Would you make your own toothpaste in order to reduce the amount of plastic you use? Small Steps to Less Waste outlines the practical experience and personal stories of a dozen ordinary people who wanted to ditch plastic. Their tips, alternatives and recipes for everyday products normally sold in plastic bottles, show the rest of us how to make a positive difference.
Swimming in a plastic soup while on Vacation in Mallorca in 2015 shocked Claudi Williams and her family so deeply that when they heard a little while later about 13 dead sperm whales with plastic-filled stomachs, they made a family pact to go plastic-free. This was before the series Blue Planet II raised the issue, so achieving their goal was difficult. Claudi returned from her first shopping trip after the pledge with just three items.
The average family produces up to 56 kilograms of waste a year but, by the end of their first year, the Williams family had cut that down to one bagful. Their experience led to the setting up of the community initiative, Action on Plastic, which helps businesses, schools, community groups and the public to reduce their plastic use. Demand is so great that it’s now working throughout the county of Gloucestershire.
The book includes the top hacks, plastic alternatives and tried-and-tested, simple and cheap recipes for making beauty and cleaning products normally sold in plastic bottles, e.g. toothpaste, lip balm, body butter, disinfectant spray, limescale remover, oven and glass cleaners. Just 11 basic, store cupboard ingredients ensures the home is kept clean naturally.
These are all based on the experience of the Williams family and 11 other residents of Stroud community who’ve consciously reduced the amount of plastic they use.
For example, Carly offers plastic-reduced baby care, explaining how to avoid disposable diapers, throw-away wipes and plastic toys. Peter suggests how to take plastic out of DIY. Martha, who teaches people how to make clothes at her Sewing Shed business, describes how to mend jeans; and Paul tells the story of the Repair Cafe where volunteers mend household and electronic items.
For anyone inspired by the contributors’ stories, there’s also advice about how to make and implement your own plastic-free pledge. (Hint: just one room at a time!) ◊
Recipe for Coconut oil toothpaste
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda (food grade)
5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil
2 drops essential oil lemon oil
2 drops orange essential oil
1 drop clove oil
Mix the ingredients together well and keep in a glass jar with tight fitting lid. Will last a few days. Use sparingly as the peppermint and clove oils are quite strong.