Plastic Pollution, Waste & Recycling

Doing the right thing is hard, but…

Last week, I posted excitedly that I was looking forward to taking all my extra recycling to various Terracycle drop-off points in my local area. For those who don’t know, this is a scheme whereby different categories of rubbish that aren’t taken by kerbside recycling can be taken to locations that have been set up to collect them and send them off to be recycled. Many of the locations are home addresses where the occupant has simply added a box or bin to their own rubbish collection point for eager locals to drop off their Terracycle waste.

In theory, it’s a great scheme. I eagerly set off last Sunday on the Tern e-bike – a sustainable double-whammy I thought! – to do my drop offs, only to find that, out of 4 home addresses I’d jotted down for different types of rubbish, only 1 was a successful drop-off. At the rest, there simply wasn’t a collection box anywhere to be seen.

It was quite disheartening, especially when I’d made the effort to plan a 10-mile-or-so circuit to accommodate a multitude of locations.

The GSD loaded up and ready to go

This, alongside another issue I’d experienced the previous day (cycling 5 miles in a raging headwind to collect groceries from my local waste-free shop only to be turned away because their lockdown closing time is in fact half an hour earlier than that listed on their website), really brought home now hard it is to do the right thing.

Anyone who knows anything about getting people to change their habits will know this is not good: most people simply won’t change if changing isn’t easy to do and there isn’t some kind of intrinsic motivation to do so. So, much as schemes like Terracycle and shops like Almond and Co are wonderful facilitators of doing the right thing for those of us that are very motivated to do so, a lot more needs to happen to make doing the right thing for the planet the norm.

There is one silver lining to this story: I finally made my return trip to Almond and Co yesterday after last weekend’s failed attempt. On my way out of the shop, I spotted a Terracyle collection box that takes some of the rubbish categories I’m keen to dispose of responsibly. So, next time I’ve got a bag of crisp packets that needs to go, I’ll combine the drop-off with a stock-up. Now that’s the kind of convenience I’m looking for…

Uncategorized

This post is a load of rubbish…

This is a rubbish picture of a whole load of rubbish. Overall, I think it’s safe to say it’s RUBBISH. But it pleases me immensely. Why?

I’ll tell you why: because this is all rubbish that, until recently, I’d have had to send straight to landfill due to the limitations of kerbside recycling. However, now that I’ve discovered Terracycle, that’s all changed! Their community recycling schemes mean I can take a whole range of waste to various local venues to be recycled. Here we have everything from crisp packets to bread bags to cheese packaging to toothpaste tubes and soap pouches. All stuff that used to go in the bin and can now be recycled: amazing!

All I have to do is sort it out into the categories that are taken within the different schemes, and drop them off at the relevant places highlighted on Terracycle’s handy maps.

Another great thing in the world of recycling is the increasing number of products whose packages state “recycle with bags at larger stores”. Though Terracycle has a specific bread bag recycling scheme, my bread bags get bundled up with cereal packets and various other eligible items to be taken to a supermarket for recycling (but, if I can help it, not before I’ve reused them as sandwich bags or food storage).

So there we have it, a whole new world of reduced waste. It feels good! I’m looking forward to heading out on the bike do drop my sorted waste at various places later. How about you? What new and exciting ways of minimising waste have you discovered lately? I’d love to hear about it – drop me a comment below!

eco friendly products, Plastic Pollution

Introducing my favourite eco-friendly household items

When it comes to making eco-friendly choices, I find household items are one of the most challenging things. So many of the basic things we use in daily life – like toiletries and cleaning products – generate a lot of plastic waste and other environmental issues. From growing natural sponges to recyclable toothpaste tubes, slowly I’m discovering an array of products that are helping me overcome those problems. I’d like to share a few here and hope you’ll share some back!

Eco-friendly toothpaste

I have to admit, I was devastated a few years ago when I found out that my favourite toothpaste – the kind that has ‘micro-crystals’ in it to get your teeth squeaky-clean – was full of plastic. Exactly the thing I loved about it was tiny bits of plastic that ended up in the sea causing all sorts of harm to the animals who unwittingly ingested it. Disappointedly and dutifully, I immediately stopped using this type of toothpaste, but have continued to be bothered by the non-recyclable packaging that toothpaste inevitably comes in.

That is, until yesterday. I’ve recently been pleased to see charcoal toothpaste becoming fashionable – yes, it’s overpriced and gimmicky, but at least it’s more natural than plastic – and was hunting for the best-value version I could find, when I spotted Colgate’s Smile for Good toothpaste in fully recyclable packaging! I was embittered to find it was a good deal more expensive than other basic toothpastes (aside from all the fashionable whitening varieties and so on), but my moral compass told me I had no choice but to buy it now I knew it was on offer. i do feel happier knowing I’m now empowered to make such a choice, and have also been enjoying Colgate’s bamboo/charcoal toothbrushes. Well done, Colgate!

New recyclable packaging from Colgate

Coconut scrubbers

Coconut scrubbers & scourers seem to have made a mini-explosion in the cleaning products market, and it’s easy to see why. Over the last few months, I’ve been using an EcoCoconut scourer for the first time, and it’s excellent. They’re naturally antibacterial, which is an obvious plus for washing your dishes, and are also highly effective at scrubbing whilst also being non-abrasive, so they won’t ruin your pans. My dishes are clean and I’m no longer sending endless little bits of micro-plastic down the drain from a traditional scourer: it’s win-win!

Lush shampoo bars

When I talk about shampoo bars, friend often instantly retort that ‘they’re no good; they make my hair greasy’. Now, I’ve personally never used any shampoo bar other than Lush – I’ve never needed to because they’re so good – but have also heard friends say Lush is the only shampoo bar that doesn’t make their hair greasy. In other words, if you think you don’t get along with shampoo bars but haven’t tried the Lush ones, do it. They are, in short, amazing.

Not only are there obvious benefits of the plastic-free nature of this solution, but I find this stuff is just so good for my hair. I don’t need to wash it as often as I used to, and my bar of choice – Honey I Washed My Hair – is so softening I don’t even need conditioner. What’s more, their solid nature makes them easy to travel with and you can buy a handy tin or cork holder to transport them in. Brilliant!

Natural sponges

This could be a bit of a wildcard, but this year I’m attempting to grow my own sponges! We were offered a luffa plant (or loofah – same thing different spelling!) and jumped at the chance. This is the plant that the well-known back-scrubbing device luffa comes from. It’s a vine plant that produces fruit of a cucumber-type shape which, once dried out, can be used for various purposes such as slicing to use as sponges or scourers. I’ve read they can be a bit tricky to grow so will be interested to see how it pans out. I’m really excited to be giving it a go as it combines my newfound love of self-sufficiency through gardening with my passion to reduce waste from packaging. Watch this space!

Over to you…

What are your favourite eco-friendly household items? I’d love to hear from you so we can all learn from each other. Share your thoughts in the Comments and be sure to follow the blog if you’d like to keep up with my antics. Until next time!