It’s been a couple of months since I read How to Give Up Plastic and was inspired to reduce the plastic usage in our home so I thought I’d share how that’s going and some of the things we’ve replaced.
Shampoo! Well, I haven’t given up shampoo but I did make the switch to a shampoo bar. So far, so good. I bought a lavami shampoo bar (mostly because it was decently priced and something I was able to get) and I like it. It smells good (I’m very particular about scents) and lathers up nicely. More recently, I found someone at our local farmers’ market who makes shampoo bars and I like his even better. They seem to last a little longer and offer more conditioning. The market only runs through September so I think I’ll be stocking up for winter!
I had heard that when making the switch, your hair goes into a kind of detox and gets a lot oilier but this hasn’t been my experience. I am very low key about my hair; I wash it every 2-3 days and I don’t use any other products in it, so I do think that probably helped.
Conditioner! With the lavami bar, I definitely noticed my hair needed conditioner. I tried an apple cider vinegar rinse but it did nothing for me and I hated the smell. The bar I got locally seems to condition better. I use a couple drops of argan oil when I need to smooth out some frizz. It works best for me when I rub it in my hands and then on my hair, rather than directly in my hair.
Plastic Bags! We’ve been good for a while now about bringing our re-usable shopping bags to the grocery store. We also bought re-usable mesh bags to put our produce in so we don’t have to use the plastic produce bags provided. But what to use in our garbage can? For a while I was buying garbage bags but that always felt really dumb. Why am I buying something just to throw it away and create more plastic waste? So I stopped buying them and have been using bags we already have to line our cans. This hasn’t been a super satisfying solution since they rarely fit right (especially in our larger kitchen can) and since we’re reducing our plastic bag usage, theoretically we’ll eventually run out of bags. I don’t want to simply throw our garbage straight into the can because I feel like that makes a greater mess for our garbage workers to deal with and I want them to like us! I looked into biodegradable bags but apparently those aren’t actually good to use when going to a landfill. Anyone have a good solution?
Toothbrushes! I bought bamboo toothbrushes for Peter and I and when I took them out of their little paper boxes…they were wrapped in plastic. So frustrating! Apparently a completely plastic-free toothbrush is impossible without returning to boar bristles so unless I can find another bamboo option, I’ll probably stick to regular plastic toothbrushes.
Sandwich bags! I already reuse all our ziplock bags as much as I possibly can. I also bought reusable sandwich bags that can go in the washing machine. We use beeswax wraps (locally made!) instead of cling wrap as much as possible. The woman who makes the beeswax wraps also just started making bags from them and I’m so excited about that.
Soap! My next step is to start using soap nuts for our laundry. Has anyone tried these before? Any tips? We use bar soap in the shower but do use liquid soap in our bathrooms and for dishwashing. I purchased nice soap dispensers and now buy the liquid soap in bulk for refills. Still plastic waste but at least somewhat reduced.
Things to work on: Food packaging. This is so hard to avoid. We live in a small town so there aren’t necessarily a ton of shopping options and we try to support the ones that are locally owned as much as possible. Things like cereal and cracker and spice packaging are just always there. Some of those soft plastics we can take in for recycling so I need to make a habit of collecting those and keeping them until we can take them in.
Kids toys. We don’t necessarily buy that many toys for the girls and when we do we try to be mindful about keeping things minimal. We try to find things they can use for a long time and play with in a variety of ways. But little plastic toys creep in. Goody bags from birthday parties. Prizes from the dentist. Things I don’t want to say they can’t have but also things I know they won’t miss when they disappear in a few weeks.
Toiletries. Aside from shampoo, there is also toothpaste and lotion and cleansers and razors and make-up and and and… Once you start noticing it, there is a lot of plastic in our bathroom. I’ll admit, I’m reluctant to make changes here because I’ve chosen many of these products carefully for how they work for me and my skin or face or whatever. I think my next step will be to switch deodorants and I’m going to try a new night cream.
So, small steps, but I think they matter. It does drive home how the real answer to reducing global plastic usage lies with the manufacturer. But by choosing to spend my money with companies who are making an effort, I do hope it sends a small but loud message.
Are there any ways you avoid plastic in your home? Any plastic-free products you use and recommend?