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Plastic Free Toiletries: Making The Switch For Climate Action

As part of supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, SI Peterborough members have made eco pledges this year.

The aim? To make small changes to our everyday lives that support climate action.

Find out how our member, Karen, has made the switch to plastic-free shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste – and their top tips if you’re thinking of doing the same…

Cutting down on plastic

For the past few years, I’ve been making an effort to cut down on the amount of plastic I buy. Looking around my house though one area where I was struggling was with toiletries.

I’d made the easy switch to bars of soap instead of shower gels and face wash, but for other toiletries, I’d been put off in the past by products that seemed expensive or didn’t work, one particularly memorable shampoo bar left my hair feeling like greasy straw!

I was very lucky when lockdown started that I could switch to working from home. Obviously, not going out meant I had a bit more disposable income, and I decided to use the time to try out some different products.

  1. Shampoo

A bit of internet searching told me that I was struggling with shampoo bars because they (like most plastic-free products) are made from mostly natural ingredients.

Most standard shampoos apparently work by stripping all the natural oil from your hair to make it look clean; your scalp then produces lots of oils to compensate for that. When you start to use a natural shampoo, your scalp continues to produce the same amount of oil which leaves it looking and feeling greasy.

The fix suggested is to use a sodium bicarbonate wash before the shampoo bar and then rinse with an apple cider vinegar solution. This did work for me but is time-consuming.

Every shampoo product you look at claims that it doesn’t have a ‘transition period’, but I eventually found a product that works really well.

Beauty Kubes are like oxo cubes of shampoo. You crumble them up in the shower and add a bit of water to make a paste to wash your hair with. I don’t use any conditioner; just the apple cider vinegar rinse occasionally. I can now go for three or four days without washing my hair.

I’ve also started using a wooden hairbrush which my hairdresser tells me is excellent for your hair.

  1. Deodorant

I’d actually had a deodorant I picked up from an eco-friendly stall at an event sitting in my bathroom for a while. I was a bit dubious about trying it, as I wondered whether deodorants might be a product that needed chemicals to work properly.

Working from home meant I could give it a try with only my cat to notice if it wasn’t very effective.

It turned out to work just as well as my previous deodorant. The only downside was it was in a small tin and had to be applied with your fingers, which I found a bit messy.

After a bit of searching for an alternative, I eventually found We Are Wild. They make a metal case, and you buy the refills which are in cardboard. It’s more expensive than my previous habit of buying whichever roll-on was on offer, but the refills do seem to last me up to two months. They also offer a subscription service which saves a bit of money.

  1. Toothpaste

I read lots of articles about natural toothpaste, but in the end, I decided I wanted to stick to something minty flavoured with fluoride.

I ended up with toothpaste tablets which are very simple to use. Once chewed, they are exactly the same as regular toothpaste.

It was looking for a toothpaste that led me to Peace With The Wild – a website that has lots of brands of plastic-free products, not just toiletries. This is now my favourite website for finding new products to try. I love the Organic Essence body moisturisers they stock. At first glance, they look a bit expensive, but they smell amazing and last for ages.

Top tips

My tops tips for anyone looking to move towards more plastic-free toiletries is to start small. Don’t try to switch everything at once. As my previous products ran out, I looked for alternatives.

Finally, don’t give up if one product doesn’t suit you. There are more and more brands out there now offering products with zero-plastic packaging.

Are you looking to make changes to reduce your carbon footprint? Find out how we’re supporting Sustainable Development Goals for some inspiration!