Blog #107: Let’s prepare for Plastic Fasting - When shopping for Hygiene & Beauty!

February 16, 2023
Monika Weber-Fahr
This Blog is for those of you who are considering or have already decided to join me as of next week for the 40 days (or some portion of them) of this year’s lenten period - in committing to Plastic Fasting as a lenten practice. The Blog is also dedicated to those who really have no intention to do this but are just kind of curious … to hear how disruptive, or even rewarding, it would be when avoiding - as much as possible - the use of single-use plastics that our fast food and instant gratification world has made such a big and yet environmentally damaging part of our lives. Today’s Blog looks at whether - and how - it’s even possible to commit to Plastic Fasting when shopping for hygiene and beauty products. Spoiler alert: It’s kind of tough - but you’ll learn about a whole new world of alternative (or old) ways of keeping clean and pretty. What is clear: Most of the products you normally use will be off-limits for the next 40 days. And, of course, that’s exactly what fasting is all about - about abstinence and abstention ;-)
So what’s off-limits? The list is long: In the bathroom, you will have to abstain from your regular toothpaste, your showergel, your shampoo, your hand sanitizer, if you have one, and surely your liquid soap. In the kitchen the list continues: Most dishwasher soap comes in plastic-wrapped tabs, and most washing-up liquid will be in a plastic bottle. Cleaning products for the household offer the same if not more challenges. And by the time you get to look at  your washing machine, you will discover that not only do all washing liquids come in plastic bottles - but also when you use powders that come in paper boxes, you are not safe from plastics, simply because of the micro-plastics being released when washing your clothes. Because yes: Clothes made with acrylic or polyester fabric will release micrplastics every time you wash them. Bummer. It seems obvious - but I had never thought about it.
Foto:Just doing your laundry, you are contributing to the world’s micro-plastic problems: This graph illustrates the average number of filber released when washing a regular 6kg load, depending on the material of the clothes you you wash. Source:  
Yes, my off-limits list is long. What makes this complicated, on my end, is that I share the household with a few others, none of whom are committed to Plastic Fasting, so I will have to be pragmatic. In the bathroom, it’s easy. I already figured out alternatives to tooth paste (there are nice powders that come in glasses and you can buy them at every DM), there are soap bars that work beautifully under the shower as well as shampoo bars. I have found further hair products that come in metal boxes, and instead of moisturizer I am using oils that come in glasses (I will have to ignore their plastic tops, thoughl; I simply could not find easily accessible oils that come differently). In the cleaning product department, there are a lot of options - for me my taste, though, too many to choose from. For washing powder, the most simple solution is to go for Frosch products. They don’t test just as well as some of the other alternatives, but Frosch does offer a washing powder (instead of liquid) that is guaranteed free of microplastics, as well as tabs for the dishwasher that are also microplastic free. For the rest, I will walk into my local Unverpackt store and simply buy some of the liquid soaps and solutions they have - filling them into old honey glasses. Let’s see how that will work out.
Is that it?  Well, reading up on the micro-plastics that are emitted when washing my clothes has given me pause. Even with the best ot intentions, there is little one can do to completely stop this - short of switching completely to clothes made from natural fibres only. Even switching is tough if only because it seems that not everything that says 100% cotton also is 100% cotton. There is some talk about filters in washing machines, but they seem to not have fully figured them out. The only reasonable pathway here seems to be to simply wash less: If there is a stain on your fleece pullover, don’t throw it immediately in the wash but rather fix the stain.
You read this Blog until here? Well, then here is my question to you: Are you in or are you out? Will you join me for my Plastic Fasting adventure as of next week Wednesday? It does not have to be perfect - you don’t have to go all the way - but maybe you want to try just for parts of it? You may have seen in earlier blogs: Christians around the world are practicing Plastic Fasting, here and there, and the Anglican Communion as well as the Anglican Church have formally embraced such initiatives various times and in various places. In fact, the GreenAnglicans offer a day-by-day schedule on what to do and how when committing to Plastic Fasting. So, please do feel invited to join me (and many others) on this special lenten journey!
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