Have you ever read the ingredients on the back of your shampoo bottle? or wondered what the beads between your fingertips are made of as you exfoliate your face? Maybe you’re like me and didn’t think much about it because, hey, my hair is clean and my skin is soft so who cares?
Well all of that changed for me when I started delving into my consumer choices. Which begged the question, “what am I actually putting on my body?” and “does it have any effect on the natural environment?”
It turns out that the ingredients in our hair products aren’t as fruity and natural as they claim to be, and the beads in our exfoliator? Those are made from tiny pieces of plastic, and yes, you guessed it, it ends up in our oceans!
I hope this news doesn’t come as an overwhelming shock that puts you in a helpless state of mind(trust me I’ve been there). But instead inspires you to replace toxic plastic products with healthier substitutes for you and the earth.
One of the first switches I made in an effort to reduce my plastic waste was my toothbrush, for the simple fact that plastic toothbrushes cannot be recycled! I found toothbrushes to be one of the most common pieces of trash washed up on the beach during clean ups, amongst many other forms of trash such as straws, utensils, plastic containers and more. So I decided to brush with bamboo!
I also use a tongue scrapper in the morning to fight bacteria and improve oral health. The stainless steel option is recyclable and also very easy to clean! As for toothpaste, I am currently transitioning from natural herbal toothpaste that comes in a plastic tube and going to start making my own. It would be silly for anyone to throw away perfectly good product simply because it’s packaged in plastic. Since it has already been produced and bought, it’s best to use it/give it away and work towards a plastic free alternative.
Shampoo and Conditioner are essentials when it comes to hygiene and lucky for us there are alternatives to plastic packaging! Plaine Products is pioneering the sustainable movement by offering stainless steel bottles that can be returned and refilled to avoid plastic packaging ending up in overflowing landfills. Not only do they strive to reduce packaging waste, they also value the use of non-toxic ingredients. When it comes to traditional beauty products, we can find a slew of ingredients that are hard to pronounce that help extend shelf-life and strip natural oils from our hair. While we still wait for more research that may point to potential health risks of certain ingredients, it’s better to be safe and look for healthier products for you and the planet.
Microbeads, the small plastic scrubbers that exfoliate your face also make their way down the sink and find their way into rivers and oceans because they don’t decompose (hense: plastic.) These beads are toxic to marine/fresh water creatures as many confuse these beads for food. An associate professor of chemistry at the State University of New York found, “on average, 17,000 bits of tiny plastic items per square kilometer in Lake Michigan.”
Ok depressing I know, but there is good news! By saving your coffee grounds and letting them dry, you can use them to exfoliate your face and body. Coffee is also high in antioxidants so expect clearer skin and cleaner oceans. Think that’s all you can do with your coffee grounds? After I exfoliate, I take my coffee grounds and repurpose them by mixing them into my compost to help nourish the soil for trees and wildlife in my backyard. If you want to read more eco-friendly life hacks click here.
I went from using an expensive moisturizer to a simple one ingredient oil made from Jojoba which comes from the seed of the Jojoba plant. It lasts me a LOT longer than store bought moisturizer and comes in recyclable glass or plastic containers. Jojoba oil has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that keep your skin healthy and soft. It can even be used as a hair treatment for dry brittle ends which is what I love most about plant oils – versatility! A product that serves many purposes will save you more money and packaging. Another win-win for you and the planet.
You’re probably wondering what this weird stick thing is, like some sort of messed up toothpick. What you’re looking at is a re-usable and biodegradable alternative to cotton swabs! Oh now it looks intimidating huh? I promise it’s not that dangerous if you know what you’re doing. I found this bad boy at a zero waste store in Canada and it’s really great for light travel. And if using pointy things in your ears doesn’t sound like fun, opt for wooden cotton swabs that will actually biodegrade and not sit in a landfill or float through the ocean, true story…
The best alternative to plastic brushes – biodegradable wooden brushes. The rubber sole can be recycled and the handle and bristles can go straight into compost. I find that these bristles also massage the scalp really well which helps stimulate hair growth. If you don’t know what to do with your old hair brushes, consider calling up your local animal shelter and donating used hairbrushes to our furry friends in need.
If you haven’t read my Zero Waste Shaving post already, I talk about how you can avoid plastic razors and still get silky smooth legs(if that’s your thing). Besides the fact that it’s reusable, the stainless steel razors will save you money over time and will avoid plastic razors from ending up in landfills.
Those are just some of my Go To hygiene products that help me stay clean and feel good, physically and mentally. I live a more fulfilled life when my consumer choices align with my values.
If you know someone who would love to read this, share it, comment, discuss! I’d love to hear your thoughts!