What with deodorant, shaving foam, shampoo, hairspray, moisturisers and shower gel containers, not to mention everything else that keeps us young, beautiful and smelling fresh; this adds up to a lot of plastic going into the landfill each year.
Plastic can take up to 1000 years to degrade. Looking at this another way, if King Henry VIII had used shower gel and deodorant packaged in plastic, his containers would still be sitting in the landfill somewhere.
Here are seven tips to help you reduce the amount of non recyclable plastic packaging you use
Do you really need all the products you buy? Do you need a shower gel in three different fragrances, a moisturiser for your face, another for your hands and another for your feet and do you really need shampoo, conditioner, hair packs and hot oil treatments?
Take an honest look at your bathroom cupboard – are there products in there that promise miracles but deliver disappointment? Look at your shopping habits, look at marketing of products and see if you can cut down the ones you use.
You can double up on some products – use hair conditioner as shaving oil for example or a general body moisturiser for body, hands and feet. Some shower gels can be used as shampoo too.
For people like me who make their own products the packaging is one of the most expensive things to buy! Clean your empty containers and offer them to a toiletries-making friend. If you don’t know of anyone, offer them on your local Freecycle group and you might just find a grateful taker.
If you have children, they love plastic containers to play with in the bath – nothing is so much fun as making farts in the bath with a plastic squeezy bottle now is it?
Plastic bottles and jars with lids are handy around the home too. If you’re a beader, then they can be useful for storing beads, wannabe artists can store watercolours in them for when inspiration strikes, if your child has cringe-worthy hama beads, then a lidded container will keep them from escaping around the home and getting between your toes.
Sadly, the days of Body Shop refills are long gone, thanks to health and safety laws. But a few companies will take back your empties and offer you a discount on your next purchase – just like the old Krona 10p deposit days! More about these companies in a future article
Flip your plastic bottle over and take a look at its bottom. Hopefully, you’ll see a small triangle with a number inside it. If you have a 1 or a 2 then you’ve struck lucky. Go henceforth to your nearest plastic recycling facility and pop your container in with all the bottles that can be recycled.
If your packaging has anything other than these numbers then you cannot recycle it at the moment. In this instance you could contact the manufacturer to find out what recycling plans they have for the future.
5- Switch brands
Some brands offer more recyclable packaging than others. This can be a minefield though. Before writing this article I went through my bathroom cabinet and checked the plastics codes on two shampoo bottles. One was a 1 (fully recyclable in our local plastic recycling receptacle) and one was a 4 (non recyclable). So it’s not even as clear cut as ‘All shampoo bottles can be recycled’ – you have to take the time to check each brand.
I’ve been rummaging around different companies recycling policies and have some information to share on which brands score particularly well. There will be a new article on this coming soon.
6- Lobby your council
It’s ok to complain that there ‘is no choice’ and it can be really tough at times to make the right choice as a consumer, but unless those in power know what you want, you have no hope of getting it.
If enough of us ask, then we might just get. It can feel a huge task at times, but think of all the important issues that the public have changed throughout history: The freeing of slaves, votes for women and more recently, the banning of certain food additives. Together we CAN create change and you have the power to vote with your money.
Why not have a go at making your own products with household ingredients? Almond oil makes an effective make up remover; you can even use it around your eyes. A drop or two (emphasis on the DROP here!) of olive oil, warmed between your palms acts as a hair conditioner for taming thick, frizzy hair. A mixture of natural yogurt and oats can be used as a gentle facial exfoliator.
There are many fab books on this subject. My personal favourites are:
“Feeding your skin” by Carla Oates and “The ultimate natural beauty book” by Josephine Fairley.