This is definitely not perfect, and certainly not 100% plastic free, but the best trade off of overall sustainability that actually works so far…
Household Cleaning Products
Laundry: I ditched laundry detergent (it’s so bad for the fishies) and now buy a big bottle of Dr Bronners All In One Liquid Castille Soap- I like the peppermint one. I use a small amount to clean my clothes (you can add baking powder in to get rid of any really tough stains or a small amount of white vinegar to soften fabric).
It does come in a plastic bottle, however it is recycled and I buy a really really big bottle and use it to refill all the other things so overall less packaging than I used to use.
You can use this stuff for literally everything. It’s amazing. We took it to Norkapp and used for hand-washing clothes, for washing up dishes, for shower gel, hand soap etc etc.
or soap nuts!
Laundry Part 2: Obviously doing loads of laundry in the washing machine is also not great for environment. I also keep a big reusable spray bottle of a 50/50 water and plain vodka mix. This is a trick the big fashion houses use to keep clothes fresh without actually washing or dry cleaning them. As long as the item is not too dirty spray with the mixture and leave to hang.
Cleaning Products: Try to switch to using natural cleaning products you can easily and cheaply make at home. Vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice are all really great for cleaning your home. To keep bathroom fittings white, leave a baking soda and vinegar mixture on to soak in for a couple of hours then rinse.
Room Freshener/Bed spray: Mix up a small travel sprayer with some water with a few drops of essential oil (I use tea tree because of its antibacterial properties but if you have a dog be careful of using tea tree). I spray on my pillows etc to freshen up my bedroom for example.
Personal hygiene products
Hand Soap: The best is to use a bar. I have to admit, I am so OCD about hand hygiene I do use a bottle. I use the Beco foaming hand washes. They do come in a bottle but last for ages, are kind to the planet and provide jobs for people that need them.
Shampoo: So many good shampoo bars from Etsy or Amazon, just choose the one that is right for your hair. The good ones come in either a tin or in a hemp bag. You want SLS free stuff (SLS is harmful to aquatic life and awful for your skin). For longer non-curly hair types shampoo bars are not always ideal, especially if you are used to regularly washing your hair. My best advice for fellow women is to try to cut down washing amount firstly, rather than try to use the bar as it can make your hair feel lank and oily.
I have a bar for travel but I generally use a small amount of the brand Noughty for my shampoo twice a week. It is again plastic but the best option to keep my hair still actually feeling nice. It might be different for you, but see how it goes. Just avoid SLS, Parabens, Animal-derived products etc.
Alternatively, you can try the “No-Poo” method using vinegar rinses etc, but this really doesn’t work for my hair type.
Dry Shampoo: Brunettes use cocoa power, blondes use arrowroot powder. You can also mix the two.
Cleansing: I love the It depends on your skin type- they have 2 other types of soap bars. I buy my Herbivore stuff. They post out in a cardboard box.
Moisturiser: I swear by Beauty Kitchen products. The Seahorse Plankton moisturiser is in a glass jar. Their products are made in the UK, come in recycled jars and they even do refills in some shops. Depending on what moisturiser products you use already this may or may not seem expensive. It lasts for a really long time, about 4-6 months for me.
Deodorant: You really need to ditch aerosol deodorants. If you use aluminium-based antiperspirants at the moment bear in mind that your body will go through a bit of an adjustment when you switch to a natural alternative, but trust me it will work out fine after a few weeks if you persevere.
For health reasons deodorant is actually really scary so I am really pleased to have switched to a more natural alternative.
The totally plastic free option: https://www.ben-anna.com/?v=796834e7a283#2
What I mainly use: “Salt of the earth classic stick” or “Pitrock Crystal Original”. It is basically a rock deodorant (you need to apply on wet skin or slightly dampen the top) and once you get used to using it is amazing and feels really good. The rock versions are definitely better than the sprays and roll ons and they can last for actual years!
Body Scrub: Grounded (find in Holland and Barrett) is good and not plastic: https://groundedbodyscrub.co.uk/products/coconut-body-scrub or Optiat. Both reuse coffee grounds.
Cheaper option is to make yourself using coconut oil and sea salt OR sugar (+ optional waste coffee grounds) with some drops of essential oil for fragrance. If your skin is sensitive or dry don’t use salt, always choose sugar.
More female-orientated stuff
(I am obsessed with this brand)
Face Oil: I love Herbivore facial oils (from Space NK). I like Orchid but it depends on your age and skin type.
Body Oil: Herbivore (again) citrine body oil. All their products come in glass and I reuse all the bottles for household or for travel.
Face Mist: This is the most VITAL thing for long journeys- trust me. I’ve tried loads but I like the Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Mist. You can get cheaper mists in the body shop too but they come in plastic bottles.
Lip Scrub: If you want to buy a lip scrub (it’s pretty easy to make your own using sugar and coconut oil) Herbivore do a nice Rose one.
Perfume: Pacifica do a nice range of eco friendly perfume that is super affordable. I like their solid perfumes in a tin for the most eco friendly option. They also do a roll on, which I found to be a bit useless and a traditional spray perfume which is really good. They don’t last as long as traditional perfumes so you will need to reapply, but are a fraction of the price of regular perfume. Side note, their makeup is really nice and all sustainable, ethical, cruelty free etc too.
Face Mask: The best option is to just make your own. Ingredients can be any of the following, depending on skin type:
Dry Skin areas: coconut oil, avocado, olive oil etc.
Oily skin areas: Aztec healing clay mixed with vinegar
Normal skin types: Matcha power mixed with water
Sukin: Skin are available at Holland and Barrett or TK Maxx sometimes. They make a range of really nice sustainable products for both men and women.
Breakouts: If you get any skin breakouts/spots etc the charcoal soap I mentioned earlier really helps. If it’s too late, lemon juice or diluted apple cider vinegar is amazing at clearing up and drying out the skin.