In a house with a preschooler, there is plastic in abundance. From action figures and tubby toys to the dreaded foot-impaling Legos, my house is teeming with plastic. Some of it, like the drop-able drinkware, can’t be easily avoided until little man is less of a natural disaster. But other products, I recently discovered, can be more easily replaced.
Last July two friends of mine posted regularly about how their family was drastically cutting their plastic usage as part of plastic-free July. It made me think about the number of plastic products I purchased and what swaps I could make at our house. As a single working mom, I don’t have time to make all my products from scratch, and I don’t have the money to spend triple what I was already spending on products I use daily. Luckily, with a little crowdsourcing, I discovered there are some great products easily available that didn’t break the bank or require extra prep time.
The first place I looked was the wall of plastic bottles staring at me each morning in the shower. Like most women, I had various shampoos, conditioners, face, and body washes all in plastic bottles. It took a while to use through all the products I had stockpiled in my closet, but one by one as I ran out of something I looked to replace it with plastic-free options.
Admittedly, the scariest was switching out my shampoo and conditioner. I’ve never loved my thin, limp, often oily hair, but after plenty of experimenting, I had found some liquid products that kept it reasonably manageable. Well, no surprise, finding a bar shampoo that worked also took some trial and error. First I read most don’t lather well with hard water which my town has, so I added a water filter to my shower head. Still, I had no luck with the first bar. Next, I read you need to give it a couple of weeks. Nope, still a greasy mess. Finally, I researched a little more and discovered a different brand with more options for different hair types. Bingo! My hair was back to normal and shiny and untangled in days.
Finding bar soap for my face and body was easier, and switching from my plastic ‘poof’ to a bamboo loofah and from plastic to bamboo toothbrushes were easy switches. But switching to a more natural and plastic-free deodorant proved a rougher, damper switch. In the past, I’d always used a combo antiperspirant and deodorant, but most natural options don’t include the ingredients that keep you dry. Not gonna lie, it took a while for this sweaty girl to get used to this. But once I realized that damp didn’t equate to stinky, I was more confident about the swap. I’m still experimenting to find the perfect bar, but it’s more of a texture and scent preference now.
In the kitchen, I mostly ditched paper towels by switching to bamboo dishcloths and loofah sponges, reduced paper plates and napkins by using real plates and cloth napkins, switched to wooden-handled scrubbers, and most recently I am moving from plastic hand soap and dishwashing bottles to refillable glass ones. In addition to these changes, I’ve switched to Dropps laundry and dishwashing pods that come in recyclable cardboard instead of the thick plastic containers my old brands used. (Here’s a referral coupon from Dropps.)
Most of these switches were easy. The costs were comparable (bar soaps and shampoos last a looong time if you keep them dry between showers!), the results have been as good or better as my previous products, and most importantly I can feel good about making some daily positive changes to leave the world a better place for my son.
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