Monday, July 01, 2013

Beginning a Plastic-Free July

Oh the irony that on this, the first day of the Plastic Free July Challenge I've signed up for, I find myself in desperate need of some plastic bottles.  I don't regularly buy products in plastic bottles but they do come in handy around the garden. Last spring I went raiding my neighbour's recycling bins on rubbish day to collect enough to use as cloches for seedlings, and seep irrigation in my potplants.  This winter I am regularly draining liquid fertiliser out of my worm farm and storing it in large plastic bottles.  Today saw me scrabbling desperately for enough bottles and coming up short, with half a bucket of worm wee left unbottled.  Luckily tomorrow is rubbish day and I will be able to cruise the street collecting my neighbours' cast offs.

Bottles of worm wee 

What is the Plastic-Free July challenge? "Simply to attempt to consume no single-use plastic during July." The website offers two levels of challenge: to avoid all single-use plastic or the TOP 4 challenge (straws, plastic bags, plastic bottles and coffee cup lids).  A couple of my friends have also signed up for the full challenge, because like me they already rarely consume the TOP 4. We talked about the challenge a lot on the weekend- debating where do we draw the line with single use, what does 'consume' mean? If we intend to reuse a yoghurt container multiple times after the product is consumed is it still considered single use? Does consume mean just not buying, or not using up products already purchased in their single use plastic?

We decided that the point is to make us (and others) aware, and it's a challenge, not a competition, so there need be no shame in our dilemmas.  So far my dilemmas are mostly personal care ones. I buy my natural soap direct from a maker in a paper bag. I wash my hair with baking soda and condition it with diluted apple cider vinegar. I use  home sewn cloth menstrual pads. I have handcream and lip balm packaged in metal. Yet there are still some challenges for me go completely plastic-free.

I have a stockpile of toilet paper that came wrapped in plastic- should I go out and buy paper wrapped TP for this month and wait to use up my stock pile in August? That seems silly, so I guess the plastic wrapping is the first addition to my dilemma bag.

Homemade toothpaste (coconut oil, baking soda, salt and peppermint essence)
My toothpaste comes in a plastic tube that seems impossible to repurpose, but since I have all the ingredients to make some homemade toothpaste, I whipped some up which tastes pretty bad so it will be a real test of my commitment.

I used home made moisturiser* on my face all through the summer, but in winter my mixture is chilled solid in the bathroom cabinet and impossible to spread, so I'd reverted to something from a plastic bottle. Today I've brought my homemade cream in to sit near the fire and it seems to be softening up nicely, so I just have to remember to change my routine to involve moisturising in the living room instead of the bathroom.

Finally, in refilling an old plastic bottle of deodorant spray with diluted cider vinegar I emptied out a plastic bottle of vinegar- hooray, something else to put worm wee into!

*My home made moisturiser recipe
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
3 capsules of evening primrose oil
2 drops of lavender oil (or I'd use rose oil if I had any)
Heat the coconut oil just enough to melt it then cool down. While still liquid squeeze out the contents of the capsules and stir in , then stir in the essential oil. Pour into a small container and apply to clean skin.