Marine Conservation Society

How to Live Plastic Free

Author: The Marine Conservation Society | Publisher: Headline

One of my New Year’s intentions was to be plastic free by 2020. I’ve been documenting that journey on Instagram so, if you follow me on there, you’ll already have seen my posts about that.

I found How to Live Plastic Free when I was doing the review for A Discovery of Witches – they share the same publisher. Since I’ve been challenging myself to do exactly that, I decided to check it out and see if I could pick up any tips!

How to Live Plastic Free is eminently readable, with a friendly and engaging style. It makes what could be quite a dry subject into something relatable and interesting. I also liked the way the book was set out by times of the day and activity. It was an unusual structural choice for a “how to” book, but it served to break the problem down into manageable steps for the reader. It can seem like quite an overwhelming subject, but the book made it seem possible to be plastic free in a practical way.

I also liked the way plastic is explored not only as a problem, but as a useful material, and I found the section at the end about the history of the subject quite enlightening. The truth is, we do tend to forget that there are positives to the development of products like plastic – the problem comes when we, as a society, misuse them for our own convenience without any thought about the consequences.

The handy tips at the end of each chapter were brilliant, and, all in all, I was very impressed by the engaging style and balanced approach the writers took to the subject. This is definitely a good starting point if you’re also thinking about reducing your reliance on the Demon Plastic!

Some super easy ways to reduce your plastic footprint from How to Live Plastic Free:

  1. Replace shower gel with soap
  2. Try solid bar shampoo, conditioners and deodorants
  3. Swop to a bamboo toothbrush with biodegradable bristles
  4. Buy recycled toilet paper in paper packaging
  5. Carry a glass or steel reusable water bottle
  6. Ditch the takeaway coffee cups and use your own portable coffee cup
  7. Bring a packed lunch
  8. Choose biodegradable rubbish bags
  9. Carry your own fabric tote bag, which you can use instead of a plastic bag when you shop
  10. Get your milk delivered by a milkman, instead of buying it at the supermarket

 


How is my own plastic-free challenge going…

In case anyone’s interested, now seems like a good time to update on how my own journey to plastic free is going!

I started by making a list of all the plastic in the house by room and category. And I do mean all, right down to the soles of my trainers, the plastic closures on the duvet covers, and the electrical equipment. I then marked which were recyclable and which were not, and which were single-use, so I could see the scale of the problem.

It’s a long, somewhat overwhelming, list!

List of My Plastics

I decided to break it down, tackle one category of items at a time, and start with ones that were simple wins, easy fixes. Small wins are the way forward. As it gets easier and habits change, it’s easier to tackle some of the trickier items – the ones which really require a big lifestyle shift.

The bathroom seemed like the easiest place to find plastic-free alternatives, so that’s where I started.

THE BATHROOM

Soap, shampoo and conditioner were all easily replaced for solid bars in paper wrapping with a few clicks of a mouse on the Lush website.

  • A 100g bar of soap from Lush costs about £5 and will last you 4 – 6 weeks, so chances are you’ll be saving money too
  • They tell you exactly what’s in their products and minimise the use of any chemicals
  • All their products are environmentally friendly and sustainably sourced, from production to delivery
  • All their products are fresh, handmade, and feel so special
  • Their products smell SO. DAMN. GOOD.
  • There’s lots of choice, and you really can’t go wrong, they’re all amazing
  • They’re Vegan-friendly, if you’re into that kind of thing
  • They even do home delivery!
  • I do need to buy soap dishes and a bowl for my bath bombs, that’s a must-have and an additional upfront cost

I swopped plastic bottles of bubble bath for a bubble bar from Lush – and treated myself to a few bath bombs as well!

Bubble bar

  • A bubble bar from Lush costs about £5 and could definitely last you a month (mine never do, they’re too nice and I can’t help myself!)
  • A Lush bath bomb is an amazing alternative to bubbles (or addition to your bath routine), they’re only good for one go and cost about £4 each, but they really are special!

I swopped St Ives Apricot Scrub for Lush salt scrubscrub

  • 120g of Lush Ocean Salt Scrub costs £9.95 and lasts about a month (if you’re only using it for your face), it’s gorgeous but does work out quite expensive
  • Instead of buying scrub, you could make your own and store it in glass jars. I’ll be making that switch this month myself! I’ll post a recipe and places to buy plastic-free ingredients if anyone’s interested?

I replaced our toothbrushes with bamboo ones with biodegradable bristles from Olive, and our Colgate toothpaste (which destroys the environment first with its plastic tube, and then gets it again on the flip side by using palm oil) with Georganics. Both of which are available on Amazon and arrived in cardboard boxes.

Toothpaste and toothbrushes

  • It’s super easy to buy bamboo toothbrushes online, they’re cheaper, and they’re just as good as the plastic ones
  • The toothpaste is… different. Let’s just say, it takes a bit of getting used to! The texture is different. The only thing I can liken it to is cream cheese that got left out of the fridge and went sort of… hard… It’s unpleasant.
  • However, within a week I had healthier gums (problems I’d been dealing with for years), my teeth were whiter, I had no stains at all, without me making any other lifestyle changes, and my teeth do just feel much cleaner!

The only things I haven’t managed to swop out are my razor. That’s a tough one, so I’m leaving it till last! And bath oils, but I think I can just do without those. Toilet paper in plastic wrapping I’m counting as “food packaging”, because I buy it when we do the food shop.


I’m now all done in the bathroom, and it smells amazing in there with all the Lush products! There is no way I could go back to the rubbish, plastic packaged, alternatives. The products I’ve switched to are just so much nicer and better!

Next, I’m moving on to cosmetics and body products. Again, Lush is king! Don’t even know how I’d do this challenge without them… One stop, environmentally-friendly shopping. And every single one of their products are amazing.

So far, I’ve already replaced:

Boots No7 face cream with Skin Drink from LushFace cream

  • No7 face cream is £25 a pop, lasts about a month, and I liked it a lot
  • 45g of Lush Skin Drink cream costs £19.95 a pot, smells much better than No7 (and pretty much everything else in the whole world), and lasts just as a long as No7
  • Lush products have far fewer chemicals, and I like the idea of not absorbing all that crap through my skin
  • Some of the Lush face cream is much more expensive, so you have to pick your poison
  • I’m not convinced the Lush face cream does anything for wrinkles – if you’re looking for something anti-ageing, I think you’re going to want more chemicals

Perfume 

Perfume

  • A small bottle of Lush perfume will set you back about £30 and last you about 3 months, so it costs about the same
  • Some of their perfumes are more expensive, so, again, pick your poison!
  • You could go for a solid perfume, which would only cost you about £10 and lasts just as long

Deodorant to one of Lush’s solid deodorant bars.deodorant

  • A 100g deodorant bar from Lush costs £5.50 and I imagine will last me at least six weeks
  • It contains far fewer chemicals
  • It works better than any spray or roll on deodorant I’ve ever tried and smells so, so much better!

You don’t have to buy your products from Lush, obviously. If they don’t deliver to your area / country, or you don’t feel the Lush-love, there are tons of other alternatives! A quick Google search will throw up lots of options. If you’re crafty, you can also make most of these things yourself – it’s just a bit of a bugger sourcing the ingredients plastic-free.

So far, almost all that the products I’m switching to are not only better for the environment, but better for my body, skin and teeth. They’re cheaper, more effective, smell way better, and come in far more exciting and interesting forms and smells. They just feel more special. I’m always excited to use them!

Next up, hair spray, make-up wipes, and cosmetics. I have a feeling that cosmetics will be challenging!


Is anyone interested in seeing more posts about how I’m doing with going plastic free? Are you trying to go plastic free too?

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11 thoughts on “How to Live Plastic Free”

  1. Wow, what an amazing journey! While I’m not quite as good as you, I am certainly trying to minimize my plastic use. I do the basics, like carry about a reusable water bottle and bring a packed lunch, but I never realized just how much plastic I use every day until I starting watching it. Plastic seems to fill every aspect of our lives!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! It’s definitely a bit overwhelming, just the scale of how much plastic is on / in everything… But so far, making the change to plastic-free products, there hasn’t been anything that felt overly hard… It’s just been a question of shopping in different places, maybe a quick Google search. And all things I’ve replaced the plastic versions with are actually better…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My daughter had a part time job at Lush for a couple of years and it really kick started our journey towards being plastic free. You’re right in that it can be overwhelming when you see how much plastic has become an integral part of everything we touch so by tackling one room at a time, it becomes achievable. I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I cannot totally eradicate plastic in my life. Well, I can but I don’t like some alternatives. I can’t get on with solid hair conditioner so I buy Lush bottles, they may be plastic but they are closed-loop recyclable which means they get made into the same thing and not discarded on a landfill. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you! I think Lush plastic is a good compromise too – the scrub is the same, the plastic pots are closed loop recycling. You’re so right though, no matter how hard I try there’s no way I’ll ever get rid of all plastic! Some I’m just going to have to come to terms with

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  5. I find Lush products so overpriced! They smell divine but I just can’t justify sometimes paying such ridiculous amounts of money for something that I can buy for a lot cheaper. I find there are other plastic free products out there that work even better sometimes. But I do love their ethos.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh for sure! They’re ridiculously expensive. I get the soap because it’s easy – and I like it. Shampoo and conditioner because it does great things for my hair… scrub, bubbles etc. I make myself now…

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