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I want to begin this article by recognizing that the ability to access and afford eco-friendly beauty options is a privilege. Not everyone has the means to purchase from brands that align with their values for many reasons, and I merely want to share some options for those looking to make their beauty routines more sustainable.

With every purchase I make, I strive to support brands and companies that are genuinely doing positive work in their communities and in the fight towards a more sustainable, equitable future for all. I cannot speak to every action of the brands I recommend in this article, but I, too, am working with a budget and am constantly growing on this sustainable journey.

While sustainability has been on the rise in recent years, many people are still unaware of the amount of waste they create regularly. Studies show that upwards of 8 billion individual plastic units are produced every year for beauty and personal care products. We have a severe problem on our hands, and it’s going to take much more than refusing plastic straws to solve it.

I encourage you to take a moment to think about every beauty and personal care item you regularly purchase and use on a regular (or not) basis. Which items do you come into contact with every day? The top ones that come to my mind are a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, hand soap, body soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion… the list goes on. Over the past year, I have made an effort to purchase plastic-free versions of the products above, and I’ll be sharing them with you today!

First off, there are many websites and companies with resources on sustainable swaps and how to get started on your low-waste journey. Trash is for Tossers is one I came across about a year ago when I first looked into alternatives, but there are plenty more! Meow Meow Tweet has a beneficial blog that has been a game-changer for me.

I’ll be breaking this post down by types of products and providing various options for each! They will range in price, brand and longevity, as some products have shorter shelf life based on their ingredients.

Oral care

Every plastic toothbrush ever made still exists today, and over one million plastic toothbrushes are thrown out every year. Floss is packaged and made of plastic, and toothpaste comes in plastic tubes that can’t be recycled. In recent years, plastic-free alternatives have hit the market: from bamboo toothbrushes to refillable floss jars, there are many options to suit every lifestyle!

One area where I have yet to make the switch to a plastic-free alternative is toothpaste. I have really sensitive gums and have to use Sensodyne (per my dentist’s recommendation), so I can’t entirely switch to toothpaste tabs or powder. If you don’t have overly-sensitive teeth or gums, look into low waste toothpaste options!

When it comes to toothbrushes, many brands now make bamboo brushes that can be composted. I use Brush with Bamboo and get them in bundles from Package Free Shop! (Psst: Package Free Shop often has promotions where you can get up to 50% off your first subscription order and 10% off all following orders!)

To replace conventional floss, I use a small jar from Dental Lace that came with two floss spools. They sell refills, so you never have to buy another container for your floss again! Package Free Shop just released their take on plastic-free floss, and it comes in a biodegradable container (once the small metal cutter is removed). It is made of silk, so consider a plant-based option if you’re vegan!

Hair care

I switched to shampoo and conditioner bars almost a year ago and love them! I’ve only tried the ones from Lush, and I like that they come in very minimal packaging (a recyclable paper bag) and a wide variety of types and scents. Their shampoo bars last me about three months, and I’ve been using the same conditioner bar since October. The sales associate at Lush told me the pressed conditioner bars typically last about nine months, but mine may last even longer! I’ve been using the Jungle pressed conditioner bar, but it was recently discontinued.

From Lush, I’ve tried three different shampoo bars. I started with Honey I Washed My Hair, am currently using Jumping Juniper and have their New bar on deck when I need it! I would recommend these bars, but I’m probably going to try Meow Meow Tweet’s shampoo and conditioner bars once I run out of them because I align much more with their brand and mission.

Body care

I was eager to switch to natural deodorant for many years but was worried about the adverse reactions I had heard about. When switching to natural deodorant, some people react poorly to the ingredients, as most people typically use conventional deodorant for most of their lives. I tried one brand, Schmidt’s, a few years ago and got a rash from it, so I returned it and went back to using conventional deodorant for a bit.

Last summer, I decided to make the switch after discovering No Tox Life. Their tubes of deodorant are made to last 6-12 months and come in lovely scents. Once finished, the tube is fully recyclable, but they have an entirely package-free version for those who want it! My tube has lasted ten months so far, and it has been a great experience! There was a bit of an adjustment period, but their underarm detox bar helped with that process. If you get the underarm detox bar, I highly recommend the full size – it’s worth it!

Since I’m almost finished with that tube of deodorant, I went ahead and ordered another one for when it runs out. This one is from Meow Meow Tweet and comes in fully compostable packaging, which is why I made the switch. Since I haven’t used it yet, I can’t speak to its effectiveness, but they have a wide variety of scents and have a version of the deodorant free of baking soda for those that are sensitive to it. They also have a cream version that comes in a glass jar and an affordable bulk option, so you end up buying jars less often! There’s also a baking soda-free cream version.

Another product I like from Meow Meow Tweet is their underarm primer, which can be used as a moisturizer after shaving or before you put deodorant on. I highly recommend it for those who are just now making the switch to natural deodorant!

When it comes to soap bars, I buy natural ones from my local farmer’s market! I like using ones with minimal ingredients and typically have a charcoal bar on hand at all times for gentle yet effective exfoliation. Meow Meow Tweet sells natural and vegan soap in unique scents that I intend on trying in the future! I highly recommend soap bags (also known as soap savers),as they make your soap last much longer than it would otherwise.

Skin care

As someone who has oily and acne-prone skin, my skincare routine has taken a long time to figure out. When I switched to products from Meow Meow Tweet, I saw a huge difference in my skin. I’ve been using their Tea Tree Charcoal facial bar for a while, and one bar has lasted over six months at this point. (Hint: Keep it in a soap bag. You can’t go wrong with them!)

After washing my face, I use their Juniper Carrot Seed facial oil followed by their Spot Serum as needed! I also really like to use their Skin Cream on my face when I need extra hydration, but I primarily use it on my hands!

After I get out of the shower, I use their Lavender Lemongrass body oil and do my general facial skincare routine. Fun fact: that particular scent of body oil can also be used as a natural bug repellent! More on this later!

My hands and wrists get dry every winter, and the extra amount of hand-washing and hand sanitizer use in the past year hasn’t helped. After years of using different extra-strengths creams and even some prescription creams to help remedy the dryness, it wasn’t until I started using Meow Meow Tweet’s Repair Balm that I saw a real improvement. I like to use a thin layer of Repair Balm (a little goes a very long way) followed by Skin Cream every night, and it has worked beautifully all winter!

One item that few people think of as being wasteful is lip balm. Tiny plastic tubes of ChapStick are thrown away regularly and don’t last a very long time. To avoid that, I switched to Meow Meow Tweet’s vegan lip balm! They offer three different types: Coconut Cacao, Rosemary Eucalyptus, and Sweet Orange Tangerine. I’m a huge fan of the Rosemary Eucalyptus one!

As I’m sure you can tell, I am a fan of Meow Meow Tweet’s products; this is no secret! While this article is in no way sponsored, they make products that come in recyclable or compostable packaging and offer an excellent bulk refill program. They donate a portion of their proceeds to different groups and organizations each month, and they are huge proponents of multi-purpose products. By creating products that serve multiple purposes, they save money on production and packaging and generate less waste. While most companies put new products out all the time, Meow Meow Tweet sticks to the necessities and always offers up tips on how to use products in different ways!

Lastly, it’s essential to recognize that using what you have on-hand before purchasing new, more eco-friendly products is always more sustainable. Rather than throwing what you’re currently using away, use it (or give it to a friend or family member) before buying something new. No one is expecting you to ditch plastic overnight; it’s a process that takes time, effort and in many cases, money. The sustainability journey is not about perfection; it’s about education, effort and learning as we go.


Jessica Hernandez is a University of Florida Senior doublte-majoring in Economics and Sustainability Studies. She has a heart for activism, is an avid reader, a lover of vegan food, and a member of the rock climbing team at UF. She can often be found reading books in her hammock or trying vegan food at restaurants in Gainesville.
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