I’ve been trying to decrease my waste for a few years now and have found it most difficult to change my grooming habits. Maybe it’s vanity, or my affinity towards certain products for certain reasons, but I can’t let go of my favorite shampoos or face creams. Perfect “zero-wasters” lather up with coconut oil and shea-butter, but that’s just not who I am right now. I felt guilty about this realization for a while, but then decided I should focus on the changes I can successfully make instead. Those little swaps add-up! So, if you’re like me, and don’t want to say goodbye to your favorite eye-cream while helping the Earth, here’s the post for you!
About a year ago, I stopped using tissues/cotton rounds/disposable post-exercise freshening wipes, and invested in wash cloths instead. I keep a stack of about ten or so in my cabinet and go through them about once a week. The stack is comprised of old baby wash cloths and a pack I found at TJ Maxx for about $5. I use them to remove make-up, apply witch hazel, blow my nose and any other reason you’d need a cotton round. The irony is that I actually LOVE tissues. They feel luxurious to me and I still indulge when I have a cold. But truthfully I haven’t missed them too much in my daily routines, and the waste savings have been worth it to me.
Bar soap. I haven’t used body wash or a synthetic loofah in years. Find a soap bar (or soap rubber, as my girls used to call it) that works for you and that’s all you need. (We like Dove and the packaging is minimal.) If you’re looking for some type of exfoliant, homemade sugar scrubs are pretty easy to make. Look for a recipe online. It can also be a fun project with your kids! However between Dove soap and a good humidifier, I stay comfortable during the winter and don’t miss the extra plastic or micro-beads.
Bar soap obviously works well when washing your hands, but I know some people don’t like to use it. Not sure why – it doesn’t bother me and I love buying homemade bars from local crafters- but it can cause quite the resistance. So what can we do instead? I wrote a post about this issue when we first started this site and have kept going. Worst case, there’s really no reason to buy those plastic disposable soap bottles at the store. If none of the other options work for you, spend a few dollars on a refillable bottle and buy the largest container of hand soap you can find. Better yet, refill that disposable bottle until it breaks and then treat yourself to a pretty glass container as a reward for preventing some trash. All told, it’s still better than tossing a disposable plastic pump into the trash every few weeks and you won’t feel the difference.
Like I said above, I’m pretty picky about the products I use, especially things that go on my face. Rather than using items that don’t work for me, I’ve been trying to find cosmetics that I like but also come in glass containers. That feels like a compromise to me. Glass isn’t always recycled, but it has a better chance than plastic.
Lastly, Hannah shared a whole post about zero-waste period options and I’m particularly fond of Thinx. Not sure why talking about menstruation is so taboo but the truth is that you can avoid a lot of waste (and save some money!) with some simple swaps. It’s a little intimidating to start, but you won’t miss your disposable items once you’ve made the switch. If menstrual cups are particularly intimidating (totally get it), we highlighted a video about them on our Instagram page.
So those are some changes I’ve made that have worked for me. There are many others methods out there – shampoo bars (I’m going to test liquid shampoos at the bulk store once Covid ends), bamboo toothbrushes, refillable floss containers, reusable q-tips. Choose a few options and find what works for you. It doesn’t have to be all of nothing – every little bit helps! As always, if I’ve omitted anything from this list, please share below. We are always learning. Best, Rachel
PS Conditioner works well for shaving your legs. Save yourself the money, and the waste, and stop buying shaving cream if you can let that one go. One less can to recycle or toss into the trash.