Me again! Hello! It’s been a while.
I recently gave a talk about plastics and ethical consumerism at my church. It was pretty well received and so I’ve decided to write up my recommendations from it; these range from what you can recycle where I live in York, to more ethical alternatives to plastic, to a challenge to our whole concept of consumerism. All the fun! Let’s begin.
As Christians, we believe we’re called to be stewards of the earth. This surely extends to what we buy, which companies we partner with and what industries we are supporting. If we know we can only buy a product that comes wrapped in unnecessary amounts of plastic, do we really need that product? Can we find a more ethical alternative? Probably, but it’s more convenient for us to just buy the one that’s wrapped in plastic because we can have it now.
Are the products we consume partnering with single use plastic consumption, slavery and damage to the planet God has given us.
Maybe you’ve heard all the this before, but you don’t know where to start. Good news! You can start here:
Ok Recycling; Less than 1/5 of all plastic in the world is ever recycled. I premise this by saying that recycling is not the answer. We need to be looking at how we can reduce our plastic consumption. We may, for example recycle a plastic bottle and it may get used again a few times but eventually it will be unusable and it will take approximately 450 years to break down. Some can take up to 1000 years. So let’s REDUCE. However, if you’re really struggling to find products that don’t come in plastic, let’s at least aim to get ones that come in plastic you can recycle. Here’s a list of things that York does recycle from the curbside. If you’re not reading this from York, I’d encourage you to look into what your local council does actually recycle, you may be surprised.
Ok here we go! What are some super easy plastic free and more ethical alternative products?
- Bamboo Toothbrushes A super easy one! You can get these from Tullivers in town, Alligator in Fulford, and Bishy Weigh on Bishopthorpe Road. Or you can get them online all over the place. Considering, your current plastic toothbrush could take 1000 years to decompose, this change is a must.
- Beeswax Wrap
This is an alternative to clingfilm. It is made from beeswax, can be used to store veg, dairy and your lunch, and can last for up to 10 years. To reuse, just wash with cold soapy water, dry and use again. You’ll never have to buy another roll of clingfilm again! #winning
- Tupperware This may seem obvious, but perhaps at the end of a long day, it’d be easier to wrap a bowl of leftovers in clingfilm, rather than putting it in a tupperware box, but that simple transition will save you buying more cling film, probably keep your food fresher for longer and be better for the planet. Woop woop! I’m sure you all have heaps of these in your cupboard but if you don’t and you’re considering buying more, stop right there! If they already exist, there’s not much you can do about it. If you want to buy more, however, these boxes also won’t biodegrade very easily so I’d recommend either getting some from a charity shop (i.e. they already exist, you’re not telling a supermarket to produce more by buying it from them), or investing in glass containers from Barnitts or metal containers which you can find online or from Bishy Weigh. Here’s a helpful article I found on this.
- Metal Straws
All I want for Christmas is a metal straw!! (Genuinely.) OK. so we’ve all seen the sad turtle with the straw stuck up it’s nose. Plastic straws are not good for the ocean or the creatures in it. If you’re in a cafe or bar, ask for no straws, and whip out your metal one like all the cool kids.
5. Shampoo and Conditioner bars
So Lush are basically one of my favourite companies. This next section is just basically going to be an Ode to Lush as I think they’re great and what they’re trying to do is great. They also won’t look at you weirdly if you ask for as little packaging as possible #friendsforlife!
Shampoo bars and conditioners bars can be bought from many companies, not just Lush, but I trust that they will use ingredients that aren’t too harmful to the environment. I also know that their products work. My hair looks, feels and smells great after a wash, even if I do say so myself. They work by rubbing onto your wet hands to form a lather and then rubbing this lather into your hair. You need far less lather than you would for a shampoo that comes as a liquid. The conditioner works in the same way, although it won’t lather, it will just rub a film-like layer onto your hands which you then apply into your hair. Again, you’ll need less than a liquid conditioner.
Disclaimer: I appreciate this product does work on my type of hair, i.e. brown, very straight, Caucasian hair. I can’t say it works as well on all other hair types. I’d say chat to your local lush rep about which may be best for your hair type, and if there aren’t any, Bishy Weigh, on Bishopthorpe Road, now refills plastic shampoo bottles, so I’d recommend trying there as well.
6. Homemade Deodorant and more Lush Alternatives
So whilst York does recycle aerosol cans, as I have said, recycling is not the answer. I’m a fan of these packaging free alternatives. For Christmas I received this wonderful homemade deodorant! It’s super cute! Look at it! It contains coconut oil, bicarbonate of soda, arrowroot powder and tasty nice smelling oils and that’s it! Here’s the recipe!
Lush also has these wonderful block deodorants which you can simply rub on your underarms for hours of freshness. Woop to the woop! I personally prefer the Aromaco more waxy one, as oppose to the powdery T’eo one, but try for yourself!
7. Wooden Razors
So like plastic toothbrushes, these will take many many years to break down. I struggled to find an affordable alternative to these for a while until now. So Bulldog is a men’s shaving brand and they have bamboo handles on their razors. The cartridges are the only part that needs replacing. You can find both from your local Boots. I use the lush conditioner bars as a shaving foam substitute as well. That’s not Lush recommended but I’ve found it works and I’ve not injured myself yet, yay! Disclaimer: The cartridges do come with a small piece of plastic covering their disposable razor cartridges. This did make me sad but their packaging is cardboard, their handles will last a long time and then biodegrade, and their cartridges are not plastic, so for now they’re my best bet. Will update y’all if I find a better alternative.
8. Reusable cups
Easy one ofc. I know you all have one of these. If you don’t, I’d say go for one that is bamboo or glass. I.e. one that will biodegrade when it eventually breaks or gets lost etc. If you buy a plastic one and then one day it breaks and you have to throw it away, it’s the same problem. It will still just sit in the ground for 1000s of years unless it’s burnt. A lot of the plastic ones can’t be recycled. Don’t buy a non-plastic one now if you already have one. No need to produce more, even if they will biodegrade. Let’s just make the most of the resources we have first.
9. Reusable water bottles
Another easy one. It’s a simple change. It’s just remembering to bring it. Same principle as the cup, I’ve had this plastic one for a long time now and if it break I will do my best to recycle it. If not, I’ll just have to ensure that the next one I buy is fully biodegradable.
10. Toothpaste in a tub
So toothpaste tubes cannot be recycled. Lush does this funky toothpaste that comes in a tub called Tooth Fairy. Whilst the tub is plastic, if you keep it in good condition, you can take it back and they will use it again and again.
Bishy Weigh is a new plastic free shop on Bishopthorpe Road. The idea behind this shop is you bring your own containers an they will fill them with cereals, pasta, rice, flour, shampoo, spices, dried fruits, hot choc, laundry detergent etc etc. All sorts! This has been so revolutionary as I haven’t found anywhere that doesn’t sell pasta in plastic packets and now there is somewhere! I love it and I think y’all should visit there ASAP. It’s such a simple idea and I hope that many shops will follow their example in future.
And how are you going to go about carrying all these new reusable items you’ve purchased/started using/refilled…?
Reusable bags of course!
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’
Genesis 1: 26-28
Thought of the day: Because we are free from the sin that enslaves us, let us attempt, with his guidance, to look after the world he gave us.