sustainable personal care products

Many of us pack our bathrooms with personal products, from cotton swabs to shampoo, that we use daily and repurchase regularly. These products can be problematic from an environmental point of view. Many contain chemical or synthetic ingredients and come in unsustainable packaging.

However, more sustainable personal care products, containing natural and safe ingredients and producing less waste, are increasingly available. Here are a few options for a more earth-friendly experience in your bathroom.

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We all know that regularly brushing our teeth is good for us. Unfortunately, dental-product packaging can be bad for the environment. Toothpaste tubes can be difficult to recycle. Americans bought 798 million toothpaste products in 2017, according to market researcher Nielsen. And most of them end up in landfills.

Companies are starting the tackle the problem. Colgate, for example, spent more than five years developing a recyclable toothpaste tube. The company started rolling out its Tom’s of Maine toothpaste in the new tube beginning in 2020, with plans to roll out all of its toothpaste brands in recyclable tubes by 2025.

In the meantime, a more sustainable alternative is the toothpaste tablet. Simply chew it and it produces a paste that you use to brush your teeth. One example is Unpaste Zero Waste toothpaste tablets. They come in plastic-free, compostable bags to eliminate tube waste. They contain no preservatives, dyes, synthetic fragrances, petroleum-based products, or fluoride.

Organic Silk Dental Floss

While you’re brushing more sustainably, why not think about dental floss as well?

Lucky Teeth floss is made of 100% organic silk, candelilla plant wax, and organic tea tree and peppermint oils. It’s completely biodegradable, breaking down in approximately 60 to 90 days. Instead of the standard disposable plastic container, the packaging is a reusable glass jar with a metal top. Floss refills come in a recyclable paper box. It is shipped using 100% recyclable paper-based materials, including recycled paper tape, recycled labels, recycled mailer envelopes, and recycled paper for cushioning.

BUY Lucky Teeth floss on Amazon

Bamboo Toilet Paper

Global toilet paper production consumes 27,000 trees per day.

Until recently, the easiest sustainable alternative has been toilet paper made from recycled materials. With the introduction of toilet paper made from fast-growing, renewable bamboo, toilet paper startup No. 2 offers another option.

No. 2 toilet paper is Forest Stewardship Council and Responsible Forestry certified and comes wrapped in 100% recycled paper rather than plastic, with an array of soybean-ink printed wrapper designs to choose from. Bamboo toilet paper also eliminates 95% of “butt crumble,” which we will let you explore.

BUY No. 2 toilet paper on Amazon

Bamboo/Cotton Swabs

Using bamboo can also make cotton swabs more sustainable. Swabs made with a plastic stick end up in all sorts of places they don’t belong, landing in landfills, clogging sewers, and washing up on beaches.

The Humble Co. offers a 100% biodegradable alternative with a handle made from sustainably grown bamboo and a cotton tip containing natural coloring. The swabs are packaged in 100% recycled paper.

BUY The Humble Co. swabs on Amazon

reusable metal razor, stainless steel blades, and shaving cream in a metal container
Image courtesy of Albatross

Zero Waste Shaving

Plastic razors are ubiquitous and wasteful. Even those that are refillable use unrecyclable metal-and-plastic blades. For a more environmentally friendly option, choose a metal safety razor.

Albatross reusable metal razors come with 10 replacement blades and a hemp razor bag. The company also offers a razor blade take-back program. Just collect your used blades and send them back to the company — they even accept other brands’ blades. The stainless steel replacement blades come in a paper envelope and wrapper.

Albatross also offers a shaving soap that improves upon traditional shaving cream in an aerosol can. The soap is made of plant-based oils without preservatives or synthetics, packaged in a recyclable metal tin.

Natural Bar Shampoo

Shampoo doesn’t have to come in liquid form, packaged in plastic. Solid bar shampoos reduce packaging waste and often last longer than liquid shampoo.

Meow Meow Tweet offers shampoo bars in two scents, rosemary avocado and lavender coconut milk, each made with organic, unrefined plant oils and butters, steam-distilled and cold-pressed essential oils, and organic botanicals. The bars are package-free and shipped in a post-consumer cardboard box with 100% recyclable and compostable paper wrapping, labels, and tape.

Refillable Body Moisturizer

Sometimes it just works best to use products that are liquid, such as moisturizer. But you can still reduce plastic waste by using a refillable container.

Plaine Products’ refillable natural body moisturizer is packaged in a recyclable aluminum bottle. Even better, when you’re finished with the moisturizer, you can send the bottle back to the company to be refilled and reused. The moisturizer is made from natural ingredients. And it’s shipped in compostable/recyclable packaging.

BUY Plaine Products body lotion on Amazon

Originally published on July 23, 2019, this article was updated in July 2021.

By Jennifer Sokolowsky

Jennifer Sokolowsky writes about environmental, legal, and tech topics. She has an extensive international background in journalism and marketing, including work with The Seattle Times, The Prague Post, Microsoft, and Marriott.