Saving the planet: One shampoo bottle at a time won’t be fast enough

Easy question: Can I make what I do with my hair more environmentally friendly?

I tried and I made small gains, very small gains. I tried to balance the need (OK want) for my hair to look neat and tidy versus saving the planet. This sounds so shallow when I write it but to make changes you need to think about it and think what are you prepared to do.  We are not all going shampoo/conditioner/colour free tomorrow so we have to make incremental changes whilst the catastrophe overtakes us. I can’t reconcile the two. I just can’t.

Firstly I changed to a shampoo bar, like a bar of soap basically. It came wrapped in paper. This meant one less plastic bottle and probably a much better manufacturing process. It didn’t really do much for my hair. I had to use more anti-frizz and I still needed a conditioner.

So realistically: One less shampoo bottle but still one plastic conditioner bottle and probably the extra anti-frizz discounted anything gained from losing the first shampoo bottle.

I tried a shampoo and conditioner combined out of a paper pot from the same place that did the shampoo bar. More anti-frizz required.

Result: Nil gain really. My hair just needed a better conditioner and more anti-frizz than ever. It never looked great.

Then I went on holiday. I never take many toiletries on holiday. The shampoo bar proved impossible to manage whilst travelling between hotels. It got slippery and slimy and mostly just wouldn’t last the distance. I also lost the house key-unconnected but not helpful.

I had to buy emergency plastic bottle shampoo. I economised by buying shampoo-conditioner combined, meaning one bottle instead of two. I’d like to tell you this was a deliberate choice but actually it’s all the shop had.

The result was terrible hair, still no house key.  I resisted buying emergency anti-frizz, because I couldn’t find any in the shop. I tried to enjoy the holiday, forget about my hair and convince myself the house key would be found.

Then after two weeks of hard travelling (actually it wasn’t that hard, by hard I mean, we took the bus to the car hire place rather than a taxi-‘soft travelling is not a phrase yet though) the whole shampoo-conditioner thing started to work. It was a surprise- an actual shampoo and conditioner combined -worked. My hair suddenly looked glossier and shinier (you’re right these are the same thing, its just the shampoo ads always go for both so I have as well). Without anti frizz! Or we were staying in hotels with really bad mirrors or anti-frizz mirrors-which actually is quite a good idea. If you can’t see the frizz in the mirror is it really there?

The end result was I gave up the shampoo bar, but I also gave up the plastic bottle conditioner and the anti-frizz.

Now I use one plastic bottle of shampoo and conditioner combined, meaning overall two less plastic bottles because I don’t have a separate conditioner and I don’t use anti-frizz.  

I also bought a giant bottle of shampoo-conditioner that will last longer. I brushed my hair more often and also sooner after I washed it which also seemed to result in less frizz.

Still no house key.

Have I saved the planet? Not singlehandedly that’s for sure.  Have I saved the planet anything by doing this? Am I suffering slightly less good hair for no reason? The answer is that it is really hard to know. In theory I have halved my plastic use on hair products, in practice maybe the bottle I have uses a much more intensive manufacturing process, maybe the product itself is less green.

Probably I have taken a very small step when a larger one is needed. I’m still working on it.

The only takeaway I have from it is that I need to be more careful with my house key.

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