easy plastic-free toiletries to phase into your bathroom line-up

Just like going vegan, plastic-free living takes a while to transition to new behaviours which will last a lifetime. Growing in 1990s Britain, when it came to toiletries, it plastic or plastic. But now we have knowledge about where these plastics end up, we also have plastic-free toiletries waiting to make their way into your bathroom then fade into the soil when you’re done

Having successfully moved away from plastic-covered vegetables thanks to my ‘no plastic-covered vegetables’ rule, attention has shifted to other areas. My homemade muesli is now fully plastic-free thanks to a little shop selling nuts and dried fruit by the jar and all pantry oils and sauces have changed to glass bottles; Things continue to progress on my toiletry shelf where things are steadily being replenished with environmentally-favourable alternatives to plastic.

Every year in the UK, almost two billion plastic cotton buds are flushed down the toilet. In North America one billion toothbrushes are sent to landfill. And with 91% of global plastics not being recycled, you can be sure that shampoo and shower gel containers are pilling up somewhere. There are alternatives by way of wood, bamboo and other biodegradable materials. In the UK sales of soap bars are on the rise and more companies than ever are entering the market for the vegan and plastic-free pound.

Take a look at some of the essential yet easy switches that can be made in the bathroom cabinet next time you need to stock up and freshen up.

Shampoo

Some bottles of shampoo are so big they seem to never end. This can be economical in that you only need to replace them once or twice a year, but are they really that good for your hair? And what happens to the bottle when you are finally done with it? As awareness grows on the plastics going to landfill we thought were being recycled, the belief that shampoo only arrives in a bottle is being challenged. There are now numerous companies offering natural, oil-rich bars of nourishment for your hair: Lush has recently expanded its range (not all are vegan, sadly) to meet more diverse needs; Lamazuna meanwhile does have an all vegan selection including earthly-scented numbers and, for those who like their hair chocolatey, a chocolate shampoo bar. Not to be outdone, Finland’s Flow Cosmetics offer an organic selection of soapy bars, including the Hemp & Peat itteration for those with a problematic scalp.

One of the Flow Cosmetics shampoo bars saying no to plastic

Toothbrush

Another essential cleansing tool that only needs to be thrown away a couple of times a year (or more if you are doing it right). I thought a plastic toothbrush wasn’t that bad but knew it wasn’t good either. Having been meaning to seek an alternative to plastic for some time, I was delighted when I came across the Hydophil collection. I was browsing a little shop in Berlin selling beans (among many other things) by the gram, with not an ounce of plastic packaging in sight when I spotted the salubrious brown toothbrush-shaped boxes.

The bamboo-rich Hydro Phil toothbrush

The handle of the brush is made from bamboo while the bristles derive from castor oil to become BPA-free nylon – all in all, these brushes are 96% compostable, vegan and sustainably sourced with water-saving techniques. These are a natural choice in moving away from plastic plastic plastic as the default for everything. Try one next time you need to refresh your oral health routine.

Moisturiser

Before my realisation that the things we recycle rarely make it back to us in a fully-recycled form, I was blissfully lathering my body with hemp cream from The Body Shop. Seduced by the deeply relaxing smell and healing properties for dry skin, I’d opted to buy the hand cream as it was packaged in metal while the body cream was a round plastic tub (and surely the cream was the same anyway). This was until The Body Shop started putting their hand cream in plastic too. Which leads to my new favoured form of skin hydration: a jar coconut oil.

The coconut oil comes in a harmless (as far as I know) glass jar and is in fact much cheaper than the hemp I was using before. Not only this, but after two weeks of use, my skin was thirsty no more and dry patches I thought for years were just mine for life started to dissipate. If you do give it go and phase in this plastic-free toiletry (or steal it from the kitchen) try to get an organic one which certifies the quality of the source and makes your insides feel as succulent as the out.

Cotton buds

Now, here is an easy one: the ear cleansing device that apparently is not really supposed to go that far into your ear, a cotton bud. When I was growing up in Scotland, these were only made from swathes of plastic with a little dab of cotton to jab (or not) into your eardrum. But nowadays we know better and can source these made of wood. We can rim the innards of our ears with what is often better quality cotton and the packaging is much chicer than a rotund plastic tub. It does exactly the same thing but requires slightly more consciousness to transition away from old habits passed down to us from a different era. Hydrophil, again, have their sustainable offering but also check your local chemist or supermarket next you need to stock up.

Deodorant

Most among us like to smell nice, feel fresh, look good. And I’m sure most of us do. But at what cost to the environment? Years ago I re-trained myself to stop thinking of aerosol gas as the preferential stench of a human. I learned to appreciate the soap-like sweetness of deodorant sticks and realised a mild waft of scent was much smoother than a sensorial attack when entering a room. While deo sticks are kinder to the environment in the way that smoking is more unhealthy than driving, for many, deodorant is a spray, a roll-on or stick-on. However, now there is a new option on the market worth exploring: the plastic-free deo bar.

Just a few of the many deo bars from Lush and Ben & Anna

Lush offer a variety of solid deodorants to keep your pits fresh while the all vegan Ben & Anna have a beautifully refreshing line-up of paper-encased solutions for your underarms. Or, jump on the next big trend and make your own. Something to think about in our transition to plastic-free living.

For more ideas on reducing and removing plastics in your home, see these fantastically soapy soaps and also follow the latest museings and more on twitter and instagram.