Eco-Conscious Personal Care

After I finally felt that I had conquered my kitchen and shopping habits to rely less on plastic, I knew that my personal care and beauty routine needed to be next. The personal care industry makes 500 billion dollars a year and relies mostly on fully or partly non recyclable plastic. Globally, an average of eight million tons of plastic escapes collection systems, winding up in the environment and eventually the ocean (B.A.N.). Once there, sunlight and currents shred plastic debris into smaller particles called micro plastics which absorb and concentrate toxic chemicals up the marine food chain and into our bodies. Many companies have prioritized our health and sustainability and have reconsidered the nature of the products, packaging, and supply chain itself. I have chosen to highlight these companies and their products that are either refillable, made from reused plastic or in a better recyclable material like glass or stainless steel.

Toiletries

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Approximately1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the United States, leading to 50 million pounds of toothbrushes added to landfills annually.

Switching from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo toothbrush is pretty easy. I will admit that I miss the smoothness of the plastic compared to the bamboo, but you wear it in and get used to it and think about how much non-recyclable plastic you are preventing from going into landfills and oceans and move on. The glass contained mouthwash, refillable dental floss, toothpaste in recyclable aluminum and bamboo cotton swabs are no brainers. Everybody’s body chemistry is different, so one deodorant might work for one person that doesn’t for another. I love the deodorants by Meow Meow Tweet (and I just love that name!). Meow Meow Tweet sells their stick deodorant in cardboard and their cream deodorant in a glass jar.

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Skincare

I had been using Revision Skincare for my face routine. The products were great but I knew I needed to find something new because all Revision products are in black plastic and black plastic is completely non recyclable. Plastic items are sorted by optical scanners which use the reflection of light to identify the types of plastics. Black plastic doesn't reflect light, so cannot be seen and sorted by the scanners.

I found a few great brands that I have been alternating between for my skin routine: Tata Harper and S.W. Basics. Tata Harper’s products are mostly in glass and the plastic resin from the tubes is derived from corn, a renewable resource. Tata Harper’s products smell like a dream and feel amazing on my skin. I use the Clarifying Cleanser as my face wash and use the Rejuvenating Serum, Rebuilding Moisturizer and the Illuminating Eye Cream to keep those wrinkles at bay. I love the Revitalizing Body Oil as one of my body lotions. I have found that body lotion is hard to come by in a non-plastic material. The Plaine Products body lotion is fantastic. We also use their haircare products. S.W. basics has prioritized using plastic-free packaging from their start. Adina Gregoire, the founder, chose glass for her primary packaging because of its nearly infinite recyclability, even though the bottles and jars she used cost about 10 times more than a comparable plastic alternative. The products have a more realistic price point for everyday use than Tata Harper and also feel wonderful on your skin.

 

Haircare

I have found four great options for haircare: one with no packaging, one in recycled packaging, one contained in glass and one in refillable aluminum. The most eco-friendly options are the shampoo and conditioner bars for obvious reasons. No packaging at all! I bought some and will use them every once in a while, but do find them a little drying for my color-treated hair and not quite what I am used to. I was already using Kevin Murphy products before this journey and was both relieved and delighted to read about their efforts to create a circular supply chain by using recycled-ocean plastic for all of their packaging. I have always loved their products! Plaine Products is an awesome line of refillable haircare and body wash in aluminum bottles that both my husband and I use. They smell wonderful. O-Way Haircare is an Italian line of haircare products in 100% glass and aluminum containers. They are committed to sustainability in all aspects of their production. O-Way has a huge line, including skincare and men’s grooming. I have loved their haircare and can’t wait to try more of their products.

 

Have a favorite personal care rec? Please share!

BYO On the Go

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Photo: OneGreenPlanet.org

Photo: OneGreenPlanet.org

Americans purchase over 50 billion single-use plastic water bottles every year. This averages to about 13 bottles per month for every person in the United States. Across the U.S. plastic bottles, including PET (#1), HDPE (#2) and PP (#5), are recycled at a rate of 29.7%. Recycling of plastics is competing with cheaper “virgin plastics”, which is affecting the value of recycled material worldwide (B.A.N.). A recent study found that plastic bottles are the most prevalent form of plastic pollution in European waterways. Some once beautiful beaches in Asia are inundated with plastic. Whales and marine life are dying from mistaking these single use plastics for food. This is a horrifying and unnecessary pollutant as well as a waste of our natural resources. Simple actions like refusing single-use plastics and planning ahead to bring your own cups and cutlery can make a huge difference. In this post I’ve lined up some of my favorite on-the-go items.


Water Bottles

Getting a water bottle for on-the-go drinking is an easy way to help prevent unnecessary waste. It is one of the easiest switches I have made and truly a better way to live life. The water stays cooler longer, the bottle is easier to drink from and there is no worrying about the plastic roasting in the sun and leaking BPA into the water. Did I also mention that they are way better looking with so many options to choose from depending on your drinking preferences? I prefer a flip top sport style for when I’m working out and then carry an insulated tumbler with a straw for the rest of the day. I currently use a Camelbak for my workouts. I have had it for four years and don’t plan on buying new unless necessary. I have heard great things about HydroFlasks so I included it below as a workout option. The Klean Kanteen insulated tumbler with straw is what I use for smoothies or any other on-the-go beverage so it’s nice to already always have with me as my water bottle. S’well water bottles are a perfect combination of form and function and great for throwing in your purse for the day.

HYDRO FLASK
Klean Kanteen
Klean Kanteen
S'well
CamelBak Products LLC

Coffee Cups

Another on-the-go switch is to-go coffee cups. This switch is even more important than water bottles in my opinion since to-go coffee cups are considered non recyclable items by most recycling facilities (except TerraCycle of course). Because the coffee cups are a mixed plastic it is considered too costly and time-inefficient to take them apart in a recycling facility. I have  tried a couple of reusable coffee cups that I have enjoyed drinking from so much more than the plastic carry out option from the coffee shop. Frank Green is my favorite. The cup fits nicely in my hand and the drinking spout feels very similar (yet better) to drinking out of a single-use coffee cup. The push button on top opens or closes the drinking spout from within so you can throw it in you bag and not worry about it spilling. It has been very reliable. KeepCup is another popular and eco-friendly option for coffee. I also love the versatility of Yeti and Klean Kanteen tumblers. There are really so many great options out there to choose from. What is most important is to find something that works for you daily life. For instance, if someone does a coffee run for your office in the morning, maybe have the office invest in several reusable cups for them to take to the coffee shop?

W&P
Hydro Flask
Klean Kanteen
FRANK GREEN

FRANK GREEN

YETI

carrying multiple bottles not your thing?

My husband doesn’t like to carry around a bag so it was a challenge for him to carry around a to-go coffee cup and water bottle. He decided to use one mug for both and just rinse out in between. The Yeti or Klean Kanteen tumblers are great for this since you can transition to a different top + straw if desired but keep the same base. It can take time to make any switch feel right for you and your daily routine, but its worth the effort to reduce these single-use plastics we have grown so reliant on.


check out these other zero waste on the go items

What’s your favorite single use replacement?


Imperfectly Plastic Free

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You can make plastic free changes to your life that have little effect on your daily routine or you can try and do a complete single-use plastic ban. Every effort is important

In transition. I will never be perfectly plastic free, but I feel all efforts are meaningful.

In transition. I will never be perfectly plastic free, but I feel all efforts are meaningful.

so find what works for you. You might even be excited to try a semi plastic-free transition. I decided that I wanted to start as strict as possible at the beginning to see how much we could adapt to plastic-free living before adapting it to our family household. It was a slow start because I already had so many pantry items in plastic, so it has taken a while to phase it out completely. I didn’t want to throw away plastic items just to re-buy them in a non-plastic material. In fact, you will see a lot of plastic items in our house because of that.

While I still had a lot of plastic in my pantry, learning to buy plastic free is something I was able to implement immediately. The transition has gone well, though there is always one ingredient that I can’t find in anything but plastic when preparing meals. I recycle those non-recyclable soft plastics with my TerraCycle plastic packaging box. Generally I am buying more of whats available plastic-free in the produce section and have bought new fruits and vegetables that I hadn’t before to diversify our selection.

Wil, my four-year-old boy, is a pretty picky, limited eater. He likes corn dogs, chicken nuggets, cereal, french fries and carby snacks...you know the type. When going plastic free, I initially worried about him getting enough to eat. When possible, I make and freeze chicken nuggets, french fries, granola bars and other foods I used to only buy in plastic. Wil is getting used to the different options and lack of his old favorites and Joseph, my adventurous eater, is loving all of the new food around the house.

Joseph eating homemade chicken nuggets. I wouldn’t buy the plastic plate and cup now, but I definitely won’t be throwing them away to add to a landfill.

Joseph eating homemade chicken nuggets. I wouldn’t buy the plastic plate and cup now, but I definitely won’t be throwing them away to add to a landfill.

Personally, I’ve learned that I feel more of a sense of wholeness when I’m interacting with (washing, chopping, cooking) the food I’m about to eat or serve my children. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never cut a mango in my life although it has been a staple in my kids’ diets for years. We always bought it prepackaged from Whole Foods! I have really loved making these simple kid staples and cutting and preparing our fruits and vegetables rather than buying them precut in plastic bags. That being said, we are busy parents and there are still times when I buy frozen, but now I can add the packaging to the TerraCycle soft plastic bin! TerraCycle allows us to be human and still live our values.

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Another meaningful outcome of this with the kids (mostly Wil our oldest of three) is the awareness he has of our impact on the environment. Wil loves to sort our trash by what goes in the compost, what goes in recycling and what goes in landfill/trash. It is very rewarding to listen to him talk about caring for the Earth. I know that preserving our environment will be an increasingly relevant conversation in his lifetime. Plastic production and the use of single-use plastic is increasing substantially year to year and projections indicate plastic use will quadruple by 2050 if we continue with business as usual (Greenpeace). We feel it is important that our children learn to always do their best to take care of our home on Earth and to be part of the solution.

Wil is my trash sorter. He knows what goes in the compost vs. recycling vs. trash.

Wil is my trash sorter. He knows what goes in the compost vs. recycling vs. trash.

Plastic Free Hacks (not everything has to be made)

  • Pizza Delivery (the boxes are even compostable!)

  • Pick up your tortillas / tortilla chips to-go from a Mexican restaurant

  • Prepared foods section at the grocery store, or anywhere!

  • TerraCycle