Day 22: Plastic Free July 2014

I’ve ditched the toothy tabs and the bamboo toothbrush.  The toothy tabs went first – no amount of trying to persuade myself that they weren’t too bad or that I’d acquire a taste for them worked. The bottom line is that, for me, they were so disgusting they actually made me feel like I was going to throw up.  Literally. Plastic Free July or not, I’m not that committed!

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The toothbrush lasted longer.  I’ve had a bad experience with bamboo toothbrushes before – see this post – but I thought I’d found a better brand this time. Indeed, I was quite happy with it until Day 10 when the first clump of bristles came away while I was brushing. Not pleasant, but I hung on to it until the second clump came away one morning when I was brushing my teeth alongside my children. One bristle got caught at the back of my throat and – you guessed it – I thought I was going to throw up. I was trying to supress my reaction from the kids, which made the situation all the worse…  I’ve therefore gone back to using my brush with the disposable heads which I really like. I got mine here.  There’s obviously plastic involved, but less of it.  It’s worth it for a trauma-free experience!

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The next thing I could try if I find myself with a spare moment would be a recipe for homemade toothpaste. If you want to try some out then @polytheenpam uses this one and Lindsay at @treadmyowpath uses this one. I also picked up a handy tip from Lindsay’s blog.  She managed to separate the bristles from her bamboo toothbrush by soaking it in water, so that she could then compost the bamboo.  As I write, mine is sitting in a mug of water (having already been used for scrubbing the bathroom clean earlier!)

In other news – look what I saw in Tesco yesterday.

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Your eyes do not deceive you – these balls are actually each wrapped in plastic film. I don’t think I need to say anything more about this…!

Finally, thanks to those of you who’ve got in touch to let me know about the companies you’ve contacted about the potential plastic in their products. I was especially touched by this comment left on the blog yesterday, by twothirdswild:

I know you are in the UK, and I am in Australia, but I have been following your Plastic Free July journey via your blog. I am also participating in Plastic Free July here, and am learning so much along the way. I read with interest your blog about plastic in tea bags, and thought “there’s no way there is plastic in my tea-bags over here”. BUT, I thought I should follow it up, just for my peace of mind. I buy an Australian grown and owned brand of tea called Nerada which is packaged in a 95% recycled cardboard box, with no inner or outer plastic film unlike so many other brands on the supermarket shelves! Anyway, I decided to email the company and ask them, as there was nothing on their website that mentioned plastic in the bags. To my amazement, and to their credit, I received a response within half an hour. The low-down……. Yes, there are cellulose and thermo-plastic fibres in the bags which are necessary to seal the product! Gobsmacked, I was. Their bags are however, made from manila hemp, which has been oxygen whitened, not treated with chlorine or chlorine based compounds, so that is a big bonus. Anyway, we live and learn, and do our best to individually and collectively raise our awareness of these sorts of hidden issues. Keep up the good work!

I can relate to the disappointment! As I’ve said in a past post, I felt a little as if my heart had been broken by the trusty tea bag… It’s comforting though to know that, as consumers, we have the power to ask questions and vote with our feet.  Thanks once again to @polytheenpam to her post on Plastic Is Rubbish for raising the issue of the plastic tea bag.

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26 thoughts on “Day 22: Plastic Free July 2014

  1. I have been following your blog and am now looking at how much plastic I use around the home. I have made one change following your blog about tea bags – I have ditched the tea bag. I purchased a little tea infuser and some tea leaves. Unfortunately, the tea infuser arrived in a plastic case and the tea leaves are in a plastic sachet but I know what to do next time I buy tea leaves. Keep up the good work and sharing!

    • It’s all learning, isn’t it? The more I do all this, the easier it gets but I’ve bought lots of stuff in plastic by accident too – it’s a long term plastic investment!

  2. We’re wondering about switching from bamboo toothbrushes… I love the idea but I hate it when the brush disintegrates in my mouth! Are those plastic ones you use made from recycled plastic? I can’t tell from the pic. Where do you buy them from?

    That’s interesting what twothirdswild said about teabags (thanks twothirdswild if you’re reading!)… Someone posted on my Facebook page a while back that Nerada were plastic-free so I’ll have to update it with the sad news…

    Good luck with the toothpaste making. I’d definitely recommend glycerin over coconut oil when you’re starting out, and peppermint oil! Good luck, no need to ask you to tell me how it goes as I know you’ll blog about it!

    • Thanks. No idea about whether they’re recycled plastic or not but the link’s in the post (to the Ethical Superstore no less!) I like them, they are strong and the heads last…

  3. Ah, the toothy tabs! I’m persisting with them for now, but I don’t know how much longer I’ll last after July. I can cope with the taste, I just don’t find the foam lasts long enough for me to brush my teeth for as long as I’d like to.

  4. I had no idea about tea bags! I’ve been meaning to make my own tea blends for ages and here’s the push I needed. Thank you!

    • What a great post! So disappointing when there’s such an effort to broadcast all the positives that a rather large negative is being ignored. Tea leaves, here we all come!

  5. Thanks for the heads up about bamboo toothbrushes. It was one of the things I was going to try out this month but I am swiftly re-thinking that decision thanks to your post. I’d totally hate the bristles to come out like that and I definitely don’t want to use it on my son because there is no way I want to be fishing it out of his mouth – bad enough the rest of the time!

    • I gave them to my children last year but swiftly took them back again when the wood began to split! I’m probably rougher than most people with my toothbrushes but I’ve now used two different brands and they both started to disintegrate faster than my usual mainstream brands…

  6. I can’t believe that picture of the plastic wrapped footballs! Why?! It’s not as if you can even say it’s food and needs to be protected (like Morrisons used to shrink wrap their individual peppers). Thanks to snail of happiness for contacting Clipper which was on my list of things to do as I too bought their unbleached teabags. Have emailed Cafe Direct about their teabags but not received a reply.

    • Actually, Rae Strauss read that post and tweeted Tesco who replied saying it was to stop the balls getting damaged or scuffed. Might as well wrap them in cotton wool!!
      I must also chase up the tea companies who have yet to reply to me!

  7. Urgh those Dirty Tooth tabs do sound pretty gross! Is there any reason you use disposable toothbrushes rather than electric? I thought i was being greener using them but maybe not if I have to use electric to charge them? x

    • I’ve just always used disposable toothbrushes. Haven’t really considered anything else. Electric are supposed to clean your teeth really well though right enough x

  8. I’m not sure what brand of bamboo toothbrush you were using, but we’ve had good luck with ours-Brush With Bamboo. My husband and I have been using them for four months, and no lost bristles at all. We’ve been very happy with them, maybe worth another try?

  9. Pingback: No Plastic Round Up | Westwick Dreaming

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