39: Plastic-free Moisturising

So, I was looking round my bathroom the other day to see how many products I’m still buying in plastic packaging. There’s still too many. Then I went to my local chemist (drug store, for my American friends) to find alternatives for some of them.

One item bothered me a lot. I couldn’t find any moisturiser that didn’t come in a plastic tube or bottle. Even expensive glass-bottled ones had plastic caps or dispensers. Now, my skin is kind of dry…and I ain’t getting any younger either! I also live in an area with very hard water. Moisturiser is something I increasingly find myself using. So, what can I do?

Well, research is something I really enjoy, so I set about looking for alternatives that were natural, didn’t harm animals, and preferably saved me money. It took me no time at all to come across a solution that did all three. And the solution is….

OLIVE OIL! Yes, that’s right. Good old olive oil. The ancients in Egypt, Greece and Rome, used pure olive oil to anoint their skins with. Not just for ceremonies, but for everyday use. I tried it, and it’s fabulous! Not only that, but it works out so much cheaper than the beauty brands you find in the shops. It’s natural, not tested on animals, and if it’s good enough to put into your body, it’s certainly good enough to put on your skin!

IMPORTANT TIPS:
1. Use the best, extra virgin oil you can afford. The kind you use in cooking is fine. You don’t need to buy the small bottles you find in the pharmacy.
2. Use SPARINGLY! Too much, and you’ll end up smelling like a Greek salad.
3. For use on the face – pour a little on some cotton wool and massage into the skin until it’s well absorbed. You don’t need much.
4. For use on the body – pour a little into the palm of your hand and massage in well.
5. Of course, only buy your olive oil in a glass bottle or metal can.
6. Once the olive oil is massaged in, the aroma is gone. If you want to add fragrance, try adding some dried lavender to the bottle.

PRICE COMPARISON:
Just to give you an idea of how much you can save – the most expensive extra virgin olive oil I found in my local supermarket (and I mean, expensive, fairtrade, organic) costs £1.90 per 100ml. The absolute cheapest moisturiser (not cruelty free, basic, big brand) costs £2.00 per 100ml. (The most expensive branded moisturiser costs in the supermarket costs £40.00 per 100ml!) Even if you swap your dirt-cheap moisturiser for really, mega-expensive oil, you still save money. So, you’d be crazy not to, wouldn’t you?

Try it. You might never go back to using expensive moisturisers again. It’s healthy, it saves you money, and it’s perfect if you’re vegan and against animal cruelty. If it was good enough for Cleopatra, it’s good enough for me!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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38: Bake it, don’t buy it!

slice bread on brown chopping board
Photo by Buenosia Carol on Pexels.com

Here’s a challenge, which hopefully should be more fun than fear!

Choose one thing from your weekly food shopping basket that normally comes in some form of plastic packaging. Select something that you buy often, rather than a luxury item, and choose something that has already been cooked or pre-prepared for you (i.e., not something like raw fruit or veg).

Remove that plastic-covered thing from your shopping basket, and find a recipe for how to make it instead. While you’re shopping, buy the ingredients that you need – preferably not also wrapped in plastic! – then take those ingredients home and learn how to make that food item yourself.

You might choose bread or biscuits or hoummos or pizza or pasta or pies or burgers (meat or vegetarian). Perhaps even butter or cheese (dairy or vegan) or tomato sauce.  There are lots and lots of suggestions, just make it something you buy ready-made on a regular basis. That way you’re making a real change. And there are literally millions of recipes online for just about every dish it’s possible to make. Alternatively, support a local bookshop and buy yourself a new cookbook…or ask for one for your birthday!

If you’re a parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle, get the children involved too. Teach them how to make something that they thought only came ready made. You’ll be giving them a real life-skill at the same time.

Just think: If you teach yourself how to make bread, and you normally buy two loaves a week wrapped in a plastic bag, that’s 104 plastic bags that you personally are not putting into landfill to pollute our planet this year. And you might just save money too.

Once you’ve mastered one recipe. Choose a second one, then a third. If you get really good at it, teach one friend and you instantly double the amount of plastic you’ve saved.

Happy recipe hunting!

35: Loofahs ain’t just for baths. Who knew?

40952053_10160676075700398_1307394818065825792_nI’ll tell you who knew: my friend Mairead who shared this brilliant tip for plastic-free washing up with me. I shall share it now with you, and I’m keen to try this myself. I must just add that all the puns are her own and I can’t take any credit (or blame) for them!

(From Mairead) I read on a zero waste forum about using a loofah instead of a plastic sponge, and have finally taken the plunge (ba dum tish!).

I picked mine up for £1 in Wilkos, and used a bread knife to saw the bottom quarter off, as my sturdy kitchen scissors didn’t quite make the cut (tishshshsh) .

Then I used it for a week and a day. It has scrubbed roast ham off the roasting dish. Scrambled eggs off the frying pan. And solid porridge out of the baby bowl.
It’s not quite as sturdy as it was 8 days ago, but any fibres shed have been vegetable (it’s a type of gourd, really, Google it!) and it still did the dishes tonight. Popped into the microwave for 20 seconds whilst still damp, and it’s even disinfected.

And it will make another 3 scourers when I decide to replace this quarter.

Thrifty and plastic free

Big thanks to Mairead, and all the other friends who are sending me tips and ideas. You will be shared soon too! 

30: Aaah! The smell of plastic

brown and black sticks on glass bottle with water

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We’re talking about air fresheners! Many homes have them. If you have a pet, small child, or perhaps some digestive problems, you might need to use an air freshener regularly.

Use the choices that are available wisely. The next time you browse the supermarket shelves for some stink-masking fragrance, walk straight past the ones that come in plastic containers – please. There are many other options available:

  • Many air fresheners of the spray kind come in metal containers. These are better than plastic because they can be recycled (at least the metal parts can) and they will biodegrade quicker, but they may still end up in landfill for a long time.
  • Diffusers produce a more subtle, longer-lasting smell, and in the long run work out much cheaper. Choose the ones in glass bottles with wooden ‘sticks’. When the oil in them runs out, you don’t have to replace them with the slightly expensive refills. You can fill them with water and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil. It will last for ages and they’re perfect in a bathroom.
  • While we’re on essential oils, there are lovely little ceramic options available that are made of porous stones that you can drip lovely-smelling oils onto. You’ll have to look around craft fairs and gift shops for these, but they’ll last for ever if you don’t drop them on the floor! This is an even more cost-effective way to keep your air fresh and they make lovely gifts.
  • Scented candles are another way to go, and another lovely gift for friends, but make sure you keep them away from children and clumsy adults – obviously!
  • If you prefer the scent of a 1960s hippy commune, (just kidding!) joss sticks come in many flavours – not just patchouli! Again, treat them with care, as you would a candle. They’re not expensive but, of course, they burn down as you use them so they’re not as cost-effective as re-usable options.
  • Fresh herbs on a kitchen windowsill are perfect for those with green fingers, and you can eat most of them too. In days gone by, people used to dry lavender and hang it over doorways. It not only smells good, it keeps flies at bay too.
  • A simple way to keep a dustbin fresh in the kitchen is to sprinkle a little baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) in the bottom of the bin. It’s amazing stuff!
  • Pot-pourri (like your grandma used to have!) comes in lots of different kinds and doesn’t have to smell like an old lady’s handbag anymore!

These are just a few suggestions. I’ve heard that you can cut an onion in half and leave it in a room overnight to trap bad smells. I’ll leave you to have a go with that one. Or half a lemon will deodorize your fridge – that one really works.

Take your pick, just don’t pick up the plastic air freshener. Eventually, the manufacturers will get the point and stop producing them.

28: Crafty little plastic!

Granny cushionsThis one is for all the hookers out there……and knitters! (What did you think I meant?) We’re talking about yarn. Summer will soon be coming to an end, and some of you out there will be getting your needles and your hooks out to knit or crochet some new winter woolies. Before you go and add to your stash, have a think about the type of yarn you choose.

Did you know that acrylic or nylon or polyester yarns are basically just another form of plastic? Of course you did. Their names sound much nicer than ‘plastic wool’ but they’re made from synthetic polymers and, like with other plastics, these are not biodegradable. So, whenever you see ‘acrylic’ on a label, just remember that the jumper you make out of it might fall to bits over time, but those polymers will sadly never leave the planet. Even worse, they could end up becoming small enough to enter the food chain. According to environmentalists, this is already happening.

This applies to clothing you buy too, but I’ll cover that in a future post.

Yes, acrylic yarn is cheap. Yes, it comes in lots and lots of colours because it’s easy to dye. Yes, it’s plentiful. But can you really stand to think of it being here forever? I can’t.

Well, there is an easy solution, and you’ve guessed it: stick to natural fibres that will biodegrade. These days there are masses of different yarns made of wool from sheep or mohair from goats or alpaca from…alpacas! Even silk from silkworms, if you can afford it. But please, please don’t buy angora as this comes from rabbits and is definitely NOT cruelty free. Look for Fairtrade brands and you’ll be helping people get a fair wage too.

And if you’re vegan, or simply prefer not to use products derived from animals, there is a fantastic selection of yarns out there made from cotton, bamboo and even soya. I’ve tried all three of these and can recommend them. I’ve also found yarn made from hemp and banana leaves, but I haven’t tried those yet. All of these animal-free alternatives are usually better for people with sensitive skin too, which is a bonus.

While we’re at it, next time you have to buy a new pair of knitting needles or a crochet hook, look for brands made of bamboo or metal rather than plastic. The bamboo kind are really lightweight, and the metal ones will last you a lifetime.

I’m even working on a couple of patterns to include here in the future so that you can replace some of your plastic-filled items with handmade ones. Watch this space, and give me a little time! Now, where did I put my bamboo crochet hook….?