made; second because it reduces that amount of water that is being transported round the country; and third because it’s packaging-free. However, soap goes soggy if left in a wet place. Above the bathroom sink we have a magnetic soap holder:

Soap-on-a-magnet

Soap-on-a-magnet

but for the bath I wanted a soap dish with drainage holes. I had hoped to find a locally-made wooden one because I wanted one that wouldn’t break if dropped. I was unsuccessful in this, but this coconut shell one is simple and does a grand job:

Carved coconut shell

Carved coconut shell

And you can even see that I’m using every scrap of soap by sticking the remnants of the old bar on top of the new one in a decorative swirl!

All-in-all I’m pleased with these small steps to reducing plastic in our home… now if I could just find plastic packaging-free pumpkin seeds, I’d be a happy snail.

Previous Post
Leave a comment

17 Comments

  1. With your ideas of reducing plastic in mind I have just made a bulk order of locally produced meat from our farm shop in the village. It usually comes on polystyrene trays (why?!) in shrink wrap plastic. I have asked for a special order without plastic packaging that I can then cook (when the sun is shining – I have photovoltaic panels) and freeze. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Like

    Reply
    • Now that’s a good idea – lots of our meat comes packed in plastic and we have to choose between organic meat in plastic or non-organic from the local butcher. Usually we go for the former, but it’s a hard choice and asking for a special order may be one way round it.

      Like

      Reply
  2. Well done, it takes a lot of doing even to make small changes (I know this because I’m mainly in the thinking stage at the moment). As for plastic free pumpkin seeds – you’ll just have to plant pumpkins and spend hours making soup and cleaning seeds! 😉 I confess that having done it one year I backslid and went back to buying plastic packets.

    Like

    Reply
    • Yes, I did grow hull-less pumpkins one year, but the following year they weren’t successful and it’s a lot of space to take up in a small garden so, like you, I have backslid!

      Like

      Reply
  3. When I lived in Southampton, there used to be a wholefood shop that did almost everything in large drums that you could scoop stuff out of into your own bags. Stout papar bags used to last several trips. We used to get flour, pumpkin seeds, spices, muesli, oats, rice, barley and much more from them. Sadly I heard a few years ago that the shop no longer exists.

    Do food and hygiene regulations preclude this happening now?

    Like

    Reply
  4. Pumpkin seeds: I wonder if you bought them in bulk would they then come in either one large plastic bag instead of many small ones (only a small improvement) or possibly even a paper or cloth sack (a greater improvement)? Does a friend or neighbour have an allotment or larger garden where they’d be prepared to raise a sunflower or two for you?

    Like

    Reply
  5. You can get organic sunflower seeds in bulk from Amazon. But that does kind of shoot the grown local part.

    Like

    Reply
  6. Is it just me, or does that last photo make you want to eat that soap?! It looks like a particularly appetising petit four, or maybe that is 4.37am talking?!

    Like

    Reply
  7. I’m going to look for one of those toothbrushes when my current one wears out. And your soap is definitely sculptural–very appealing.

    Like

    Reply
  8. I really like the idea of a bamboo toothbrush! And did you find your snazzy coconut shell soapdish on the same website?

    Like

    Reply

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: