Plastic in your home

Our home is where our heart is and so thats the best place to start with the plastic free journey.  I wanted to look into plastic free cleaning and household tips as I run an airbnb so have A LOT of laundry and cleaning to deal with.  I currently buy bulk supplies of eco brands but sought some advice from my step sister – The Oily Witch for some recipes for home made products. 

Plastic is a health issue

At the recent Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam, global experts have for the very first time come together to discuss the health impacts of plastic.  It is great that the health impact of plastics is now being investigated. My take away from the bits of the conference I caught on YouTube is that the experts have identified where the gaps are in existing research and are now making it a priority to fill those gaps.  This gives me great hope!

We are now ingesting around 5g of plastic per week.  That is the equivalent of a credit card per week!  And you can’t avoid it by not eating fish.  Sadly not.  Plastic is now is honey, water, salt, beer and in the air that you breathe.  In fact, 100% of mussels tested were found to have microplastics in them.  But microplastics are now in the air to such an extent that, if you were to leave a plate of mussels sitting out on the side in your kitchen for two hours – there would be more micro plastics on the plate than inside the mussels themselves.

Around 65% of all micro plastics are microfibres and our laundry is one of the main sources.  Particles from our car tyres are also a big contributor.  So what can you do for plastic free cleaning and household?

So what can you do?

Here are some top tips for plastic free cleaning and household and reducing toxic chemicals in your home at the same time.  Part of this blog has been written and contributed to by another Claire, my step-sister the Celticwitch Mama – who gives her tips on more environmentally safe and plastic free cleaning.

waste land

Photo Alex Bamford and Lou McCurdy

#1 Plastic Free Laundry

We can have a huge impact on reducing microfibre release by looking after our clothes, washing only when absolutely necessary, not using the delicates cycle (found to release more) or using one of the microfibre catching systems listed below:

  1. Guppy Friend Bag 
  2. Cora Ball 
  3. NEW: Planet Care washing machine filter* the most effective of these options.

Fellow Oceans 8 Consultant Lou McCurdy and awesome photographer Alex Bamford have been helping Planet Care out with their marketing.  Some of our river rubbish features in their work.

Not wearing so many synthetic fibres is also a great way of reducing your impact.  But don’t go all fast fashion on organic cotton products because cotton also has a huge environmental impact due to the amount of water used in the growing process.

Head over to my films blog and check out True Cost to find out more about the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

More infomation from the Plastic Soup Foundation #WhatsInMyWash campaign here:  #WhatsInMyWash

#2 Drive Less

It’s a no brainer really!  And I can’t say too much because I do own a vehicle and I use it but not daily.  The global impact of our carbon footprint is having its toll but in this instance it’s the microparticles from your car tyres that are the issue.  If your household can lift share, use public transport, walk or cycle more that will help.  

#3 Plastic free dishes

Are you still using J-Cloths and sponges, plastic scrubbers and washing up liquid in a single use plastic bottle?

Refill stations are your new friend.  Washing up liquid is one of the most commonly available refill items so no more excuses for that single use plastic bottle.  Ask the oracle (Google) where your nearest refill station is.  Alternatively, Splosh offers a mail order refill system.

Loofah, wooden handles and coconut scrubs are readily available.  There are links to some in my Christmas blog here.  (soon to be updated)

I also love the washable sponges and cloths that are now popping up for plastic free cleaning and household stuff.


#4 Plastic Free Cleaning 

There are now all sorts of recipes available online for making your own household cleaners.  This is a really easy and simple way for plastic free cleaning and household products.  I know that some are more effective than others and so I turned to an expert for advice.  Here’s some intel on making your own cleaning products from my super clean step-sister Claire aka The Oily Witch.

oily witch  
Who is the Oily Witch

I am a purveyor of essential oils and creator of natural cleaning products in order to reduce the need for a plethora of harmful crap in my cleaning cupboard.  I’m also a cleaning addict.  As in my toilet seat is clean enough to eat your dinner from. 

In the past, I’ve tried and tested many more naturally based cleaning products with mixed success…. Removing grease and limescale was usually a fail, thus requiring the extra toxic muscle available in some well-known household brands.  I turned to essential oils and making my own recipes and haven’t looked back since.

I have always been into what’s deemed as ‘alternative medicine’, finding the Eastern approach to health far more successful.  As a “green” witch, I am all about nature-based healing, and finding nifty ways to keep our lives as clean and green as is possible in the 21st century. Having a clean house is also very important to my mental health!  

I am mother to two small individuals, which is a massive motivator in doing my bit to protect the planet. But also keeps my feet firmly planted in the make it easy camp! 

Every minute of time is precious to me, so my Oily solutions not only have to work well, they need to be quick to produce.

zero waste maman

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

The benefits of making your own cleaning products:
  1. More space
    Take a look in your cleaning cupboard.  How many different products have you got? How many do similar jobs? You do not need separate stainless steel and glass cleaner! Are you using plug in air fresheners? Toilet air fresheners? Toilet blocs? Scented Reed Oil Diffusers? We really go a long way in this Country to make sure our xxxx don’t stink…. It’s all gone a bit crazy!
  2. Not toxic
    How many carry sinister warning labels? I don’t want my children to breathe in the aroma of those toxic chemicals when there are safe and natural alternatives readily available. There really is no need for bleach, or noxious oven cleaners requiring a mask and immediate evacuation of the space. We’ve been conditioned through advertising into believing we need too many separate, largely toxic, cleaners in our households. They’re not only damaging our immune systems, our skin is porous and what we inhale we ingest. 
  3. Keep your house alive
    They’re killing off or disrupting the natural eco balance in our homes too.  Some bacteria are our friends and are necessary for us to live healthily with a balanced immune system.  The chemical cleaners do not differentiate between the good and bad bacteria. 
  4. Save money
    I use the same oils to treat the family’s health, cook* and make beauty products like suntan lotion and shower gel.

*Please note that as pure essential oils are so potent they are not suitable to be placed directly onto skin or ingested in water.  They must be mixed with oils  or can be used as an ingredient in some food recipes.  Really, you should consult a certified aromatherapist or naturopathic doctor before ingesting any essential oil. 

Homemade cleaning store cupboard essentials:
  1. Bicarbonate of soda 
  2. Clear vinegar
  3. Olive Oil
  4. Citric Oil
  5. Glass containers
  6. Liquid castille soap

Pure Essential Oils dissolve plastics, so anything claiming to contain them yet stored in plastic must contain barely any. And they must be stored in darkened glass in a cool dark place with the lid tightly on so they can’t be ruined by light and oxidisation. I keep all my spray heads, jars, dark glass bottles from anything I have bought in the past and reuse these.

Initially, I was worried about having glass bottles all over the house and the potential fall out if they got dropped. However, it turns out they are more robust than you’d think and the kids are really careful with them, not that they use them as much as I’d like!

zero waste cleaning

Recipe tips:

An all round cleaner if you dont have the essential oils:

  • One part white vinegar
  • One part water
  • Lemon rind (or a couple of drops of lemon essential oil)
  • Rosemary sprigs (or a couple of drops of rosemary oil)

A citric oil in combination with a distilled leaf oil, makes an all-round cleaner that not only cuts through dirt and grease like a knife through butter, but purifies the air that your breathing whilst making you feel good. It won’t kill off the good bacteria you need to keep your home alive in all the right ways and its child and animal safe. I use mine to clean my oven, fridge, kitchen counters, sink, floor, wooden chopping board, remove stains from walls and clothes and pretty much anything that needs it.

Tea tree oil has brilliant antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, making it brilliant for cleaning bathrooms.

plastic free cleaning and household 

Why it’s important to get the right essential oils

Essential oils, are between 50 and 70 times as potent as the plant themselves, because of their concentration, and are chemical plant essences. One bottle of doTERRA Lemon contains 75 skins, 1 drop of Peppermint is equivalent to 28 cups of mint tea!

Not all Essential Oils are equal either, in the UK the market is unregulated, thus only 8% of the original ingredient needs to be present for it to be marketed as ‘pure’. This is only obvious by the price, because the bottles say next to nothing themselves, and when diffused and they smell wrong. So, to be clear, I am only promoting the use of doTERRA, because I know their oils are 100% pure and more importantly, ethically sourced and sustainable.

And, because of all that they are and can do, they make an excellent base for ‘Environmentally Protective Cleaning’ products.

We need to keep it natural where ever we can, not only for our own sakes but for the flora and fauna of the wider environment, that keep us alive.

If you’re interested in learning more or how, I run Oily Workshops or 1-2-1 private consultations. I also write about this The Oily Witch.

zero waste cleaning

Happy Cleaning!