Thinking Laterally About Packaging- Judy McDowell

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Last night I tweeted a puzzle I couldn’t solve:  _ + _ + _ = 30, and you could only use given odd numbers.  That seemed impossible, because if you add three odd numbers, you must end up with an odd number.  However, the out-of-the-box thinkers on Twitter came up with a few answers, ranging from including (15-5) to fill each gap, to changing the base number to something other than 10.  Mind boggling stuff, but it proved that, with lateral thinking, seemingly impossible problems can be solved.

It was on Twitter the day before that I had asked if people were still using plastic bottles for shampoo, conditioner and body wash, why? Some answers were genuinely amusing, such as:

– because they leak out of paper bags;

-because that is how things are done and we can’t change it;

– because the only alternative is glass, which might slip out of wet hands and smash. 

But, as with the puzzle, you must think outside the box or, in this case, outside the plastic bottle.

If glass bottles are dangerous and paper bags won’t hold liquid, why not change the product?  Remember bars of soap?  Most personal cleansing products once again come in bars, which don’t need plastic or glass to contain them.  Cardboard or paper will do.

This wonderful discovery came to me when I searched the internet for the best eco-friendly shampoo, expecting to find liquids that were made without undesirable chemicals or animal products; but no, there was a plethora of shampoo bars.  I chose one and haven’t looked back since.  My hair, always dry and frizzy, is now so much softer it is almost like other people’s hair, and I’ve managed to grow it longer than since I was a child! 

Due to agoraphobia, I haven’t been able to go to specialist shops, so I usually buy things through Amazon.  Whether that is the right thing to do or not is another matter, but it often means free postage.  I think all manufacturers of this sort of product I have come across have been British, which in these strange days is useful for the economy, but also of course reduces the carbon footprint of delivery.

The brand I like for my hair is A A Skin care *, in the west country.  Others on Twitter frequently mentioned Lush.  There are also cottage industry affairs.  All in all, there is a lovely variety, and the products are healthy for the planet, and lovely to use.  Some people questioned the cost, but I have found a bar of shampoo, which costs just under £5, lasts a good 3 months, washing my hair every other day.

As for cleaning your skin, well, for centuries the product for that came in bar form – a good old bar of soap.  These can be bought cheaply, but for a little more money you can also buy it with lovely added essential oils.  If you like a body scrub, BBC Earth in association with Boots, make a lovely one.

Conditioner also comes in bars, but I confess I am still not ready to give up my easy option of using leave-in conditioner, which comes in a plastic tub.  It does, however, last for several months, so I feel a little less guilty.  Perhaps the same type of product can be found in a tin or glass jar (no need to use with wet hands in the bathroom). Another tweep swore by cider vinegar, rinsed off.

The other alternative for reducing plastic waste when using liquids is simply to have the containers refilled, either in the shop, or return them so they can be reused.  Supermarkets need persuading this is a good idea!

I went on to think about liquid detergent.  Why not revert to powder form, so long as the contents are environmentally friendly, or soap flakes or powder?

So, make yourself a cuppa, sit down, and explore all the wonderful products now available.  It will probably surprise and delight you!


Editor’s note: This post recommends a brand or product, but is not a paid advertisement, nor has any discount etc been accepted. It represents the sincerely held view of the author.

@jcm247 “Into politics, environment, wildlife, psychology, early learning, coffee, archaeology, evolution, family + other pets, soaps, sarcasm”

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