HITS AND MISSES OF A PLASTIC LIGHT BATHROOM
Great ideas don't always work out - this is what I have found out recently
Shampoo and conditioner bars - obvious right?
Well... Shampoo bars I'm totally on board with. I have been using them for ages. I'm not sure quite what 'ages' means but I can definitely remember packing one on a pre-children holiday, a pre-married too. I make myself sound like an oddly packaged human with such labels, but I guess I must have been using the Lush shampoo bars on and off for about 8 years or so. They are fine, they wash hair in a very normal way and come in a range of nice smells. They also last for ages which is handy as they're more expensive than a bottle of shampoo at the normal shops.
Conditioner bars on the other hand I am new to. I purchased the above (shampoo in the front, conditioner at the back) on my one and only shopping venture into actual town for the Christmas event. It wouldn't be normal to only come back from such an outing without getting myself at least something right? I was all excited to shower that evening and find out how wonderfully well conditioner bars work alongside their shampooey counterparts. The answer? Well, I am unconvinced. It's not soap, so you wouldn't expect any lather, but there isn't really anything much to feel on your hands at all, I rubbed it through my hair lots to try and get enough distributed, but I'm not sure how successful I was. Afterwards my hair felt a bit dry and was a bit tricky to brush. The next shower and I tried again with some more concerted rubbing and I think the result was a little better, but there was no certainly no 'wow this is amazing' moment.
After these disappointing results I did what most normal people do and asked the internet. There doesn't seem to be too much of a consensus. Some people seem to really like them and swear it works, other people seem to be more like me and are generally bemused as to whether anything has been achieved or not. One thing I did read which struck me as a relatively sensible observation is that you have to not be hung up on what you expect a product to be like when trying something a bit different. Conditioner out of a bottle is often full of stuff like silicone to give an artificially silky feeling, a bar is never going to achieve that - so the onus is then going to be to look at the results. How did my hair look after a week of using the bar? (Note to the reader: I have two small children, am not massively vain and manage to organise a hair cut about once a year, twice if I'm doing exceptionally well, my hair is never going to look amazing.) Well, it looked kinda normal, but it felt weird, a little dry and hard to brush, which when you have relatively long hair is not ideal. The bar is still in my shower, I'm trying to use it a couple of times a week, but I've also bought a new bottle of Aussie stuff as I couldn't immediately see which enormous conglomerate owns them on the bottle, and I know it actually works.
Toothpaste and stuff
Gah. This is definitely one where you have to adjust your expectations of what you expect something to be like. The toothbrush is completely normal. Everything is packaged up in cardboard and the parcel with a few other bits and bobs I ordered from the plasticsfree website came cushioned in a box of shredded paper bits. I suppose if I owned a guinea pig, said paper could have gone on to a third use of bedding, but as packaging goes, it was all very acceptable.
So, the toothbrush. All fine. The toothpaste? I just don't know. It doesn't feel like normal toothpaste. It seems a bit like you've put a bit of pepperminty clay in your mouth and again, no nice bubbles or anything convincing to make it feel like it's all working as it should. The delicate pepperminty aftertaste is quite pleasant though.
How much is it currently being used? Initially it was every evening, and at the moment about twice a week when I remember it is there. Not a massive win for the weird hippy toothpaste.
This returns me to one of my chief frustrations with the plastic free goal. I don't particularly want weird and wonderful products. I really just want to be able to refill the regular products that I have used pretty much since I was a kid. Why is that something that seems so impossible?
Deodorant stick in a cardboard tube. This was one I wasn't expecting to be a win. Actually, it seems to be absolutely fine. I don't feel smelly, no one has be bold enough to tell me that I'm smelly, there have been no disasters of crumbling paste going everywhere and the cardboard tube seems up to the job of holding everything together.
I'm not sure how it would fare over a sleeveless top and probably isn't going to win the no marks on a strappy black dress prize, but for everyday in normal clothes (I have two jumpers that fit over the bump, I'm sure I'm not going to be sick of either on in another 9 weeks time) it seems to be working just fine. Bought from plasticsfree.co.uk, all easy peasy.
This all brings me to the end of plastic free new purchases. As you can see, sometimes it all works, but sometimes you end up spending money on stuff that is actually a bit shit. So, I've also bought some things that whilst packaged in plastic, are recyclable, and are made by companies that are a bit less shit.
4. THE BODY SHOP
I always feel a bit like a teenager going into the Body Shop. It is significantly less teenager-y than it was when I actually was one, but still.
My only-just teenaged niece asked for some make up for Christmas. I, of course, was sent to buy this present rather than her uncle. To the Body Shop I went. I was very confused when I got to the till and discovered I'd not spent a small fortune, as there was a 40% sale on and I'd completely missed the sign in the window. I also picked up this for me. I get really dry skin on my feet and this might be the nicest product I've bought to solve it. It works well enough, but smells so so very pepperminty it makes even my head feel nice and bright just before I go to sleep.
I know Body Shop is owned by L'Oreal and isn't quite the purely hippy entity it was in my youth, but when I subsequently ordered another couple of bits on-line for my sister in law it told me just how many acres of land I'd helped re-wild with the Woodland Trust and World Land Trust. So, not hippy through and through, but definitely better than many options.
5. BEAUTY PIE
This one took me entirely unawares. Apparently if one reads fashion magazines or peruses beauty blogs one would know about this company, but sometimes it seems like I live under a rock and it had entirely passed me by until a Facebook ad of all things caught my eye and I went to investigate.
I like a nice moisturiser, my mum always used Clinique and when I was a teenager that was where she took me to get my first proper skin care, and pretty much ever since I've been buying my nice skin stuff from there. But it is actually quite expensive. And, I think just to piss me off, last time I bought a pot of Dramatically Different Moisturising lotion the sales lady tried tempt me with their new formula 'the first time we've updated it in a thousand years'. Ok, so it wasn't a thousand, but it was a long time and I stopped (after of course I bought the damn stuff again, because I'm British and not to have done so would have been socially awkward) and thought, if its been the same for so long and doesn't contain gold dust, why is it so expensive? Answer: because I'm being a mug.
Thus, when I discovered I could buy nice creams and make up and all sorts without paying exorbitant prices for it, I was somewhat excited. You do have to pay for a membership to the site, but I've chosen the £5 a month option which means I can buy enough skincare stuff over the course of the year to keep myself and mother happy. This was the first purchase, it is LOVELY, came wrapped in card and tissue and even had a note on the box saying why there was no foil.
Apparently such a wonderful moisturiser should have cost me £100 in the shops. I'm not quite so daft as to believe that, but I definitely paid less for it than I would have done it I'd bought it at the Clarins counter.
So, what have I learnt? Well, that like every other room, the bathroom is a tricky place from which to try and ditch the plastic entirely. But, you can make choices that don't bankrupt you that at the same time don't just line the pockets of the multinational rainforest killers. I'm committed to my little battles with plastic, but I'm not going to go full-on hippy when it leaves me with itchy skin and dry hair. I figure some balance is ok, less plastic all around, but a few little treats - like the Weightwatchers points system!
I've also just bought the kids some new toiletries from Child's Farm (sorry, Santa bought them, promise), but I'll post about that seperately as even I'm getting bored at this point.