It's been about 6 months since starting the Year Without Plastic last August, which means I'm almost half way to a year! What I quickly realized however, in about week one, was this isn't going to be a year without plastic. It is going to be a lifetime without one-time use plastic, and increased awareness of what I acquire, use, and dispose of.
I occasionally will mess up and use a one-time-use plastic, like a bag inside a box that I purchased (whole foods green tea, I'm looking at you…and drinking you…I spend way too much $ there anyways…), a trash bag (haven't found a way to avoid taking out trash except to purchase the green more-expensive-more-biodegradable bags), a plastic top to a carton of coconut milk, etc, but each time I will be aware of what I am doing, and will have searched for an alternative beforehand. If an alternative exists that uses less plastic and doesn't cost a crazy amount, I will opt for it.
So what to look forward to as the Year Without Plastic continues? For one, I will be seeking out alternatives to multi-use plastic items that crop up in our lives as well.
Recently (inspired by Erin), I have ditched the shampoo bottle and in its place use baking soda and water. Seems to do the job. I've never been one to spend a lot thinking about hair care anyways (j/k…I love my locks!) I used to opt for whatever was on sale, or the two-in-one shampoo conditioners, which Mitch Hedberg pointed out is impossible, as actually having two in one would mean there's shampoo and conditioner spilling over the top and leaking all over the place. I also use baking soda for deodorant. Please tell me if I'm becoming too smelly of a hippy and I'll switch back (maybe).
Another project I'll be doing is making my own laundry detergent – the recipe seems simple enough:
1 cup Washing soda (a close relative of baking soda – also made by Arm and Hammer),
1 bar Fels-Naptha or other brand of laundry bar soap, grated,
1 cub Borax
Combine all these (in a non-plastic container of course!) and use 1-2 tbsp per load. If using cold water, you can mix the ingredients before hand in hot water to dissolve the soap and ingredients.
Apparently it works really well. On Amazon, I recently bought a 12 pack of glass jars and bulk laundry ingredients to give this a shot. However I think I bought way too much stuff. If it works well, I may send a jar to some lucky people! Not having to buy or think about getting detergent at a store will be a big win. I also picked up a 10 piece set of glass tupperware for ~ 20 bucks on Amazon. The bad thing about Amazon (and getting anything shipped), is it's going to come either in a box with bubble wrap, wrapped in plastic bags to show you that it really is new, or some other plastic-y shipping container. How to get around that? Just don't get anything shipped, and buy things used. Talk to the seller and make it known you are not going to buy due to the shipping waste, if there is any. Easier said than done…but it's good to think about and consider local and used options vs new and shipped in.
One big area of concern that I haven't touched on, but also inspired by Erin, is synthetic clothing, like fleece and polyester. Turns out, when you send a fleece sweater through the washer, thousands of micro fibers leave the fabric and eventually make their way to our rivers and oceans. Who would've thought! Here's a brief read about it: clothes are shedding plastic
Give me (and you?) a few more months, and all these choices and changes will add up to a great example that proves we aren't as dependent on plastic as we once imagined.