So far, my plastic-free journey has been tough, but really eye-opening. I have managed to cut down a good 70% of my waste, just by changing the way I shop and the products I use. Some might find this amazing or “impossible”, but the changes are easy to make once you work out where to find the products you want in a plastic-free setting.
Periods, it’s all part of growing up for a girl. Every month it’s the same: stomach cramps, acne, bloating, excessive munchies… all accompanied by the fact that you are bleeding out from between your legs continuously for a week. And the worst thing is that the options for dealing with your period are not very earth-friendly or body-friendly. Both (non-reusable) pads and tampons are one-time-only use, creating a bagful of waste every month. What’s more, both of these can expose women to the risks of thrush infection or of toxic shock syndrome. And sanitary products are not cheap! Tampons are still considered a “non-essential” “luxury item” in the UK, making them subject to VAT. So half of Britain is being taxed for the fact that they are born as a woman… (The sexism never seems to end.)
So I decided to search for a waste-free, non-harmful solution to periods. What I discovered through recommendations of friends was the reusable, silicon menstrual cup. These have actually been around since the sixties but have only recently become on trend, with the first silicon “Mooncup” manufactured in the UK. Since then, there are many brands that have surfaced, all of which have their own perks and styles. From all of these, I decided to use the Ruby Cup (which you can buy here: www.ruby-cup.com).
Taking on a new lifestyle can be scary if you don’t know very much about it, so I thought I would tell you a typical day for me here in Konstanz. Of course this will not represent a lot of people’s lives, but what I hope to do is point out little ideas of where I have cut out plastic or waste that you may otherwise not think about.
In the morning, I wake up and have a quick shower. I use soaps that I can buy without any packaging, normally from organic shops. If I am washing my hair, I use a bar shampoo that comes with no packaging at all (bought from Lush), and if I need to shave, I use a metal razor with a razor blade (normally used for men’s faces, but it works so well!). Normally I try not to do both in one shower to avoid wasting water. I brush my teeth with a bamboo toothbrush and toothpaste tablets that come in cardboard packaging (that I also bought from Lush).
For work I can dress however I want as long as I have covered toes; a luxury of being a scientist! At least a third of my wardrobe consists of hand-me-down clothes from siblings and my other clothes are mostly a couple years old. I have tried to avoid buying new clothes for a while now, and when I do, only if I have something I should get rid of (by donating it to charity). As for make-up, I am currently using well-known brands with plastic packaging. This is the next part of my lifestyle I want to change. I am looking into making my own products as well as organic cosmetics in glass bottles.