Well I wanted to begin this week’s blog entry by showing some progress photo’s for Ruby. I am very pleased with how she is looking, she is taking on the look and feel of a pirate ship and is looking feisty!
Some of the exterior cladding has gone up which is made of Larch wood (as opposed to Cedar due to budget constraints), the reason for this is Larch has some good properties such as being durable and weather resistant but in addition, each piece of wood has been carefully heated with a blow torch to give it that deep brown colour and further protection, it will also be given a coating of oil to finally seal it up and will generally need very little maintenance.
The windows as you can see are boat windows which have toughened glass due to regulations for road vehicles, but they are beautiful and do add to the sea worthy look.
I have also decided to put in a small hatch door in the side of the vehicle to allow access to the living area (and toilet) while on the road without needing to pull down the decking ramp, practical additions like this will be invaluable.
Now then, once Ruby, Loki and I have set ourselves up on site at the farm, the plan is to create as little waste as possible, as well as using chemical free products as my grey water waste will be running straight into the ground, this fits into the Seventh Generation Sustainability model (see more information on this topic on the website). The plastic revolution has been gaining momentum and I thought it might be useful to talk through some of the plastic free alternatives that I use at home just to share some idea’s, I don’t have an advertising deal with any companies so you can feel safe in knowing these are genuine suggestions.
Much of the plastic I used to create came from shampoo and conditioner bottles and a good replacement for these are shampoo and conditioner bars, depending on your hair type, some shampoo bars can dry out your hair so it is important to see what works best for you, I tend to use the Lush shampoo bars which leave my hair soft and shiny, it takes time for your hair to get rid of the layers of chemicals you have built up using other supermarket products, but once your hair has recovered, you won’t look back and your hair will never be the same again. They also do conditioner bars all plastic and packaging free.
I also use one of their creamy gourmet soaps which smells lovely and lasts a long time, as well as a face serum bar as an alternative to cream which melts on your face and again has no packaging involved.
You can find packaging free deodorant bars and I have tried and tested Lush’s ones but am not a huge fan of them but there are many online you can look for and tend to come in a cardboard tube which looks like a roll on. I am a huge fan of Georganics charcoal toothpaste which comes in a glass jar that I re-purpose for various things and it lasts a long time as you only need a pea size on your toothbrush. My electric toothbrush recently died a death and I now use a manual bamboo toothbrush.
As an alternative to chemical hair dye I have ventured into the world of Henna which is great and leaves my hair looking very healthy, however can be tricky on my grey’s of wisdom, although I am still perfecting the technique. You can buy a solid bar of Henna from Lush but have found the organic pure Henna online to be better but unfortunately comes in a plastic wrap, at least I am avoiding leaking chemicals into the ground.
A menstrual cup, usually known as The Tulip or Mooncup has picked up in popularity since the plastic revolution began, although made of silicone it pretty much lasts forever and is a good way of avoiding throwing sanitary towels (most of which have plastic layers in them) and tampons into the environment and waterways and I for one find them very useful and comfortable. If you prefer to use sanitary towels then there are alternatives such as fabric sanitary towels that are washable or specifically designed underwear, take your pick!
As a typical British person I do like my tea and found out that most teabags have a very thin layer of plastic to seal the bags up, I was very disappointed when I found they were not breaking down in the composting bin, so I now use a metal tea strainer and loose leaf tea, the only difficulty is finding a supplier that doesn’t pack up the dried tea leaves in a plastic bag.
I am also a big fan of bee’s wax food wraps which I use to wrap up sandwiches or left over food and cover bowls, they hold their shape very well and just need a quick wipe to get clean again, bye bye cling film.
To replace the lowly plastic bottle, I have been using the useful metal Chilly bottle’s which can be used for hot or cold beverages and it is designed to keep the liquid at it’s original temperature for at least 12 hours, for those that don’t like metal, there are glass bottle alternatives out there. This is the same with milk bottles, companies such as Milk&More have gone back to the original milk man concept and refill glass milk bottles and deliver to your door but you can buy milk cartons in most places so it is easy to replace these.
I have also come across an interesting concept called ‘Ecobricks’ where you can use a plastic bottle that you may have lying around and fill it with all of those annoying plastic wrappers that you absolutely cannot recycle, eg chocolate bar wrappers. You fill a bottle
with them until it reaches a certain weight and then send out the bottle to a company that uses them in the construction of houses in developing countries, brilliant idea.
As a nation, we do semi-ok with recycling and most neighbourhoods, even the rural ones have a recycling pick up truck as well as general waste truck, however there is an argument to be had about recycling. Most people don’t realise that the UK only recycles around 9% of it’s waste, that’s a crazy low amount. So what do we do with the rest of the rubbish that we have so carefully separated out ready for collection with the faith that it will get recycled into something else later down the line you ask? it gets exported to other countries where there is no guarantee it will get recycled, most of it ends up being burned, in landfill or in our oceans.
So the key here really is to avoid using plastic in general and learn to re-use and upcycle.
Do some research and you will likely find plastic-free alternatives everywhere you look and it will only get better with the choices as time goes on, there is more research and investment now into materials which replicate the properties plastic has but that can also be composted (not biodegrade, this is not the same thing) and I get the sense that companies are waking up to this now.
We will always want to consume and buy products and instead of ranting on about how we live in a consumerist world and people are becoming more and more materialistic and we should live in a cave somewhere with nothing but a fire and strategically placed leaves on our bodies (some may like this idea), why don’t we be the change and question our buying habits as each purchase will inevitably create a waste product out of it, let that waste be in tune with our environment so that we can all continue to live together and ultimately survive, I believe that mother nature has her ways in cleansing herself, and if we are not careful and help her stay clean, she will ultimately begin her own cleansing ritual and we may just end up being the waste product ourselves.