A long time ago, I used to look for the newest shower gels and bubble baths. I used to buy a special shampoo for me, a special men’s shampoo for my husband and a baby shampoo for my daughter. We used to own detangling spray, cotton buds, baby oil, baby powder, deodorant bottles, moisturizer tubs, body lotion, shaving gel, hand cream, plastic toothbrushes, floss, interdental brushes, single use razors and the list can probably be carried on.
I think these are just the basics in nearly every household. All these plastic items and container produce so much rubbish, that wont degrade until hundreds of years. It’s really scary to think, how quickly these items are used up and then chucked away and that all over the world, daily!
Luckily there are some things, all of us can do to reduce waste in this area. I also know, that refilling shampoo and conditioner wont be an option for everyone, as there are not everywhere bulk shops available. Still you can always try to make the smarter choice when shopping. Lots of products come in glass, wood, metal or paper, that will reduce landfill waste. A shower gel for example, can be replaced with a natural bar of soap, that comes either unpacked or in paper. This simple swap will safe tons of plastic bottle waste and it will safe you money and probably your health, how easy is that!
This is a list of what we currently use all over the body.
We are really minimalistic in the shower. We have a natural sponge, a bar of soap instead of shower gels and I refill our Suma lavender shampoo and conditioner from the refill/bulk shop. If I wouldn’t be able to refill, I would buy liquid Castile soap in bulk and use that as shampoo. If I couldn’t get that, I would probably look for a good, organic shampoo from a company, that uses recycled plastic or glass for their bottles. I have tried a shampoo bar from LUSH but I am very sensitive to perfume and fragrances. The bar gave me a migraine just from the smell, also my scalp felt itchy after using it. My husband did not have any problems with the shampoo bar.
If we are having a bath, we use a wee bit of liquid Castile soap, that I can refill at our refill/bulk shop. I refill it in an old honey squeeze bottle, to make bath time more fun for our daughter. Some rubber animals and old plastic toys are her bath toys.
My husbands razor is still the same one, when we met 6 years ago. If he needs a new one, we will try a stainless steel safety razor, it has a lifetime warranty.
There are shaving soap bars available, that can be used instead of shaving gel and foam.
We also still have some small, cheap plastic razors, that I’ve bought years ago, for a holiday. There are so many in one pack, its gonna take some time, till they are used up.
I don’t use face wash, my skin is way too sensitive and would just dry out and burn. Instead I use water and coconut oil, to wash my face, with reusable cotton pads.
My husband has always used the same brand of face wash. He now trying one that comes in a glass bottle from Neal’s Yard Remedies.
We use bamboo toothbrushes. They are, except for the bristles, entirely made from bamboo. The toothbrush can decompose within months, unlike toothbrushes made from plastic. My daughter uses Weleda children’s toothpaste and I use the salt toothpaste. Weleda toothpaste come in a metal tube, it’s not perfect but as good as it gets for us. We didn’t like tooth powder and homemade toothpaste. My husband uses Sensodyne repair toothpaste, our dentist recommended it for him, so I see it as a medication 😉
I floss with an electric water floss, unfortunately I have to buy a new one, as mine broke recently. I really like water floss, even though it’s made from plastic, because it worked so well for my grandfather. He was a dental technician and he used one of these and he had all his teeth unit he died at the age of 94. The alternative would be, silk floss in cardboard box.
I have very sensitive skin and till now, every shop bought moisturizer burned on my skin and make it go red.
I did a bit of research and adjusted recipes that I found online, to suit my needs! My husband loves the cream as much as I do and it’s a simple recipe with few ingredients. For my daughter, I have a homemade baby oil. I like to massage her with oil after a bath and I also use the moisturizer on her.
I have made a deodorant from coconut and cocoa butter, with baking soda and essential oils. I liked it but my husband didn’t.
So we found an alternative from LUSH. They have a solid deodorant bar, which we are both happy with. It’s free from aluminium but not free from perfume. The deodorant works really well and it doesn’t give me migraine.
I made a natural perfume with essential oils, for both of us and a vanilla perfume for my daughter…I know she is a child but she wanted a “perfume” as well.
I use a bit of toilet paper and clean my outer ear as you are not supposed to stick things in your ear, my husband uses a hairpin 🙄
There are wooden cotton buds available but they mainly come in plastic packaging. There are also some stainless steel ear wax remover tools available, but I haven’t tried them yet.
Hands, Feet and Nails
We wash our hands with soap, refilled at the bulk shop. I also make a liquid soap myself. instead of handcreme, we just use the moisturizer.
My husband just bites his nails off , I use a metal nail clipper.
We have a pumice stone to remove dead skin on our feet. Ours is really old and I’m not sure, what material its made from but there are natural stone versions available.
I also have a selection of piggy paint nail polish, which is water based but comes in small plastic bottles. It’s not zero waste but at least its non toxic. It’s safe to use on my daughter. My daughter likes to have painted nails and that was the best and safest option I could find so far. I don’t do anything with my nails unless I’m going to a wedding or somewhere special.
As a women, you can easy save on waste if you use a menstrual cup or reusable panty liners. I have not used a menstrual cup yet, as I’m happy with my reusable panty liners, that I can wash and reuse again and again. They come in different sizes and are really comfortable.
There are also some options like natural sponges or knitted roll ups instead of a Tampon. I haven’t tried them either.
We use recycled toilet paper with degradable packaging.
My husband doesn’t want a water rinse for the best bits, so we use an old cup, fill it with water and wash our bottom that way, the good old Indian way😉
Our daughter used to have a potty, just plain made from plastic but the other day I saw an eco potty at TK Maxx. I guess amazon will sell them as well.
We wash our hair with refilled shampoo/conditioner and my daughter uses water, unless her hair is mucky.
We have multiple wooden hair brushes, like about 8 all over the house, we somehow keep loosing them, buy new ones and then find the old brush weeks later. My husband also got a soft plastic shower brush, he bought it when we misplaced all brushes. He liked the fact it’s so soft, so I’ll let that go.
We don’t own hairspray but my husband got hair gel, Pomade, wax in tins, I will try find a natural alternative when his 100 tins are used up.
Other than that, we have some old hair bands and hair clips and once their lost we use sock and tight cut offs as hairband. To detangle my daughter I use my homemade detangling spray.
Now that I’ve written everything down, we use as hygiene products, I think we still produce more waste, then I would like. We have definitely cut our hygiene product waste by more than half. There are no more shower gel, shampoo, conditioner bottles, plastic sponges, toothbrushes, female pads and tampons, cotton buds and cotton pads. But then my water floss will eventually be plastic waste, my husbands hairbrush, our piggy paint nail polish bottles, the Aloe Vera gel I use for my moisturizer only comes in a plastic tub and my toothpaste is in a metal tube with plastic lid.
I should try to find a homemade toothpaste recipe that works for me and maybe one day I will find a moisturizer that suits my skin and comes in a glass jar.
Lets try together and make smarter, healthier and environmentally friendly choices when it comes to body hygiene products.