first steps

I’ve had a tremendous response to my announcement about going plastic free.  Thank you very much.  However, it is rather daunting, perhaps I should have kept quiet and then my failures (I am not so naïve as to think there will be none) will not be so public.  So striking whilst the iron is hot, here is update number one.


  • Plastic chopping boards have been put away.  We still have two wooden ones so they were surplus to requirements anyway.
  • I cannot find any dog, cat, poultry, parrot or fish food that doesn’t come packaged in plastic.  I will have a word with our feed supplier.  We are good customers so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
  • Toiletry containers.  I make my own toner with rosewater and witch hazel and store that in metal bottles, but the bulk rosewater and witch hazel comes in plastic …….  I’ve got quite enough moisturiser and oil for the moment and will use them up but can see this might be problematic.
  • cleaning products.  I tend to use bicarb, vinegar and essential oils for most house cleaning and have bought metal trigger spray cannisters for the bathrooms.  I am experimenting with soapnuts.  I have plenty of washing up liquid and dishwasher powder for the moment.  When it needs replacing I can get loose dishwasher powder in cardboard.  Washing up liquid  will be more of a challenge.  Back to bicarb?
  • Food.  A whole post on its own I think!
  • Cd and dvd.  I got rid of the cases years ago and store them in specialist folders to reduce space.  New music and films can be downloaded.
  • I rarely take a plastic bag as I have always had  my own and have two onya bags that live in my handbag for emergencies.  However, the rest of the family is not so observant.
  • Freezer bags and Tupperware.  I know that you can freeze in glass but it will take time to build up a suitable collection of containers.  We use our freezer a lot.  We buy whole sheep, we have a large orchard and fruit garden  I freeze tons of fruit.  I often bulk cook and place additional meals in the freezer.  I make stock with every carcass …..
  • Medicine bottles.  I noted that Bea Johnson conceded that their medicine cupboard was the one area where she had not managed to avoid all packaging so I don’t feel quite so bad.
  • Diary cartons.  The milkman won’t deliver to us as we are too far out but he will deliver to the castle and I can pick up from there.  I can easily go back to making my own yoghurt and soft cheese.  That leaves cream/crème fraiche.
  • My pencil case is leather but the girls have to have clear pencil cases for their exams.  Short of having a glass box I am not sure how to avoid plastic here.
  • Junk mail.  I admire anyone who has managed to get their junk mail reduced, I am fighting an endless battle, one step forward two steps back.
  • I have been wanting a new watering can for the garden and the house for a long time so now I can get one!  Garden hose is more of a problem and essential for our garden especially the vegetable beds.
  • Clothes pegs.  Easily replaced.
  • Washing machine balls.  Hmm, they are supposed to be ecologically sound in that they help the washing with less powder so a conundrum.  Have switched to soapnuts and think they could probably do with the help.
  • Tumble drier balls.  With a family of five living in the back of beyond with 3 dogs, 5 cats, chickens, geese and a small lake we have a lot of dirty clothes.  In the winter even with the Aga and the overhead airer I need to tumble dry to keep up.  The balls are supposed to reduce the amount of drying required.  Second conundrum
  • Kitchen sink plug – simple buy a metal washing up bowl – if I can find one….
  • Fermenting bin.  This isn’t my area of expertise, can you use metal bins?
  • packaging.  A parcel came today wrapped in bubble wrap.  Normally I would keep it to reuse, it seems pointless to throw it away and I will need to wrap parcels at Christmas?
  • Packing tape.  Apparently non plastic does exist, I just have to find it.
  • Folders.  Plastic does last longer than cardboard.  Research required.
  • Meat baster.  I did have a glass one once.
  • Shower cap?  Help here please.
  • Husband has metal razor, I see no reason why I can’t.


|I’m exhausted already!



22 thoughts on “first steps

  1. This just shows how ubiquitous plastic is in our world at the moment! Crazy. I really admire your efforts here. Its something Matt and I have been working towards, too. But, as your list shows, its a challenge. But, who is not up for a little challenge, right?

    1. Plastic is everywhere. Some of it I suspect is essential (I’m not giving up my hearing aid for example) it’s about reducing consumption to that which is essential and looking for alternatives for that which is not.

  2. I know what you mean! I own a fabric and yarn shop and we try – a few years back we gave away fabric shopping bags, but people seldom ever bring them back. So we buy 100% recycled bags that can be reused as gift or grocery bags, and encourage customers to tuck small purchases in their purse – heaven knows some purses are big as shopping bags anyway!

  3. Well, that is a challenge! I have to admit I am not into that just now, or yet.
    -I’m surprised that witchhazel and rosewater don’t come in glass bottles?! Research? Look when you’re abroad…
    -Although it doesn’t seem to me avoid the waste problem, they sell foil containers for freezing here, with cardboard tops. Well, it’s not plastic! (Aluminium, presumably, recyclable)
    -Can you not get cream in tetrapak? We do. Organic places sell in returnable glass pots (yoghurt, too).
    -Could the girls use a metal pencil tin that can be left open for exams? How many implements do they need for exams, i.e. do they need a container at all? Or a small tray (half a tin!)
    -Isn’t washi tape made of paper? Not sure how it would hold up in the post, though. But I’m sure I’ve seen brown paper tape somewhere…
    Good luck!

  4. The problem with wholesale liquids is that they come by post. Ergo they package them in plastic. It is the same with the vinegar. Even when I bought all our stuff wholesale from Suma (a co-operative) I used to get Ecover washing liquids and they all came in non-refillable plastic. The foil and cardboard containers are inspired. Thank you! Sadly all our cream and cream derivatives come in plastic containers but I shall continue to research. The exam thing is set in stone. Sometimes I wonder if the exam boards have shares in plastic manufacturers. I took the same exams 35 years ago and we were trusted to use any pencil case! Still it’s early days, I’m learning fast and all your feedback is very gratefully received 🙂

  5. Wow, what a great thing to do, Gillie! I thought I was doing good by washing and re-using my Baggies over and over, using cloth bags every time I go grocery shopping, filling my dog poopy bags with more than one poop…I am humbled by your decision to go plastic-free.
    By the way, what would you do if you had to pick up a dog poop? Use a paper bag? I suppose that’s what I’d do if I went plastic-free.
    I’ve frozen food in glass containers several times, and had them shatter twice in the freezer. I’m sure you know how to avoid this, but I thought I’d mention it because I’d hate the same thing to happen to you!
    All good things,

    1. I am a bit dubious about glass in the freezer and as we use our freezer so much it is one of the areas I am going to have to think about very carefully. Dog poo ….. My entire family are firm believers in the Dog Poo fairy! At home in the garden and courtyard I use newspaper. As a general rule, because we live in the back of beyond I don’t have to worry about picking up the dog poo because they tend to do it in a wood or a field and I couldn’t find it if I wanted to. When we are in town I have biodgradable dog poo bags. Thanks for commenting, It is so good to get feedback.

  6. I haven’t yet jumped on the detoxification band wagon. I realize that our brain is comprised of mostly fatty tissue and that toxins have an affinity for fatty tissue (such as those from aluminum, mercury, plastics and teflon) can have a negative effect on our memory and brain function. Although it has not been a conscious choice, to do use mostly food containers and kitchen tools made of glass and ceramic.

    Rachel recently posted The 16 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful People

  7. Good on you!
    We have been doing a lot of this and there is a big push where we live for everyone to as well.
    Have you ever heard on Enjo? Its a cleaning system using microfiber technology and you only use water – its what I use now it is great 🙂
    My hardest part has been all the tupperware I always used!! XX

    1. I’ve got quite a few microfiber clothes so I assume they must be the same thing. Tupperware is proving to be a BIG problem! I’m looking at stainless steel.

  8. Your list is so interesting. It’s almost impossible to live in a civilized world nowadays without plastic. I don’t think you can be held responsible for the mail people force on you. Our postman tells us the junk mail keeps the mail company afloat. It would be like getting rid of commercials on TV. We pay a subsidy to BBC in England instead for their channels. Somehow, services have to be paid for. But that’s another subject. Well researched subject.

    1. LOL when we first moved up to Sutherland and had no reception at all (we finally gave in and got Sky) the TV licence man came to visit us every year to check that we weren’t receiving anything on our tv. We used it for DVDs and tapes only. I think they thought we were just a bit weird!

  9. No wonder you are exhausted. Plastic is everywhere. I haven’t managed to remove it completely, I am trying to reduce my use of it: I don’t take plastic bags from the supermarket,…but I have to admit that I am still using my Tupperware to freeze leftovers, etc…
    For me, the worst is when I get my laundry from the dry cleaner and it is completely wrapped in plastic. I have explained to the shop attendant that I live across the road and I don’t need the plastic, but he didn’t really get it. What can I do?

    1. I’ve reduced the stuff I take to the drycleaners dramatically. My husband’s are pretty much all that go. Everything else I either hand wash or put in the machine (everything at 30 degrees except the pet beds!) Tweed trousers wash fine in a cool wash for example and use less chemicals.

  10. Plastic-free is tough. I’ve eliminated a lot, particularly disposable plastics, but I still have lots of plastic in my trash/ recycling. I think the toughest for me is food packaging, which is often single-use. Are you familiar with Beth Terry’s blog My Plastic-free Life? It’s a great resource. Here is her Plastic free guide that might be a good resource:

    We don’t dry clean anything anymore except suits (once a year maybe). The rest we wash ourselves (even if it says “dry clean only”) — all my husbands dress shirts and dress pants (I don’t really own any dry clean only stuff anymore), and pay someone else to iron. No plastic bags!

  11. This is quite an undertaking and very interesting. I’m amazed at your list and quite proud of you for acting on your convictions – and doing it without making the rest of us feel like dirt (or an old Tupperware container). Bravo! What do you think about TVs, computers, phones and the like? I’m not thinking there is an alternative there, but like one of your other comments said, it is about reducing and you are doing a great job.

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