I started out by going through all my toiletries. This took a few sweeps over the course of a year. It was hard to part ways with cosmetics I’d spent a fair amount of money on. With time, I realized they had expired or I simply wasn’t using it. It began to click that I didn’t need to hang onto the glittery eye makeup I may use once a year for a special dress up occasion (also, what I learned about microplastics ruined the appeal of glitter for me. btw, if you still want glitter there’s biodegradable glitter made from plants). Make piles for landfill, thrift store (unopened products that are still fresh), recycling, and keep.
Landfill + Thrift Store
Make note of these items and try to not purchase them again.
Clean out bottles by emptying their contents in the trash and letting them soak in soapy, hot water. Let them dry and put them in your recycle bin. Keep in mind that generally, only hard plastics are recyclable. Flimsy plastics that you can crumple in your hand have to be sent to the landfill.
Reuse containers you like, such as spray bottles, jars, etc. You can put your DIY stuff in these!
Check out their packaging. Is it something you need to have? If so, brainstorm some ways you can reduce or eliminate the packaging.
Spray cleanerDIY it
I use this to clean my kitchen counters and other hard surfaces around the apartment. First, find a spray bottle. You can repurpose a used cleaner spray bottle (wash it out well first), or buy a glass bottle with a spray head. The spray heads are almost always plastic, but at least it’s reusable. Add ingredients, and shake to mix well. Use with unpaper towels or old rags.
This is a tried and true recipe I've used since 2012! If you have sensitive skin, the baking soda might bother you, so I'd suggest using less of that and replace with more cornstarch.
Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and melts if warmed. Depending on the temperature in your home, the coconut oil may be solid. If so, microwave it for about 15-30 seconds to loosen it up so you can stir it. To help it set, you can put it in fridge for a an hour or just let it be. I leave it at room temperature in a resealable glass container and it settles down to be whatever form depending on the temperature.
Originally from barefootessence.com, but the site is no longer active.
Face tonerDIY it
I came up with this based on a natural toner I used to buy. These were the main ingredients, so I played around with the ratio. It's good for acne prone skin.
Place all ingredients in a glass bottle. Shake well each time before use, as the oils naturally want to separate from the water. Use a reusable cotton or hemp round to apply to skin.
Facial cleaning padsSwap it
Instead of cotton balls, I use reusable hemp/cotton rounds. Use 'em to apply facial toner or remove makeup.
Facial TissuesSwap it
Good, old-fasioned handkerchiefs. This is one of my favorite swaps. I love searching for cute old ones at vintage shops (wash thoroughly in hot water before using :-). I keep one in my purse, in a lil cotton zipper pouch. I keep the rest in my home, rolled up in a mason jar for easy access.
Razor & Shaving CreamSwap it Razor
Instead of disposable plastic razors, I use a stainless steel razor that should last me for life: Albatross Safety Razor. It comes with blades; when they become dull, you can save them in a glass jar until you're ready to drop them off at a local recycling facility that recycles blades. If you don't have a convenient recycling place nearby, you can send them to Albatross and they'll handle it.Shaving cream
I got the recipe from the blog Mommypotamus: Homemade Shaving Cream Recipe It's a simple mix of coconut oil, shea butter, vegetable oil, and castile soap. It may seem like a lot of work, but I've found that a little goes a long way. I don't have to make it very often.
Shampoo and Conditioner
I used to shampoo and condition my hair every day. It was a habit I was taught as basic hygiene. One day when I was getting my hair cut, my hair stylist was gave me tips for creating more volume. I have fine hair, so I was curious how I can pump up my hair. She said the best thing to do is not wash it as often...as in, only washing it once a week or more! I gave it a whirl, and was disgusted with myself by the end of the week. I hear there’s an adjustment period as your scalp adjusts to the washing cycle and starts to produce less oil. Anyway, my happy medium now is washing it every 2-3 days, depending on if I’ve been working out, etc.
I’m still using shampoo I bought in plastic containers. I had a habit of buying several bottles of shampoo and conditioner whenever I saw it on sale. In combination with shampooing my hair less often, it’s taking me a long time to use up my stock. After it’s all gone, I’ll switch to package-free (ideally - otherwise, paper wrapped) shampoo bars. If that doesn’t work out (I’ve heard it can be kinda tricky finding the right one that works for long hair), there are refillable liquid Plaine hair products available at Fillgood). I recently bought a package-free shampoo bar locally at Abrams Claghorn Gallery store in Albany, CA for my boyfriend. It’s made by Anato in Santa Cruz, CA. You can find similar products at natural food stores.
Dry shampooDIY it
*If you can’t find this in bulk, it’s ok to replace with cornstarch or arrowroot powder
You can store it in a salt shaker for easy application. Part hair, and sprinkle it on your scalp. Run your fingers along your scalp to disperse the powder so it doesn’t look like you tripped in a flour factory.
Some people swear by using oils to moisturize, but since I have acne prone skin I try to avoid oils. I've found this is a good swap for a daily moisturizer. When my skin is super dry, I use shea butter. It's a solid at room tempurature, so I rub it inbetween my hands first to liquify it.
* Use the pure kind without fillers and additives. The stuff you can easily find at drugstores is often not only aloe vera; check the ingredients. Natural food stores carry it.
You can play around with the ratio of aloe vera juice to vegetable glycerin. I like mine to be mostly aloe vera juice with only a dash of vegetable glycerin. Vegetable glycerin makes it very moisturizing, but gets greasy feeling. I put it in a glass bottle with a pump. I shake it before I use it each time. Keep stored in the fridge. Inspired by this recipe.
Exfoliation scrubDIY it
Pads & TamponsSwap it
It blew my mind when I realized there's plastic in tampons. Sure, I knew it was in the packaging, but it's also in the insertable part. It's not pure cotton, at least not the mainstream brands. Here are a couple reusable options:
Retainer cleanerDIY it
I used to buy denture cleaner tabs, but they're coated in composite packaging made of foil and paper (non-recyclable or compostable).
Mix vinegar and water together in a bowl. Add baking soda. Soak for roughly 15 minutes, then rinse with water.
ToothpasteDIY or Swap it
This is a tough one. There are a bunch of recipes online if you search for "toothpaste recipe," but I'm still using my Tom's of Maine toothpaste. It is one of the few things I still buy packaged in plastic. I have cavity-prone teeth, so I like having the fluoride. I haven't found a low-waste packaged fluoride based toothpaste since most natural toothpastes pride themselves on being fluoride-free (the safety of fluoride is a debate). This isn't perfect, but I give my used tubes to Fillgood to be recycled by Terracycle (look it up—you can send it to them directly or find a recycling bin for it in your area).
Great, low waste packaging. It's available at Whole Foods and seems to have wide distribution at health stores. Another one I'd like to try is Dental Lace which sells refills of the spools. I haven't been able to find it locally yet.
Jar lady daydreams