Technically, my eco-friendly journey started way back in Elementary School. I went on a tree-planting frenzy, convinced my family to recycle in rural Indiana (we have to haul and sort our recyclables at the dump), and forced my friends to do a trash clean-up on the side of my rural road. I still remember filling three trash bags from just the 100-meter ditch by my home. And then promptly not having friends anymore. 🙂
I’ve been making sustainable adjustments for a while now. It’ll be 12 years as a vegetarian this Christmas. I’ve been a big supporter of the (sadly seasonal) locavore movement and trying to minimize packaging.
During the COVID-19 quarantine this year, I finally made the jump and took stock of the chemicals I put on my body every day. There were at least 366 of them (one for every day this year). I managed to get that down to 5 on a lazy day, 20-30 when I actually do my makeup.
I’m still adjusting and making changes as I use up and phase out old products. Some of my favorite products (SmartyPits Deoderant!!!) have started offering a biodegradable line, which I’m so excited to switch to once my plastic container is empty. (And then I’m very excited to fill my plastic container with a DIY solid lotion bar, heyo!)
So for some fun and giggles, here is a list of my favorite things that I’ve discovered since starting this journey! As of right now, none of these are affiliate links FYI. It’s just me gushing about how cool as heck these products are.
A good chunk of them are things I’ve already been using religiously, while some of them are dream products that I’m immediately going to be ordering!
PERSONAL CARE AND BEAUTY
I mentioned them above, and I’m throwing them in here as the very first item. SmartyPits Deoderant is THE BOMB.
After Stacia Guzzo’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Stacia began experimenting with safer forms of deodorant. A little trial and error, and SmartyPits was born.
SmartyPits is free from aluminum, paraben phthalate, propylene glycol, and talc. Most of the varieties are “fragrance” free and only use essential oils, and there’s an unscented version (that is unfortunately in plastic). They don’t test on animals either, donate monetarily to City of Hope, and donate deodorant to breast cancer warriors around the country.
All of the packaging is recyclable, and the cardboard applicators of the sustainable line are compostable as well!
And did I mention that the scent BLOWS ME AWAY? I came into the brand using the Tropical Paradise (baking soda) one. But I am so ready for the Grapefruit Cardamom as soon as my current one runs out. Which will take a while. This stuff lasts.
The ingredient list is simply Arrowroot Powder, Baking Soda, Beeswax, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Avocado Butter, Coconut Oil, Essential Oils (they’ll be specified), Vitamin E, and Inulin*. They have a sensitive version without baking soda and even have a vegan line without beeswax.
Can you tell I love them?
Sckoon Cup and Ziggy Cup
This one’s a bit TMI and squicky if you feel like skipping ahead. It’s about menstruation.
Menstrual cups. Of everything associated with periods, I think people squick out about these the most. There’s something about blood hanging out in your body that freaks people out. I get it!
When I first used my Sckoon Cup around 8 years ago, it was definitely weird. I messed up pretty badly, and I don’t think I really need to go into the details here about that failure. Needless to say, it got sanitized, put back in its bag, and wasn’t touched for another 8 years.
In that gap, I went on continuous birth control pills, which stopped the need for the notoriously-terrible tampons. However, I still had monthly, unrecyclable waste from the pill cartridges and an unhealthy hormonal load throughout my body.
Last fall, I switched to the Liletta IUD (I’ll write a whole post about my love for it later). Getting off of the full-body hormones was amazing, but it also meant that my period came back. Super, super light. But it was there.
Enter my good friend, Sckoon! It does its job perfectly every single time, and I absolutely adore it.
A few months later, I found the Ziggy Cup and snagged it right up too. A lot of people tout that the Ziggy is used to make period sex accessible, but I turned to it just because it makes me worry less about leakage during my run training, yoga sessions, and all-around silliness as I romp through my garden. Both cups have their place in my life!
That being said, there are loads of different kinds of menstrual cups. There are larger capacities, smaller diameters, and ones specifically made for people that have had children or have wider hip structures normally.
I’ve also read that some people avoid cups with IUDs because of the fear of pulling on the strings, but I’ve noticed that I’m able to maneuver the strings and check for them pretty easily. That might not work for some bodies! I’d definitely start with a cup shape (Sckoon) rather than a disk shape (Ziggy) if that’s a combo you’re looking to rock.
Following that one right up with Loveability Condoms. Loveability is a super sex-positive company that makes amazing vegan condoms with no spermicides, dyes, fragrances, parabens, gluten, PEGs, benzocaine (wtf), or nitrosamines. The packaging is adorable, easier to open, with the condoms always the right side up (which I think could definitely help out on bad mobility or shaky-hand days, for me at least).
There are fantastic reviews on their site from people prone to yeast infections that have had a lot of success with them. Plus they come with a cute, reusable tin to take them on the go.
Even better, the box they come in, the polypropylene cup, and the aluminum tin are all recyclable. (Condoms, my friend, are a class 2 medical device and have to be thrown away!)
It’s taken me a long time to find a replacement for my makeup. Pretty much throughout quarantine, I haven’t worn makeup at all. That being said, I haven’t really worn deodorant or washed my hair either (No-Poo Movement).
But a few weeks ago, I started chatting with someone I met from Tinder and wanted to start meeting up with them for socially distanced dates.
Putting on makeup has been something I’ve always loved—not as a requirement for being beautiful but to enhance the features on my face that I REALLY ADORE. So putting makeup on for these dates has been a big stressor for me.
I know that the chemicals I’m allowing on my skin are not good for me, the packaging is not great for the environment, and the companies that produce my makeup are also not being responsible! Plus they shame you about your natural beauty!
Enter Alima Pure.
I stumbled upon them the other day, and I am in love. They’re a carbon-neutral company that offsets 100% of their emissions. They donate 1% of their gross revenue to environmental organizations. And they’re a part of a Green Source Renewable Power Program, which gathers 100% of its energy from renewable sources.
If you want to be the most eco-conscious, you can order the refill tins without the plastic compact that they sit in. However, if you get the compact, you’ll be able to replace your refills inside of it forever. They also hint in some blog posts that they are making strides on plastic-free packaging in the future!
As for ingredients, they’re an all-natural company with ingredients I recognize and feel safe with. While the pressed foundation is more eco-friendly in its packaging, the powdered products are more minimal in their ingredients lists. The powdered foundation has only six ingredients, while the blush has five. Together? They have only six ingredients total going onto your skin. All of their products are free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, dimethicone, talc, petroleum, bismuth oxychloride, and nanoparticles. They don’t test on animals.
Does it get any better?
I’ll follow up the makeup talk with an adorable little product: Marley’s Monsters Facial Rounds. Specializing in reusable and sustainable cloth materials, Marley’s Monsters produces everything from burp cloths to paper towels to menstrual pads. And then they made these cuties!
They’re basically just those little makeup remover rounds that we so easily use and toss. Expect they’re washable. And adorable.
They come in organic and unbleached cotton versions, all black (which I would use because of my crazy bad mascara), and a variety of browns which would be great for foundation removal! But beyond the basic colors, they also have a line of adorable patterns, like that cactus one above.
Floss was an easy item for me to overlook! I always floss at night, and I’m usually pretty braindead by then.
Then one day, it dawned on me as I tossed my floss into my trashcan: “Shoot! I shouldn’t put that in there, because my cat might eat it!” Followed quickly by, “SHOOT! Can I compost this?!”
Turns out that I couldn’t, so I quickly started searching for alternatives. Dental Lace is an adorable glass container with a cap made of stainless steel. The floss itself is biodegradable, and the bag that the refill twine comes on is compostable. Boxes can be recycled.
Getting into the floss game made my skin immediately crawl as I thought about the one-use flossers I once used. What in the world was I thinking?
After the floss debacle, I had the same come-to-spirit realization with my cotton swabs. Thank goodness that I transitioned from the plastic ones to the paper years ago. But my cheap-and-cheerful, knock-off brand, dime-store cotton swabs feel…lackluster when I look at them. And they came in a plastic container. Or a weird package of cardboard and plastic combo. Yuck.
As soon as mine are used up, I’m gunning for The Humble Co.’s bamboo cotton swabs. Vegan, cruelty-free, plastic-free, and they use a form of bamboo that pandas don’t eat anyway. I’d definitely want to do more research into them before I snagged my own, but this is definitely a better choice than what I’m using right now!
Coming from the super storefront of package-free goods, this wooden hairbrush caught my eye. I’ve been going No Poo (no shampoo, nerds) since quarantine started, and I’ve grown very attached to my boar bristle brush.
If you’re looking to reduce your chemical exposure and waste, then I highly recommend going No-Poo or switching to locally made, organic, natural shampoo bars. I get mine from a local health store, personally have seen the owner at work on their soap, and know that they use safe ingredients!
Combine your No Poo journey with Kooshoo Hair Ties! They’re a plastic-free hair elastic that comes in an assortment of colors. Since I’m living with my hair up in a bun most days, I get some heavy use out of my hair ties, and they’re a product I never really thought to question.
Becoming sustainable and eco-friendly is a journey, and that is okay. I think as you make big adjustments, you’ll start realizing the smaller ways that you’re actions are troublesome, and then you just make a change! That being said, it’s my birthday month, and I could sure use some new hair ties. *hint, hint*
LAUNDRY AND CLEANING
I transitioned into unscented, all-natural, eco-friendly laundry detergent early this year, although I went and doubled down on two plastic containers of it. (What was I thinking? I guess COVID fear put me in a tizzy while I was sprinting through Walmart on my very last shop before the world ended.)
As soon as I run out and can responsibly recycle my containers, I’m switching to Meliora Laundry Powder! If you order their refills, they only come in a compostable paper bag and do not include a scoop. Simply find a container in your home, pour the powder in, and you’re ready to go.
As far as ingredients go, the unscented technically has six: baking soda, washing soda, and vegetable soap (sodium cocoate, glycerin, coconut oil, water). Transparency makes me feel so freaking good.
They’re based out of Chicago, create all of their products within the US, witness every step of their production so can pinpoint environmental improvements, and provide a living wage. I can’t wait to try their laundry powder out.
That being said, you might also be interested in using soapnuts for your laundry needs! They’re a berry similar to Goji berries that create a soapy residue and are completely compostable. They’re also on my to-buy list!
I mentioned them above, but I’m loving Marley’s Monsters. In addition to their facial rounds, they also make reusable paper towels! Did I mention that they also come in funky designs and look adorable on the roll?
I’ve always been a huge fan of my reusable white washcloths and have used them to wash dishes, as a Swiffer pad/mop alternative, for counter spills and messes, and for washing windows!
But I think a cute display like this on the counter would make going green easier for stubborn family members, roommates, and children that weren’t used to it. It also makes a wonderful conversation starter about making better choices!
Turning to reusable bags was an easy transition for me, namely because I was continuously handed reusable bags at every turn during college. They were unavoidable. Reusable bags were almost as bad as the bag plastic bags in their ubiquity.
I have a whole stockpile of them in my car in a variety of shapes, sizes, and durability. One of my favorites is a little canvas tote that is only really good for the health food store, as it keeps me from buying absolutely everything that I love in there. (Nope, only room for my bread and my jar of cardamon and definitely not for all of those lovely figs!)
Even though I’m swimming in reusable bags, I’m still drawn toward this bag by the Package Free Shop. I’m not one to bite my tongue, and I’m tired of the disposable bag culture here in Indiana. Shit, even my local farmer’s market booths attempt to put my produce in a plastic bag WHILE I’M HOLDING OPEN MY REUSABLE IN THEIR FACE.
Chances are, if you have a friend that’s into sustainability, this tote would be a good birthday gift. Even if they’re swimming in bags like me, I’m sure they’ll be able to regift it to a friend in need!
I’m going to keep adding delightful things to this list as I find them, so bookmark and come back from time to time! I’ll add more commentary as these products start coming in!