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Make 2019 count - Leaner, greener washbags

by Gael Pawson 29 Apr 11:00 UTC
Cut the contents of your washbag, and reduce environmental impact © Gael Pawson

When it comes to our own cleaning products, there are a lot of simple switches that can dramatically reduce our plastic use, waste and environmental impact. They also can free up space in your kitbag by dramatically reducing what you need.

Switch to soap

A simple switch to soap can save a huge amount of plastic, cutting resources used in production as well as saving space in your kitbag.

Soap bars have been around for along time but have gone increasingly out of vogue, to be replaced in the most part with alternatives that encourages us both to use more products, and more plastic as most commonly used hair, face and body washing products come in non-re-fillable plastic bottles. Handwash, facewash, shampoo, conditioner and shaving foam can be replaced with a single soap bar in cardboard packaging. As we heard in our last feature on cleaning products, the switch to soap is one of the changes made by Katherine Knight on board 'Narwhal'.

You can buy specialist soaps for different applications for example a specific hair washing soap, or shaving soap. One of the advantages of shampoo soap bars are they don't strip out all your natural oils like many shampoos do. Therefore, the need for additional conditioning products is reduced or even removed completely. You may need to invest in a couple of soap dishes, but these should last you a lifetime. It's a simple step to replace any pump-type liquid soaps you may currently use in bathrooms at home with a bar, consider suggesting your workplace and/or sailing club does the same. And if you can't quite face giving up your favourite 'super-shampoo' completely, why not consider saving the bottled stuff for special occasions and using a soap bar for everyday cleansing

Multi-function travel soap bars are also available and perfect for your kitbag. Ditch the shampoo, conditioner, shaving product and shower gel from your kitbag and replace them all with a travel soap in a tin. The tin should last you a lifetime, you will save a lot of plastic packaging over the years, save yourself money and free up space in your bag to boot. Granted the multi-function bar is not quite as good as the specific use ones, but it's a brilliant option for travelling.

There is a huge amount of plastic you can reduce by making this simple change alone. Liquid soap bottles, shampoo bottles, conditioner bottles, shaving foam dispensers, shower gel bottles, facewash bottles. Imagine the big difference it could make if we all made this simple switch in our homes and at the sailing club as well?

Dental products

A bamboo toothbrush is a great alternative to plastic bamboo is fast-growing and biodegradable at the end of its life, so it's a great alternative to plastic.

When it comes to toothpaste, there are solid or powder toothpaste alternatives that avoid using a plastic tube, like Georganics' natural organic toothpowder, that comes in a number of flavours and has plastic-free packaging.

For plastic waste toothbrush and paste products, check out Terracycle for your local recycling collection location and make the effort to save them up and take them there - instead of putting them in with your general waste where they will simply end up in landfill. The Terracycle tooth product recycling scheme is sponsored by Colgate, but it includes products from any brands and the local collection centres are often schools or other worthy organisations which earn points which they can convert into cash to support their work, so it may be a bit of extra effort but there's a great payback on more than one front.

There are a number of refillable options for dental floss that use natural or compostable materials, the example pictured below uses a glass bottle and natural silk floss.

Moisturisers and beauty products

There are a number of solid 'block' or 'bar' type products that can cut or eliminate your waste and use natural substances, one example is you can get a cocoa butter block, which comes in a cardboard box and works as a moisturiser and lip balm. Look for products that use only naturally occurring ingredients and don't use chemicals, there are a number of companies offering organic or completely natural ingredients, which is a step in the right direction as they are reducing the number of chemicals going back into the environment and our water systems, even if they still have some plastic packaging.

There are a number of alternative deodorant products, for example Biork's crystal deodorant stick comes in a compostable cork tube, ethically made with alum and potassium crystal it works as a natural antibacterial agent and has the added benefit that one stick lasts for a long time. The other example we've shown here uses shea butter and soda in a natural cardboard push-up tube. There are plenty more plastic-free, natural options on the market.

Again, for those products where you feel unable to avoid or give up the plastic element, there is a specific Terracycle programme for beauty products: www.terracycle.com/en-GB/brigades/personal-care-and-beauty-brigade

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