The Zero Waste Bathroom Part 1

Apart from the kitchen, the average family bathroom is where a lot of plastic sins are committed: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, razors, sanitary products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and deodorants. Most of these for most people will incorporate single use plastic in their packaging or in the product itself. These plastics then find their way yo either landfill or into the world’s oceans, neither of which are what the cool kids are dong. Remember those things that can be recycled should only be done as a last resort: reduce, reuse, recycle, in that order.

plastic is forever

So, let’s go through a few products that I have tried, am in the process of trying, or intend to try once my current, evil supplies run down.



A nice easy one to start with. Simply replace with soap bars in plastic free packaging. Available everywhere from pound shops through to posh shops.

If you want to shop locally for soap, Sedbergh Soap Company products can be bought online and in some local shops. Their soap bars are yummy smelling and good-enough-to-eat (but really don’t). They also do a bundle of five, for those who aren’t quite sure what to pick, and want to try a few out.

For a full list of stockists, including Farfield Mill, Sleepy Elephant, and No. 6 Finkle Street, CLICK HERE.

For flavours such as Juniper Gin, Spanish Fig & Nutmeg, and Patchouli & Black Pepper, have a browse in The Bath House.

They have shops in Sedbergh, Kirkby Lonsdale, Ambleside, and Bowness, or you can shop online. Be prepared to come out with much more than you went in for though!



Unless you have access to a bulk store with vats of shampoo that you can fill your own containers with, the switch here is again from bottle to bar. I’ve been using shampoo bars for over two years now, and I love them. I get mine from FUNKY SOAP

Now a word of warning, the first few goes with the shampoo bar, you may well find your hair feeling waxy and greasy, or like you’ve not rinsed properly… this is normal and is to do with the soap getting rid of the residue that conventional shampoos leave in your hair. A scientist would have described this better, but suffice it to say persist a few days and it’ll be reet.

The instructions suggest creating a lather between your hands and using like a shampoo. I found it more effective to wet hair, and smooth the bar directly over the scalp, front to back, three or four times, then massage this into your scalp and hair. No idea why this should work better, again, a sciency person may know…?

I haven’t found any local sources for shampoo bars, but there is a rumour going round that there are two shops down The Shambles in Kendal which sell them. And if you pass a Lush store on your travels, they also sell shampoo bars.

For a conditioner you can make yourself in about 30 seconds click HERE, but it is basically dilited apple cider vinegar. Not tried this yet myself (mainly because my 15 year old daughter insists on pursuing her filthy habits with conditioner in plastic bottles and I usually just end up pilaging hers – obvs I should be leading by example!). I am assured that you don’t go around smelling like a posh chip shop. I’ll try it out and see if the seagulls come flocking.


Gone are the days of toothpaste in aluminium tubes that used to leak out of the corners. You’d be hard pressed to buy any toothpaste without plastic packaging nowadays. So why not make your own? I have found a recipe which I am going to try this week:


I am quite excited at the prospect of tapping into my inner chemist with this one, and I will update you on how it goes! Oh yeah and how my two teenagers and two toddlers react to mum’s bicarb homebrew…

I found a website called Ask The Dentist to be quite useful for further information about what each ingredient is for, and more recipes.



I have to confess that I would quite easily be persuaded into using a bit of frayed twig from the privet hedge on my pearly whites. Maybe it’s because I am all consumed by the plastic-free zero-waste save-the-world mentality at the moment. But I don’t think that, added to the toothpaste experiment, it would go down all that well with the rest of the family.

So there are basically two options:

1. Bamboo toothbrushes.

bamboo toothbrushes

A couple of years ago, suppliers of these were few and far between. Now however, you really are spoilt for choice. Have a browse on Amazon. I would advise not to over stock on these, until you have tried, tested, and settled on a brand you like. Some bristles are softer than a standard plastic toothbrush, some bristles are prone to falling out more readily than your standard plastic ones, and some are made from, you’ve guessed it, plastic. So read the reviews and just order one or two to begin with. And when its little wooden life is over, just pop it on the compost heap.

2. Wheat Straw toothbrushes.

wheat straw toothbrushes

I have some of these ready to try as soon as my current toothbrushes need replacing. They look and feel just like plastic brushes, there are cute little giraffe designs for the kids, and they have charcoal bristles. These, like the bamboo brushes are completely compostable. I got mine from the Eco stall at the Sedbergh Wednesday Market. I understand though, that sadly it may not be making regular visits to the town, so you may need to go again to Amazon for suppliers.


So there you have some alternatives to plastic in the bathroom cupboard. In The Zero Waste Bathroom Part 2 I will be tackling razors, deodorants, and sanitary products. Hold me back!




Practice What You Peach

One of the great things about social media is that whenever you use it to declare you are going to change your ways, break free from addiction, or improve yourself in any way shape or form, your multitude of followers then sit back, fold their arms, and collectively say: Go on then.


Three years ago, at the age of 37, I pledged on Facebook that I was going to run a marathon before I turned 40. I turn 41 at the end of this month and I still haven’t run that marathon. Yes I’ve had legitimate excuses (having babies mainly), but still, I look a bit daft because it is there on my timeline for all to see. Accountability is a powerful motivator, and it is undoubtably feeding my fervor to still one day achieve a marathon (before I’m 50…?).

That same accountability is present when your status update is about how much plastic you are shunning in your life.

With that in mind imagine for a moment the self-inflicted paranoia which has followed me around for the last few weeks since, not only talking on social media about my own personal vendetta against single-use-plastics, but also setting up the Zero Waste Sedbergh group and suggesting others might want to join in the party… paper plates only of course.

A few days ago I received this text from my husband:

Plz pick up choc biccies on way home xxc

So I dutifully stopped off at Spar, perused the biscuit aisle, and realised I couldn’t buy any of them because they were all wrapped in plastic. But here’s the thing: my thoughts weren’t about saving the planet or reducing my carbon footprint – they were simply: What if someone sees me?! In a town the size of Sedbergh word might get round quick that the plastic-free warrior is a traitor to her cause – a thought terrifying enough to make me put the hob nobs back and buy a tin of peaches instead. Husband a bit miffed, obviously.

Then there’s the online shop, which is now akin to a covert MI6 operation. If anyone bothers to peep over the hedge they would witness me taking delivery of, amongst other things, packets of breaded ham in plastic film, pasta twirls in a plastic packet, and a butternut squash in a plastic bag (Dear ASDA, why does a butternut squash with skin tough enough to break an industrial strength peeler need a wafer thin plastic bag to protect it from the elements?). The other day as the delivery man was carting tray after tray of contraband down my path I actually looked around to make sure no-one was watching, and a bit of me honestly expected to hear cries of Hypocrite!

The truth is I have made numerous plastic-free switches, and eliminated loads from our regular grocery shop. But I freely admit my family and I have a long way to go before we are plastic free and zero waste. And as a wise man or woman once said:


The thing is, you can’t just go cold turkey when going plastic-free. Why? Because firstly you need to phase out the plastic you already have (if you have 3 months worth of shampoo in bottles, it’s going to be 3 months before you can switch to shampoo bars). Secondly, shopping is habitual. Like with all habits, by definition, breaking them or creating them won’t happen overnight. It has taken me around 8 weeks to get to the stage where I never leave the house without my refillable water bottle. It is now part of my leave-the-house-checks: keys, purse, phone, bottle, children… in that order.

Water bottle

And we are all still trying to figure out alternatives. Our supermarkets haven’t caught up to the demand for plastic-free yet. If you want to reduce your fat intake or sugar intake, there are low fat or reduced sugar options available. The same can’t be said of packaging. Making those conscientious choices is really blooming hard.

Yes we know that plastic wrapping on a loaf of bread is bad. But the alternatives are a) bake your own, b) buy fresh from the bakers each day, or c) only ever buy that white loaf that comes in orange greaseproof wrapping. What are you going to do – send the kids to school with no sandwiches? No, you’re going to sometimes buy the bread wrapped in plastic, sometimes we do need to say to hell with it. And in those moments, a rush of guilt is not helpful.

So be kind to yourself, remember all the changes you have made so far, and acknowledge that THIS IS A JOURNEY. Journeys take time.

And if you tell the guilt to quieten down you can actually hear the planet saying: Thank you. You’re doing great. Now keep it up!

Earth thanks

Sedbergh Milk Round UPDATE: How Dairy!

Very exciting news in Sedbergh: Liam Kelly from Creamline Dairies has announced he will be trialing doorstep deliveries of milk in glass bottles.


This is brilliant news for everyone in Sedbergh who would prefer to reduce their use of plastic in this way. Whilst most people will recycle their used plastic milk bottles, the act of recycling should ideally be a last resort: Reduce Reuse Recycle, in that order.

Milk nostalgia

Liam hopes to begin the trial delivery on June 18th, and would like to hear from anyone interested in receiving whole, semi, or skimmed milk to their door.

You can let Liam know your interest and your order by emailing him here: Or give him a call on 07504223968

Let’s hope there is enough interest for it to become a viable milk round!


What a Load of Rubbish


Two years ago I gave up single-use plastic for Lent.     I had seen an online post about a lady who gathered a whole year’s worth of rubbish and managed to fit it in a jam jar. A big jam jar, granted, but still a jam jar.

That same week I had put our wheelie bin out for collection (every week at the time), stuffed so full it refused to shut. Jam jar lady had highlighted to me my problem with waste. But I had visions of her eating raw kale straight from the plot, and later cleaning it from her teeth with twigs and baking soda. Not that there is anything wrong with kale or twigs of course, but two years ago it wasn’t for me. However, when I actually read the article, a lot of her consumer choices and methods for achieving this low-waste living, seemed pretty possible for “regular” folk, like me.

So I made the decision, did the obligatory post to social media (there’s nothing like being accountable to everyone you’ve ever met to make you stick to a pledge), and embarked on my 40 days and 40 nights of reducing, reusing, recycling, and plastic-free living.

Here are a few of the ways I was able to reduce my waste and in particular, single-use plastic:

  • I arranged doorstep milk delivery in glass bottles (at the moment this is not available in Sedbergh, but please do let me know if I am mistaken, or if it changes!). **EDIT Please see later post re. milk delivery trial**
  • I switched our two small girls from disposable to washable nappies.
  • I sourced shampoo bars to replace bottled shampoo.
  • We switched to bamboo toothbrushes.
  • I bought my “Meat for a Week” from a local butchers and asked them to wrap it in greaseproof paper.Greaseproof meat
  • I bought our fruit and veg from the weekly market.
  • I made a lot more food from scratch.
  • I switched to a brand of bread that used paper wrapping instead of plastic.
  • I took a cloth bag with me everywhere.
  • If it was wrapped in plastic and I couldn’t find an alternative, we did without.

I will be touching on a lot of this list in future posts, and letting you know where to source things as locally as possible.

My biggest tip for making these relatively easy and small changes, is to be organised. You can’t run out of bananas at 9:30pm on a Tuesday night when you are trying to make the kids’ packed lunches. You need to plan meals in advance, and plan an organised shopping trip. This can be tricky if, like me, it doesn’t come naturally. It takes practice to turn effort into habit. But turn it will!

We cannot change from wheelie bin to jam jar overnight. So my second tip is to lose the guilt and make one change at a time. I am still a long, long way from where I want to be on my Zero Waste adventure. I did a lot of “backsliding” once my 40 days and nights of lent were over (easter eggs, woo hoo!). But recently the issue of our overuse and poor disposal of plastics hit the headlines in a major way when a plastic island twice the size of France was discovered floating in the Pacific.

plastic ocean

It is tempting to look at that plastic island and think what on earth good is me changing to a bamboo toothbrush going to do?!

But just think… you perhaps go through 4 toothbrushes a year, multiply that by an average lifespan of 80 years… that is 320 toothbrushes in a lifetime. A family of four will use 1,280 toothbrushes. A street of 30 houses, each with four occupants, would use 38,400 toothbrushes in their lifetime. And that’s just one street! And that’s before we’ve even started to consider the plastic packaging… Thinking in those terms, you begin to get the message that small changes really do make a difference.


If you have found any local sources, or have any top tips for Zero-Waste living, please leave a comment below and I will try to include that in a future post.



Journey to Zero Waste Sedbergh

In an age where our television schedules are saturated with entertainment and information based programmes all vying for our attention, it’s not often something has the power to affect real change in public behaviour. But Blue Planet did exactly that recently, when David Attenborough demonstrated so powerfully how our overuse of single use plastics is having a tragic effect on our oceans and marine life.

But if we are honest with ourselves, wasn’t he simply highlighting what we already knew? There’s nothing like a national treasure saying it out loud though, to make you sit up and take notice.

Zero Waste Sedbergh has been set up to act as a support and information network. It will be a place where people can ask and answer questions, encourage each other, and exchange ideas on the theme of reducing waste, whether as a consumer or as a business.

The title of the group is, admittedly, a tad overwhelming: Sedbergh will almost certainly never achieve Zero Waste. But wouldn’t it be great to be the town to try?

So here is the challenge: in the month of June, make one or two small changes. It could be as simple as remembering to put your re-usable bags in the car before the big shop. It might be choosing to buy your fruit and veg from the Wednesday market, plastic free. Or maybe, when doing the kids’ packed lunches, replace plastic sandwich bags with reusable airtight containers… Our journey has to start somewhere, and as the saying goes: little by little, a little becomes a lot.