A whole month of plastic-free living (as we tried in February) gave us a real eyeopener on how much plastic we use, and especially how many unconscious decisions we usually make. It is definitely challenging to figure out which uses of plastic are necessary, and which that aren’t. Luckily, this is a matter that engages many people, and we were so inspired by all of your efforts and advice. It sure feels like a change is coming. As we have received lots of questions throughout the challenge, we thought we would summarize them in this post. Feel free to leave more questions or feedback in the comments!
1. What kind of makeup did you use/buy?
If you have read the guidelines of our challenge, we were allowed to use anything we had from before, as throwing out all plastic items definitely wouldn’t have been eco-friendly. Anyway, during the month, Anette ran out of concealer and some of you guys recommended RMS. We haven’t tried this brand yet, but they apparently have a lot of organic, chemical-free, natural and plastic-free products that are actually good! Will definitely check them out soon.
Another favorite is the brand ZAO – they have done some amazing work on ingredients and packaging. All the products are vegan, natural, and work super well. Their mascara is the first natural mascara that I can truly assure works. They have everything from foundation, primer, rouge, highlighter, mascara and nail polish.
Other natural favorites are Jane Iredale (mineral powder) and Living Nature (concealer).
2. What about shampoo and conditioner?
The best 100% plastic free, handmade and natural shampoo and conditioner in Norway (that we have discovered) is from Lush. We (Susanne) also tested out washing the hair with apple cider vinegar and baking powder. The hair became super clean and nice, but the process was a bit inconvenient, to be honest. Other advice was to clean you’re hair with just water once a week, and let it develop its own rinsing method over time (does this work?), and buying shampoo and conditioner in bulk from the hairdresser (we tried without luck).
3. What did you do with clothing?
Before this month we weren’t specifically aware of the fact that lots of clothes contain microplastics that enter into the water-rinsing system when we wash them, and eventually into the ocean. The types of fabrics that are petroleum based and contain plastics are synthetic fibers such as acrylic, polyester, and nylon. You can read more about clothing in the guest post from A Green Heart. During the month Susanne bought a t-shirt of organic cotton. The temptation to get some new workout clothes was huge as the post-Christmas sales were all over town!
In order to prevent microplastic pollution, we have been recommended to try the Guppy Bag, a washing bag that is supposed to capture the microplastics from the clothing when you clean them. Other than that we recommend that you try your best (we know its hard!) to find clothes of natural materials such as organic cotton, linen, and wool – its better for you, the planet and those who are producing our clothes.
4. What about toilet paper?
Hehe. Many people have asked this, and they are so right pointing to the fact that it’s impossible to stay plastic-free when buying toilet paper in the grocery store. Luckily, we had stacked up on toilet paper from a charity sale before Christmas. We have seen some cool brands from USA such as Who Gives A Crap and Seventh Generation that sell 100% recycled paper without plastic packaging, and they also donate money per sale to develop sanitary facilities in developing countries. Love!
5. What did you do on your period?
During the lifespan of a female, we use between 8,000 and 15,000 tampons, sanitary pads++ – most of them contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to your body and the earth. We have to be honest and say that we haven’t found the perfect solution here yet, but good alternatives are buying organic tampons and pads, trying out a period cup or the newest: a panty that takes care of it all.
6. Don’t you guys use plastic bags for your trash?
Actually, we are kind of proud of the fact that we have stepped up our recycling game. It took a while to learn and get used to recycling almost everything, but after a while, we have ended up with less than one bag of trash per month. For this, we use a bag of recycled plastic or the ones that are biodegradable. You can find these at the supermarket.
7. What was the hardest?
Definitely the supermarket – in Norway this is surely a plastic universe. Our strategy ended up being just buying everything that was not wrapped and making creative meals out of this. It was quite fun and we got a huge bonus of trying lots of new veggies. During the month we invited some friends for an entirely plastic-free taco (within the rules of being allowed to leave the plastic in the store ++) – proud moment 🙂
8. What are you going to continue with?
We will definitely continue bringing tote bags and small cotton bags to the store, and going to stores where we know they have a wider range of plastic-free products. In Portugal where we stay regularly with our Portuguese family, it is a true dream to go shopping – some of the grocery stores sell only organic products, and most of them are without plastic packaging.
We are working on making an Oslo guide to the shops that use less plastic!
9. How hard was it actually?
Definitely, a challenge that made us think through every single action of every single day. If you try for a day or two, you will understand that it’s really hard, but that a lot of our consumption happens due to unconscious choices and “bad” habits. As soon as you start planning and making choices that have been given some thought, your actions change for the better, and then turn into good habits over time.
March 1st was so strange – we were finally able to buy the plastic-packaged products that we had been missing such as all types of salads, chocolate, bars and on-the-go food. We thought it would be a big relief, but acactuallyy it ended up being a bitter sweet feeling of using uneccesary plastic. We really wish it would be easier to reduce our plasic in our day to day lives, and the challenge that is ahead is finding the balance. Of course, the most important is to recycle everything we use, but a great job is done by reducing the amount we take in.
We are SO happy to see that plastic is a huge topic in the news and on social media these days – and that lots of company’s are making new, innovative, creative designs and products that are environmentally concious.
10. What is your best advice?
Our best advice is:
- always bring a water bottle, thermo-cup, tote bag and a small spork
- don’t leave home hungry and always bring snacks – almost all on-the-go meals are plastic wrapped, and these small packagings are the ones that often end up in nature (because they can fly out of the public garbage binds, or because people actually
- inspire those around you, and spread information, articles, videos on why plastic is a problem in our society
- lats but not least – ENJOY nature as much as you can and watch Blue Planet II if you haven’t already – the series that made The Queen declare war on plastics <3