Toiletries

Swaps

Deodorant

DIY IT
Deodorant

This is a tried and true recipe I've used since 2013! If you have sensitive skin, the baking soda might bother you, so I'd suggest using less of that and replace with more cornstarch.

  • ¼ cup coconut oil (use unrefined if you like the smell of coconut; refined if you want a neutral smell)
  • 2 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoon baking soda
  • 15-20 drops essential oil – I use lavender, but you can use tea tree oil or skip it altogether

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and melts if warmed. Depending on the temperature in your home, the coconut oil may be solid. If so, microwave it for about 15-30 seconds to loosen it up so you can stir it. To help it set, you can put it in fridge for a an hour or just let it be. I leave it at room temperature in a resealable glass container and it settles down to be whatever form depending on the temperature.

Originally from barefootessence.com, but the site is no longer active.

Face toner

DIY IT
Deodorant

I came up with this based on a natural toner I used to buy. These were the main ingredients, so I played around with the ratio. It's good for acne prone skin.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons witch hazel extract
  • 20 drops tea tree oil
  • 10 drops lemon oil
  • 10 drops rosewater concentrate
  • 10 drops chamomile (optional)

Place all ingredients in a glass bottle. I guesstimate these ingredients each time, so feel free to improvise and see what works best for your skin. In general, staying near these ratios is good. Definitely go lightly with the tea tree oil; too much, and your eyes will burn because it has a strong (lovely) smell. Shake well each time before use, as the oils naturally want to separate from the water. Use a reusable cotton or hemp round to apply to skin.

Facial cleaning pads

SWAP IT
Reusable hemp rounds

Instead of cotton balls, I use reusable hemp/cotton rounds. Use 'em to apply facial toner or remove makeup.

Facial Cleansing Pads on Etsy

Facial Tissues

SWAP IT
Reusable hemp rounds

Good, old-fashioned handkerchiefs. This is one of my favorite swaps. I love searching for cute old ones at vintage shops (wash thoroughly in hot water before using :-). I keep one in my purse, in a lil cotton zipper pouch. I keep the rest in my home, rolled up in a mason jar for easy access.

Razor & Shaving Cream

SWAP & DIY IT
Safety razor and DIY shaving cream

Shaving isn't a necessity, but I like having smooth skin sometimes. Plastic disposable razors create a lot of waste and have a poor design. My metal safety razor is one of my favorite swaps, and it's saving me a lot of money!

Razor

Instead of disposable plastic razors, I use a stainless steel razor that should last me for life: Albatross Safety Razor. It comes with blades; when they become dull, you can save them in a glass jar until you're ready to drop them off at a local recycling facility that recycles blades. If you don't have a convenient recycling place nearby, you can send them to Albatross and they'll handle it.

Shaving Cream

I got the recipe from the blog Mommypotamus: Homemade Shaving Cream Recipe It's a simple mix of coconut oil, shea butter, vegetable oil, and castile soap. It may seem like a lot of work, but I've found that a little goes a long way. I don't have to make it very often.

Shampoo & Conditioner

SWAP IT

Reduction

I used to shampoo and condition my hair every day. It was a habit I was taught as basic hygiene. One day when I was getting my hair cut, my hair stylist was gave me tips for creating more volume. I have fine hair, so I was curious how I can pump up my hair. She said the best thing to do is not wash it as often...as in, only washing it once a week or more! I gave it a whirl and was disgusted with myself by the end of the week. I hear there’s an adjustment period as your scalp adjusts to the washing cycle and starts to produce less oil. Anyway, my happy medium now is washing it every 2-3 days, depending on if I’ve been working out, etc.

Shampoo bar

Package-free

When I started my zero waste journey, it took me two years to finish using my stockpile of shampoo in plastic containers. I had a habit of buying several bottles of shampoo and conditioner whenever I saw it on sale. In combination with shampooing my hair less often, it took me a long time to use up my stock. When I finally got through it all, I switched to package-free shampoo bars. First, I tried J.R. Liggett's shampoo bars which are widely available in health food-minded stores and online. They worked pretty well, and I used them for several months. Knowing there was an adjustment period, I held out to see if my hair would feel less weighted down. Ultimately, I think my fine hair wasn't a match for this shampoo. I've heard of others loving it, and one in particular has thick curly hair. So when a friend of mine with fine hair raved about her favorite shampoo bar, I took notice and immediately loved it. It's called LA Miss Apple, and I buy it locally from Fillgood. They have an online shop if you can't find it in your area. My favorite one right now is Patchouli one.

Note: While they're all labeled "vegan", some contain "silk protein". I asked them about it, and they provided conflicting information. They reiterated it's vegan but said the silk protein is made from empty cocoons. They weren't aware of the process. It is possible to collect the cocoon after the silkworm transitions to a moth, but I'm skeptical about the ethics of involving animals in production at scale. In typical silk production, the silkworms are boiled alive in the cocoons. 3,000 silkworms are killed to make a single pound of silk. So, I avoid the few bars they sell that contain "silk protein."

If you prefer liquid shampoo, there are refillable liquid Plaine hair products (also available in bulk at Fillgood).

Dry shampoo

SWAP IT
  • 1 Tablespoon bentonite clay*
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 Tablespoon of Cocoa powder (only for dark hair)

*If you can’t find this in bulk, it’s ok to replace with cornstarch or arrowroot powderYou can store it in a salt shaker for easy application. Part hair, and sprinkle it on your scalp. Run your fingers along your scalp to disperse the powder so it doesn’t look like you tripped in a flour factory.

Moisturizer

DIY IT
DIY Moisturizer

Some people swear by using oils to moisturize, but since I have acne prone skin I try to avoid oils. I've found this is a good swap for a daily moisturizer. When my skin is super dry, I use shea butter. It's a solid at room temperature, so I rub it in-between my hands first to liquify it.

  • Aloe vera juice *
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Lavender oil (or other essential oils of your choice, for fragrance)

* Use the pure kind without fillers and additives. The stuff you can easily find at drugstores is often not only aloe vera; check the ingredients. Natural food stores carry it.

You can play around with the ratio of aloe vera juice to vegetable glycerin. I like mine to be mostly aloe vera juice with only a dash of vegetable glycerin. Vegetable glycerin makes it very moisturizing, but gets greasy feeling. I put it in a glass bottle with a pump. I shake it before I use it each time. Keep stored in the fridge. Inspired by this recipe.

Exfoliation scrub

DIY IT
DIY Exfoliator

I created this by following the ingredients of a store-bought exfoliator. I could only find the MSM powder and jojoba wax beads in plastic bags on Amazon, so it's admittedly not the most eco-friendly solution. But, they were at least large bags so they'll create several containers of scrub. I've heard some people apply used coffee grounds as a facial scrub. The thought of my face smelling like coffee isn't very appealing, but I like the simplicity. After I go through my supply, I'll try making a sugar scrub.

  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon MSM powder (I think it'd be ok to skip this)
  • 2 Tablespoons jojoba wax beads (gentle, round scrubby bits!)
  • 2 Tablespoons aloe vera
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable glycerin
  • 20 drops chamomile extract *
  • 20 drops rose extract *

Mix in a small glass jar and keep in the fridge.

* Optional, but smells amazing

Pads & Tampons

SWAP IT
Reusable menstruation care

This is another favorite swap. I'm glad to no longer be putting plastics next to a sensitive area. It is an initial financial investment, but it'll pay off in the long run.

Menstrual cup: Diva Cup

Washable pads: Lunapads or Etsy - search for "menstrual pad"

Retainer cleaner

DIY IT

I used to buy denture cleaner tabs, but they're coated in composite packaging made of foil and paper (non-recyclable or compostable).

  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix vinegar and water together in a bowl. Add baking soda. Soak for roughly 15 minutes, then rinse with water.

Toothpaste

DIY or SWAP IT

DIY

This is a tough one. There are a bunch of recipes online if you search for "toothpaste recipe," but I'm unsure of their cavity-fighting ability.

Swap

I'm still using my Tom's of Maine toothpaste. I have cavity-prone teeth, so I like having the fluoride. It is one of the few things I still buy packaged in plastic. For a while, I was recycling the empty tubes via Terracycle, but my local drop-off point is no longer available. I haven't found a low-waste packaged fluoride based toothpaste since most natural toothpastes pride themselves on being fluoride-free (the safety of fluoride is a debate).

There are also toothpaste tabs (these are available in bulk at Fillgood). These are fluoride-free. I've been told a fluoride version is being formulated and should be on the market soon. I'm excited to switch to it when it's available!

Floss

SWAP IT

Eco-Dent GentleFloss
Sold in a paper box with a metal cutter on top. The floss is made of nylon and waxed using rice bran. The floss is sealed in a plastic bag. Overall, it has way less plastic packaging than typical floss packaged in hard-plastic cases. I love that it's vegan and widely available at Whole Foods and health-minded stores.

Georganics Charcoal Dental Floss
This one's for you if you're looking for even less plastic packaging. It's sold in a glass jar with a metal top. The floss is made of charcoal fibres and polyester yarn, coated with candelilla wax and peppermint oil. When it's time to refill, you can buy the floss in a cardboard box and reuse the glass/metal container.

General Tips

I started out by going through all my toiletries. This took a few sweeps over the course of a year. It was hard to part ways with cosmetics I’d spent a fair amount of money on. With time, I realized they had expired or I simply wasn’t using it. It began to click that I didn’t need to hang onto the glittery eye makeup I may use once a year for a special dress up occasion (also, what I learned about microplastics ruined the appeal of glitter for me. btw, if you still want glitter there’s biodegradable glitter made from plants). Make piles for landfill, thrift store (unopened products that are still fresh), recycling, and keep.

Landfill + Thrift Store

Make note of these items and try to not purchase them again.

Recycling

Clean out bottles by emptying their contents in the trash and letting them soak in soapy, hot water. Let them dry and put them in your recycle bin. Keep in mind that generally, only hard plastics are recyclable. Flimsy plastics that you can crumple in your hand have to be sent to the landfill. Reuse containers you like, such as spray bottles, jars, etc. You can put your DIY stuff in these!

Some stores offer recycling programs for used, empty cosmetic containers. Mascara wands can be sent to Wands for Wildlife for use in removing fly eggs and larva from the fur of wild animals.

Keep

In my "Keep" pile, there were items I wanted to use up and then never buy again. And then there were items I liked and wanted to continue using. For those, I checked out their packaging. Is it excessive? Does it contain plastic? Is it something I truly needed? If I truly needed it, but the packaging wasn't sustainable, then I sought out alternatives. Sometimes this meant buying products with better (or less) packaging. Other times, this meant making a product myself (there are lots of DIY recipes online).

Assorted jars

Jar lady daydreams

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