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Plastic Free July: My Best Tips for ‘Success’

Plastic Free July: My Best Tips for ‘Success’

Oh Plastic Free July, you annoying, clever and necessary month. The first time I heard about Plastic Free July was maybe two years ago when I saw YouTubers sharing their progress, waste, and swaps.  And, of course, their hauls.  

I instantly hated it. 

I should be clear at this point because I don’t want to put anyone off the movement, or the concept of ditching plastic for a month in order to make lifelong changes that ultimately benefit the world. Plastic Free July started as an offshoot month of encouraging folks to ditch single-use plastic pioneered by the amazing work being done by the Plastic Free Foundation. Similarly to Veganuary, you can pledge to join in for a month and get support along the way, ultimately aiming to change your own habits for good. It’s 100% free and a GREAT way to get tips and tricks from other people.

So why do I hate it? I don’t really. But I find that with any movement like this, and particularly one as on trend as zero plastique the most voracious, the most simplistic and, yes, the most privileged come out to play. 

It’s when the NO STRAWS debate starts up again because, sure, most of us can easily ditch a plastic straw. 

It’s when sustainability shaming is rife. Normally among the communities who hold the most power and have caused the bulk of the issue in the first place.

It’s where climate apartheid and greenwashing become so palpably clear the point of going plastic free is lost in a shouty Twitter rant.  

Because what’s the real issue here? It’s not plastic straws which make up a TINY proportion of Global plastic waste (less than 0.5%) but that’s an easy scapegoat and guess why we all want them banned? Turtles. 

 But guess why plastic was invented? In part, to save elephants from poachers back in the day we all wanted Ivory everything. Without the invention of plastic we would potentially be further behind in medicine too. It’s helped countless people with life changing accessibility options. 

But let’s face it, we need to address our over consumption of EVERYTHING. Including, but not limited to plastics. And within that discussion we also need to address our individual privilege. AND, most importantly, our very unique and individual needs.

Because, in my opinion, there is literally no one thing anyone can tell you is the ‘simplest swap’. Not one. What’s simple to one is a ginormous pain in the ass to another and vice versa.

And, as you may or may not not, I hate being told what to do. I hate rules. Having said that, I hate apathy just as much and as someone with hella privilege here I am, flexing mine.

Doing some research so you don’t have to.

SO, without further ado, here are my best tips for tackling Plastic-Free July (and beyond).

bespoke your PLAN

This is undoubtedly the most important step and one I honestly think we often forget to take (stock of?) Every single one of us is unique, right? So why do we think a list of ‘simple swaps’ that another human, with entirely different circumstances wrote?

I love a list as much as the next person but please only use these as jumping off points. Even better, look at your individual circumstances FIRST and the advice second. 

For example, if you are a mum of three under three – nappies might be your biggest source of single use plastic right now. If you are a 21 year old uni student perhaps it’s easy to spend time DIY-ing toiletries but really rough on the budget to start bulk shopping. 

And, for all of us, our location will dictate the types of shops we can source stuff from so think about all of these things before you commit yourself to a life of homemade deodorant. 

PREPARE yourself

This is my number one tip, and if you ONLY take one thing away from this post make it thus: PREPARE THYSELF WHOLLY.

That means that for whatever you’ve decided to ditch, get your alternative ready and a plan b too. I ALWAYS have a KeepCup and a few cotton bags in my handbag as takeaway coffee and pastries are my pleasure (not guilty, because nothing to be guilty about).

If you eat out a lot and need travel cutlery, buy some pretty bamboo ones if you want but you can also just take your standard cutlery from home with a hankie. 

If you drink a lot of water out and about, grab a reusable water bottle/reuse a plastic one (not for too long as this isn’t great for your health –  I had a friend who had an allergic reaction once due to the fact he’s reused his water bottle for about two months!)

Tupperware is obvs great, but I find it a little bulky so I just use cotton bags to take sandwiches etc out and about. And, honestly, for me the biggest thing to prep for is my kid – reusable wipes pre moistened, nappies and liners, wet bags and SNACKS are key to a smooth day! 

quit PERFECTION

I can’t emphasise this enough. My house is not a beautiful kilner jar filled home devoid of plastic. That’s just not realistic or achievable for me. But do I still get pangs of ‘I WANT THAT’ when I see folks with a beautiful, zero waste aesthetic? Yep. I’m human. 

I unfollow anyone who incites that reaction and make sure to follow people who share my values and an honest, achievable reality. @SmallSustainableSteps, @SarahStarrs_, @JenLittleBirdie, @BeckyOCole, @ZeroWasteHabesha & @Andreamariesanders are all faves of mine. 

 buy PRODUCTS with thought

I’m not the sort of person who believes in absolutes. I don’t believe that we should aim for ZERO WASTE or ZERO PLASTIC or ZERO CONSUMPTION because, hello, life is really short and sometimes stuff brings us joy and that’s okay.

I still buy things. I still get a kick out of restocking my favourite ethical beauty bits and finding new low impact products to try. I guess the difference between me now and me a decade ago is that I think about my purchases for AGES before buying them. That might not be you, you might be more a go with your gut type shopper. That’s 100% okay.

What I think is important though is quitting that mindless purchase because you feel life will be better when you have XYZ. Do you know what I mean? Or panic buying five summer dresses from H&M when, realistically, you probably could’ve waited and sourced a more ethical solution (eBay, Vinted, Charity shops and Facebook Marketplace are all great for this if you are on a budget)

There’s so much nuance to this that I don’t want to teach you to suck eggs when it comes to your own shopping habits. Only you know what’s realistic and achievable for you. But I feel like it’s an sorta intrinsic emotion when you are buying unconsciously, as it were. 

I dunno. Maybe not. 

Anyway, I hope this poor excuse of a guide to ditching plastic this month (and beyond!) helped! Share your plastic free tips in the comments if you fancy.

L x

 

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    My Zero Waste Fails

    My Zero Waste Fails

    Alternative title: things I don’t do and genuinely don’t care about!

    Zero waste fails vs. low impact living

    I talk a lot about how I believe zero waste isn’t a helpful term, or even achievable. It’s certainly not something I strive for and prefer aiming for low-impact sustainability as much as possible.

    Sometimes it isn’t possible. For me, and perhaps for you too. Because the word ‘possible’ is subjective and wholly dependant on your lifestyle, your privilege etc etc and for me, that also includes emotional privilege.

    As a pregnant mum with a toddler in tow my version of zero waste looks different to this time last year. And…..although I love all the ‘Gold star for just trying’ type stuff, I don’t really buy it. I call BS on myself because I’m barely trying at the moment.

    Instead of beating myself up about it I thought I’d share the things I’ve given up recently. My zero-waste fails, if you will!

    Pin this for later:

    Pinnable image of plant on table with text overlay

    Making my own EVERYTHING

    From nut milk to vegan cheese, toddler-friendly treats and vegetable crisps…..just urgh. And that’s just the kitchen. Add in cleaning products, face masks, tile scrubber, nappy rash balm, bubble bath, bath bombs….OH HELL NO.

    I should know my limits. I mean, I’ve mentioned before that DIY beauty is not my thing and I prefer to leave it to the professionals and shop mindfully.

    Mostly though, the convenience food is a toughy. The whole family is vegan and both my husband and I work full-time so it started feeling kind of ridiculous spending every waking minute unhappy/dealing with a screaming kid who JUST WANTS A FREAKING SNACK or doing the alternative; knackering hours spent making crappy versions of the things I like.

    Honestly, I know I can try harder on this one but I’m giving myself a pregnancy pass. For now.

    Shopping for everything in bulk

    We are very lucky in that there is a small bulk store within walking distance. However not everything they sell is quite what I want…..for example (and please don’t roll your eyes at me here) the chocolate buttons taste like shit.

    So instead of buying stuff I hate and then feeling virtuous yet mildly depressed about my cup of tea and unpalatable chocolate I decided to get a grip and chalk that up to experience.

    Small wins.

    Composting

    I do still compost…..just not on the scale I was previously. I had a great system of using my Bokashi bin for all compostable kitchen bits and food waste, leaving it to pickle for a couple of weeks then popping it in my big compost bin to work it’s magic.

    But guess what? Composting is a humongous pain in the ass when you don’t know what you’re doing. The Bokashi part is the easy bit; getting the right layers of ‘brown’ and ‘green’ waste (which includes shredding cardboard and paper layers) to make the damn compost is the ultimate snoozefest.

    We still have our big compost bin which is almost full and brewing beautiful compost as we speak but honestly…..what the fudge will I do with the compost when I’m finished? And how do I know when it’s done please and thank-you?!

    Online shopping

    I am not a big shopper, but sometimes, only Amazon has the thing you want. Or Etsy. And I buy all my clothes second-hand which, outside of pregnancy, is simple to do in charity shops.

    But maternity clothes? I’ve solely relied on eBay and Vinted and that means packages of stuff.

    Occasionally I also like to just buy something. Just because. And in those instances I email the seller and ask for no plastic packaging….this usually works a treat and often the seller is excited to come up with new plastic-free packaging solutions.

    But it’s never zero-waste.

    So there you have it. My zero waste fails. Ps – I am 100% totally okay with them right now too.

    L x

    How to Find Bargains in the Charity Shop (Thrift Store)

    How to Find Bargains in the Charity Shop (Thrift Store)

    I just wish here in the UK we called charity shops ‘Thrift Stores’ because it sounds cool, don’t you think? Also, why can’t I just use that term? Who’s the boss of retail terminology?!

    Rant over. So why shop at a charity shop? I guess if you’ve come to this post you are curious about it, even if voyeuristically so. I’ve always loved rifling through charity shops preferring it to ‘proper’ shopping finding it WAY less intimidating than vintage stores, which I never feel cool enough for.

    While it was once for fun, now it’s necessary; my personal fashion ethos is to avoid fast fashion and choose ethical where I can. BUT more often than not I opt to buy used, second-hand, pre-loved….whatever you want to call it. Mostly because it’s cheaper, it’s a lighter footprint on the planet and I genuinely love the process of hunting the perfect toaster, camel brogue, skinny jean….etc etc.

    I started sharing my finds on Instagram and I always get such a big response I remembered Kayte Ferris’ advice that ‘questions are content’ and wrote this here guide.

    picture of legs in mirror

    My guide to grabbing a bargain in the charity shop

    An awful lot of what I’m saying here is contradictory so I apologise. I don’t wanna give you a bunch of rules so…..just take what you like and ditch the rest 😉

    Shop Often

    This is quite a simple one most people forget. Charity shopping is a hobby really, because you obviously can’t just go in and expect to get what you need you have to be patient and build a bit of a black book, so to speak.

    I really got to know the charity shops near me when I moved here and now I pop into my faves (around five of them) a couple of times a week. Not for long, but it’s good to show your face because my next tip is….

    Be nice

    Making friends with the staff and chatting to them often is, well, just a nice human thing to do, but it’s also a banging tactic for getting the juicy stuff.

    The JUICY GEMS, if you will 😉

    Making friends with the staff and chatting to them often is, well, just a nice human thing to do, but it’s also a banging tactic for getting the juicy stuff.

    The JUICY GEMS, if you will 😉

    mustard jeans

    Choose wisely

    Don’t turn the charity shop into another way to consume fast fashion. It’s ethical, in the sense it’s the lesser of some evils; it’s better than Primark, but ultimately a lot of the clothes you’ll find in the charity shops are fast-fashion.

    I often find Topshop, Zara and H&M pieces either because they’re a poorly made item, very trend-led or have been bought cheaply with little regard as to longevity.

    But don’t be too wise

    Okay, I know. CONTRADICTION.

    I just think you can be too serious. I genuinely love faffing in a charity shop, poring through the clothes, imagining who wore them and what their story was.

    Sometimes I buy things, get them home and realise they aren’t quite right so I take them back for a refund (keep your receipt, of course!)

    girl with hat and leather jacket in changing room

    Try things on

    Most stores will have a small fitting room so do try things on. The sizing on the labels might not be right, or it might be a weird fit or whatever so it’s worth the extra hassle of wrestling out of your layers!

    Don’t be precious (it’s for charity!)

    I know people who haggle in the charity shop, but honestly…..it’s really no big deal. If something is a pound or two more than you’d like to pay, but you have the money, think about the fact it’s going to charity….not into a sweat shop.

    If you don’t have the money, then I’d say it’s probably worth a haggle; especially if you’re buying multiple items and the store is chocka with clothes.

    vintage chair from above

    Find your favourites

    I have some regulars I visit for certain things; one does amazing kiddy stuff, one has a patron who enjoys donating clothes in my size and style and others have a great homeware selection.

    The point is, it’s a long game. Get shopping, find your faves and stop wasting time in the rest.

    Shop online!

    Quite a few of the bigger charities have online stores. Oxfam and Amnesty International are my faves and it makes the whole rifling-through-rails a breeze.

    A guide to charity shop thrift store shopping #1

    Pack a charity-shop kit

    I take a couple of tote bags, a tape measure (particularly for vintage finds, or places with no changing room) and a solid understanding of my style and current wardrobe.

    A note on sizing

    The charity shop tags aren’t always right. Sometime they label a size 12 a medium, but if that size 12 is from Topshop it’s a small (IMO) and jeans are often mislabelled due to their waist sizes.

    Et voila! Let me know if you have any questions, or add your own tips in the comments.

    L x

    How to Have a Zero Waste Period {Period Underwear Review}

    How to Have a Zero Waste Period {Period Underwear Review}

    Let’s talk period pants shall we? Another requested blog post this one comes with a video AND some cheeky lingerie shots too. Bet you never thought you’d get to see me in my period pants did ya?

    Nope, me neither.

    I first heard about Thinx (affil) about a year ago, maybe less, and you probably did too because their marketing is AGGRESSIVE amiright? Similarly to the Mooncup, I remember my immediate reaction being one of vague disbelief and mild ick

    Pants you can bleed into? Like a nappy?

    But reading more and more and finding my period heavier than ever (something I wasn’t expecting post baby!) I needed something as a backup; initially I’d planned to buy reusable sanitary pads, or make them but I’d never really got on with the whole panty liner thing.

    So, period pants became far more appealing. Especially after I heard such amazing reviews (and some terrible ones, for balance!)

    In this post I’m sharing my honest thoughts on period underwear, the different brands on offer right now and how/why you might want to use them.

    ENJOY!

    Pin this for later:

    Trying to have a zero-waste period? You've come to the right place! I share my essential kit and review the Thinx period panties. Read more at lucylucraft.com #zerowaste #lowimpactliving

    HOW & WHY TO USE PERIOD PANTS

    Because I don’t use standard plastic sanitary products, simply relying on my menstrual cup my reasons for using period pants is based on necessity as opposed to switching for environmental reasons.

    But you might’ve come to this post looking for a reason why you should reduce the waste your period currently produces. The average woman gets through 11,000 tampons in her life which end up hanging around on landfill for centuries due to their synthetic nature.

    Let’s briefly talk about the fact you and I are able to discuss different options by virtue of our privilege. Period poverty is real for FAR too many young girls and women here in the UK and, of course, worldwide and for others, using a tampon or disposable sanitary pad is the only option for health and comfort reasons.

    So my view is that those of us who are able to make a green choice with relative ease should do so. If only so that those who can’t don’t have to see those annoying headlines and feel guilty – because NOBODY should feel guilty for using a tampon, mmmkay?

    Zero waste period pants underwear

    Back to why I’ve chosen period pants over pads.

    My primary reason is my newly-acquired heavy flow. My period requires one menstrual cup (or 3 daily tampons) for around four to five days right now and pads are often required, albeit not bought or used hence the need for something else as backup.

    I bought three Thinx pairs (affil); one high waist black, one standard black and a thong. These three suffice but I’d like to add a couple more, for backup.

    Psssst: I’ve only tried Thinx, however ideally, I would use a UK-based supplier so there are a few picks for you at the bottom of this post.

    And here’s how they work; the science bit, if you will 😉

    PROS

    • You’re saving the world! What could be a better pro than that? But seriously, making the switch to reusables means you’ll see a change in your waste REALLY quickly, which is incredibly satisfying. 
    • You’ll save money, especially if you’re switching from sanitary pads and/or tampons.
    • I’ve found this to be one of the best swaps I’ve made so far. Yes, I didn’t use pads but I was (okay, this is gross and an overshare) often leaking; my period really changed post baby and I started to get really anxious.
    • They just work! I have three pairs at the moment which are just about fine for an average period for me (although I’d like to add two more pairs.)

    CONS

    • The main con for me (and I’m reaching here) is that you have to make sure you rinse your pants in cold water before you pop them in the washing machine. That extra step is a nuisance on day two when you really CBA.
    • They feel weird to the touch, sorta synthetic which, of course, they are. But I’ve not found them to be uncomfortable or thrush-inducing while I’m wearing them. But I think it’s a very personal thing, so I wouldn’t order lots in one go.
    • They take a long time to dry, so depending on your flow; how heavy, how long, and whether you are using them alone or with tampons or a menstrual cup too, you’ll need to be organised and potentially have a big stash.

    5 PERIOD UNDERWEAR BRANDS

    • She Thinx: (affil)The brand I use right now. They look great, fit well and work a treat but the price is a little prohibitive and, as a US brand, are privy to random customs charges. You can buy them in the UK at Selfridges though.Modi Bodi: An Australian company offering a huge range of products, including swimwear. They use Merino wool in their ranges though so aren’t vegan. But they ship from the UK 🙂
    • WUKA: A UK company (although manufactured in China) their ethos is about creating beautiful underwear that works.
    • Dear Kate: US based clothing brand. I love this brand’s diverse photography and they also offer period yoga pants too!
    • Knix: Simple styles, US based. 
    • Panty Props: Another US brand.

    Thus end another thrilling chapter in the, “the world needs to know more about my bodily fluids” series. Hope you enjoyed it!

    L x

    How to Make your own Vegan Candles

    How to Make your own Vegan Candles

    On the 19th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…..ANOTHER blog post from moi. This week I’m showing you how to make your own vegan candles. 

    When I learned how to make my own candles I honestly wanted to kick myself for the sheer volume of money I’d spent on crappy candles over the years. In truth, having made a fair few I can 100% see why artisan candle-makers charge the price they do and I’ll continue to support them because there is a difference in scent and burn time. Just being honest with you! 

    But I love having candles on the go throughout winter so it’s nice to be able to make one whenever I need it. It takes about 30 minutes, tops, and your new candle will be ready to burn the very next day 🙂

     It’s also really worth noting that the cheaper candles are often made using CHEAP ingredients which are pretty revolting to be brutally honest. Most are made with paraffin wax which, when burnt, release toxins such as benzene and toluene. After learning this it was a HARD NO to those bargain candles for me. The double win is that you can use any old glass jars to make them in, saving your recycling bin from yet more waste 🙂 

    Pin this for later:

    A simple guide to making your own vegan candles with a bonus video tutorial!

    Your Candle-Making Kit

    • *Soya wax flakes (or beeswax if you aren’t vegan)
    • *Wicks attached to metal dots and glue to secure them
    • Essential oils/blends: Make sure you don’t buy cheap as chips stuff and try to buy less, but better. The essential oils I use are from Young Living, *Neals Yard and Apotheca Faversham.
    • Receptacles, like glass jars, teacups, bowls….anything! 
    • A saucepan and a bowl that’ll fit inside like a bain marie

    How To Make Vegan Candles

    1. Measure your wax flakes: I use double the amount that’ll fit into your jar.
    2. Using a bain marie, melt your wax flakes over the hob slowly. The slower you melt them the slower they’ll burn.
    3. Once fully melted, pour into a jug and set aside to cool a little.
    4. While your wax cools a little attach your wick to the base of your jar and make sure it’s secure. 
    5. Now for the fun bit: Add your chosen essential oils! I added around 50 drops per 150ml but I think you could probably add more and use a 50/50 ratio. It really depends on the quality and type of oil you use.
    6. Now it’s time to pour! Make sure you hold the wick fairly central (you can use a peg to steady it if you want), and pour the wax carefully onto your jar. 
    7. Secure the wick with a peg or chopsticks and leave somewhere cool to set. Mine took around 24 hours in summer, 12 in winter. 

    L x

    Cloth Nappies: Everything you Need to Know to Get Started

    Cloth Nappies: Everything you Need to Know to Get Started

    I never thought I’d be writing about cloth nappies. Mummy blogger, moi? No, thank-you! But this is one area of my zero-waste journey I’ve found both challenging and satisfying in equal measures. 

    When I first thought about reducing my waste I knew nappies were a non-negotiable that had to go. Disposable nappies are a huge blight on our planet, sitting on landfills around our country (and those we outsource our waste too…) for HUNDREDS of years. And switching to biodegradable nappies isn’t a great option as without oxygen and sun they won’t break down in the promised time either.

    In six months of using disposables with Anaïs I easily added another 800 to the three billion last year. If that image doesn’t make you feel both horrified and a bit sicky (all those pooey nappies!) you are made of stronger stuff than I.

    But it’s not enough for me to simply ditch disposables. As many of us as possible need to follow suit (if we can) so I’m hoping this post serves as a guide to getting started, and helps clarify any questions you have about using cloth nappies for your little one!

    Pin this for later:

    My ultimate guide to getting started with cloth nappies. The pros and cons, what kit you need and a video tutorial! Read more #zerowaste tips at LucyLucraft.com

    ESSENTIAL KIT

    • Nappy bin & two bin liners: to put old nappies in, the bags hold them so you can throw it all in the wash. 
    • 20-30 nappies: This is so dependent on you and your needs. 
    • Liners: To catch poo! These can be chucked. 
    • Boosters: These are to add absorbency.
    • Wet Bags: To hold old nappies when you are out and about. I have four, but you probably only need two.

    THE BRANDS I USE

    I tried a few but my two faves are: 

    • Little Lambs: These are really good value and offer a big variety of styles from basic cloth wraps to all in one. I love the fact they have poppers, as the velcro style fastenings tend to wear thin,
    • Bambino Mio: SUPER easy to use all-in-one styles in cute prints. These are amazing. 

    WHERE TO BUY

    • Facebook Marketplace: Find local groups simply by searching ‘nappies’ OR head straight to the marketplace to find them. I got a big stash of nappies this way and will sell any I don’t need anymore here too. 
    • The Nappy Lady: This is a fantastic website as TNL offers a diagnostic service where she takes all your requirements into consideration before offering her suggestions.

    HOW TO USE CLOTH NAPPIES: A DUMMIES GUIDE 

    I procrastinated about this post a LOT as it’s hard to explain in words how to use reusables. That’s not to say it’s hard, per se, it’s just….you need a visual! So I made one. I’m not a video creator so please be kind 🙂 

    PROS

    • You’re saving the world! What could be a better pro than that? But seriously, making the switch to reusables means you’ll see a change in your waste REALLY quickly, which is incredibly satisfying. 
    • I’ve saved money, for sure, although you do have to be realistic about the initial financial outlay you have to make (around £150 I’d say).
    • I love how easy they are to use while being super eco. I put it off for such a long time and was especially worried about dealing with poo, but it’s fine especially as modern cloth nappies are so convenient.
    • NO gross bin smell. You know what I’m talking about, right? That momen minutes after you’ve dumped a disposable in the bin and the STENCH 

    CONS

    • The initial kit is costly if you buy it all new, and a faff if you go the used route. Although I didn’t find it to be too painful I wanted to acknowledge not all of us have the time/money/energy to expend on the nappy search.
    • You can’t use standard nappy creams with your reusables however I’ve found PurePotions nappy salve to be fine. 
    • I still don’t love dealing with poo, especially as I never flush the liners away (I don’t flush anything except toilet-roll, poo and wee!) but it’s a necessary evil. I pop mine in the bin formerly known as ‘disposable-nappy-bin’ and it’s not so terrible anyway, honest 😉 

    L x