Friday, 13 December 2013

Things I am not going to buy - Day 13: Travel size toiletries

Alongside the need to have the perfect travel bag, perfectly packed with everything required for a particular trip, with nothing missing and nothing taken along that doesn't get used, is the quest for the perfect size toiletries - little bottles, tubes and tubs with just enough of the lotion/potion/cream/paste for the length of the trip so that the containers can all be thrown away before returning home, leaving me less encumbered on the return journey (and with extra space in the luggage for any additional purchases).

It is only in recent years that it became possible to purchase pretty well every toiletry requirement in doll-size packaging.  Mini tubes of toothpaste, little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, bath/shower stuff, mouthwash, mini deodourants, shaving stuff, wipes for everything... Partly driven by the change in policy by airlines to only allow containers of liquid holding a maximum of 100ml, and by the fact that pretty well all airlines now charge for hold luggage, with the result that travellers all try to manage with only carry-on bags. 

This is, in theory, a good idea, however, as with most things, there are a few potential flaws:

Firstly, it is very expensive to buy items made in small quantities. For example, whilst a 250ml bottle of Sanctuary body wash or body lotion costs £5.50 at Boots (2.2p per ml), the 75ml "travel size" bottles cost £2.50 each (3.3p per ml).  Don't even THINK about buying these items at the airport, as the mark-up is even more obscene:

Secondly, it is wasteful and bad for the environment to use lots of items in small packaging and then dispose of the packets/bottles. 
Thirdly, it is impossible to buy items in exactly the right quantity for a week-end/week/fortnight trip.  You either end up with not quite enough of a product, or too much.  Do you chuck the rest?  That is wasteful.  Do you bring it home?  You then have to remember to use it up. 

Quite apart from all this, I have a bag full of little miniature size toiletries and cosmetics, that I should really use up, because they aren't meant to be kept once opened.  In future, I am going to resort to what I used to do before it was possible to buy all these mini-products, and use the empty plastic bottles that I bought for just this purpose, and refill them for each trip with enough product from the larger sizes that I normally use.  OK, this isn't going to work for toothpaste - don't fancy decanting that into a pot to take with me, so I might just allow myself to keep buying those miniature sizes. 

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