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?

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.

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.

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.

Wheniwasyourage Sun 21-Apr-19 15:01:05

crazyH, as has been said earlier, Lush do bar shampoo.

We use bar soap which stays dry as we have metal soap dishes which are made with big enough holes to drain the soap efficiently so that it doesn't stay damp and soggy.

LullyDully Sun 21-Apr-19 14:31:02

Talking of fresh bread from the bakers. We used to buy fresh yeast there to bake bread. The dried stuff I use now doesn't smell so good.

Kim19 Sun 21-Apr-19 13:17:28

Yep, I'm old enough to remember By-prox. Granny was seldom without it as I recollect.

Grammaretto Sun 21-Apr-19 09:11:47

In an effort to save our blighted High Street, encourage a sense of community, and perhaps educate eachother about tackling poverty, inequality, climate change, animal welfare, loneliness and all modern woes wink a group of local enthusiasts optimists took on a lease, and have subsequently bought, an empty shop. Part of this is open and sells food and groceries supplied by
All other goods come from small local or Scottish companies such as milk from the wee isle dairy
Fresh locally grown vegetables and fruit from our community garden and , even paper bags are made nearby.

There is a community garden run by another similar group.
and a lunch is cooked and served free once a week using surplus food donated from the garden and from supermarkets.
It's early days, we've been open just over a year and are still entirely dependent on volunteers, but it's proving very popular.
So pm me if you want to try similar in your area or volunteer with us!

harrigran Sun 21-Apr-19 07:54:14

Sliced bread used to be bought in waxed paper, mother used to save the paper to wrap sandwiches in.
I still buy bread in waxed paper.
Daz was used for dish washing and it was very harsh on the hands, it also left an aftertaste on cups, father insisted we rinsed the cups with boiling water.

Nonnatimesfour Sun 21-Apr-19 07:36:24

Loved how food was wrapped in greaseproof paper and paper bags, tissue, lovely tins etc ....potted meat, bacon, bread, cakes, coffee, sweets etc..... I remember being horrified when bread started coming in plastic bags !

Anja Sun 21-Apr-19 06:36:16

I use the supermarket mushroom bags for small loose veg like sprouts or tomatoes. Always choose loose carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc over prepacked.

At my local supermarket cabbages and cauliflowers come in loose plastic bags which I hand back at the till after they’ve been scanned.

At their deli you can have fish, sliced meats, etc in a slightly waxed paper back if you insist.

jocork Sat 20-Apr-19 22:49:03

My daughter uses a store in Glasgow which refills all sorts of containers - milk, shampoo etc - called Locavore. She is trying to go single use plastic free for lent but found it difficult when in the USA for work! So much packaging is unnecessary. I buy tomatoes in a cellophane 6 pack usually but recently Sainsbury's added a plastic tray inside the cellophane packet as well. I wrote to them about it and they gave me a load of waffle about reducing plastic by whatever % by 2020 but couldn't justify the EXTRA new packaging. I told them I would be shopping elsewhere. I think their different suppliers do different things though as I've noticed the trays are in packets sometimes but not always. I wish the loose tomatoes were not significantly more expensive than the pre-packed as that would be best but then you end up putting them in a plastic bag to weigh unless you only buy one!

jacq10 Sat 20-Apr-19 21:28:04

Thanks Bijou for reminding me of the trip to the shop to get a loaf of bread. Obviously it was before pre-sliced bread and came in fresh every day and it was wrapped in tissue paper. I remember the soft feel of it and the smell especialy when I made a small hole in the top to just pick at a wee bit of it! By the time I reached home most of the black crust had gone. In Scotland it was called a "plain loaf" and although they still produce it and I did try it some time ago the pre-packed and sliced did nothing for me. Another memory is mixing the sachet of shampoo before Mum and I used to wash our hair. My Dad used to say he didn't know why we bothered "as Daz was fine for him"! I must say he had a fine head of hair till he was well into his 60's.

Lily65 Sat 20-Apr-19 20:57:25

I remember eating a bag of raisins and the bag

jura2 Sat 20-Apr-19 20:53:57

Just ordered bar shampoo and conditioner- great idea.

Our local French supermarket sells conditioner, bleach, handwash, etc, all in soft pouches, I have had the same containers for years and just refill- and have gone back to washing powder sold in cartons. For huge plastic bottles with ridiculously huge lids are a real disaster.

Callistemon Sat 20-Apr-19 20:50:12

I have some lovely soaps which are in my dressing table drawers, none of them very expensive and often hand-made and not that expensive.
crystaltipps - yes, TK Maxx is very good for soaps.

Callistemon Sat 20-Apr-19 20:47:15

I'm sure my mum used Rinso washing powder for the dishes before the arrival of squeezy liquid.

crystaltipps Sat 20-Apr-19 18:56:54

There will be bacteria on the pump of the liquid soap when you press it with dirty hands, my bar soap doesn’t get cracked or black, I usually use a good quality natural soap , can find lots of lovely ones at farmers markets or French or Italian ones in TK Maxx. I got some lovely French lavender soap there for about £2.99, much nicer smelling and lathers up much better than slimy shower gel. I also bought a nice little porcelain soap dish.

aggie Sat 20-Apr-19 18:53:29

My DD uses bar shampoo and conditioner , she has lovely hair . The only place I see it is in craft fairs

crazyH Sat 20-Apr-19 18:48:11

Not seen bar shampoo

Grandyma Sat 20-Apr-19 18:46:29

I love Primark paper carrier bags!! They are remarkably strong and durable!! Surely if Primark can do it, so can the other high street shops??

Grammaretto Sat 20-Apr-19 18:11:50

DH has just told me they used something called byprox? to wash up dishes before eazy peazy lemon squezy first appeared.
Anyone else remember that?

Riggie Sat 20-Apr-19 15:17:50

My mother's aunt used to wash up with Daz. Then everythingnhad to go back in a bowl of clean water for a good rinse as it would leave a residue behind.

My parents used to buy Kudos washing up liquid from Boots by the gallon and just refill the same bottle - they were plastic though. And as someone who always wanted a washing up bottle to make something they showed in Blue Peter I was always disappointed.

JanaNana Sat 20-Apr-19 14:45:07

We had enamel washing up bowls in my childhood, and I remember the glass bottle of Stergene (used for washing woollens) being used to wash the pots. You used to get 2d old money refunded when you took the empty bottle back, also on Domestic bottles which were dark green glass, 2d also back on those as well. Milk bottles put out on the door step to be collected when the milkman brought the next days milk. Rag and bone men used to come around from time to time, and as well as collecting old clothes would take jam jars and give you about 3d for about six jars. As children we were allowed to have the money from the bottles and jars for sweets. The only time we used to buy those paper carriers with the string handles was if we were sent to the fish and chip shop as they made the other shopping bags reek from the smell, I think they were around 3d, otherwise shopping baskets or bags. When you bought a large item of clothing such as a coat or suit, they were packed in either a very large strong paper bag bearing the store"s name or a large shallow box with tissue paper inside, and then wrapped in brown paper and fastened with string. Most of us had open fires and would burn the wrappings from foodstuffs that were smelly or had leaked and couldn't be used for anything else. I think the bulk of the contents of our dustbin were the ashes from the fire.

SueDonim Sat 20-Apr-19 14:39:12

I was a teenager when my mum got her first fridge. Even then it was one that was, as they say now, pre-loved.

I'm not that old, mid-60's, but mum had managed fine until then, I don't recall eating any rotting food! Ice cubes were such a novelty to us.

Oldfossil Sat 20-Apr-19 14:37:47

Shampoo bars work very well on my (difficult) hair. There is no ‘soapy’ sticky residue at all. My hair has never looked so good. Who knew?