FOR 2021 UPDATE SCROLL DOWN
People say it's hard to get rid of plastic.
Tell me about it!
Hi, I am Sabrina Auclair, the ower of Unpacked Living and this is my plastic-free journey.
When I decided to cut plastic out of my life, I knew it was going to be a long process and I had very realistic goals about it.
I knew it wasn't going to happen over night, I knew I needed to know exactly how much plastic I had to begin with, and I knew I was not going to buy any new plastic unless absolutely necessary, but start replacing what I ran out of with the eco-friendly/sustainable version.
So in January 2019 I took this picture:
These were all the plastic products I had when I decided to stop. Crazy right? also overwhelming.
I have to note that this picture does not include my makeup which is all plastic of course, but I'll do a separate blog about make-up.
I had everything from all sorts of cleaners, to razors, band aids, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair products, detergent, beauty products, hair ties, etc. and the problem is, you never know really how much plastic is inside your house until you actually put it all in one place for you to see.
So after a year of not buying any new plastic products, but just using what we already had, here's my January 2020 Update:
Doesn't seem like much right?
well to me it is A LOT! I can actually see the table under all that!
The truth is, getting rid of plastic is a process, it takes time, patience and organization, but it also saves you money and it teaches you to live with less.
It is cathartic to see how your cabinets slowly get clearer, and you know exactly what you have and what you need.
Also, I've realized that I was using terrible products, supporting horrible brands and putting a lot of fillers and toxins in my body.
I literally have a face wash by Dove that contains as the 3 first ingredients water, mineral oil and petrolatum. If you don't know how bad that is then google it.
But I also promised that I would use ALL of the products (Unless they are expired or beyond recovery) until the last drop and then I would dispose of them properly which I plan to do using the several free programs out there since I don't have recycling in the complex where I live.
Yes you read that right, in Massachusetts, apartment complexes are considered commercial spaces, not residential, so they fall out of the municipality programs that require recycling by law.
Ridiculous I know, but actually instead of complaining about it, I saw it as an incentive to reduce drastically my waste, drastically .
But anyway, going back to my own plastic waste, I'll use the Terracycle programs I am part of to recycle the razors, Chapstick tubes, old toothbrushes, deodorants, toothpaste tubes, floss containers and I'll probably get a Zero waste box from them once I have a lot of products to put in.
Things I already replaced with eco-friendly plastic-free alternatives:
- Plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones.
- Shampoo and conditioner for bar shampoo and bar conditioner.
- Face wash with pump (Pumps, same as straws, are made of highly toxic or mixed plastics and are extremely hard to recycle due to their mixed components and size) for a face wash in glass and a face bar.
- All purpose cleaner and most cleaning supplies for planet pods, Vinegar, Baking soda and lemons.
- Toothpaste tubes for toothpowder and toothpaste in glass
- Plastic deodorant for natural deodorant in cardboard tube.
- Sponge for dishes for natural fiber sponge
- Plastic bottle brush for coconut bottle brush
- Plastic Dish soap for Dishwashing block (one of my favorite personal swaps)
- Plastic floss for cardboard biodegradable one.
- Ziplocs for silicone bags
- Parchment and foil for a silicone baking mat
- Plastic razors for a safety razor.
That's all I can think of as of right now but I am sure there's more.
The point is, If I can do it, you can do it too! it takes time but it also gives you time to start planning and looking for replacements while you are using what you have.
Saves money also because you are not out there just buying all promotions you see and it makes you a mindful consumer.
I am far from being the perfect environmentalist and fitting my trash in a mason jar, but that is not my goal.
My goal is to share with you what I am doing and show you the reality of how hard it is (but not impossible) to be better every da and be the change this planet needs so much.
I'll do an update January 2021 and we'll see how far I've gone.
This shows that perseverance and determination is important.
With COVID 19 as a big surprise for everyone during 2020, everyone's plastic-free journey was widely affected.
Bulk bins closed, businesses not allowing your reusables, plastic bags made a big come back, it was a mess and detrimental for the planet and our lives in general.
But even with all those setbacks, I managed to stay focused and kept reducing the existent plastic in my household and swapping for zero waste versions and achieve this much!
You can actually see my dining table.
The most advancement was made in the bathroom area and also in the laundry area.
As of last January, I still had detergents in plastic tubs, now there's none of that in my house. We decide to use Meliora powder detergent, oxi dropps, and softener Dropps (available in store only or at dropps.com) also we have been using wool dryer balls for 2 years now, and loving it.
Bathroom wise, I was able to use a bunch of products I had, stopped dyeing my hair so no more store-bought dyes, started refilling my lotion so no more plastic lotion containers, and manage to move all my skin care to a few products that I can either refill or buy in glass.
There NO MORE WIPES AROUND! of any kind, I used to have wipes for my dogs, Clorox wipes, makeup wipes, etc. Now we are down to only 1 tub of Clorox wipes that we use for emergencies only.
I was finally able to use most of my "Chapstick addicted" collection and now I exclusively use Bee balm and we also used all te remaining plastic toothbrushes around and now we all use bamboo toothbrushes.
So, there you have it! this is my 2021 Update, and it's REAL, and this also shows you that you don't have to squeeze all your trash in a mason jar or otherwise you are "not doing enough".
Eliminating plastic takes time, and you have to learn a lot about your town/city waste management and policies to understand where trash goes, and how recycling works because it's not the same everywhere.
I hope this encourages you to do the same, and to know that small changes matter, you can save money, and you can minimize your waste at your own pace. Don't kick yourself down whenever you have to purchase something in plastic. As long as you are aware, then you are good.
There are exactly 36 items in this picture.
Compared to the 2019 first audit this is AMAZING.
Yes, that is a different table. I couldn't use my dinning table because I don't have it anymore! it's now part of my store display so it lives a happy life at my store covered in products so I had to use my coffee table at home, which is nice because the fact that I can fit my plastic waste in my coffee table with no problem is a huge sucess.
I divided the products in 2 groups.
On the right are the products that still persist in my house, a few of them my husband actually found next to the dumpster in our condo because when people move, or want to get rid of something that is still useable or new, the put it to the side so that's how I got a bunch of car cleaners.
Other are just products that I can't find with no plastic like bleach and medicine.
On the left are the products that I've been refilling at my store! so yes they are plastic but it's plastic that's been reused and refilled for over a year.
Body Lotion, rubbing alcohol, stainless steel cleaner, white vinegar, stain and odor eliminator and dishwasher gel are all products you can refill at my store.
I can not recommend this excercise enough to anyone that wants tangible results when it comes to reducing waste.
And this audits can be done with anything! just set up a goal and do it.
Have too much make-up? Clothes? shoes? do an audit and check what you can do.
Here's a brief collection of the products that I am currently using if you want to try any please use code UNPACKED5 and get 5% off.