Shampoo, tins and the plastic dilemma

There is something very appealing about tiny, smooth metal tins; I am not sure why they please me so much, maybe because you can’t see what’s inside them and like Alice, I feel compelled to open them and try out their contents.

These particular tins contain shampoo and conditioner bars of lurid blue and creamy white. The tins are providing me with a ridiculous amount of satisfaction given how small they are but they look good in my bathroom, a signal of intent, a move away from plastic bottles to alternatives.

Today was spent in Belfast celebrating a birthday. It was good to spend time together, enjoying each other’s company but I found it all a bit of a strain. Everywhere I looked there was disposable plastic, even in the restaurant where metal cutlery could be provided there was plastic spoons for the ice cream. The bit I found hardest was in a an accessories shop that the small people wanted to visit. It was wall to wall plastic. Now I know that as a child I would have adored this kind of shop but I felt hypocritical being there and I questioned my parenting; was this what I wanted the small people to focus on?

The thing about gradually changing the way we live as a family and what we are consuming is that every time I shop now I feel assaulted by decisions, before it would have been easy but now I am conscious of browsing in a sea of plastic paraphernalia. Its a strange juxtaposition, I remember why it’s nice to shop and it feels like a right of passage with my children but at the same time I know that what I am doing is a fundamental part of the problem and it makes me uncomfortable. Unless I don’t consume, unless there is less footfall and custom things won’t change. Shopping now makes my head hurt, I guess, change does that, it requires thought and planning and an overhaul of what constitutes acceptable.

It’s a relief then, when my nose picks up the tell tale smell of essential oils and perfume. That distinctive smell can only mean one shop and as we round the corner there it is. An opportunity to use not just our eyes to make decisions but our noses. Time to make choices about what soap, shampoo, conditioner and body wash to buy; A feast of colours and smells. There’s still plastic options available but oh the relief of some easy choices, shopping what they refer to as their ‘naked’ offer.

Even some big brands in supermarkets are offering naked alternatives now, yesterday I saw that I could choose between teabag boxes with or without plastic wrappers. As I really want loose leaf (as tea bags contain plastic) that decisionstill held a dilemma as to whether to purchase my favourite tea or not but its a hopeful sign that change is occurring.

At home with my naked shampoo and conditioner in their shiny tins lined up next to the orchids in my bathroom, today’s shopping experience doesn’t feel so bad. Yes buying shampoo in bar format is a very small step and maybe it won’t change anything on it’s own but if I add it to the vegetables I am growing, the reduction in the amount of meat we are eating , purchasing any meat using our own containers, our naked purchases of bread, vegetables and goods, the items I am making from scratch (pasta, crackers, biscuits) I know that I am making a difference. The very fact that we don’t need either our landfill or our recycling bins emptied so often confirms that for me.

Time to celebrate small victories by washing my hair; I know how to party.


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