Mr Rushton and I are on an ever-evolving quest to keep all the good stuff, in working and well-loved order, within our home, and clear away all of the unnecessary detritus. It will doubtless be some years before we finally repaint all the walls (we love Earthborne 100% VOC-free Clay & Chalk Paints) and replace our ramshackle kitchen cupboards with ones that actually have shelves inside (it’s currently a complete free-for-all) – BUT what we have made real strides with, is the way we are choosing to store, transport and preserve our food.
Plastic has been a bone of contention for some time. For many years, we were led to believe that there were only a few plastics that were potentially hazardous to health – BPA being the primary one (which has now been largely removed from plastics in the UK – only to be replaced with the equally concerning Bisphenol-S – or BPS). There are many, many widely used plastics, used to do everything from shrink-wrap our foods to serve our on-the-go hot drinks in (yes, polystyrene leaches ‘styrene’, a known carcinogen. Worst of all – it leaches most when in contact with heat). Even PVC, still commonly used in that ‘spongey’ flooring you get in play areas and kindergartens – has been shown to leach DEHP – a phthalate and known endocrine-disruptor – and has also been linked to increased risk of asthma and allergies in children. The evidence is all around us, clear as day, yet we’re producing more plastic now than ever before. The stats are truly worrying.
If you’re anything like me and Paul, you’ll want to find out a lot more about the subject – and work to take complete control back in your own home. That’s the feeling in the Balance Plan household – that, if the decision is left to us (as it is) we shall CHOOSE not to bring more plastic into our lives. What initially happens is that you see – shockingly – just how difficult it is to live a plastic-free life. Your organic meat comes in a plastic bag, and your organic fruit & veg in plastic containers. Your kid’s BPA-free glass bottles still have their plastic caps. The darling cutlery you were gifted – stainless steel – comes with fluoro-pink plastic handles, and you’ve got half of your leftovers wrapped in clingfilm. It’s a steady, slow, conscious process of peeling back the layers, responsibly disposing off and hopefully recycling the things you no longer need, and beginning to invest only in those things that do not bear a worrying chemical footprint.
To help you as you begin, we’ve also included a little extract, below, from a lovely new book, Remodelista: The Organized Home by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick (Artisan Books). The image, featured, also comes from this lovely book – an ode to simple living.
The Plastic-Free Pantry and Fridge
Our quest to rid our lives of plastic extends to food storage – and there are plenty of scientific studies to back us up on this one. We recommend replacing that Tupperware with tried-and-true storage staples made of natural materials. And learn daily tactics from zero-waste-living advocates – we take inspiration from Bea Johnson of ZeroWasteHome.com and Lauren Singer of TrashIsforTossers.com.
Cotton produce bags
Glass canning jars and enamelware canisters
Washi tape and a marker
Bee’s Wrap and other natural alternatives to plastic wrap
Linen bowl covers (you can also use fabric shower caps!)
Paper bags (good for keeping mushrooms fresh in the produce drawer)
Decant Your (All-Natural) Cleaning Potions
Find cleaning solution bottles at kitchen supply stores, or better yet, retrieve a couple from your own recycling bin. First, remove the labels – we use cooking oil to vanquish sticky residue. Then add bartender’s pour spouts (also available from kitchen supply stores) or spray tops (these fit on most standard-size bottles and can be reused).
And while we’re on the subject of cleaning solutions, all you really need are two DIY basics, so get rid of the thicket of plastic bottles clogging the cabinet under your sink and make your own. Our recipes are below.
All-Purpose Household Cleaner
1. Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
2. Add a few drops of eucalyptus or lemon essential oil (in addition to adding a nice scent, these are natural disinfectants).
Grease and Grit Remover
Mix 2/3 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup liquid Castille soap in a bowl to dissolve lumps.
Dilute with 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar.
Pour into a spray or pour bottle and shake before using.
Excerpted from Remodelista: The Organized Home by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Matthew Williams.