As much as we love Mayo, some of us might agree it will be nice to venture to at least one other county this year to see family and friends or just for a long-awaited change of scenery. It will be a boost to communities across the country that at least Irish residents will be able to travel more freely, eat out and buy something nice, as we expect visitors from around the island to us this summer, too.
Thinking about having at least one night away from home also made me consider packing, a task I haven’t done since my last jaunt to Galway last July. The clothes may well be the same ones I’ve always had, I’ll just finally have an occasion to wear something nicer than jeans so it will feel a bit novel anyway.
The other items for overnight or weeklong stays are what I want to cover, because we have definitely seen people engage in some lockdown testing of toiletries. It turns out eco-friendly versions of personal care items tend to travel well, and can really simplify the routine for an individual or a family.
Our family has found a type of shampoo and conditioner bars that suits three out of four of us, so those are easy ones to pop into a reused tin. We then add a good bar of soap, which works for general cleanliness and for shaving with a safety razor. The initial cost is a bit higher, but you save loads over time compared to buying branded razor blades. The stainless steel blades can be collected and recycled, and the razor heads and handles are usually made from all metal and are therefore very durable.
The adults both have either a loose deodorant bar to rub on, or one in a compostable paper tube. Body and face cream and cleansers are from refills from local makers into reused containers (available at PAX). Hair gel is replaced by hair wax in a reusable tin, and our combs and hair brush are wood and rubber. Just with those swaps, we have eliminated multiple plastic bottles a year (for hair care, body wash and lotions), and other often non-recyclable packaging (razors and deodorant).
We then all have bamboo toothbrushes from Irish brand Bambooth, which come in a paper-based tube that can be used as a travel container. We now also use toothpaste in a glass jar, so to avoid breakages we portion out some of it into another reused tin. Floss also is in a small glass jar, and it is made either from silk or corn PLA so it is compostable. All of these items fit into one communal wash bag.
We always carry a few handkerchiefs for runny noses and soiled hands, and of course this year we will be topping up all our hand sanitiser bottles with refills before heading out. Then, we will be all set to explore with less stuff and a lower impact.
McKinley Neal co-runs PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods, a minimal-waste shop in Westport offering bulk organic foods, reusable goods, household products, eco-friendly personal care items and gifts.