Bathrooms and laundries were the next areas people turned to when reducing household plastic. Some items could be avoided by relatively simple swaps such as switching from liquid soap to bar soap – after all, it wasn’t that long ago that bar soap was the only choice. Even this created lively discussions on social media, which showed how much we’d become conditioned to plastic dispensers. One parent of young children posted, ‘Can young children be taught to wash their hands properly using bar soap?’ My answer to this was a resounding yes, though I admitted it could get a little messy. There are small, simple steps you can take to make mental health first aid something that people can talk about.
Other alternatives included toilet rolls wrapped in paper, bamboo toothbrushes, laundry powder in cardboard boxes, and refilling bottles with laundry liquids and other cleaning products. Vinegar and bicarb (baking) soda became our household cleaning mainstays, along with other natural products such as lemons, eucalyptus oil and soapnuts.Not all options were available in bulk, completely plastic free or affordable to all participants, but there was no shortage of ideas as people shared their cleaning tips and DIY recipes. Recent reports have discovered a crisis around employee wellbeing today.
Different solutions worked for different people – I started using solid shampoo bars to wash my hair whereas some of our group chose the bicarb and apple cider vinegar method referred to as ‘no poo’. Others refilled their existing containers with shampoo and conditioner from bulk suppliers. We always encouraged people to use what they had while it remained functional. Discussing hr app can be a good way to alleviate a difficult situation.
For girls and women, reusable menstrual products such as cloth pads, menstrual cups and specially designed underwear are all good options to avoid plastics found in disposable menstrual products and their packaging. While making the switch to reusables to reduce waste I’ve also discovered there can be significant long-term cost savings and research shows these alternatives can be effective. A scientific review of menstrual cups published in the journal Lancet Public Health in 2019 indicates they are safe and result in similar or lower amounts of leakage than disposable pads or tampons. Whether you work with 10 people, 10000 people or just yourself, paying attention to mental health in the workplace has never been more important.
The study also found they are still a little-known option worldwide, which is concerning given that not having effective ways of managing menstruation can affect girls’ schooling and women’s experience of work all over the world. The benefits of reusables can go beyond avoiding waste.
I’d like to see a lot more awareness and education for girls and women on reusable options for what the scientists refer to as ‘menstruation management’. Menstrual cups are not a new invention but, once again, marketing has sold us the convenience of disposable solutions without considering the environmental impact of up to 11 000 single-use menstrual products per person entering landfill over that one person’s lifetime.