How it started, how it’s going

Almost three years ago I made a commitment to reduce my plastic use for 2019 Plastic-Free July. I took a good look at all my plastic use, but focussed primarily on the kitchen and bathroom. You can read about that HERE. Then I reviewed my approach in January 2020 with another push to further reduce my plastic use (that update is HERE). I recently did this again to see what other plastic bits and pieces I could get rid of, focussing again mostly on the bottles and tubes in the bathroom, and packaging in the kitchen.

In my last update, I had just decided to give Ecostore bathroom products a go. I started out with the refillable bottles of shampoo and body wash, using either GoodFor or New World’s refillery to replenish. I also started using these in the kitchen and laundry too. They’ve been very successful.

In April 2021 I changed my gym routine (i.e. I stopped going…story for another time) and decided to switch from body wash to soap. One less bottle! And then more recently I discovered that Ecostore also sold shampoo bars, so I switched to those. All that remained was the face wash and the toothpaste tube. I switched to tooth tabs from GoodFor and stopped using face wash. So now I use NO plastic in my bathroom. The only plastic “beauty product” I use is moisturiser / sunscreen for my face.

The next change I plan to make is to get rid of the pump bottles of hand wash in the guest bathroom and kitchen and replace these with soap bars – I’m just using up what I have first.

In the kitchen I’ve expanded my use of bulk bins for the basics – rice, lentils, nuts, dried fruit, sugar, cereal, spices etc. It encourages me to eat healthier – less refined food, less sugar. A recent addition to the house was a bread maker – this means no plastic bread bags, and we know exactly what is going into each loaf.

There is always more to do, but I am pretty happy with my progress.

Making ethical choices is hard!

Six month ago, I started making changes to reduce the amount of plastic I use. My first focus was on my hair and beauty products. You can read more about that HERE. I thought I’d give an update on how it’s been going.

Shampoo and conditioner

I tried the Ethique mini conditioner bar and then I decided I just didn’t need it. I have naturally oily hair and conditioner just makes it oilier. My hair seems fine without it.

Shampoo was trickier. I started with the Ethique oily hair shampoo bar (St Clements). It was great – my hair was a bit dry, but it worked well. I didn’t have any issues bringing it to the gym – I just used a plastic container I had at home to put it in, and dried it out each night. But then after about four months I noticed my head getting itchy. And then my scalp started burning after using the shampoo. And then I got a rash on my back! So I switched to Ethique’s normal hair shampoo (Pinkalicious). That didn’t help at all, so I stopped using the bars and have been using my husband’s shampoo for the last couple of weeks while I decided what to do next.

This weekend I got some Ecostore shampoo for normal hair from Good For. You can buy glass bottles from them or refill using any container you want. The plastic containers the Ecostore products come in are made from 90% sugar plastic (it’s a thing!). So this seems like a good option while I regroup and think about trying another shampoo bar. Maybe I’ll stick with EcoStore depending on how it treats my poor head! I like their ethics, and that they are a New Zealand brand. And the bonus is that my husband will use it too, less bottles!

Body wash

I initially ditched my Body Shop body wash for an Ethique soap bar, but I really didn’t like the feel of it, and it left a film in my shower. I’ve tried a few different bars since then, and have settled on a Trade Aid soap from India for now. I feel torn that it’s travelled a long way to get to me, but it’s also made in an ethical way, and buying Trade Aid products supports local industry in the country of origin. I may still switch to Ecostore body wash. The sugar plastic still gives me pause…

Face wash and moisturiser

I have not changed these yet – still using Body Shop seaweed range. They are the hardest thing to wean myself off. Body Shop has said that it intends to move its packaging to 75% post consumer recycled plastics, but they have given themselves until 2022. Not really good enough, especially with all the alternatives available that are using sustainable packaging.

Toothbrush and toothpaste

Switched to a wooden toothbrush – easy! Next step, toothpaste tabs.


I switched to Aotearoad Natural Deodorant and OMG I love it! It’s better than the Nivea one I was using by a long way!


I’m exhausted! Trying to be ethical is hard! Well, not really but it has taken some effort to make changes. I feel much happier as a result though. The hardest thing for me has been to traverse the minefield of ethical choices to make – do I reduce travel miles or the amount of packaging? Buying only NZ made products is great, but it means that I am not supporting small production in developing countries – I want to be able do this also! So I’ve gone with a combo of options.

Other stuff

I’ve also been working on less packaging in the kitchen. I’ve been doing more home cooking (omg using my kitchen for actually cooking!), and getting whole foods from bulk bins rather than in packets. Good For is amazing for organic, sustainably sourced products.

I joined my local community garden and have been getting some produce in exchange for some lovely community time on Saturday mornings – weeding and chatting, what could be better!? And I’ve been buying fresh produce from Dan’s on Stanmore Road – buying in season and from Canterbury growers as much as possible.

And going mostly plant-based has been a huge change. I have found that some vegan products are high in fat and salt and have a lot of packaging, so I’ve been working on cooking my own food with basic ingredients.

So that’s the update. I’ve changed heaps of small things in six months and I’ve reduced my plastic use so much. There is a lot more I can do, and I will keep working on ways to change. I’m loving the challenge of finding great stuff that doesn’t have a big impact on the world.