Last month we took a look at what we are doing to reduce our waste in the kitchen here at Mm, particularly single use plastic and food waste. Our guys in the kitchen, Kath and Eoin, decided to go one step further and see how far they could get at home with the Plastic Free July initiative. Here’s how they got on……
While we are nowhere near being plastic free, we have made a lot of progress and have done a lot of research into the options along the way. If you are inspired to look at your waste and try to make some changes, no matter how small, we thought we’d share our journey so far as a possible starting point. This blog is simply what we found; it’s in no way exhaustive or scientific, there will be other options that might suit you better.
Why are we doing this?
- We want our kids to have a (clean) world to live in.
Some vague principles we used……
- Ideally get rid of the packaging completely. Do not just switch from plastic to something else – it all takes energy and resources whether PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or paper.
- Let’s get rid of the nasty chemicals while we are at it – In our food, our cleaning products, our toiletries.
- Bear in mind the product’s total carbon footprint - Where it originates from, how it was processed, transport costs – not always an obvious equation when comparing X to Y.
- Try not to be ‘green-washed’ – Are we actually making a better choice, not just being sold an ‘ideal’?
- Do not go on a zero waste (ZW) spending spree – Only buy when really needed, do not throw away serviceable items just because they don’t fit with the ideals.
- ‘Am I only buying this as a habit?’ – This one will surprise you when you ask yourself it every time you reach to pop something in the basket.
- Change the things you can – It’s a bit overwhelming if you try to do it all in one go, just pick one thing and go from there. We are still working it out.
If you want traditional products look at a UK company called Splosh, they send you small pouches of concentrate in a dissolvable wrapper through the post. You do get a plastic bottle in the first batch but after that you just dissolve a pouch in warm water in the bottle to make a refill. A couple of products (washing up liquid / laundry detergent) come in a returnable pouch which you send 4 of back in the same thin box they come in, postage already paid. For us it was a good first step and we still use the washing up liquid.
If you want to go further – buy in bulk citric acid, bicarbonate of soda, white vinegar
- Smaller boxes to trial from biggreensmile.com under the Dri-Pak label. I believe that Wilko is also a good bet if you want to go on foot. When you are ready to go bulk the best prices I have found are:
- Citric acid – thesoapery.co.uk for a 25kg paper bag – Yes you do need to store it but soon my under sink cupboard will only have 3 products in it compared with the c. 30+ that were there a few months ago.
- White vinegar – summernaturals.co.uk for 5ltr – Ok, it’s still in plastic but one big bottle, haven’t found a way to ditch the plastic here, let me know if you do!
But guys, what do I use these for?
- Toilet cleaner – A scoop of citric acid down the loo when you leave the house, quick scrub with the brush when you get back – shiny as new without a single drop of bleach from a plastic bottle.
- Toilet bombs – If you want a more traditional block to drop in the loo try 1 cup bicarb, ¼ cup citric, 1 tbsp washing up liquid – allow to set in ice cube tray. Apparently works a treat and can be stored in a jar in the bathroom.
- Surface cleaner – Vinegar - We saved an empty spray bottle and are currently using ours neat, although you can dilute it, add a few drops of essential oils if you prefer a smell, or infuse it with citrus peel. The vinegar smell doesn’t bother us and disappears quickly so we took the lazy route of using it neat in both the bathroom and kitchen.
Plenty of options are discussed online
- Soap nuts – controversial from a sourcing point of view
- Eco-egg – can’t really find any reviews that say it works well
- Soda crystals + essential oils – can leave greasy marks on your clothes
We have currently opted for non-bio powder in big cardboard boxes and a significant reduction in the quantity of powder used in each load. Ours is a busy house and the current box is still going strong into month 3.
If you fancy it, a DIY recipe that’s on my list to try, use 2 tablespoons per load:
1 bar grated natural soap
250g soda crystals
250g borax substitute
- Fabric conditioner – ditched, we just don’t use it anymore and I can honestly say nobody has noticed, and our home town is a very hard water area.
- Stain remover – highly rated ‘mineral bleach’ – just ordered some so watch this space. Available in the UK from website babipur.co.uk.
Head back this way next month to check out Part 2 of Kath's super-useful tips on creating a plastic-free home for you and yours!