Day 28: Plastic Free July 2014

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

Well, not me just now, that’s for sure!

Thanks to Plastic Free July, I postponed my hair cut and colour, which was due at the start of the month. At the time of booking, I decided that it was the right thing to do, as the hairdresser would be using lots of products in disposable plastic. Luckily my hairdresser gets booked up several weeks in advance, so I’ve not had the opportunity to change my mind, but – urgh! – this is the longest I’ve left my hair in years and I don’t like it! The colour needs a lift, and my roots are revealing that my hair’s not as natural as I would have you believe…

Also, my hair is really dry. I think this is partly due to my (packaging-free) bar conditioner, which I’m finding difficult to distribute evenly throughout my hair. The best I can manage, by squishing it up with some water, is to make a kind of pulp, which isn’t up to the job. Then because my usual styling wax ran out at the end of July, instead of buying more (in a hard plastic tub), I decided to use a gel that I had kicking around the house. This is also packaged in plastic, but I’ll never get to the end of it (because I don’t like it!) so I decided that as I was saving it from landfill, it would therefore be okay to use. It’s horrible and turns my hair crunchy when applied – as opposed to the sleek and shiny I aspire to.

As I wrote at the start of July, I’ve given up fake tan for the month because it comes in a plastic bottle. I usually apply it with compostable gloves from VegWare, but, because I cover them in fake tan, I don’t put them in with the compost so they will be sent to landfill. I’m not a big consumer of fake tan, but I do apply it every so often in the summer when the weather’s good and I’m wearing short sleeves. I’m missing it just now.

If I was actually doing Plastic Free July according the rules (as opposed to using the evolving bespoke version I’m creating for myself!) then the ‘beauty’ situation would be a lot worse. I’m still using some plastic packaging in my make-up, despite the fact that I was hoping to find alternatives for everything – see this post. I also reneged on my decision not to use nail varnish, based on the fact that I’ve never finished a bottle of the stuff before it turns into a gloopy mess, so using it up wasn’t going to make a difference to what ends up in landfill. Plus I’m allowing myself to use cream (in plastic packaging) for my eczema-prone skin, as I can’t face an outbreak.

To have gone plastic-free on all beauty products would have resulted in me having spent July hiding indoors! I’m pleased however with my compromise. I’d love to say that I don’t care how I look, and that having pasty skin with birds nest hair isn’t an issue…but that wouldn’t be true! How I look is a factor in determining how confident I feel, but it’s only one factor.

Taking part in Plastic Free July has been a positive and enlightening experience – I’ve learned loads and connected with many interesting people. I’ve gained confidence from my involvement in it. A year ago, I thought Plastic Free July was well out of my reach and, although I’ve very much adapted it to make it manageable for me, I’ve embraced it. That gives me a glow that stepping out of a hair salon doesn’t!

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18 thoughts on “Day 28: Plastic Free July 2014

  1. I looked bad and smelled worse when I first replace shampoo and deodorant with find plastic-free alternatives. I found a shampoo bar but it left my hair dull and matted to my head like a wild animal. Now I do the baking soda and vinegar rinse thing for my hair. It works! (At least for me. My daughter dislikes it.) When my hair is dry, I rub in a little bit of coconut oil. My homemade deodorant works well too. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is happy that I finally found these solutions.

  2. I looked bad and smelled worse when I first replaced shampoo and deodorant with plastic-free alternatives. I found a shampoo bar but it left my hair dull and matted to my head like a wild animal. Now I do the baking soda and vinegar rinse thing for my hair. It works! (At least for me. My daughter dislikes it.) When my hair is dry, I rub in a little bit of coconut oil. My homemade deodorant works well too. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is happy that I finally found these solutions.

  3. I have to admit I’ve not excluded hair dye from my PFJ experiment. I tried Lush’ henna block once as it’s the only plastic (and nasty chemical free) solution I could find but I came out in a rash within seconds. As I’m highly allergic to nuts, I freaked out at the speed of the reaction & have just accepted that hair dye will be a feature in my routine till I make my peace with the grey hair.

    That aside, I’ve precious few toiletries: rhassoul clay for washing my hair (I refill a jar at the market stall), cider vinegar as conditioner, soap, alum stone for deodorant, apricot oil for moisturising (& removing make-up) and a bottle of witch hazel.

    Make-up is a danger zone for me as many brands contain nut oils/ground nut shells so I stick with tried & tested ones (in plastic containers), but have so few items & eke them out. Like you I’m finding my way… And I also strongly believe that we will not bring others along on this journey if we don’t feel, look and sound confident and joyful about our lighter life!

    • I’m really impressed by how many alternatives you have found and use, especially with a nut allergy as there are so many nuts in body products.

      My enthusiasm has its highs and lows I’ll admit! I’d love it if people were inspired by what I’m doing but I don’t mind sharing the disadvantages too. When I do, people often share suggestions that work for them in the comments and that often balances me out!

  4. I found finding a replacement for my hair gel serum stuff was hard (emotionally more than practically – I didn’t want frizzy hair!). But I couldn’t buy it in Australia so once my stockpile ran out I decided to try something else. Plus it had paragons and goodness knows what in it! First I just used the (natural, locally made) conditioner I’d switched to…I’d use it as conditioner then afterwards rub a bit through my hair and leave in. Now I’m doing the bicarb vinegar thing I’m not using anything and actually, I find I don’t need to.

    I’ve hear olive oil and coconut oil are good hair treatments for dry hair. Or you could go all natural and use avocado – but I imagine that would be a pain to wash out.

    I don’t think about the fact my hairdresser uses plastic bottles…yet. It’s the same as cafés using plastic, or shops getting stuff in plastic and unwrapping for sale. It’s still there, but it’s better than individual portions and at least it’s not coming into my home! That said, I try to go as little as possible…3-4times a year! But I’m not game to cut curly hair myself…I’ve learned from experience (and dodgy hairdressers) that there’s an art to it!

    Can’t help you out on the self-tan though. I dread to think about what chemicals are in there. I used Johnsons holiday skin once as a teenager and the smell nearly made me gag!

    • I’m interested that you are not having to use products that you had previously, now you’ve giving up the poo! (I also hate that expression!)

      ha ha! Yes I think EVERYONE used Johnsons holiday skin at least once. I agree about the chemicals – I use it sparingly but love being sunkissed every now and again (very pale skinned!)

      • That was the stuff! I think I must have been swayed by the adverts (foolish me!). It was a long time ago – when I was at university. It was so disgusting I got rid of it straight away. I can’t remember if I gave it away or threw it away; I think I actually binned it. That’s so unlike me, I’m one for keeping stuff I don’t like in the hope that I’d eventually use it. But that stuff?! No way!

  5. I think “well done” on all you’ve achieved this month! There’s are just so many issues involved in PFJ that just keep revealing themselves as fast as the days roll by. At least you’ve made a start on finding alternatives for so many products. And no-one said you had to be successful the first time around. I think the greatest triumph is to have raised your awareness of some the plastic issues that confront us daily and endeavour to ‘buck the system’ at least a little, which paves the way for further change. You’ve set your wheels in motion for creating change, and don’t forget that as ‘the people’ we have the power to make massive change, starting with just small steps. (I hope I haven’t just ranted on here, but I feel that that is important to say)! 🙂 Well Done!!

  6. Well done, you’ve made huge changes! My hairdresser isn’t too bad for disposables and it’s an Aveda salon so it has some environmental credentials although I’m sure it’s not perfect. What upset me on my last visit was that they seem to have moved from proper crockery to disposable cups which I try never to use. I was really dissappointed when my coffee came out in a throw away cup, and evern more dissappointed when I forgot and ordered another one – I as there for a while!! You’ve inspired me to write and suggest they move back to crockery 🙂

  7. I think the fake tan is a very British thing – or maybe it’s just a very non-German thing because the first time I encountered it was on this British TV show where they make people take off their make up (whatever it’s called, it’s with this Atomic Kitten girl and I only watch it when I’m massively hungover and too tired to think). Over here people just are pale or red – and that’s it 😉 I guess that’s why I don’t have that problem. But a lot of stuff from the bathroom is giving me headaches – tinted daycream, mascara, lipstick, concealer…

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