Ever since I took the Aurora quiz and found out quite how much CO2 I was personally responsible for creating I‘ve been on a mission to improve my score. This has led me to walking more, giving up meat, switching to natural deodorant and hopefully soon, a completely plastic-free bathroom.
Before you read on, please do note that while I’m on a mission to replace my plastic-heavy products with plant-friendlier versions, it’s never a good idea to throw away items you already have – that just makes even more waste. So, if you’ve stocked up on some of these essentials, please use them up before you go plastic-free.
Starting with the most obvious – soap. Liquid soap is super convenient, but there really is nothing wrong with good, old fashioned bar soap. It’s the easiest switch you could make, and it makes a huge difference, especially if you find a local brand that uses no packaging or a paper bag that can be recycled.
One problem people often have with bar soap is the slime factor. If you keep your soap in the shower or if your bathroom is humid, it’s easy for that gross pool of ickiness to form under your soap bar – but I have a genius hack to solve this.
When you buy a new bar of soap, remove it from its paper or box, and pop it into your sock drawer. Here, it does three things – scents your socks (quite nice for someone like me who is allergic to fabric softener), keeps moths away (they don’t like the taste) and dries out. You can leave it in there for literal years. As it lends your socks its smell, it also dries out. And once it’s very dry – like 5 years in your sock drawer dry – it doesn’t form that slime so easily. It also lasts much longer, making it a money-saving hack too. My advice? Stock up on 5 -10 bars, scatter them into your undies, knits, whatever clothing drawer you like.
Lastly, if you share your shower, I’d recommend getting personal bars of soap so you don’t have to think about someone else’s dead skin cells on that bar… or maybe that’s just me.
Good hair days
Onwards and upwards – literally – to hair. There are two ways to get rid of the plastic packaging from your shampoo and conditioner. First, you can switch to solid shampoo and conditioner bars, much like switching from liquid to solid soap. There are lots of companies making these now. The only trick you need to know is that the conditioner bars need to be soaked in a bit of water before you use them, otherwise it’s difficult to get your hair really soft. Once you know that trick, you’ll probably be happy with the solids.
However, if you just can’t get your head feeling clean without a liquid shampoo, places like L’Occitane offer refills which use up to 90% less plastic than regular bottles.
Shaving the planet
I’ve tried every possible method of hair removal but shaving suits me best. I recently ditched my (overpriced) plastic razor for a metal safety razor with a wooden handle. My new razor will last forever, all I need to change out is the blade. I got a “men’s” one, so it’ll work on a face but luckily it doesn’t seem to subscribe to the patriarchy, so it works on my legs too.
Looking after my dental hygiene has proven to be the most difficult area by far. First, I tried bamboo toothbrushes. If you don’t currently use an electric toothbrush, this is a really easy swap to make. Unfortunately for me, my electric toothbrush is the only way for me, so I console myself with the fact that I’m only replacing the heads instead of an entire brush with handle. I’ve searched high and low for eco-friendly electric options, and there seem to be one or two, but not with great reviews. If you’re looking for your next business idea – here it is for free. Please make me an environmentally friendly electric toothbrush that works!
On the toothpaste front, if you do a quick google search, you’ll find many options for solid toothpaste tablets that you chew and then brush as usual.
Floss is a relatively simple switch, just look out for biodegradable or bamboo floss, and some brands offer refills, so you only buy the packaging once.
Other bits and pieces
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, so if you have other suggestions, please let us know on our Facebook or Instagram pages. And if you haven’t done the quiz yet, there’s no time like the present: click here to do the Aurora carbon footprint quiz.
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Mimi has lived in Cape Town long enough to pick up every cliche possible. She works in advertising by day and has three side hustles: teaching yoga (to help people be less kak towards themselves), volunteering for a women’s organisation (less kak towards each other), and Aurora (less kak to the environment).