There’s no easy way to accept the fact that everything we do in a our daily lives has a direct impact, usually negatively, on the planet. In honour of Earth Day 2018, I’ve prepared a compilation of some of my favourite eco-friendly, or eco-friendlier products and travel essentials. I also feel the need to point out that travel is one of the biggest contributors to our carbon footprints, so I try to do as much as possible in the rest of my life to counter this.
Recently I’ve tried to minimalize the waste in my life and this is actually a lot easier than I thought it would be, especially in regards to beauty products; there are actually a bunch of companies that sell package free alternatives. You may be thinking ‘but can’t I just recycle the packaging it comes in’ and this used to be my thought process too, but turns out that unless these containers are completely empty, it actually costs the processing plants $$$ and often these items just get disposed of anyway. And not to mention the amount of energy required to melt down and remake these plastic bottles. So here’s a few of my favourite package free beauty products.
Disclaimer: I love Lush, that’s no secret to anyone who knows me, and it was the easiest place for me to go to initially start my transition to package free, but the more I research, the more companies I am finding that do the same, but most of these products are from Lush and this is no way sponsored (although that would be amazing!)
Shampoo Bar (orange bar): Honey I Washed My Hair
Conditioner Bar (green bar): Jungle
I few years ago I tried these solid shampoo bars and conditioners from Lush and absolutely hated them, but turns out I was using them wrong the whole time. It does take some time to adjust to solid vs liquid, especially with the conditioner bars because they don’t “suds up” the same way that we are used to, but this is actually better for your hair because the additives that account for the suds are actually drying and damaging to hair.
At first glance, the shampoo bars seem expensive but they actually can give up to 80 washes out of one bar. One of the mistakes that I had made previously was using too much and the bar not lasting very long. Now, I simply wet my hair and the bar, give a few swipes across my head and then lather it all in. I’ve been wanting to try a few of the other bars but Honey I Washed My Hair smells SO GOOD that I can’t bring myself to part with it!
The conditioner bars take the most adjusting to because it almost feels like nothing is going onto the hair, but trust me, it is! The easiest way to use this is to take sections of hair and just swipe down each section and then let sit and rinse.
To say I have damaged hair would be an understatement; I box dye my hair every 6-8 weeks and that takes a toll on my strands. When I use conventional shampoo and conditioner I need to use a detangling spray in order to brush out my hair, but when I use this two bars my brush actually just glides through my hair. That was my biggest selling point cause I knew my hair was getting healthy again. As well, your hair never feels heavy of like there’s residue left behind which I find with most liquids that I’ve used.
For travelling, you can purchase these little metal containers that the bars fit into that protect your bars. TIP: the shampoo bars technically fit into round containers but I find it really difficult to remove the bars from these ones so I use square tins for both.
TRAVEL TIP: using bars means that you don’t have liquids and can toss these easily into carry-on bags without worry!
Toothy Tabs: Miles of Smiles
Mouthwash Tabs: Crème de Menthe
Toothbrush: BKIND Bamboo Biodegradable toothbrush
Toothpaste & Mouthwash
These are probably the easiest ones to adjust to; toothy tabs from Lush are solid toothpaste and mouthwash tabs. For the toothpaste ones, you just chew a tab, wet your toothbrush and the tab will then become a foam/paste consistency and you brush as normal. For the mouth wash, again, chew a tab, but this time fill your mouth with water as well, swish around for 30 seconds and spit; instant mouth wash! While these aren’t “package-free” the containers are much more recyclable because you can ensure that all the contents are out, unlike toothe paste containers that still have paste inside, or you can repurpose the empty containers for anything you may nee a small bottle for (ideas: pill holder, travel size makeup removers, salad dressing holder for lunches).
TRAVEL TIP: Same as with the bars above, you don’t have to worry about liquids so toss these into your carry on and freshen up in the airports on long hauls or don’t worry about a checked bag at all!
A wooden toothbrush may be a weird concept, and I know one person in my life (Hi Mom) that hates the feeling of wooden popsicle sticks in their mouth so would absolutely hate this, but for the rest of us, this is a green option that reduces the amount of plastic sent to landfills each year. Once your brush is worn out, you can pull out the bristles (unfortunately these are not compostable or recyclable) and the rest of the handle can be tossed into your compost/green bin, or reused in anyway you see fit! (Note: I use BKIND because it was the first brand that I can across in a store but there is really no difference between companies so any brand can work)
Face & Body
Face Wash: Coalface
Moisturizer: Magical Moringa
Deodorant Bar: Teos
I made the mistake on my last trip by forgetting to pack face wash so I headed to the nearest Lush to buy a small piece of the bar that I’ve used at home. Lush is really good about giving out sample sizes of most of their products and they actually gave me a small piece of the face bar for free, even though I had complete intention of purchasing something. These bars and great for both face and body and not only are they package free, they sell by weight so you can purchase as big or as small a piece as you need!
TRAVEL TIP: They also are very easy to cut yourself so you can always buy a larger bar and cut off smaller pieces to travel with to save on weight and space!
Magical Moringa moisturizer is probably my favourite product to ever get from Lush; it is both a primer and a moisturizer and contains corn starch that helps mattify your face all day but also have cocoa butter, argon oil and moringa oil to ensure you are left moisturized. Because it’s cocoa butter based, it’s a solid that melts with body heat, so you scoop a little blob out and massage between your fingers before applying like a normal moisturizer. Because of the corn starch effects, my usually oily/combination skin stays matte all day, even to the point that I only wear this to work without any makeup because it also smooths the look of blemishes on the skin. Another property that is great is when you use it at night, I find my skin is still matte in the morning and this has actually cut down on the amount of breakouts that I have, as there isn’t all this oil just sitting on my face all night.
Now you may be thinking, but that comes in a plastic containers, and you are correct. BUT Lush has a really cool recycling program, where if you bring back 5 of these black pots (almost all of their products come in these, from face to body products so it’s easy to acquire 5 pots) cleaned out, you can get a fresh face mask for free, and then they clean and reuse the pots again. So while, yes it is plastic, it is constantly being reused!
No one wants to stink, especially when in confined spaces like trains and planes, so I was a little hesitant about a natural deodorant, but oh my, this stuff actually works. You just take the bar and rub once or twice under arms and you’re good to go. It’s important to point out the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant; it’s natural for our bodies to sweat and a deodorant ensures that you don’t smell, whereas an antiperspirant will stop the body from sweating. This is a deodorant, but I’ve found that I actually sweat less as my body is adjusting to the new product. And the package free part comes back to the fact that containers can’t truly be recycled unless they are completely emptied out!
Safety razors are a great alternative to disposable, plastic razors as they last a lot longer and are actually way cheaper in the long run. If you’ve never heard of a safety razor, it’s a metal razor holder that you place one piece, double edged razors into; the one that I use is called a butterfly so the top part opens in the middle and you slip the new blade in and close it back up. Now word of warning: there’s not really anything “safe” about a safety razor and the blades are way sharper so it does take some getting used to as your shaving technique changes a bit and I have made a pretty deep cut in my shin my second use. BUT! Because the blades are sharper, you get a much closer shave. Also, the replacement blades are super cheap and if you buy in bulk, they actually be under $0.25 a blade, which in the long run will save you so much $$ on razors and keep tons of plastic out of the landfills. As for disposal, I wrap up my blades and place them into “sharps” containers at work (because I work in a hospital) but if you don’t have this option, here’s another blog of 5 ways to dispose of them safely.
TRAVEL TIP: This is curtesy of Alicia from @minimalwastevegan: when travelling, put your safety razor in an old glasses case to protect both the blade and your fingers when reaching into your toiletries bag
Let’s be grown ups for a second and talk about periods. Tampons and pads not only contribute greatly to our waste disposal, but also cost a lot of money, and that’s just not cool. A menstrual cup is a cost effective alternative that eliminates the waste and also, it’s a one time purchase so you save money in the long run. And when it comes to packing, you pack one item vs the handfuls of tampons, or stacks of pads you may need.
This was the product I was most hesitant to use but can honestly say it’s been the most life changing and also pretty easy to use. If you have any questions at all about this, hit me up cause I’ll sing it’s praise until I reach menopause!
To-Go Ware RePEaT Utensil Set (more colour options available)
If changing up your beauty routine is not of interest to you, there are super simple ways to greenify your daily meals!
Did you know that 500 million plastic straws are used everyday in the United States alone! And all of these straws end up in the landfill or more often in our oceans which leads them into bellies and even noses of creatures. It is estimated that by 2050, 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic in their lifetime.
There are two simply ways to help these numbers: 1) refuse a straw, or 2) use a reusable one. I like straws so I purchased a metal straw that I keep in my water bottle and take it out when I know I’m going somewhere where I may need one, such as a restaurant or movie theatre. You can even get a special brush to clean out the inside so they always stay fresh and clean to use.
Single Use Cutlery is also a major contributor to plastics in places other than landfills. Did you know that single use plastic cutlery, like most plastic products, can take over 100 years to breakdown in landfills and we discard almost 6 million tons of them every year. I really simple option is to carry your own cutlery. I love this wood set from To-GoWare which comes with a form, knife, spoon and chopsticks all in a convenient travel case. If wood is not your thing there are many metal and reusable plastic options as well.
This food wrap is actually one of the coolest inventions I think there is when it comes to kitchen products, and they got their start on Dragon’s Den (I’m a big fan of the show). Basically it’s a thin fabric that’s coated in a beeswax mixture that is solid and firm at room temp but when you warm it with your hands, becomes pliable and will form to the shape of whatever you need to cover. The premise behind this is that peels of food in nature allow food to breathe, and this is designed with the same idea.
I’ve used this for wrapping pizza and sandwiches or covering cut avocados and other produce or resealing open cans. It’s reusable for over a year (as stated by the company; I don’t know what happens at this point, if the coating begins to wear off or something) and you just wash it clean between uses. It doesn’t absorb colours or smells so it’s always fresh to use the next time. The Abeego brand comes in a handful of sizes to cover and wrap whatever your heart desires.
Note: these do have a scent to them, but the scent does not transfer your food items.
This is a new one for me but this eliminate the need for plastic bags at grocery stores and because they are so light weight, they are barely noticed by scales when paying by weight. For a while I just didn’t use bags at all with produce but this is a nice way to keep everything together. I just purchased these on Amazon but any kind of mesh bag works as it allows the produce to breathe but can also just be tossed in the wash to clean out.
TRAVEL TIP: Keep a few of this on hand and if not used for produce can easily store anything from extra cords to dirty laundry (just wash it again before using for food if that grosses you out)
At the beginning of the month, as a TenTree ambassador, I made an Earth Month pledge to cut out single use cups for the month of April. I’m really good about not using plastic water bottles but found myself relying on paper cups from Tim Hortons while at work (nurses NEED caffeine, it’s just the way it goes). I’ve been doing pretty good with this pledge but it sucks then having to carry around an empty mug, or have an empty mug in your bag in the off chance I wanted a coffee while shopping. This mug from StoJo is perfect because it folds up into the lid when empty and becomes a much more manageable size to toss into a purse or backpack. The mug comes in two sizes, 12oz and 16oz, I opted for the 16oz and my dad has already requested his own for Father’s Day (hello easy gifts!).
As I mentioned above, I’m a TenTree ambassador and we want you all to make a pledge for the remainder of the month. There are 4 possible pledges: 1) cut out disposable coffee cups, 2)cut out plastic bag uses (bring your own tote bag), 3)cut out plastic straws, and 4) cut out plastic cutlery. Head over to TenTree’s site and for every pledge made, they will plant 1 tree. Last time I checked they had over 15,000 pledges made! They say that it takes 30 days to break a habit, so why not start now and do something easy to better the earth for years to come!
If you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to comment here or slide into those Instagram DM’s! Also if you’ve managed to find a non-aerosol dry shampoo that works please let me know because the Lush one is failing me!