Three Years Plastic Free

1 July 2016
Today marks an anniversary; it was on this day three years ago I attempted my first Plastic Free July. It was a decision that led me to change my lifestyle. For the last two anniversaries, I have commemorated this day by writing in detail how I continue my plastic free lifestyle. I thought I’d keep up the tradition. You can read year one and year two for comparison.

I still can’t believe it’s been three years.

Happy Plastic Free July everyone.
Three Years Plastic Free
Photo by Anthony Strong

Personal care

We buy blocks of soap from The Australian Natural Soap Company. Unpackaged, simple and all natural.

I now wash with water only.

Three years on and my toothpowder continues to clean my teeth just fine. The essential oils I use in my toothpowder have plastic lids. The quest to find these in bulk or without plastic lids has not been fruitful yet.

Bamboo toothbrush. The bristles are partly made of plastic (nylon to be exact). I pull the bristles out, put these into my trash jar then compost the bamboo body.

Face moisturizer
Hemp oil. I finally, FINALLY, found bulk face oil that suits my very oily skin perfectly.

Over the last three years I have tried to find a replacement for my beloved rosehip oil. There have been trials of olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil and recently sunflower oil. All of these did nothing but leave me with breakouts or left my complexion looking ruddy. Hemp oil has been a savior. I purchased it from The Source Bulk Foods for those interested.

Body moisturiser
Sunflower oil. I don’t mositurise my body often. Once a week tops.

I keep them clean and smelling normal with a bar of soap, twice a day. Then follow up with my simple vinegar spray.


I have been waiting for the day when I can replace my plastic razor with one of those cool safety razors…but my old razor is holding up. Even though it is plastic, there is no point throwing something away that can still be used.

I make my own, blending essential oil with sunflower oil.

Menstrual items
Still going strong with my moon cup and reusable cloth pads. Money saved over three years is… $390. $390!!!! That's huge.

Make up

I was making my own lip cream, cheek tint…I now use UrbApothecary cheek and lip stain. I have continued to make my own mascara, eyebrow powder and use plain tapioca flour as a face powder.

Three Years Plastic Free
Photo by Anthony Strong
Nail file
Nothing changed. I have a small selection that should last for life.

Dry Shampoo
Blend of tapioca powder and carob powder. I brush on with my blush brush.

Hair ties

I collected enough hair ties off the street last year that I’m now well stocked.

Body scrubs
The agave cloth gets another mention this year as my sole body scrub. A touch of lemon on my face for extra exfoliation happens time to time.

I have found that my mascara and eyebrow powder use dropped significantly. So far in 2016, I’ve only worn my mascara a handful of times. In late 2015, I tried several ready made zero waste mascaras, unfortunately none worked as well as my own. I don’t know why I’ve slowly started to ease up on using mascara. Perhaps I’m finally embracing my blonde eyelashes?

Everything bar the essential oils is bought without plastic. The bristles of the toothbrushes are made of partly plastic materials. I continue to look for options to buy essential oils in bulk here in Melbourne. Nothing has come along yet.

Grocery Shopping/Kitchen

We chiefly collect our food from the farmers market. Our farmers market is on each Sunday. Rain, gusty wind, blazing sun…we are there, basket and cloth bags in hand.

We have stopped buying meat and fish for home. There’s been no visit to the butcher or fishmonger. We are not vegetarian, nor planning to subscribe just yet. This has not been driven by the environment, rather something that has happened gradually. Simply, we prefer to eat vegetables and fruit at home. I put this down to the delicious veggies and fruit we get at our farmers market.

Our bread is bought at the farmers market when I can’t be bothered making sourdough. This is often. I do make sourdough crackers at home alot. We also buy eggs from the market reusing the cartons each time.

We visit the deli to get dips, arancini, veggie patties and others bits if we feel like it. It's more of a treat every other month. I buy cheese and butter at Curds and Whey. They have blocks of cheddar cheese without wax and store it at their counter without plastic wrap. I have given up on milk and yogurt. As I said last year, I've never been a big milk drinker or that into yogurt. I tried making nut milk once…it was not for me. It tasted too blah. Plus the price put me off. If I need to make a cake requiring milk, I will make and use oat milk. I prefer the taste and the price. I do have two awesome vegan bakeries near my house, so I generally leave my cake making to them. I don't buy from them because they are vegan, but because their cakes are the best in the area.

A trip to the bulk store for dry food items is carried out every few months for flour, nuts, lentils, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, popcorn kernels, dates and any spices we need. We are obsessed with dates. We might get some other things on top of these staples.

I would say our food style is to eat like paupers at home (read, simple unfussy quick meals). Then dine like dukes and duchesses when we go out. Locally and seasonally of course.

Everything is bought using our own cloth bags, jars, old plastic containers, wine bottles and stainless steel containers.

Dry food is stored in glass jars. Bread in the cloth bag it was bought in. Cheese wrapped in a tea towel. I buy food from the deli in old plastic containers only because it is easier for them. It is then transferred to glass jars at home.

Eating Out

A jar or container is usually in my handbag, so leftovers can be transported home easily. If there are leftovers. We try to order enough so there are none. My cutlery wrap sits nestled in the depths of my handbag also.
Three Years Plastic Free
Photo by Anthony Strong

I clean the house with:
  • Liquid soap (castile without the palm oil)
  • Bi-Carb Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Eucalyptus oil and clove oil
Liquid soap diluted with water and eucalyptus works as a surface spray. Same combination, with less soap, is for the floors. The bicarb is used with eucalyptus oil and soap to clean toilets. Diluted vinegar for mirrors and windows. Clove is on hand for mold.

There are a pile of cloth rags kept under the sink designated for house cleaning.

Clothes are washed with bulk bought clothes powder.

Dishes are washed with either liquid soap or dishwasher powder. I hand wash the dishes with a agave cloth (so handy!) and piece of cotton cloth. I then compost them at the end of their life.


I have decided to remove as much of my synthetic (polyester, acrylic, nylon) clothing as possible from my wardrobe. I won’t ever be 100% free of synthetics as most clothing is stitched with a synthetic cotton blend. So my natural fiber clothing (cloth, silk or linen) won't ever be 100% synthetic free.

Rather than dump my unwanted synthetic clothing onto the local charity stores, they are going to be used as stuffing for pillows. I’m continuing to buy second hand clothing, but not exclusively. I did purchase locally made woolen jumpers last winter.


This is a popular question – what do I do if I get sick?

First things first, I am not anti-plastic. I am anti the misuse of plastic. Plastic has done some great things for medicine. It has healed and prolonged life, made mobility easier, given the gift of hearing, walking - the list goes on and on.

Whenever someone asks me what to do, I tell them to make a decision based on what's best for them.

Three Years Plastic Free
Photo by Anthony Strong

How was the third year?

Naturally some changes have occurred from last year. I have found that I’ve relaxed on the need to make everything from scratch. Making things can be satisfying, but I do prefer to spend my time doing something else. While I loved my homemade lip and cheek tint, it’s nice not to have to make it. I’ve come to the realization the importance of supporting businesses who offer plastic alternatives. Not everyone can or wants to make everything from scratch and I don’t want to sell that idea to anyone.

There has been an explosion of places to shop plastic free here in Melbourne. My suburb went from having one bulk store to now having five. I’m interested to know what will happen going forward. My biggest dream would be to see more bulk stores or bulk co-ops open up in regional areas.

In the wrap up last year, I put fourth my aspiration to get from behind the computer to become involved with the local community, sharing face to face. It happened in far grander ways than I anticipated.

I’m not sure if I will do a round up next year. If thing changes dramatically, one will be written.

I wonder what and where I’ll be at my next Plastic Free July. Until then, let’s keep having conversations about reducing unnecessary plastic.
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