Friday, 7 March 2008

Feeling Beautiful, with Waste in Mind

This is a topic that I have been wanting to blog about for the last month, but other things have taken precedence. However, I have had a good few weeks to try out some new products and can confidently share my enthusiasm for some of the little treasures that I've discovered.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, today I would like to introduce some new ideas on the things that keep us feeling beautiful. Yes the topic of the day is toiletries and the discussion will hold no bounds, so those with sensitivities turn away now.

When I first embarked on The Rubbish Diet, I realised that in my attempts to go for Zero Waste, one of the things that I had to ditch was the aerosol antiperspirant/deodorant brand that I had been using for years, as these have no other fate than the landfill.

I had thought about changing over a few years ago when I became aware of potential health issues surrounding using aerosols (see Guardian article here). However, when I thought of the alternatives, wet and icky roll-ons had little appeal and deodorant bars seemed far too hippy-ish for me. A girl needs products upon which she can rely and I never thought a deodorant bar could do the job. I am sure there are many people out there who share my doubts on the matter.

But come closer and huddle together, while I share the news that I'VE FINALLY DITCHED THE AEROSOL and HAVE BOUGHT A BAR and I feel pretty confident that I haven't turned into the smelly old hippy that I thought I would. Well I don't think I have anyway and I am sure someone would have mentioned it by now. In fact, the deodorant bar has been far more effective than my old aerosol brand, which is fantastic.

I bought my bar from Lush and because I was doubtful about the whole situation, I chose the product that came with "added insurance". It's called T'eo and the great news is that it has been superb. I've used it for a month and it looks like there are a few more months use ahead yet, so it has already proven to be great value for money. The only downside is that it was wrapped in a bubble-wrap pocket, which is tricky to recycle but at least it can be reused for other things.

When I placed my order online, I thought about the other products that might help to reduce waste. Even though my usual shampoo and shower gel bottles can be recycled easily, I considered going the extra mile and try eliminating them altogether. Consequently I have also been experimenting with shampoo bars that do away with plastic packaging and I haven't been disappointed. The shampoo bar is very effective and I have just bought some shower butter cream, which I have yet to try out. I even managed to find some shaving cream for Mr A.

For someone on a Zero Waste programme, the delivery from Lush is a delight, as the package comes in a recyclable or reusable cardboard box, which is padded out with popcorn. Yes, POPCORN. Take a look at the main photo again and you will see that it's not polystyrene puffs, but pure compostable popcorn. Thank you Lush, this must be the most eco-friendly delivery I've received in a long time. My next intention is to pop into a store when I am the vicinity, so I can do away with the packaging altogether.

It's so easy to fall into a regular habit and hold onto it for years isn't it? When I first moved away from home, I remember the sheer delight that liquid hand-soap offered. It seemed so much nicer and more modern than the old-fashioned soap bars. However several decades on and I am moving back to the good old bar of soap, which comes with little or no packaging.

The other area where we ladies get quite habitual is when buying sanitary products. Whether we are a tampon or pad girl, when we find our ideal product (if there is an ideal product) we stick by it and it becomes our best friend in times of need. However, this "best friend" comes with an entourage of packaging, some of which may be recyclable but the main product just ends up being flushed down the loo or thrown onto landfill.

These products made sense a few decades ago when the alternatives were huge pads of gigantic proportions that came with a whole host of cumbersome straps. What a way to lose your sense of feminine appeal. I am just pleased that I never had to experience it. However, with new innovations, there are alternative products out there that are reusable and can see you through the moment without any inconvenience at all.

For the squeamish amongst you (which includes me), look away now as I introduce the Mooncup. It has taken the eco-friendly world by storm as an alternative for tampon products but if you're not that kind of girl, there is also the option of Sea Sponge tampons.

However, if you are looking for more mainstream options that might be a little more "pallatable", I'd like to introduce a washable product, which offers a convenient replacement for the disposable pads.

When it comes to sanitary protection I admit that I needed an attractive product to convince me to make the switch, as the thought of using washable pads didn't appeal at first. However, when I saw the fleece washable pads from Lollipop, I had no hesitation. The product has feminine appeal in its colourful design and there are no straps in sight, only pop fasteners, which fully provide the security needed. As they are made from fleece, they are also easy to wash and very quick to dry.

If you are looking for an alternative option, the Lollipop pads come highly recommended and are much more pleasant to manage than mainstream disposable products. If you are a parent of young infants, you may be interested to hear that the company also offers fleece nappies as an alternative to cotton nappies. If I had children at the "nappy stage" I might consider this as an option, but I am just lucky that we are now past this point.

The Zero Waste Challenge has actually forced me to consider options that I would never even have looked at a few months ago. It is amazing what products are out there, which are accessible and now also acceptable to a generally average person like me.

It's been a great wake-up call and has encouraged me to change my own habits in a positive way. I haven't managed to get Mr A to change his aerosol anti-perspirant yet and I don't think he will.

However, you never know and in the meantime, at least my beauty and personal care regime looks a lot less packaged.



TicklyToes said...

Am off to Lush to get a t'eo bar tomorrow - have been really unhappy with all the 'alternative' deodorants I've tried so far. Am in love with my Mooncup though - and also (post-baby etc when Mooncup is not an option) I can highly recommend Weenotions washable 'fairy hammocks'.

picklesmum said...

I cannot believe you mentioned the mooncup!
And what the heck are fairy hammocks!
Think I need a lie down now!

lilymarlene said...

Ecover do a hand wash liquid soap, and a shower gel that can be used to wash hair. If you live near a wholefood/health shop that does Ecover refills that would mean you could use these products without producing any rubbish.

Joyce said...

I'm really enjoying your posts. We seem to be headed down similar paths, though I haven't made to the "health and beauty" spot yet. It looks like your community has a pretty well organized system for helping people attack the zero waste issue. Thanks for all the thought-provoking evaluation of your own household's waste-it gives me further ideas for reducing mine.
Aren't worms fun?


Hi Ticklytoes - hope you've found the T'eo. Thanks for the recommendations. I've just been over to the Weenotions site to take a peek. Hope all's going well.

LOL Picklesmum - and I lulled you into a false sense of security...If you want to find out about Fairy Hammocks, go over to

Trust me, you won't find them as scary as the thought of "Hairy Hammocks" which is what I typed before I spotted the typo.

Hi Lillymarlene - thanks for the tip about Ecover. I use many of their other products but haven't tried the soap yet. It is great that they're refillable isn't it. My only problem is that our nearest "refilling station" is about 7 miles away and needs a special trip. Can't have everything I suppose.

Hi Joyce - Thanks for the compliments. I'm glad that what initially felt like bizarre musings are now making sense to both me and a wider audience. You're right about the worms. I love them. However, I was squeamish at first.
There's lots more to explore, so keep popping by, and if there are any tips, feel free to share.

John said...

My girls like Lush and it has been a useful source of presents for Christmas and birthdays. The missus had a yellow bath this morning using one of their bath bombs from her Mother's day popcorn-filled box. We all had to go and look at it before she got in. Little W said he thought it looked like wee and Little Miss wanted to put some red shower gel in to see if it turned orange but that was vetoed. Anyway, tet me know if you want me to get you something when I'm away - it's just across the road from my office.


Hi John - those bath bombs are brilliant. Mr A bought some for me for Mothers' Day. I've yet to try the yellow one yet, and after what you said, I think I will try it out without the boys around, who I know will make the same comments ;-D

Thanks for the offer re picking up my order from lush. I will bear that in mind when I need a new shampoo bar.

James said...

Thanks for the Lush vote of confidence. My wife and I had been talking about this, and we had doubts. But with your recommendation we'll give it a go. I don't suppose they do deodorant/shower gel/shampoo in a manly fragrance, do they?

There goes my macho image :)


Hi James - I can recommend the T'eo Deodorant bar, which shouldn't do your macho image any harm at all. As for the others, you'll find the shampoo bars are pretty much unisex. I've not yet gone beyond the rose scented shower butter, but I'll let you know. Maybe John (who sometimes works opposite Lush) could recommend a product or John?

Muppet said...

Before they started using popcorn for their packaging, Lush used shredded paper, so they've been compostable for years. I love the idea of having the best-smelling compost bin on the block (at least for a little while!) but you could always use Lush popcorn as an instant pot-pourri for a couple of days, and enjoy the free air freshener before composting it.

On the subject of Ecover refills, you can now get them mail order from Wiggly Wigglers (they send you a postage paid envelope to return your empty bottle).


Hi Muppet - thanks once again for the top tips. I'd noticed that Wiggly Wigglers do their Recover service and next time I think I will give it a go ;-D

The Shopping Sherpa said...

I'm a bit behind because I'm catching up after being away but I thought I'd just check that you know one very useful thing about soap:

If you store it (in the wrapper if it's not plastic, unwrapped otherwise) for at least 6 months before you use it the soap will hearden and thus last much longer and not turn into a mushy pile of goo...

I'm currently using soap given to me for Christmas 2006 and it's lasting brilliantly well.


Hi Shopping Sherpa - that's a great top tip, thank you. Will most definitely try that.

esther said...

I bught the mooncup just the other monday, and I regret I didn't know of it before, it's just great!


Hi Esther - that's great news. Were you able to get it in a local shop or did you have to order it online? It would be interesting to find out as over here, they are rarely available in the stores and you can only normally buy them online.

esther said...

actually, there are not many stores here either to get them, most organic stores even don't really know what they are (but I make sure they know now and might put it in their shops)Since I don't use the creditcard on the net, I had to find a store to get it and in Paris there is one store that sells all the ecological stuff from the net, in the store, like non-rechargeble batteries (for toys and stuff) chargers (great, now I can charge the batteries that are suppossedly non rechargeable for about ten times en then give it to recycle), mooncups, sodaquick etc etc....They have a new costumer here!!!

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