The current lockdown conditions are forcing us all to buy differently – whether that’s ordering more straight to our doorstep, cutting back on purchases, or questioning who we can best support during this crisis. Lockdown has definitely made me even more appreciative of products with long life, rather than disposable items. As well as helping our fragile planet, having products that actually last is a big personal relief. It saves that issue of ‘I need some more of this [insert product here], I’m running out’ – in a time where you can’t just casually top up on things with the same ease.
To celebrate the reusable, I’ve broken this post down into eco-friendly replacements that I’ve now converted to, and things I’m keen to try over the next few weeks. None of these products are affiliated or sponsored, fyi…
So, let’s start with the tested:
Reusable Bamboo & Cotton Rounds
I’ve written about these before but I’m such an advocate I’m going to go for it again! If you’re not already using reusable rounds to remove make-up or dry your face, why on earth not? The cheap disposable cotton rounds can go in your compost bin, if you home compost. But you’re still chucking away your purchase. Reusables, however, can be thrown in with your regular washing – they tend to come with a net bag so that you can wash them safely (enabling the water can get in to clean the pads, but the pads can’t escape into the washing machine). Leave them somewhere clean to dry off and use them again. I haven’t needed to buy disposable rounds for at least a year now.
You can buy these from loads of retailers – including Amazon, Etsy, and various eco-focused online shops such as Buy Me Once or And Keep. Just make sure you read the product description carefully to ensure the pads are hypoallergenic, made from sustainable materials (bamboo and/or organic cotton, rather than polyester) and that it comes with a net bag for washing if you don’t have one already.
Bamboo Kitchen Roll
These have saved me so much money on paper towels. Bamboo is naturally absorbent, and increases absorbency with washes. I use EcoEgg (there are other brands as well!). The sheets are stronger and thicker than a paper towel, meaning 1 will also do the job of 2 or 3 disposables and can be washed to use again. You can wash each sheet up to 85 times (at 40 degrees or lower). They’re lighter and dry quicker than a regular cloth, making them really useful in the kitchen. They’re also great for cleaning make-up brushes, wiping down bathroom surfaces, etc, etc.
Bloom & Nora Sanitary Pads
Again, I’ve mentioned these before – but so far, so good. They’re much more comfortable than the plastic disposable sanitary pads (why do we accept how scratchy and sticky those are?!). I’ve been surprised by how well the absorbency has coped with my heavy and erratic flow. I started off with their tester Nora pack, which comes with a little bag to keep your pads in until you put them in with your washing at 40 degrees (don’t use fabric softener though as that will affect their absorbency). Each pad lasts 10 years – imagine how many disposables you would get through in that time! And they’re so much prettier too.
Now for part two: the products I’m planning to test over the next few weeks:
Alternatives to sponges / loofahs
I’m a secret octogenarian in a twenty something persona – I love a sponge bath. Using a sponge or loofah helps stretch out the body wash I’m using (at the moment, I’m keen to eek out a Christmas gift – the luxurious Molton Brown black pepper shower gel!). But sponges that need regular changing aren’t very sustainable. Similarly, I’m really sick of using the plastic washing up sponges that fall apart within a week or two.
I’ve seen some ‘unsponge’ options on Etsy that use cotton on one side and hessian on the other. These are often made out of fabric scraps that would otherwise go to waste, and it’s a way of supporting smaller scale businesses at this time.
Locally made soaps and beauty products
If there’s ever a point to support local businesses, it’s now. This situation has got me questioning how much I default to buying my beauty products from billion pound companies and retailers, rather than supporting the businesses nearer to home (thereby reducing my carbon footprint as well as supporting independents).
The beauty needs that I have – rosacea and eczema skin, gently scented, without any unnecessary ingredients – are the same needs that often lead people to start making their own products, and then growing those businesses from home. Of course, the products need thorough researching and vetting (no tap water being sold as magic tonic!). But I’m looking forward to tracking down smaller businesses who specialise in sensitive skin. I’m going to start with ordering from some local soap makers I’ve found. I’m particularly keen to try goats milk based soap and this is the perfect time to experiment.
So I’ll let you know how that goes…
[hello, just a final little reminder that I am not sponsored or affiliated with any brands mentioned in this post and have purchased all products that are specifically named here!]