It’s a sad truth that as much as we might like to travel the world, the footprints that we leave behind are not always the good kind. My last post looked at the effects that we, as travellers, can have on the environment, and why it’s imperative that we start thinking about simple changes we can all make to become more eco-friendly in our adventures.
Where to begin?
Becoming a greener traveller, believe it or not, can actually start at home. Picture if you will, a typical suitcase that you might pack for a weekend away. I’m going to bet you a solid fiver (because that’s all I have in my purse right now) that you will find at least half a dozen items which are not so environmentally friendly. The worst culprits? Yup, those dreaded toiletries.
Now the purpose of that challenge was not to name and shame you. The truth is, the majority of us will have the same very products in our arsenal. After all, most of these products have been designed with ease and convenience in mind. Miniature shampoos and conditioners, that’ll pass the 100ml check? Yes please! Tiny wee toothpastes? Dinky tubs of moisturiser?
It’s so easy to equip yourself for a trip away with one fell swoop down the travel section in Superdrug, that it’s equally easy to forget how much we’re actively contributing to the plastics crisis happening in the world around us. The good news? There are a whole bunch of ethical companies out there looking to tackle this problem, and there’s a wealth of stylish, eco-friendly products out there just waiting to find their way into your suitcase instead.
In this post, I’m going to talk you through ten fabulous eco-friendly toiletries that are easy to source and will fit snugly into even the tiniest of vanity cases. Will it save the world from climate change? No. Is it a good starting point? I like to think so.
#1 Reef Friendly Suncream
We all know about the dangers the sun can have to our skin, but have we ever thought about the risks that suncream have on the environment?
Many of the big brand suncreams that have proved popular over the years contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are harmful to reefs, and have been linked to coral bleaching. With thousands of swimmers plunging into the ocean every day, lathered up in the stuff, it’s no wonder that we’re beginning to see the harmful effects, particularly on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
When choosing your suncream, the ingredients you need to look for to keep your skin protected are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Many of the other chemicals you’ll find listed are there only to help the product feel and smell good on your skin, and these are where the harmful factors can come in.
When it comes to choosing something eco-friendly, the less ingredients the better. If you want to make an impact, consider choosing a product which mentions that it is paraben or oxybenzone free, or specifically, that it is reef/coral friendly. AllGood offer a fab range of suncreams, and their sunscreen butter can even be bought in a miniature, refillable dish to help keep the use of plastics low.
#2 Lush shampoo and conditioner bars
There are so many reasons to love Lush products, from their naked (plastic free) packaging to ethical buying policies and continued fight against animal testing. While shampoo and conditioner bars might not suit every hair type, the science has come on loads over recent years, and they can be an excellent alternative to the pre-packaged bottles you’ll pick up elsewhere. They’re the perfect size for short trips away, and they smell AMAZING.
#3 Bamboo cotton pads
I have to admit that I had no idea how harmful cotton pads could be to the environment. The dangers of cotton are usually overlooked, but it’s often farmed using pesticides and chemicals that can pollute rivers, damage local wildlife and have a dangerous impact on natural eco-systems. It doesn’t help matters either that the pads we’re used to buying in pharmacies and supermarkets come wrapped in plastic too! When you think about how easy it is to throw away half a dozen or so of these pads just with our day-to-day routines, it’s easy to see how the problem can stack up.
Thankfully, mindsets are starting to change towards the concept of ‘single use’ products. Bambaw are just one of the many companies making a lasting impact with their reusable bamboo makeup remover pads. When you’re done with them, simply pop them in the wash, and job’s a good ‘un!
#4 Natural Perfume
The mass production of bottled perfume creates many problems for the environment, from the chemicals used to the packaging and distribution. It might be worth considering a brand that uses only natural products, such as Funky Soap. Their products are all handmade in small batches, using ingredients supplied courtesy of Ol’ Mother Nature herself. Their perfume balms are perfect for jetsetting, and come packaged in an eco-friendly and recyclable 5g jar.
#5 Natural Deodorant
While we’re on the topic of scents…
The harmful effects of traditionally popular deodorants on the environment has been a hotly discussed topic for some time now. While major improvements have been made to spray bottles, there’s still an increasing worry about the level of volatile organic compounds produced, which ultimately, spells bad news for the environment. Throw in the addition of single-use plastics and it’s not exactly painting an eco-friendly picture. There are lots of alternatives to spray deodorants on the market, and while I’m not particularly a fan of the stones that you can get, I’m pretty intrigued by Fat and the Moon‘s creams, which avoid nasty chemicals and come in reusable glass jars. Made with arrow root and essential oils, this zingy cream comes highly recommended, and I’m looking forward to giving it a bash. Watch this space.
#6 Bamboo Toothbrush
Some of the best changes we can make are the simplest! Ever thought about how many plastic toothbrushes you’ve thrown away of the years? Does it make your skin crawl thinking about it now? Me too. Happily, there’s an easy fix to this, and it comes in the form of bamboo.
There are numerous great companies you can buy these from, making it super-easy to make the switch from plastic to nature’s own materials. Personally, I’d plump for Wild & Stone. From their cardboard packaging to the biodegradable handles and vegan-friendly charcoal-infused bristles, these guys have done all the thinking for you. And they look good. Win/Win!
#7 Eco-friendly sanitary products
Ladies; listen up. The time of the month can be grim enough without having to worry about the products that you’re using having a destructive effect on the environment too. That being said, it’s easy to imagine the amount of plastic waste which goes into our single-use sanitary products. Reusable products might not be for all, but they are worth talking about and can be a game changer when it comes to waste reduction. Plus, they have the added benefit of saving you money in the long run too! Bloom & Nora make beautifully designed, environmentally-friendly pads, and have a range of kits available, making them an excellent place to start. I’ve also had a several friends recommend the Organicup, if you prefer to avoid tampons or pads altogether.
#8 Plastic free toothpaste
It wasn’t until recently that the question dawned on me; surely toothpaste doesn’t have to come in a plastic tube? And you know what, I’d been beaten to the thought! There are numerous companies out there who have thought this through and produced alternative solutions to the plastic packaging we’ve become all-too-familiar with over the years. Georganics are a fab company to look at. Their natural toothpastes tick so many boxes: Recyclable packaging? Yup. Cruelty free? You bet ya! 100% natural ingredients? Tick, tick, tick.
#9 Refillable Bottles
Shampoo bars might not be for all, but that doesn’t mean we need to send our plastic consumption rates through the roof. Purchasing a refillable bottle for your shampoo, conditioner or body wash can be an excellent alternative to topping up on travel miniatures at the airport, or opening the hotel freebies when you don’t need to. Some companies even provide the refillable service too! Not sure where to start? Check out The Conscious Beauty Co. They guide you through the process, allowing you to purchase a starter kit and then subsequent refill pouches as required. Happy hair + happy heart? I’ll take that!
#10 Organic Makeup
It’s easy to forget the little things. Many major makeup companies are making big efforts these days to make their products more environmentally friendly. This applies both to the ingredients used and the packaging they come in. Many, unfortunately, still have a long way to go.
Making the transition to using ethically-sourced and natural beauty products definitely involves a bit of a lifestyle change. However, it’s one that ultimately both the environment and your skin will thank you for, long term! You can definitely go down the route of checking the ingredients list for every product out there. Let’s face it though, it can take a while to weed out the nasties! Instead, try looking out for companies who are already well-established for using organic products and recyclable materials. Look out for green-friendly ingredients like almond oil and mineral based foundations. Animal testing is an absolute no-go.
The Body Shop are one of the most eco-friendly brands you’ll find on the High Street. They have long fought the cause for ethically sourced and produced products. Their vegan range is increasing all the time and their bamboo make-up brushes are stylish must-haves for any vanity case. I’m a big fan of their Himalayan Charcoal range, which come in handy travel miniatures too.