A Week Without Plastic: Elise’s Story
We’re well into the new year now, most of our resolutions will have evaporated, but not this one! It’s Week 6 of the EcoVibe Week Without Plastic challenge, say hello to Elise!
Easy bathroom swaps
Elise started off talking about the eco-friendly swaps she had already made in her bathroom. “When I started my plastic-free week I naively thought I wouldn’t struggle that much. I’ve been trying to be more environmentally responsible for a while now and had already invested in lots of the easier swaps for my bathroom – including solid shampoos, body washes and bamboo toothbrushes. I also use coconut oil for almost everything – as a hair conditioner, skin cleanser and moisturiser (and yes, also in food!). It’s great because it’s easy to buy, affordable and comes in a recyclable glass jar!”
Smug before makeup!
Elise told us how smug she felt with her plastic-free bathroom, until the reality of a completely plastic-free week dawned on her… “On the first day, I was feeling so smug as I came out of my plastic-free bathroom… Until I started to apply my makeup! I realised that nearly everything was either made of plastic or came in plastic packaging. I’ve heard of a few companies who are selling refillable cosmetics, where you can send back your empties, which sounds like a great way to reduce waste.”
Finding plastic-free makeup turned out to be a big challenge: “I struggled to find truly plastic-free makeup which is sold at an accessible price. I think that’s one of the reasons some people are put off from more sustainable lifestyles, which is a shame. Another problem I had was with my medication which comes in blister packs. As they’re composite waste materials, I found out that they’re much more difficult to recycle and a lot of councils don’t accept them.”
Zero waste stores are a thing!
Shopping at a zero waste store is a great way to reduce your plastic use, Elise set foot in one for the first time, it was easier than she thought! “I went to a zero waste store for a lot of my shopping this week and was able to refill our washing up liquid, among other things. Shopping at zero waste stores is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages but hadn’t gotten around to.
I was quite intimidated when I first went, but it was actually really easy! You just need to bring your reusable container, weigh up and pay. It means you need to be more organised about when you do your shopping, but it’s a small price to pay! I also started by investing in better cleaning products, buying coconut scourers and dish brushes.”
The trusty market
Next, Elise talks about her local market and some floppy salad leaves! “For food, I went to the zero-waste store for dry products and the Leeds Market for veggies and fruit. The market was great for going packaging free! The biggest problem was not being able to get some things like salad leaves, which go a bit floppy when it’s not stored in a plastic bag.”
The market really is the ideal place to pick up a plastic-free food bargain, but nothing beats your own fruit and veg patch, eh Elise? “When I was growing up, my family grew a lot of their fruit, veg and herbs in the garden, which was great as you could just pick as much as you need and not have to worry about storing it freshly. Living in the city centre now, that’s not really possible, sadly. Ideally, I’d like my own garden again, or maybe an allotment if I stay living in the city.”
A weekend away
Everything was going so well for Elise on her Week Without Plastic until… “All in all, things were going really well – until I went away for the weekend. When I got to my hotel room, I saw so much disposable plastic! From the mini shampoos to the baby milk pots, they were everywhere. I couldn’t help but wonder, how many of these were thrown away each day?
Later on, I went out for dinner and it hit me again, how much plastic packaging would the restaurant use in the kitchen? Over the weekend, I went to a few galleries and museums, and in each one I was offered glossy leaflets, stickers and tokens, all made with plastic! It’s such a shame because so much will be thrown away.”
To sum up, Elise was frustrated by the disposable culture we live in but found positives in the now readily available number of plastic alternatives. “Finding plastic-free alternatives wasn’t really the problem. Luckily a lot more stores are cottoning on, making environmentally friendly options more readily available. But there’s still a lot of work to be done, including making greener options more affordable.
We also live in such a disposable culture, where people make and throw things away so readily. Whether that’s single-use plastic for food or teeny-weeny milk pots for one cup of tea, companies need to stop making them and we need to stop using them!”