Plastic is everywhere

I came across a guide to products like scrubs and shower gels, even sun creams, which have plastic in them, published in February 2017, and I wanted to share it here. The guide is in the German language but full of easy to understand tables. Many of the products are available across Europe and have names in English, so are they recognisable even if you don’t speak German. It was apparently authored by Friends of the Earth Germany, and I found it eye opening. It’s a pdf file and called “Mikroplastik: die unsichtbare Gefahr” which translates as “Microplastic: the invisible danger”. You can also read about the background of the microplastics problem in English, on the National Geographic blog.

I was surprised to find products from the Body Shop and LUSH on the list (I had expected better from them), and of course there are some more expected big name companies. But I still like the solid deodorant from LUSH, which I bought plastic-free in their store in Berlin.

Anyway, if you’re not a German speaker but are planning on exploring the German language list on the grounds that most is understandable anyway, then you might like to know that, in German:

  • Peeling = scrub (not a facemask that you peel off, as I first thought!)
  • Kunststoff = plastic (you also see “plastik” quite frequently)
  • Hersteller = manufacturer
  • Firma = company
  • Gesicht(pflege) = face (care)
  • Duschgel = shower gel

Well, that’s enough to get you started on exploring their tables… go look!

picture of a bottle of sunscreen
One of the products that I won’t be using in future…

 

 

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Use it all up, I say! / Ich sage: Verwende es alle!

white plastic squeezy tube, cut into 3 pieces
All used up!

Sometimes, I can’t avoid making plastic waste. I can’t bring myself to trust homemade toothpaste, for example, and I have medications in plastic tubes too.

So I apply my mantra of “use it all up“. I squeeze as much as I can out of each plastic tube, and then I get my scissors out… It’s amazing how much product is still clinging to the sides of the squeezed out tube! More than one more use: I push one cut end inside the other end to close the tube back up for next time. Sometimes, I also have to cut the tube a bit smaller so that my finger reaches to the very end, to wipe out the last of the product.

And so I spare a tiny bit more plastic from the waste cycle – and I spare my wallet!

In German:

Manchmal kann ich nicht vermeiden, Kunststoffabfälle zu machen. Zum Beispiel, ich vertraue selbstgemachte Zahnpasta nicht, und ich habe auch Medikamente in Plastikverpackung.

Also, ich verwende mein Mantra “use it all up”. Ich quetsche so viel wie ich kann aus jeder Plastiktube, und dann benutze ich meine Schere… Es ist erstaunlich, wie viel Produkt ist immer noch an den Seiten der ausgepressten Tube kleben! Mehr als eine weitere Verwendung. Ich schiebe ein geschnittenes Ende in der anderen Hälfte, um die Tube zu schließen. Manchmal muss ich auch die Tuben etwas kleiner schneiden, damit mein Finger bis zum Ende reicht, um das letzte Produkt auszulöschen.

Und so schone ich ein wenig Plastik aus dem Mull, und ich spare auch ein bisschen Geld dabei.

Useful plastic: preventing plastic waste / Nützliche Plastik

Although my goal is to avoid plastic, I do make compromises. I’d like to celebrate a couple of well used, everyday items, which are made of plastic. These two little pouches are made out of recycled plastic bottles and they have saved me from acquiring many plastic shopping bags!

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Two everyday hereos of my household

The little blue sack is stuffed with net sacks for fruit/veg. At the till in a shop, the staff can see through the net so it functions in the same way as the usual clear plastic bags. When I get home, I wash the produce in these nets and then hang them up to dry: handy! The little green sack is a rucksack which is great for shopping and days out. You can see that it has been well used and even repaired with a discrete black patch:

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Two everyday hereos of my household

Quite often, one or both fit into my handbag “just in case”. They are so light and small that I don’t mind carrying them everywhere.

I bought them both in England but I found a German language website which lists this company’s innovative products.

In German:

Obwohl es mein Ziel ist, Plastik zu vermeiden, mache ich Kompromisse. Ich möchte ein paar wohlverdiente, alltägliche Gegenstände presentieren, die aus Kunststoff bestehen. Diese zwei kleinen Beutel sind aus recycelten Plastikflaschen hergestellt und haben viele Plastiktüten ersetzt.

Der kleine blaue Sack enthält Netzsäckchen für Obst und Gemüse. In einem Laden, können die Mitarbeiter durch das Netz sehen, so dass es funktioniert wie die üblichen klaren Plastiktüten. Wenn ich nach Hause komme, wasche ich die Produkte in meinen Netzsäckchen und hänge ich sie dann zum Trocknen auf. Der kleine grüne Sack ist ein Rucksack, der zum Einkaufen ideal ist. Es ist offensichtlich gut verwendet, sogar mit einem diskreten schwarzen Stoffstück geflickt.

Oft passen die in meine Handtasche “just in case”. Sie sind so leicht und klein, dass ich kann die einfach überall tragen.

Ich habe die beide in England gekauft, aber ich habe eine deutschsprachige Website gefunden, die die innovativen Produkte dieses Unternehmens beschreibt.

An unpackaged haul/Verpackung freie Lebensmittel

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I hope they last a long time!

Here is what I brought back from a recent shopping trip to Original Unverpackt here in Berlin. I took my own tins and tubs, and some bags to fill. Every so often, I make a special trip there and fill a shopping trolley bag with dry goods to keep us going… I wish it were easier for me to reach as it’s nowhere near my home, but I always look forward to shopping there.

In German:

Das Foto zeigt Waren, dass ich vor kurzem bei Original Unverpackt in Berlin gekauft habe. Ich habe meine eigenen Dosen und Beuteln zu füllen gebracht. Oft, mache ich eine Exkursion dorthin und fülle ich einen Einkaufsroller mit trockenen Waren die eine lange Zeit dauern. Ich wünschte, es war einfacher um zu erreichen, denn es ist nicht in der Nähe von zu Hause bei mir, aber ich freue mich immer, dort einzukaufen.

Online only… and clean dishes.

One of the (green) problems with ordering online is that your goods invariably come swathed in packaging, some of which is usually single use plastic. There is only so much that you can re-use yourself and plastic tape around the box is not re-usable. However, some goods are only available to me online. For example washing up liquid in a 5 litre bottle (surely less plastic than 5 x 1 litre bottles) and these cellulose sponges which are the best substitute I can find for plastic sponges. Ordered from BioNaturWelt who appear to have used re-used packaging but even so, I’ll try and make this batch last…

spuli

No plastic here!

I bought new, organic cotton bedding from Naturehome.com and was very pleased to see their packaging that has no plastic: our cardboard box, sealed with paper parcel tape has already gone for recycling! Here you can see that the sheets came in cloth bags, which will be great for veggies when shopping, or shoes when travelling. The sticky barcode label is plastic-y, but it’s a lot better than most companies manage.

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