I have been doing a fair bit of research into alternatives. I made the point recently that ethical or eco-friendly alternatives shouldn’t actually be alternatives, they should be the norm and not cost double the price of standard products.
I still stand by this and it makes me cross that a bottle of shampoo that contains no harsh chemicals, that is better for my health and that of the environment, is five times the price of a standard nasty-laden bottle.
So what have I done to change things? I’ve made my own shampoo bars. This was after a visit to a store in Exeter which is a brand well-known for its ethics.
All the shampoo bars in that store still contain Sodium Laurel Sulphate, a surfactant that can disrupt the function of skin proteins, is still ‘undecided’ as to whether it could be carcinogenic, and has adverse effects once it enters the watercourses.
Homemade bars are easy to make with no specialist equipment needed but you will probably have to buy the ingredients as they’re not really store-cupboard things. They take a month to ‘cure’; mine are due to be ready in a few days so I’ll let you know how I get on!
Toothpaste tubes are a thing that have been bugging me. You can choose to buy toothpaste without the pointless cardboard box but you cannot recycle the tubes. So I made my own toothpaste. And this is store-cupboard stuff – quick and easy to make, and it really does work!
All you need is coconut oil, bicarbonate of soda and peppermint essential oil. I really didn’t like the thought of putting a blob of coconut oil in my mouth and spreading it around with a brush but your teeth don’t feel oily at all, they feel really clean and your mouth feels fresh.
The only downside I’ve found with this is that is does leave an oily residue in the sink so you have to clean your sink a lot more.
I’ve made my own beeswax wraps. Ok, the first lot wasn’t brilliant as I used pellets instead of shavings which meant the spread of the wax across the cotton was a little uneven. But they still work fine, they just don’t look as flash as the ones you can buy. Which, incidentally, cost around £15 for a pack of 3 different sized wraps. I bought a 100% cotton duvet cover from the local recycling centre for £1 and cut that up. Brilliant.
But the one thing that I was really struggling with was crisp packets. I’m a bit of a crisp addict and it was really weighing on my conscience the waste that was going into the bin.
Walkers have committed to producing 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging by 2025, and have started putting a notice on the back of their packets urging people towards trying to recycle the packets they currently make. Enter Terracycle!
This is a company that recycles stuff that councils can’t, nor most other companies. They can recycle crisp packets, coffee pods, all kinds of foil-lined plastic as well as medical waste and even cigarette butts! A fair number of schools throughout Devon have signed up to this scheme, and they have foil-lined plastic collection points at Proper Job in Chagford, Co-op in
Moretonhampstead, Chudleigh Laundrette, Torbay Hospital and Peverell Library in Plymouth.
You can also create your own account and place a collection point in a local place where the waste will be collected for free. www.terracycle.co.uk