Review: OrganiCup

*I bought this product with my own money
Hazel.

A few years ago, in a previous life (before the kids came along), at an outdoors expo/trade show type event, I was approached by a rather enthusiastic man selling menstrual cups. I had never thought of using one before, and to be honest I hadn’t since. The gentleman in question went into almost graphic detail about its use, including a demonstration involving a the pouring of a red liquid which I hoped was Ribena, and as you can imagine, put me off entirely.

Recently our family have made a commitment to reduce our impact on the world. We practice “Leave No Trace” on the trail so why not at home. So after researching plastic free alternatives and zero waste practices I was reacquainted with the menstrual cup and thought now would be a good time to give them a try.
After the initial shock at the size of of it (I’m a size B after 3 children), I found it quite liberating. My period was no longer a pain. Changing it twice a day was no hassle and you don’t notice it’s there. But how would it fair on the trail?

I used it on the Isle of Wight Coastal Path,  with good access to toilets with a sink so cleaning it was no trouble. On a more remote hike I would probably take some wipes, as the ease of this would outweigh the small amount of plastic. I would definitely recommend this as a zero waste and minimal hassle alternative to traditional sanitary products.

Have a look at it on Amazon

3 Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic on the Trail

I should call this “3 Bloody Obvious Ways” to use less plastic, but to be quite honest, the amount of these types of litter I see on our local trails makes me wonder sometimes.

Swap a plastic bottle for a good one.

sigg-trinkflasche-colour-your-day-black-touch-orange-06-l-8536-90Spend some money on a proper, durable water bottle. The number of “Spring Water” bottles that get either chucked or if we’re being generous “left” on the trails is obscene.
Just don’t buy bottled water, there’s no need, especially in the UK.
We’ve topped up from outdoor taps in churchyards, farm yards and gardens (with permission, if we’ve found someone to ask). Failing that, I’m sure no one will say no to filling a bottle if you ask nicely.  Failing that, carry a water filter.
Also if it’s a decent bottle that has cost you a little bit you’ll retrace your steps if you forget it, or the next person along will pick it up and keep it for themselves. At least it’s less likely to stay in the woods.

The kids use their school ones which are plastic but last a year or more, usually. Next time they’ll be replaced with a metal one like mine from Sigg.

Use Dry Bags instead of Carrier Bags

78431302_4plInstead of relying on plastic bags to organise stuff in our packs we use dry bag stuff sacks. As well as the usual things like spare clothes and sleeping bags, we’ve started keeping other things in them too.
For instance, we use one for breakfast and dinner foods but a different one for snacks/lunch so we don’t have to get everything out for a handful of peanuts.
We carry one each for wet stuff or dirty clothes and the “toilet” equipment is kept in another (Nothing worse than damp toilet paper)
We always have one dedicated to rubbish which gets emptied when we find a dustbin.

We got ours fairly cheap from sports direct and there’s a variety of sizes. I know they’re more money than a bag for life but some of ours are 4 years old and still going strong.

Paper Bags and Bulk Bought Snacks.

jelly-beans-children--plain-1-820x532We go for a hike which lasts 5 days, there’s 5 of us. On an average day we consume:
5 packets of instant porridge
5 packets of instant noodles
10 cereal/chocolate bars
1 pack of Tortilla Wraps
1 pack of Tuna

To be honest that’s probably a minimum but that’s nearly 100 bits of plastic over the duration of the hike. That’s just not good enough so we’re trying to change that. And you can help by leaving your advice, ideas and tips in comments below.

For our last big hike, I went to our local weigh shop and bought various nuts, dried fruits and sweeties for the trail. These were packed in paper bags which we then put inside a drybag to protect from the rain. We topped up with fresh fruit when we could or bought plastic free extras along the trail.

 

Going Plastic Free on the Trail

I’ve given Rob a challenge. While I have the monumental task of making our household free from single use plastics, at a manageable budget, I want our hiking trips to be just as ethical. So he’s in charge of that!

His first reaction was that it will be easy, by the time we pay the extra for plastic free alternatives, there won’t be any money left for long hiking trips. However, we’ve made a solid start at home and he’s starting to plan how to get rid of single use plastics before our next trip.

Just Up The Trail, saving the world, one cereal bar at a time!!!

The biggest worry is food, because our usual staples of noodles and pasta snacks are usually wrapped in plastic as are our go to snacks of jelly beans, cereal bars and beef jerky. We may need to get creative. We may need to bake. We may need a dehydrator. We will need a bigger pack. And while tupperware is the easy option for storage/packing, its just not that great in a backpack so solutions for that will be necessary. We could use foil, or wax paper but won’t that get squashed/torn/wet? Research definitely needed.

Other than food packaging I can’t think, off the top of my head, of much else where we rely on single use plastic. We do have those silicon pop up bowls and plastic cutlery but those have already lasted 3 or 4 years and when they die I’ll try to get a replacement from another material. The kids have plastic water bottles but we already intend to replace them with metal bottles like Rob’s SIGG when the time comes and I can’t remember the last time we bought bottled water, anyway that’s why we have the filter.

So if anyone has any tips on packaging hiking food in non-plastics, any plastic free snacks or if you want to share some delicious recipes with us, leave them in the comments below.

I’ll check back in on the plastic free mission between now and our next big hike, which will probably be at Easter, and let you know how we’re getting on.