Gransnet forums


Life before plastic

(104 Posts)
crystaltipps Fri 19-Apr-19 14:53:44

In an effort to cut down on plastic I’ve gone back to bar soap and bar shampoo and conditioner plus washing powder in a cardboard box. We were chatting and trying to remember what items used to come in before the ubiquity of plastic- did people have washing up liquid? Did people have washing up bowls? What about cosmetics? What was life like before plastic took over? Can we escape it?

M0nica Sun 21-Apr-19 19:07:57

Do remember, that even non-plastic wrappings etc needed raw materials and energy to produce so were not as environmentally ideal ias people think. Think glass and paper. Glass bottles also had to be thoroughly sterilised before re-use and there used to be a problem with milk bottles when they were used for other purposes, like storing paint or other sticky substances and the sterilising system didn't work, again making demands on energy and water. The same applies to sterilising instruments in a medical environment.

Can you remember the difficulty clearing up every sliver of glass when you dropped a bottle of shampoo on the bathroom floor and it broke?

I seem to remember that dishwasher detergent came in in the late 50s. I was at boarding school and the school had the 'bright' idea of a summer sixth form uniform of a permanently pleated primrose yellow skirt that wasn't (permanently pleated) and every Friday night sixth form boarders could be found tacking the pleats in place and then washing them in Mr Squezy, which was new on the market, and trying to drip dry them over a wash basin. The school laundry would not wash them as they were expected to be worn without washing for half a term and we then took them home and our mothers washed them.

JacquiG Wed 24-Apr-19 12:49:47

I try and buy produce like jam, honey, syrup, oils, etc in glass jars and bottles. Friends who make jam are grateful for the cleaned bottles when finished with. Coffee always comes in glass as well. Douwe Egberts jars make lovely storage containers for lentils etc and there are different sizes.

Cooked food can be stored in metal or ceramic with a dish on top in the fridge, to minimise use of cling film. Tried to do without cling film at one point but very difficult. Our rubbish is incinerated so started to use it again in a very minimal way and it goes in the bin. It's very thin so burns easily.

I do think more use could be made of recycled card/paper mache containers for veg and fruit.

Unwanted books, toys and smallish items etc are wrapped, put on our wall and offered to passers by. A roving man with a truck picks up metal, electrical items etc if bagged, labelled, and put on the wall. We have LED bulbs throughout, and that made a massive difference to bills.

As for clothes, only natural fibres for me, and eBay works wonders for recycling. Daughter recently furnished her new sun room all from eBay, and refurbished by her. Sofa, chair, small chest, lamp stand etc. It looks brilliant and not dated, even tho some of the items are from the 60's when furniture was better made in her view. She buys many of her clothes on eBay too. The turnover is amazing (who knew she needed so many dresses) but after a few wearings she cleans them and sells them on. She tells me that many of them are unworn, most worn just a few times. Almost like renting them.

We've always used bar soap. Being aspirational, Imperial Leather has always been my soap of choice since my Mum used it. (She was aspirational too.)

And for the gran who commented about bacteria and possible contamination of soap bars, perhaps we should be aware that we have many different microbiomes which are collections of beneficial and not so beneficial bacteria in happy balance, mostly. Not just in our gut, but lungs, skin, pretty well everywhere. Some make vitamins we need.

Thanks, fellow grans, for all the tips above. Some I can add to my own.

Callistemon Wed 24-Apr-19 15:05:44

Douwe Egberts jars make lovely storage containers for lentils etc and there are different sizes.
They are spilling out of my cupboards!!
Nuts, seeds, dried fruits, lentils etc, all in DE ex-coffee jars.