By now you have probably heard about and seen the increasingly concerning problem of plastic pollution. With the oceans and its life suffering from the unsustainable actions of humans, maybe it’s time to start re-thinking our individual plastic consumption. Our daily hygiene/beauty routine is one area that is fun and easy to switch up for more environmentally friendly options. Supporting companies that are producing low-waste products is a great way to have a positive impact.
Here are some ideas for swaps you can make, along with a few of my favourite brands.
Side note: most of these products were purchased in the UK, so if you’re reading from somewhere else then you may have to find a different brand that works for you.
1. Liquid Body Wash ➜ Soap Bar
One of the easiest swaps to make since there are many fantastic soap bars available. I like the Faith in Nature bars because there are several shops that stock them loose and completely unwrapped. Their bars are moisturising rather than leaving your skin feeling dry or tight like some soap bars can. They have such a wide range of scents that you don’t feel like you’re missing out on the luxury of a foaming bottle of body wash!
2. Plastic Toothbrush ➜ Bamboo Toothbrush
We each go through multiple toothbrushes every year, but when you throw away your plastic toothbrush, it doesn’t just disappear. In fact, it will be around for the rest of your life. Plastics like this can persist in the environment for hundreds to thousands of years. An alternative that is less damaging to the environment is bamboo.
Note: even if you get one with plastic bristles, the bristles are usually recyclable so once you’ve finished using the toothbrush you can pull them out to recycle, and compost the bamboo handle.
3. Plastic Razor ➜ Metal Safety Razor
Metal razors seem scary to many people and it did take me a while to come around to the idea. However, once I made the switch I never looked back.
Like plastic toothbrushes, plastic razors won’t bio-degrade for hundreds of years and we can easily go through many disposable razors each year. A metal razor will last much longer, and it makes financial sense too. All you need to do is replace the blade when the current one gets blunt. A pack of 100 blades costs less than £10- buy one metal razor and a pack of blades and you’re sorted for years to come!
If you’re worried about nicking yourself, my tip is to start slowly and lightly because the metal head is heavier so you don’t need to use as much force when shaving. After a couple of tries you’ll easily get a feel for how much pressure to apply.
4. Shampoo/Conditioner Bottles ➜ Bars
This one is trickier than soap bars because everyone has a different hair type.
I struggled to find a good shampoo and conditioner bar, the main issue being that shampoo would never lather up and conditioner would leave residue in my hair.
I’ve finally found two that work for me: J.R. Liggetts Tea Tree Shampoo and Ethique’s conditioner bar. The conditioner bar also doubles as a shaving cream which is handy, not to mention it smells amazing.
Another benefit to using solid bars is that it makes travelling easier since you don’t have to worry about spillages or the liquids rule at airport security.
If you’re not ready to switch to bars, another great alternative is to find shops that have bulk products so you can re-fill your old bottles and pay by weight.
5. Aerosol Antiperspirant ➜ Natural Deodorant
Admittedly, some natural deodorants are useless, but I’ve found the brand Native Unearthed to be amazing. Their deodorants are sold in most Holland & Barrett shops and have recently released new scents, Lavender & Sage being my favourite. The product comes in a glass jar so you can recycle or re-use it after it’s finished- much better than an aerosol can for the environment, and your health too.
If you decide to stop using antiperspirants containing aluminium which works by blocking the pores, it might take a week or so for your body to adjust to being allowed to sweat naturally again. Get through this and then you’ll notice the natural deodorant starting to work. It’s well worth it in my opinion!
6. Exfoliators ➜ Body Brush
Exfoliating products usually contain microbeads- very small balls of plastic which are not filtered out in sewage treatment, meaning they’re directly released into waterways, contributing to plastic pollution.
The good news is that you can still achieve smooth skin using a body brush. As well as removing dead skin sells, body brushing is great for blood circulation and the reduction of cellulite too. You can do it before or during your shower, just always brush in the direction of your heart to get the full benefits.
7. Disposable Face Wipes ➜ Bamboo Face Cloth
The chemicals and synthetic fibres in disposable wipes are not great for the environment or your skin. It’s also an expensive way to remove your makeup every day! I’m a big fan of using my Tropic bamboo wash cloth instead. You can apply a small amount of cleanser to the skin (I usually use coconut oil) and gently remove it with the cloth soaked in warm water.
Just make sure you give the cloth a hot wash once a week to ensure it says clean.
8. (Ladies Only) Tampons/Pads ➜ Cup
This is the most intimidating swap, but also the best by far. Did you know that a tampon takes longer to degrade than the lifespan of the woman who wears it?
The average woman uses over 11,000 disposable menstrual products in her lifetime. Unfortunately, there is a ridiculous amount of pollution produced from these products which is hazardous with toxic chemicals that leach into soil and water.
A menstrual cup is a great alternative and lasts up to 2 years. It is made from medical grade silicon which is antibacterial and can withstand boiling to sterilise it.
There are plenty of guides online on how to use them, so be brave and get yourself one to try. I promise it’s not as scary as it sounds. It makes sense for the environment, your health, convenience and bank account too!