The Bedroom

 

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You might be forgiven for thinking the bedroom is a relatively plastic free zone – but far from it. Hidden plastic lurks in everything from your dressing table to your mattress! Here are a few things you’ll find in my low plastic bedroom:

  1. Linen sheets and duvet covers. I’ve never liked polycotton sheets (Polyester / cotton blends are the mainstay of the UK bedding industry –  easy iron, crease resistant, stay cool cotton – they are all cotton / plastic mixes and best avoided). I used to buy 100% cotton sheets and pillow cases, and they can be found in most high street stores. I am a fan of unbleached linen, I find it’s cooler and softer and I’m told the environmental impact of growing linen flax is less than cotton (which uses a huge amount of water). Every time we replace an old sheet or duvet cover, I’ve been choosing linen. I wash my sheets and dry them on the line outside, shaking out the creases and then folding them before storing, so they don’t need to be ironed. We also have a wool mattress and cotton mattress cover. Both were  sourced from a UK company, filled with British wool. We took advantage of a sale offer and got  a decent discount. Polyurethane  (a plastic polymer) and memory foam mattresses are becoming very popular, and many are coated with fire retardent chemicals but we chose a natural fibre because Mr T’s asthma can be triggered by certain chemicals and I wanted a natural option. You can read more about what’s in your mattress by googling the brand name and making your own mind up about your next choice.
  2. A wool duvet. Cheap polyester filled duvets might be your first choice, but a decent wool filled duvet can be bought for less than you think and they last for years. Ours is from the Wool Room, they often have an introductory discount when you sign up to their mailing list. Wool filled pillows are next on my list, but until then we’re using down filled pillows that I’ve had for over 20 years – each summer they are aired outside, plumped up and look good as new. They have cotton covers and we use cotton pillow protectors.
  3. Glass jars, potions and bottles. I am a fan of Neals Yard, which sells hand lotion, bubble bath and deodorant in glass bottles. I use Trilogy Rosehip oil instead of moisturiser, the brown glass bottles and droppers are great for dispensing tiny amounts of liquid food colouring. I always look out for glass over plastic containers for cosmetics, make my own hand cream and lip balm and when I buy cosmetics, they’re usually from Aveda, which has a strict policy on waste and recycling. I use every last drop of whatever I buy, using a lip brush to get right to the bottom of a lipstick, or scooping it out into a small tin. I’m also a fan of lip pencils and eye pencils – you just keep sharpening them until they’re all used up!
  4. Houseplants in terracotta planters. I love houseplants, my house is filled with them and you’ll find several in the bedroom. Houseplants are said to filter toxins from the air, I’m not sure if that’s true or not. Truth is, I like being surrounded by living things and tending my houseplants makes me happy.
  5. We ditched the devices! You won’t find a television, mobile phones, tablets or even a kindle in the bedroom. After years of sleeping badly, I’ve weaned myself off reading / browsing in bed. We use an old fashioned alarm clock and read real books before switching off the light.
  6. We have wooden floors, not carpet, so no cheap man made fibre carpets to harbour dust or leach chemicals into the air.
  7. Wardrobe basics – I always look at the label before I buy new clothes and choose natural fibres over man made. You won’t find polycotton shirts, acrylic jumpers or microfibre sports gear – just plenty of wool hand knits, linen dresses and skirts. It’s getting harder to avoid lycra and spandex in sports gear, jeans and even tights, but if you look hard enough you can find companies that sell items made without these plastic gremlins. I knit my own socks and for the past few years I’ve been choosing yarns without nylon (which is usually added for strength and durability). Nylon is just another fancy plastic and so I try to avoid it now. We buy and wear leather shoes and sandals, canvas trainers and natural rubber flip flops. It’s still fairly easy to but leather shoes and they last for years – my boots are over 20 years old and with regular visits to the menders for new soles and heels they are still comfy and in great condition.
  8. So where does the plastic lurk? It’s the storage boxes on castors I keep under the bed, the vacuum storage bags I use to store fabric, clothes and bedding. The plastic inhalers Mr T uses for his asthma, the blister packs my medications come in, the comb, hairbrush and hair dryer! I’ve said before, an entirely plastic free home will always be impossible for us. We try to make eco friendly and ethical choices whenever we buy something new and our wardrobes are filled with vintage, second hand and charity shop finds. Even the paperbacks we read before bed usually have plastic, laminated covers!

Plastic is unavoidable these days, but by making smart choices and choosing quality over quantity I think we’ve cut down considerably. I know there is an ongoing argument amount the ethics of leather and  the eco footprint of cotton,  which make mad made fibres seem more attractive But this has to be balanced against the issue of microplastics being shed by our clothes and finding their way into the oceans, the environmental impact of plastic polymers and chemical dyes leaching into the soil and air… If I think about it too hard I feel as if I shall implode!

We all make choices and we all have a different set of criteria and values. My choices are simple. I buy things that will hopefully outlast me, I’m not averse to buying second hand or swapping with friends and I’ll save up for things I want (like the wool duvet). When I replace outworn or unloved items, they are donated to charity shops or find a another use. The black plastic dustbin is never my default. Dig deep in my compost bin and you’ll find woolly jumpers and old cotton shirts slowly decomposing. When I was a child, outgrown knickers and vests would become dusters. Granny would save and reuse string, envelopes and wrapping paper. Maybe we need to relearn some old habits and think of everything as too precious to simply throw away?

 

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