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Image credit: La Pepa Boutique
One of the questions we get asked most frequently by our customers is how to cut down on plastic in healthcare, whether that be first aid products or medicines. Is it possible to get away from plastic plasters and those seemingly endless layers of plastic in medicine bottles and packets.
Firstly, a disclaimer, we are huge advocates of modern medicine at Acala and think it’s important to say upfront that everyone needs to do what’s best for their health. Don’t punish yourself or avoid necessary medication that will harm your health because of the plastic.
But, as always there are some simple changes that we can all make to introduce some eco-friendly/plastic free alternatives into our healthcare and first aid kit. There are some wonderful natural remedies out there for simple aches and pains that can be made packaging free, as well as some awesome and innovative products shaping the future of a plastic free health care industry.Creating Your Plastic Free First Aid Kit: The Essentials
1. Minor cuts, scrapes
Basic wound care requires thorough cleaning of the wound, letting it dry to air and then the application of an antiseptic if needed. The wound can then be left open to the air or wrapped with a clean, sterile dressing.
For minor skin wounds, cleansing with clean water and a bar soap is just as effective as using disposable alcohol wipes. We’d recommend our anti-bacterial aloe vera soap for this. If you think the wound needs antiseptic try this anti-bacterial repair salve from Urbapothecary. The power of chaparral and black walnut leaves in the salve, that contain potent antibacterial and anti-fungal components, combine to aid the healing of fungal infections and minor wounds.
Need to cover it? Our plastic free plasters from PATCH are such an awesome plastic free option for minor cuts and scrapes. Made with sustainably sourced, soft and organic bamboo fabric and gauze with hypoallergenic Pressure Sensitive Adhesive (PSA). Their PSA formulation is made from a combination of natural minerals and Nano technology (think tiny suction cups) to gently adhere to the skin without causing reactions. And they’re 100% compostable and will degrade within 6 weeks.
If the cut continues to reopen, or needs more substantial covering than a plastic can provide, consider using scraps of clean, organic cotton or hemp. These can be picked up cheaply on etsy or at your local fabric shop for minimal cost and can then be composted after use or washed and sterilised to be used again. Keep the bandage in place using a stainless safety pin, paper tape or by tying the fabric into a knot.
Another product that we love for reducing scarring from any wounds, as well treating rashes, burns and insect bites is this repair salve from Urbapothecary. Coming in a recycled and 100% recyclable aluminium tin this salve is natural healing at its best. It contains herbs and oils that promote skin cell regeneration, are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and help shield skin from the harsh environment. It’s a great all-natural alternative to petroleum-based Neosporin and rash creams.
2. Treating minor- first degree burns plastic free
For minor first-degree burns (pinkish that only affect the top layer of the skin- for anything more serious please seek medical advice) run the burn under cold water to remove excess heat and then either break the leaf of an aloe plant off and the sap to soothe the burn. Aloe creates a cooling, moisturising protective barrier on the skin.
Or try our Aloe Vera Gel; produced from the Aloe Vera Barbadensis plant, capturing the maximum nutritional activity of the plant. Use it directly onto skin to soothe irritated or inflamed skin. The natural soothing properties of the gel absorb quickly to moisturise, soften and smooth skin. It can be applied to stretch marks, scars, dry, chapped skin, sun burn, skin irritations and minor burns. This non-greasy gel is odourless and easily absorbed into the skin.
You can also make your own zero waste aloe gel at home and we’ll be sharing our recipe in our DIY guide to woundcare later this week.
3. Everyday aches, pains and stings
For achy muscles, soreness or cramps, if you’re looking for a ready made, plastic free solution we whole heartedly recommend the muscle/joint salve from Urbapothecary. The active constituents of herbs in the salve absorb into the skin and act specifically on sore muscles, sprained or painful joints, and bruises. The salve encourages the flow of fresh, healing blood to injured area reducing pain and swelling. AND it comes in a fully compostable card tube, what’s not to love!
Hot and cold therapy is also a wonderful natural and waste free way to treat those aches and pains. Reusable metal cold packs or ice bags can be used to cool and then refrozen for reuse. A simple hot water bottle on the affected area for around 30 minutes at a time is great no waste pain treatment. Remembering not to apply the hot water bottle directly to skin.
Head over to our DIY guide to Zero Waste Wound care to discover our DIY recipe for soothing rashes, stings and bug bites.
4. Prevention not the cure: the ultimate plastic free and zero waste
Ok, so we’re cheating a little here but we’re big believers in prevention wherever possible at Acala HQ. We know it’s realistically not always an option but where possible we want to prevent, not only because it’s the ultimate way to avoid those plastic packs and pots but because it also means you’re living your best, natural and healthy life.
So, what do you need?
We love bulk loose teas for boosting the immune system and providing a sense of calm that keeps our well-being in check. Our favourite place to buy our teas is East London based social enterprise Hackney Herbal (HH). Sharing their knowledge and skills of food growing and nature, Nat and her team at HH nurture health and resilience through their awesome workshops and tea blends.
When it comes to Vitamins and supplements our go to brand is British Brand Wild Nutrition. You can now get your Wild Nutrition supplements at Acala on subscription with 5% discount. This means you’ll never be without and you’re saving dolla every month.
The really exciting news from Wild Nutrition as well is that over the next few months their supplement jars will become refillable meaning this collection will not only be plastic free but also 100% zero waste.
5. Where To Store Your Plastic Free First Aid Kit
Now you’ve got all the kit it’s time to think about where to store it. Instead of purchasing something new, are there items you currently own that are not service a purpose? Consider upcycling an old lunchbox, Tupperware container or sealable storage box. At Acala HQ we store ours in a fancy biscuit tin we received a few years ago as part of a Christmas present. Minus biscuit crumbs; you’ll be pleased to know we cleaned those out first ;)
If you fancy taking it a step further and trying out some basic DIY, plastic free first aid recipes then stay tuned for our Guide to Basic Wound Care out later this week. As always, any questions you have for us, you can always get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org