The general principles are the same as food, really. You know what I mean, I don’t need to lecture you.
We all know we need to buy less and buy less in plastic. Understand really deep in your soul that yet another new lipstick in a jazzy tube will not change your life. Other obvious things that you do already: don’t use wipes, use cakes of soap rather than plastic bottles. You don’t need to wash top to toe every single day. It’s bad for your skin anyway and a huge waste of water.
All sorts of great plastic-free products can be found at Beauty Kubes and also at Lush. The only downside of things like shampoo bars I can see is the care – if you leave them in the shower they tend to turn to mush.
You basically have to take them in and out of the shower with you and leave to dry between shampoos somewhere. Lush sell very cute little tins to transport the shampoo in but alas all that happens is they get stuck tight to the bottom of the tin.
My January Baby makes and sells washable wipes – her make-up wipe idea is very good – you buy a bag of seven wipes, use one every day and then stick the whole lot back in the cotton bag and into the wash.
Peace With the Wild also has all sorts of clever stuff along these lines and is definitely worth looking at, I like the look of their toothpastes in particular – toothpaste tubes being the no.1 most totally non biodegradable thing out there.
I have recently been contacted by a new natural deodorant company called Wild Cosmetics – they’re supposed to be sending me a sample to try (I am sceptical), but it hasn’t arrived yet. Has anyone tried a natural deodorant that works? I mean as an anti-perspirant, too. I sweat and while I’m not ashamed of this, I don’t particularly want to.
Regular Spike reader AC has recommended Malin & Goetz and Aesop as practical alternatives.
Ohne make and deliver organic tampons, while also supporting a menstrual health charity in Zambia.
Thinx or ModiBodi – period pants… I think we all know about these, very popular with some, others aren’t crazy about the idea.
Silicon period “cups” are becoming more popular – a bit of research shows that the OrganiCup outperforms the original Moon Cup. I had more than one email saying “I haven’t told anyone this, but I use a moon cup.” Its negative association with massive weird hippiedom – (a thing I suspect propagated by tampon companies anyway) – is on the wane, which can only be a good thing.
Personally I hated my period so much I got a coil – but that might be a bit extreme for you.
Washable nappies: even if you don’t use a washable nappy every single nappy change, if you can work even one or two a day into your routine it’s better than nothing. I didn’t use washable nappies ever with my kids, (because I bizarrely thought that it was an all-or-nothing thing), and occasionally lie awake feeling bad. Things have really moved on since mine were in nappies and there are washable nappy alternatives that are really viable, at least for some nappy changes.
Recycle your contact lenses and packaging at Terracycle stations all over the country. I don’t find the Terracycle website madly user-friendly but with a bit of effort you can find free recycling drop-off points all over the country for all sort of mad things like crisp packets and fag butts.
Pikster, the inter-dental brush people, now make a pik from bamboo.
How about you? Please leave your top eco health and beauty swaps or tips in the box below.
Emily K says
We use cheeky wipes for our baby and toddler and they are genuinely so much better than disposable wipes. I tried to change a soiled nappy yesterday with disposables and they were rubbish and I got through so many. Once kids are toilet trained they can be used for wiping grotty faces and fingers etc.
I’ve been using coconut oil as an eye make-up remover for years. Just the bog standard stuff you use in the kitchen. It’s the best I’ve found for removing liquid eyeliner and waterproof mascara. No chemicals and very cheap.
Hi! I’ve thought of doing this, but for some reason I was worried about the coconut oil clogging up the eye-lash shafts / ducts. It doesn’t cause you any eye-lid congestion?
And more importantly, have you noticed a difference in your eye lashes (thicker, longer)?
Hello! I haven’t had any problems. But, I don’t think that I can claim to have longer lashes either!
I use natural deodorant for six months of the year…. (Oct-April) that’s my compromise! Either Weleda or Uterkram(spelling?!) work best in my experience.
I found that I was using way too many baby wipes for wiping faces and hands. I now use flannels and washable eye make up pads. It feels great not to be putting anything in the bin.
I get mine from Pretty green things (from Facebook)
A lot of Beauty Pie products come in glass which I find both pleasing in a sort of old fashioned pharmacy way, as well as being recyclable. i use flannels (face washers) for removing makeup following the hot cloth method and, previously, for the babies’ bottoms.
I’m getting Nuud deodorant promoted to me via social media. Apparently it’s in a sugar cane tube.
It’s worth thinking about the bar soap you use also. Much as I love the slightly medicinal smell of Pears, it comes packaged in a plastic sleeve. Dove comes in just a small cardboard box.
Following – thanks for these posts
I tried natural deodorants for awhile (Pitrok and the like) but never really got on with them. But then some new ones came on the market that seem to be cocoa butter and bicarbonate of soda (+ essential oils for perfume) based concoctions that seem to really do the trick. They’re pastes that you smooth on.
I found Fit Pit in Hisbe and I loved it, but it seems to be out of stock now. But any with this formula seem to work just fine.
I ran out and went back to Mitchum for a day or two and it seems to have stopped working.
I really like Soapwalla natural deodorant. Been issuing it exclusively now for 3 years or thereabouts. Seriously works for the odour side of things, but is not an antiperspirant. I do understand the inconvenience, if that’s the right word, of sweating, but I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that it’s actually better for you to allow this, rather than blocking up the sweat ducts…? Another really good side effect of the Soapwalla is that I no longer have to deal with those horrible yellow underarm marks on clothes that conventional deodorants seem to induce. Simply doesn’t ever happen anymore. And I also have definitely noticed when I don’t wear any deodorant (obviously would only do this if not seeing anyone or being out in public!) that my natural underarm smell is almost hardly there anymore. I have verified this with good friends/mother/spouse who would DEFINITELY tell me otherwise….! Obviously I have no scientific evidence for why this might be, but I do wonder whether it’s just not having put anything pore blocking/aluminium based whatever on my underarms for so long now…..Who knows, but I’m happy with the result!
I’ve tried several natural deodorants in the past and they’ve never worked on me. The Malin & Goetz Eucalyptus is fab though
Earth Conscious deodorant is amazing – eco and plastic-free. I order it from Babi Pur as I have a small child and get things for him at the same time, but I’m sure you can get it elsewhere. The lavender and tea tree one is the best, scent-wise. It really actually works, I am 6 months pregnant and it’s keeping the sweat at bay even now.
Also – reusable wipes don’t have to be spendy. I bought a fleece blanket from IKEA for an actual quid, and just cut it up with pinking shears. This made a load of make-up remover pads for me and wipes for my son’s face/hands.
I use Pitrok 95% of the time and think it’s great. You have to realise that it will take some time for your body to get used to being able to breathe (bc normal anti-perspirants basically block your sweat glands) so your pits will over-compensate for a while … maybe try it on a beach holiday where you’ll be in and out of sea/pool all day long? I do have a ‘normal’ deodorant for when I really don’t want any kind of sweat, but for me those occasions are few and far between – smart parties, weddings etc. I suppose there is a slight stickiness, which I’ve got used to, but I don’t smell, I do feel smug, and it lasts for ages, and I mean almost a year! Since Pitrok is alum, if you hate it, you could hand it over to your husband to use on shaving cuts!
And I agree with Louise, absolutely no yellow crusty marks on clothes. Natural deodorant and t-shirts you don’t have to chuck after three months because the armpits are obscene, what’s not to love? My husband uses it too and I can report pristine armpits on his work shirts too. Now I only confiscate them when the collar has frayed to gentleman-tramp levels.
I have been using the Pitrok natural deodorant, so has my husband and so now is my sweatiest friend – we are all total converts. It’s brilliant and does actually work. It’s a bit weird at first and you wonder how on Earth it can actually work, but it does. Can buy on amazon for about £6/7 and it lasts ages. It easily a aw me through some really hot days recently.
Also in Waitrose!
I use a natural deodorant and have done for 5 years. Nobody explains it is difficult to change and you end up thinking you’re the only one with super smelly sweat. If you’ve been using a chemical deodorant which let’s face it, practically all of us, our bodies are continually trying to get rid of the chemicals by making more sweat and therefore we all keep adding more deodorant and obviously buying it which is the most important part of the companies. When you begin with a natural one your body is still on overdrive and you think the natural deodorant is no good and go back to the chemical ones. My advice, be patient, you’ll be changing your tops 3 times a day, try wearing less synthetic fabrics during the process. Takes about 3 months for your body to level itself out but then you find you hardly smell and the natural deodorant is just a light fragrance. I have a friend and also my husband who have never used deodorants and neither of them ever smell. We are all quick to start our youngsters off on deodorants when we should be dressing them in cotton and encouraging good underarm cleanliness.
This is very true about your body adjusting! Def less sweat now than at the beginning.
Mary this is really invaluable advice, thank you for commenting
Salt of the Earth lavender deodorant – I went on a massive natural deodorant binge experiment and have always come back to this one. It smells great and is not all sticky and gunky like regular deodorant – does not leave the yellow stains on your clothes either. It does have alum in it, which I think is why it is so effective, but cuts out a lot of the worst stuff. Also on Ocado.
Make Up Eraser cloths remove pretty much anything with just water, no stinging make up remover.
I find Pitrok (the crystal form) is a good natural deodorant for all but the hottest of days. It lasts ages too, I think I got mine two years ago, along with a mini Nivea one for days when it’s 25C or over.
I’m a big fan of the Schmidt deodorants; available at Ocado and ASOS. Better than any other natural I’ve tried (M+G, Soapwalla, Pitrok, etc). Doesn’t stop you sweating but does stop any smell and there’s no irritation, which has happened with other naturals. Packaging is plastic though, so not so great for the environment.
Also Lunette menstrual cup – this has improved my quality of life on days when I have my period so much, and it is a genuinely eco friendly product. Each one will last for about 10 years which saves a LOT of tampons going into landfill.
Thanks for the other recs- Splosh in particular looks great and I will be trying them.
Sorry that was very earnest – really couldn’t come up with any good jokes on this topic 🥴
I also love Schmidt deodorants. Just survived 2 days on planes with no stink. Still sweat though. I don’t ever use a back up.
Menstrual cups are the best. Took me 3 months to use it properly though.
I’ve just made a half-arsed switch to washable nappies (day time only, not for naps, big outings or nights away).
The thing that put(s) me off is the upfront spend, and the fact that nobody seems to really acknowledge that they come with environmental disadvantage too: all those hot washes are not exactly energy efficient.
Regarding spend though, which if I’m honest the biggest barrier, don’t be put off by the £20+ fashion ones. In the end I found a covers on ebay, and bought the pads separately, at more like £6. Still not cheap – you need about 24 to fill a washing machine and therefore do that efficiently…
As I said, half-arsed. But we try.
That’s basically how we do them as well – although I’ve definitely found we use them more and more as time goes by. Many councils will give you a £50 voucher to help with the upfront cost and if you have more than one child (deeply unenvironmentally friendly though they are!) they do pay for themselves pretty quickly.
For anyone contemplating a move from plastic razors to a fixed blade permanent one: I was terrified. Convinced I’d be grated like a carrot or found dead in a pool of blood. And underarms? Impossible.
Anyway, it took a bit of getting used to, but three months on I’m not only still alive but love it. I find it as easy – in fact possibly easier and faster – than the plastic ones and no cuts at all, even in the armpits which I’ve always found devilishly hard to shave properly. I got mine from Muhle because they also sell a Blade Guard which I use when travelling to cover the blade bit of the razor (similar to the slide on caps you get with plastic ones) and I also got the natty blade disposal thing. A bit spendy but should last forever so going to save loads of ££ long term. (Also love my Diva cup. It’s a game-changer, particularly if you have heavy periods.)
Jason deodorant is great – as is most of their range of moisturisers etc. You can still only get it in independent health food type shops though, annoyingly.
I do tend to use Bionsen deodorant when I can’t readily get hold of Jason – at least Bionsen is aluminium free.
We use washable cloths for most things (flannels, muslins etc) – hand wipes, make up wipes etc.
I bulk buy the Faith in nature soaps from Amazon – like 30 in a box, brings the cost down and getting a lot shipped in one go. Dove comes in a cardboard box, but it’s also full of palm oil…
I use organic cotton tampons – Yoni is good and available in Sainsbury’s. Also just started with the Cheeky Wipes own brand period pants and impressed so far.
Emily Cowdry says
Re: eco period solutions
I’m a primary school teacher and was met with alot of negativity (even disgust) when I asked whether the girls were given info about cups, reusables etc in addition to the samples of standard tampons and pads they were given during their ‘health’ talks.
Has anyone heard of a scheme where I could get examples and information suitable for sharing with children in upper primary? I feel it’s very important we don’t pass these negative connotations on and show them their choices.
Another teacher here – my daughter (who is 16) had a talk at school during which info about menstrual cups was given & since then she has switched and persuaded me to do so too. This is only going to be relevant for me for a few years but probably for 30+ years for her – so important and done in the right way can be really positive. I haven’t tried reusables but have read good reviews of thinx and on the website there’s a programme called Everybody – – which is for 10-13 year olds. I think this is US based but might be a place to start? https://www.shethinx.com/pages/giveback
Emily Cowdry says
Thank you, I will have a look! I’m glad the message is getting out to some girls at least! X
That is very disappointing Emily. Cups are so much better health-wise than tampons too.
Are re-useable nappies really better for the environment? That’s a lot of extra washing, and some of them are made of micro fibre (plastic). Could end up putting more plastic in the ocean than ordinary disposables…
Kathryn Davies says
Yeah, I’ve really struggled with this too, although largely as an excuse for not doing it. Yes, it’s not plastic (although I hadn’t considered microfibre!) but that isn’t the only consideration. Also – whisper it – I don’t think they’re as good.
I’ve made the switch to reusable nappies (well partly I can’t afford enough to do it full time) and struggled with the arguments for and against. Yes there’s more washing (about 2 extra loads a week) but I’m sending less nappies to landfill that will sit there full of crap for the next 500years.
Making disposables uses a shed of water and other resources so it’s a bit of swings and roundabouts.
The reusable I have definitely work as well as the pampers I use as well. I have to change the baby a bit more often in the day but I’ve had less poo explosions in ac reusable than a disposable.
Biodegradable nappies produce a lot of gases when degrading which creates problems in the long term.
Essentially there’s an argument for and against every option but if everyone does a little bit it will make some difference hopefully. Lots of people doing a little bit is better than everyone carrying on as they are now I think (hope)?!
Donna Fenby Taylor says
Lush shampoo bars – to avoid the swift transition to mush, keep them off a solid surface in the shower on a rack or be very thrifty and use a piece of cut down plastic tubing so they drip dry and don’t sit in a pool of water. Then you can leave them in there. Mine sit on a synthetic sponge thingy that came inside a Muji travel soap dish (and go back in there with the sponges for travelling, I had the same welding problem with the Lush travel tins) and drain very nicely between uses. So many helpful tips above re make-up wipes, I haven’t found one that works well so far so a few to try, thank you all.