How to reduce the number of plastic bottles you use

Gin contacted me with a query on how to reduce the number of plastic bottles you use.

She wrote:

The thing I struggle with getting my head round at the moment is how to reduce plastic bottles when it comes to cleaning and toiletries such as shampoo and conditioner etc.

I’m sure if we open our kitchen cupboards and bathroom cabinets, we’ll be faced with a huge array of plastic bottles.

One of the first questions to challenge yourself with is:

Do I really need it?

When I was 15, my morning routine consisted of using shampoo and conditioner, shampoo, shower gel, body lotion, deodorant – y0u name it, I would use it!

When I was pregnant with my daughter I discovered 60% of what we put on our skin can end up in our bloodstream. As I started to research I discovered that many of the items I was using were not only pretty toxic, but actually more or less the same thing, with slightly different percentages of ingredients and different fragrances!

Consider for a moment these household chores:

cleaning the kitchen floor, wiping over the table, wiping kitchen surfaces or hob, wiping down cupboard doors, cleaning the mirrors.

Do you really need a different product for each job?

What I’ve learned over the years is one or two good multi purpose products is all you need.

Bicarbonate of soda will bring a shine to your sinks, bath, worksurfaces, kitchen hob and taps when followed with some white vinegar and water. That same vinegar spray will clean your mirrors, glass and tiles.

These 2 products will deal with 80% of your chores. If you don’t want to make your own products, just buy a conventional multi purpose cleaner and glass cleaner and see how many of your jobs you can do with them!

This automatically reduces the amount of stuff you are buying and the amount of plastic bottles you use.

It’s the same with toiletries. You use shampoo on your hair that strips it and means you need to use conditioner. When you use a cleanser and toner on your skin, it strips oils which means you need to use moisturiser! Why not break the cycle by using a very gentle product? See my review of using clay here. I use a couple of drops of olive oil straight from the kitchen cupboard as a moisturiser – how’s that for multipurpose?! Many people use coconut oil on their skin and hair, as well as cooking with it.

Another way to reduce plastic packaging is to buy in bulk. I shop at a food co-operative with a few families – we buy 5 gallon containers of washing up liquid and share it. If you don’t have friends of colleagues on your wavelength, check out Ecover refil stations. where you can get refills of common products such as fabric conditioner and washing up liquid.

To recap:

As yourself “Do I really need this, or am I falling for marketing?”. These psychologists know how to get us! They know how to make us think we definitely need something when we don’t!

Look for refills; see if there is anything local to you for shampoo, conditioner or household products.

Buy in bulk to reduce packaging.

Look into making your own products – using coconut oil, olive oil or clay for your body or bicarbonate of soda and vinegar for the household.

For the plastic bottles you can’t avoid, see if you can reuse them at home or recycle at your kerbside or local bring bank.

What about you? How do you reduce the number of plastic bottles you use?

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Rachelle Strauss

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