Ever since my trip to Indonesia last year I saw first hand how much plastic is dumped into the oceans. It was shocking sitting on a beautiful beach looking out onto the big blue and seeing waves of plastic pass me by. I decided to get up and collect as much as I could rather than just sit there. Doing a beach or canal clean isn’t only for holiday either. I recently did my Give a Day Away with work and helped clean up the canal on paddleboards with Plastic Patrol. It was so much fun as we had a gorgeous day but it hits home how much rubbish ends up in the wrong places. We saw several birds nests which were almost totally made from plastic, a disturbing image.
We have used more plastic in the last 10 years than in the whole century. A plastic bag could take between 10-1000 years to decompose and a plastic bottle around 450 years or more. So we clearly have a and reduce and recycle plastic or find ways to re-use/re-purpose the plastic they manufacture. There have been loads of companies recently using plastic to make clothes, swimwear seems to be very popular. There’s a brand called Batoko who’s swimsuits I can definitely recommend.
However in our day to day lives we can make a change. I wrote a blog post on plastic free alternatives at the end of last year so check that out. This post however is about my reality of going plastic free.
Metal straws – I love my metal straw. I have even seen an improvement in the colour of my teeth as I have been using it with hot and cold drinks (which you should get regardless of material). However the issue with plastic free straw alternatives is that you have to make sure that when you order a drink that you request not to have a straw. Now I know that is simple enough but I often forget or don’t expect a straw in a certain drink or there is a language barrier when asking not to have one which can cause confusion. There have been a few times where I get a drink that has a plastic straw and then I take it out and I am like is that even more wasteful as I doubt that they are going to re-use it. So always say no to a straw and get into the habit even though sometimes it seems embarrassing but it will be worth it. However I do still fail miserably and feel hugely guilty about it. I got mine off Amazon which came in a pack of 8, a couple of different shapes and lengths for about £8. It also came in a pouch and 2 straw cleaners (which I have now lost one).
Natural Deodorant – So I bought a natural deodorant from Native Unearthed. It comes in a glass jar with a lid that’s recyclable. However it started to melt the moment I arrived in Vietnam which caused quite a mess. For anyone that has been to Hanoi it can be extremely humid and if I am honest I felt like my deodorant was melting when I had it on! Although I don’t think I smell and believe the product works I also think from where it has melted I have lost some of the contents! Realistically I will not be taking this product travelling with me again as it seems to melt everywhere I go and I don’t think the mess is worth it. So I am in the market for a new deodorant.
Water – This actually has been my biggest struggle. It is all well and good us having all these fancy bottles or other plastic free alternatives but if the water that comes out of the tap isn’t sanitised to a standard that’s drinkable and there are no specific water taps or water dispenser I have had no other option but to buy water bottles. I had plastic bottles coming out of my ears in Asia. Yes shock horror I hear. The only alternative is to boil water and often there is no kettle when travelling on a budget and then you need to wait for it to cool or you get sanitation tablets which I have not researched enough of yet. However I also wonder whether practically how does this work? If anyone has any ideas please let me know as I would be interested to see what these big plastic free activists really do when travelling.
Soap – I now swear by soap bars for my body and my hair. My shampoo and conditioner bars are both from Lush and I think they are a great plastic free alternative. However when at home something you do not have to think about is travelling around with several wet soap bars. I was in a real rush the day before I went travelling and tried to find lightweight stainless steel boxes to put my soap in. I have also seen these soap pouches but they look like they will just get soaked too. So I failed at this but will be ready for my 4 month trip as I ended up putting them in sandwich bags. Mass fail but I now have a tin box so that fits one soap at least!
Toothpaste – I recently bought Georganics Spearmint toothpaste. Now at first I really liked it but I think I was being an all eco warrior. However once travelling most of the oil leaked out of the glass jar. I also am struggling with the fact that the toothpaste doesn’t foam which makes me feel like my teeth aren’t getting a proper clean. Therefore although it says used a pea sized amount I am clearly using more. I have swapped out my electric toothbrush for a bamboo one and I that has worked well although not as fun but my dentist hasn’t noticed any difference so I think that’s a good enough seal of approval.
Mooncup – I think this has been one of my most successful plastic free alternatives. I absolutely love my menstrual cup and am going to write a review soon so I will keep it at that.
So all in all it has been pretty up and down but I am sticking to as much as I can and waiting until I finish some of the products to test out new alternatives. Now the one thing I would say is that some items when going plastic free mean saving in the long term like my mooncup but others can become more expensive especially as some of my plastic free alternatives don’t last as long in my opinion and are more expensive to start with. I am sorry but that is true and there should be cheaper products so that going plastic free can be accessible for all. I guess it depends on what the value of saving the ocean means to you. I am happy to try and test these products as I do want to make the change to plastic free living to be for life. In terms of travelling my bag has potentially got a little heavier with the extras I now keep like stainless steel cutlery and metal straw/cleaner and toiletries in glass jars. However overall I am going to continue with my plastic free living whilst travelling and back home as I think it is incredibly important. However I think you have to do what works for you otherwise you will never keep it up. There will be lots of trial and error that’s for sure.
Any questions or recommendations please let me know I am genuinely intrigued!