Plastic Swaps- Toothbrush

So this is the first in my plastic swap series looking at things that I’ve swapped out for non-plastic alternatives. I’ll pledge to try out the swap for a month and let you know how I get on and if I plan to keep the swap or drop the swap.

Swap – Toothbrush

Why swap?
over 3.5 billion toothbrushes are thrown away in the US every year, this amounts to over 1000 tones of polypropylene plastic and nylon going into landfill!

In New Zealand they’ve even got a Toothbrush wall – it’s not just a joke on Flight of the Concords! It was started as a bit of fun, but it does highlight the huge number of plastic toothbrushes that are thrown away.

Swap options:

Bamboo toothbrush

Bamboo is a natural cellulose fibre which is biodegradable and environmentally friendly. The fast growing plant is easily renewable so helps avoid further deforestation. Most bamboo toothbrush brands are packages in card so this is bio-degradable too, they retail at around £3 in the UK. The bamboo handle is compostable and the nylon bristles are apparently recyclable although I’m not sure how you’d remove them to put them in the recycling with getting them everywhere!

Another option is the bio-brush. German based Life without Plastic ( @LifeWoutPlastic ) designed a brush with bristles made from pig hair with a handle sculpted from sustainably harvested beech wood. It is the only plastic free toothbrush on the market. Sounds ok but I’m not keen on putting pigs hair in my mouth!

So Bamboo it is…

My swap:

Bamboo from the Just Shop in St.Martins Square, Leicester, because it’s convenient.

Getting used to the feel of a bamboo toothbrush is the major hurdle. After a few days I was fine with it although it does make my tongue tingle a bit! My husband Matt, on the other hand, was not keen. It was a bit like nails on a chalk board to him.

The bristles feel like a plastic toothbrush’s. One thing to note is that you don’t get the springiness I the handle like you do on some plastic brushes so you have to be careful not to brush too hard- as you can see I am a hard brusher!

The other thing to watch out for is mildew and mould. I find this can happen with plastic but comes off more easily. With bamboo, once the mould is set in it’s going nowhere.

The brush is also now showing signs of degrading – which, in a way, is reassuring as it shows it will break down after use!

Swap or drop?

Think I’ll stick with this one, it’s an easy swap. Once you get used the wood-in-mouth thing!

What’s the alternative to plastic packaging?

Welcome to the worlds first plastic-free supermarket aisle in the Neatherlands.Launched in Amsterdam, the aisle has more than 700 plastic-free products including meat, rice, sauces, dairy, chocolate, cereals, yogurt, snacks, fresh fruit and vegetables. Products are packed in paper, metal, glass and plastic alternatives made of compostable materials, such as plant cellulose, wood pulp, algae, grass, cornstarch, shrimp shells, etc. These look like plastic, but are considered different because they are not not made entirely from fossil fuels and are biodegradable.The most popular is Polylactic acid (PLA), a plastic substitute made from fermented plant starch (usually corn) which is quickly becoming a popular alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics. But it still takes a long time to biodegrade. Although it will biodegrade in 3 weeks in an industrial composting unit, it can take up to 100 years in regular composting. The message is still to avoid single use plastics of any kind where possible but at least this is a step in the right direction. UK supermarkets are a major source of plastic waste, producing 1m tonnes a year. A recent pol showed that 91% of UK shoppers backed the idea of a plastic free aisle- we want to make the change, we just want shops to make it easy for us! And surely shops what to make it easy for us to shop! Read more about the plastic free shopping experience in this article from the Guardian and find out why the alternatives still need some work here. Sarah x

Plastic packaging pitfalls already!

Plastic packaging is everywhere! Even when the company is going to an effort in so many other ways!

Take this for example – biodegradable paper straws in biodegradable cardboard box printed with food safe ink (it says so on the side!) – with a non-recyclable plastic window! Gahhh!

It is impossible to buy meat without it being encased in a layer of shrink-wrapped plastic. And you cannot buy a lettuce, even from our local greengrocers, which isn’t encased in plastic film.

I think it comes down to this, we’ve got to get used to seeing less of our food before we buy it!

That’s no mean feet, with food scandals and the like there is definitely a level of distrust when I comes to food buying.

We need to trust that the images on the outside of the box are representative of what’s inside. And companies need to create that trust by using great photography and illustration and not relying on a plastic window.

This is one thing that drives me mad too – plastic sealant on glass jars. I specifically didn’t buy the brand of peanut butter that I usually buy because they’ve now put it in a plastic jar! But I still have to deal with “plastic-gate” no matter what!So much of this is about trust though. We need to be able to trust manufacturers are looking after our food before it gets to us and we need to be able to trust that other customers aren’t meddling either.

Iceland is the first UK supermarket to introduce a new plastic-free “trust mark”, allowing shoppers to see at a glance whether products use plastic in their packaging.

The label will be prominently displayed on food and drink products, making it easier for consumers to choose greener alternatives. Sounds good to me!

You can read more here

For today’s lunch I was super organised and made myself a delicious couscous salad. How long this level planning will continue I don’t know! Probably until about Thursday!

Sarah x

Can I really go “Plastic-Free?”

Plastic- right now it’s about as popular as a cockroach in your kitchen. But it’s there lurking on every surface, in every cupboard and pantry! Sneaking up on you when you least expect it!

It’s unavoidaiable… or is it? I’m going on a mission to find out how to dodge the peril of plastic overload!

#plasticfreejuly is a hashtag challenge on instagram. The organisers of plastic free July compel us to ‘Choose To Refuse’ single-use plastic during July.

I love this graphic from supporter @treadingmyownpath with some top tips on where to start!

The aim of the challenge is to help us change our habits, supporting behaviour change to habitually #choosetorefuse shopping bags, straws, takeaway containers and coffee cups – to name a few. Sounds do-able, sounds like it would make a real change, I’m in!

This conveniently coincides with opening of Nada, our new neighbours at Crafty Sew&So in St.Martins Square.

Nada is a zero waste shop meaning they aim to be Leicester’s first plastic and packaging free store.

So how it works is you to bring your own containers, glass jars and bags to refill directly from a bulk supply of various dry goods, liquids and household products. But unlike those old skip shops I remember going to as a child, Nada has invested in gravity dispensers which provide hygienic way to dispense all kinds of food. Buying in this way also reduce food waste as you only buy what you need. Sounds like a win!

They will also enable you to buy all you would need to help you on your way to living without plastic, with a range of bags, glass containers, toothbrushes, straws and reusable cups and bottles and even more to help reduce single use plastic in your everyday life. Nada will offer all the staples you will need for your kitchen, bathroom and everyday life.

I signed up to their crowd funding campaign to support their launch thinking this would be the the perfect kickstart for my challenge too.

So I’ve decided to spend first week of my challenge looking at what plastics I use and dispose of.

I’ll take a look at what plastics I use everyday and what I throw away and then work out what I can replace these with.

I really think there are going to be some easy swaps but I can already see some things which will be very hard to source without plastic getting in the way. Milk for instance! I’m pretty sure we don’t even have a milkman that I could sign up to have milk delivered from in glass bottles.

So here’s how day one has gone so far…

Day one – lunch, and my first hurdle. I decided I needed to get out of the house, it’s my one day off this week and I needed a refresher before diving headfirst into work tomorrow. So headed out along Queens Road towards Victoria Park. This presents a range of tempting offers but having been off work for the last two weeks getting married and on my honeymoon (more on that in a future blog post!) my budget is somewhat depleted (the perils of being self-employed) and I expect this will be one of my downfalls in this challenge.

I could go for something exotic from Sainsbury’s, maybe a peaking duck wrap or a smoked salmon sandwich. But they are all presented in air-sealed non-recyclable plastic containers. So instead I opted for the local bakery, a slightly tired and old-fashioned looking place but the lovely lady serving inside makes up for that and I (paper) bag myself a egg mayo with salad on brown cob.

No plastic in sight!

Like a good little zero waster, i’ve got my Morsbag with me ready to fill up with fresh fruit and veg from the grocers, but alas, it doesn’t open on Mondays now – when did that happen?! Pftt! Shrink wrapped cucumber from Sainsbury’s it’ll have to be then!

I’m thirsty but I forgot to bring a refillable bottle with me so I guess I’ll just have to wait until I get home. This challenge is going to be a test of my organisation and my memory as much as anything!

Sarah x