Incredible Bulk

A wash of calm has returned this week after a really hectic few weeks. I can’t believe it’s already Saturday again! I’ve been catching up all week after last weekend, which saw two big social events in the calendar: our local village fair and Love Supreme, an amazing Jazz Festival. The Husband made a show stopping 5ft pineapple for the pre-school float and once the floats had been judged and prizes awarded we headed off to the festival for an evening of music, sun, booze, dancing and pizzas. And of course around the fun was all of the usual life stuff that goes with small children. Everyone slept very well come Sunday night.

The amazing pre-school float decorated by the children and The Husband’s giant gold pineapple; and the Little one with her festival bands on.

I’m so glad that we’re now easing slowly into summer and soon the school holidays will be upon us. And with a much calmer week behind us, I’ve spent a little time working on some of the zero waste pledges I put in place in last week’s blog post. Some have worked better than others. Here’s how I’m getting on.


  • Milk: we’re now getting our milk from the milkman in reusable glass bottles. I haven’t had to top up with any milk from the shops, so we’ve ditched at least 4 or 5 plastic milk containers this week alone. I’m really enjoying fetching the milk from the doorstep with the girls, as they’ve been so excited by the milk arriving on the step in the morning. We always used to have a milkman when I was small, so it’s given me a warm, fuzzy feeling of childhood nostalgia too.


  • Contact lenses: I’ve stuck to wearing my glasses during the week and keeping contact lenses for the weekend. I may have to review this and introduce a little more flexibility. It was a bit of a disaster to wear my glasses to Hove Lagoon paddling pool on Wednesday afternoon: splashy small children and spectacles don’t mix too well. And adding to the impracticality I wore a regular mascara, which ran everywhere the moment I got splashed in the face and then stung my eyes like crazy. Vision is vital with 2 hectic small people and water, so there was a moment of panic as I frantically rubbed the makeup out of my burning eyes with a towel and then frantically checked to see that the girls were safe in the enclosed paddling pool area!


  • Shampoo bar: this has been a complete disaster. I haven’t been able to get this to work with my hair at all. The bar lathered really nicely and at first seemed to be doing a great job of washing my hair. But once out of the shower, it was obvious that my hair was really greasy and lank. I used the bar every other day. By the end of the week, my hair was sticking together at the roots and it was nearly impossible to style. It didn’t work for The Husband’s hair or scalp either and his head itchiness came back. He hasn’t had an itchy scalp for a long time, so we decided to stop using the bar on our heads. Greasy and itchy are not really what we were going for and this is a compromise too far! Its a shame though as I was really hoping this would work for our family. I’m now using the shampoo bar as a body wash instead and it’s working really well on my skin. At least it won’t go to waste.


  • Bread: I’ve not been very good at buying zero waste bread this week. I’m surprised that this has been such a struggle. I’ve been visiting local and farm shops instead of the supermarket and I’ve stopped ordering bread on our online supermarket shopping. I have a fantastic bread maker in the cupboard and we’re not short of bakery options in the village. Yet each time I’ve been out to buy bread I’ve returned home with something wrapped in plastic or paper with a plastic window. This should be so easy and yet I haven’t managed to ditch the plastic wrap. I’m going to try harder next week.

And then on to this week’s main theme: bulk buying. This has been a bit of a revelation. Over the last 5 or 6 years I feel like we’ve found some fantastic eco staples that work for all of the family. I’m kinda loathe to change what I know works. Especially when The Husband has very sensitive, eczema prone skin; and the little one has come out in rashes if we’ve used anything that has any sort of fragrance or perfume in it. And as the shampoo bar has been a bit of a failed experiment, it’s a reminder that I’d rather stick to what we know.  However, small plastic bottles are a zero-wasters nemesis and our usual shampoo, conditioner and shower gel all come in small plastic bottles. Even worse? We’re unable to recycle the lids on the shampoo and conditioner bottles in our blue bin, so these go to landfill.


So, this week I explored bulk options and I’m delighted to say that all of our regular products can be bought in supersize bulk versions. Neal’s Yard sell 1 litre bottles of both our regular shampoo and conditioner; Mistry’s sell a 3 litre bottle of their organic soap; and Bio-D sell a 12.5kg box of their non bio washing powder. I’ve already bought a litre of shampoo and a box of washing powder. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to wash my hair with my usual shampoo after last week’s failed shampoo bar experiment – grease be gone!  I’ll buy a big conditioner when we’ve used up the small one and the shower gel is on it’s way. We’ve bought a reusable pump for the shampoo and it’s much easier to dispense the right amount. No more accidental spills or squirting too much out. In theory these bottles should last for about 6 months; the box of washing powder and big bottle of soap should last for close to a year.

And by no means least I’ve worked out that by buying bulk we’ll save about £100 per year on these products alone.

So, I’m pretty pleased with this seemingly small and extraordinarily easy switch that’s good for the environment (less waste); good for our pockets (cheaper); and good for my sanity (much less to remember as we won’t be out of the things we use quite so frequently). Win, win, and win again.

In other news, my heart sank a little with the news that teabags contain small amounts of plastic. Once we’ve finished the box of Clipper tea that we’ve got in the cupboard I’m planning to replace it with loose leaf tea. I’ll be on the look out for fair trade, organic options. I love a good cuppa tea, so I’m looking forward to trying out a few different types of tea to find the perfect tea bag replacement.

Have you replaced any of your regular purchases with bulk version? Do you have any fair trade loose leaf tea recommendations? 


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