By Virginia Sole-Smith, Planet Green
I decided that Step One of my Plastic Detox Program would be to find out what I have. It’s both worse and a bit better than I thought.
The bad news: Virtually every product in my bathroom (save the hand soap and one moisturizer in glass bottles — and even they come with plastic tops, but let’s not split hairs, okay?) is in a plastic bottle or tube. And I have a LOT of products.
The good news: A lot of these plastic containers are made from the safer types of plastic.
(Not sure what type of plastic you’re dealing with? Flip the item over and check the number in the little recycling symbol on the bottom. Then read on.)
Here’s the breakdown in my bathroom:
What Is It? PETE. Polyethylene terephthalate ethylene, used for soft drink, juice, water, detergent, cleaner and peanut butter containers
What’s Wrong With It? #1 plastics are designed to be disposable, meaning they create more waste. If you try to reuse them, they can break down on you. The good news is, they are usually recyclable.
Where Is It? Facewash, eye makeup remover, and body scrub.
Goal: Recycle these when they’re used up and look for reusable containers when I replace them.
What Is It? HDPE: High density polyethylene, used in opaque plastic milk and water jugs, bleach, detergent and shampoo bottles, and some plastic bags.
What’s Wrong With it? Not so much in terms of health — this is one of the “safe” plastics (along with #1, #4 and #5). But it’s still made from petroleum products and ends up in landfills, so like all plastic, is not ideal from an environmental standpoint.
Where Is It? Facewash (yes I use two different kinds), shower gel, shampoo, several kinds of hair gel and hairspray.
Goal: Look for more sustainable options as I use up these items (can I find them sold in glass containers? Can I make them myself?) and try to pare down the number of products I’m using to reduce waste. But if I do buy a plastic bathroom item, it should be #1, 2, 4, or 5.
Next: #3, 5 and 7 plastics