In reading Passing up Plastic, the most common thought to cross my mind is “what about (insert common plastic product here)?” Back when straws were mentioned as a covert offender in the war against plastic, I figured there had to be glass straws available. And there are! Over the next several weeks, I compiled a small list of everyday items that could or should be easily replaceable by non-plastic options and researched their alternatives. Here is that list:
STRAWS – In the immortal words of Rodgers and Hammerstein, let’s start at the very beginning. There are two companies that specialize in glass straws. Since they are both quite expensive, I’m not bothered with them. Makers of wholesale stainless steel products Onyx, however, make some very inexpensive straws. They are four to a pack, and come with a cleaning brush! Most online stores sell them for around $10 for the set, but I recently saw them at a Vancouver grocer for $7 and change. I don’t use straws, but my roommate is buying some this week.
FREEZER BAGS – Most options are advertised as bio-degradable plastics, but that still doesn’t wash too well. The most promising lead was from Australia and the manufacturer has gone under for misleading advertising (it seems California expects one to be forthright with just how long something will take to bio-degrade). Sanctus Mundo offers airtight, stackable stainless steel containers. The seals are silicone, which is borderline plastic and not bio-degradable, but these are way better than the alternatives! My Plastic Free Life also has a great post on drying foods for storage. Canning is another great option. The lids will be plasticized though, so make sure it’s all BPA free.
COSMETICS – Bane of my womanly existence, I’m finding it very difficult to find reasonably priced cosmetics that are not packaged in plastic. Being the kind of girl who finds a shop like Sephora utterly overwhelming, I’ve been going without face cream for about a month because I want a plastic-free option and don’t want to commit to a jar of cream that might smell too strong/leave my face too dry/make me break out/myriad of other excuses. Whole Foods has a few options, so a goal for my week is to head out and buy one. Unless, of course, one of you has a recommendation… If so, please contact Celine or Carol-Lynne and we’ll have chats.
MAKE-UP – Much the same as cosmetics. I haven’t run out of anything yet and happy not to have delved into this one too far as yet. I’m thinking of Priya Means Love (at the moment, it seems her Etsy page is down, but you can contact her via Facebook) and products are available Grass Roots Environmental Products.
SHAMPOO – A squeaky clean scalp is one of the purest delights in life. Priya’s is the only line I’ve found that doesn’t use plastic to package hair products, aside from lids. I’m going to try her Lavender mud hair & scalp cleaner. Again, if you can recommend a plastic-free shampoo or shampoo recipe that gives the clean scalp feeling of sodium laureth sulfate, I’d be delighted happy to have it. I’ve got a damn thick mane and without a good lather there’s no chance of that soap reaching my scalp.
CLOTHING/LINEN STORAGE – In my Utopia, this means large, unde-bed cedar bark boxes with lids. Stored goods don’t get dusty or moth-ravaged, but they can still breathe. I haven’t found any such product. The most promising yet is the Japanese sumibaku, which comes in 3L, 10L and 30L sizes. It’s a dual layer fabric with charcoal in the middle, so it breathes and deodorizes at the same time. The 30L bag is ¥2,600 ($33 CAD) and comes to about $68 with shipping from Japan. I’ve inquired into the nature of the bag’s fabric. If it’s natural, I’m going to request a friend in Japan bring a couple back. The other option, of course, is a cedar chest. They’re not cheap, but my family has one that’s going on 100 years where we keep the fancy books, a Cowichan, and some big blankets. It’s the stuff of legends.
There’s a couple from the north of England who have been living nearly plastic-free for over five years. Since they`re much more studied, I’ll leave you all with a great resource from their blog, Plastic is Rubbish, which addresses a lot of the “what about?” questions: The A to Z of plastic free products.