Whilst making environmentally-friendly swaps has been on my agenda for a while, I have typically taken a sporadic approach to it, making swaps when I learn about something more sustainable to use rather than actively searching out alternatives.
This year, and inspired by my recent read of Jonathan Safran Foer’s climate crisis focused memoir/investigation book, We are the Weather, I have decided to assess different areas of my life and lifestyle to work out where I might be able to make sustainable swaps in order to reduce the number of single use items I purchase, to limit the amount of plastic I throw away, to use more environmentally- and body-friendly ingredients, and to generally become more mindful about what I’m purchasing and how long it will last.
At the moment, I am reviewing my health and beauty items, and making swaps to reusable and eco-friendly products instead. I thought I would share some of my key, and favourite, items that you might like to consider using in your own routine.
I have tried a couple of deodorants that use more natural ingredients, particularly those that don’t use aluminium. There are concerns that ingredients used in typical deodorants like aluminium aren’t great for the body and have been linked to health risks. Although the data doesn’t seem to be conclusive yet, I like the idea of using more natural products on my skin and body, as well as wanting to reduce the amount of single-use plastic I consume.
Some of the other natural deodorants I’ve tried have been quite sticky under the arm and generally don’t feel that good to wear. However, I have recently made the swap to Wild, and so far, so good. I’m using the ‘Coconut Dreams’ scent which has a soft, tropical smell. It goes on well, just like other deodorants that I’ve typically bought before, and doesn’t seem to have the sticky, tacky texture of other natural deodorants, which is great.
Wild’s cases are made from recyclable aluminium and a small amount of post-consumer recycled plastic, and the refills containers are made from bamboo pulp, which can be recycled. You also get your pick of colours! I went with purple. I’m currently happy with this swap, and whilst it is certainly more expensive than typical deodorants you buy in store, I don’t mind paying a bit extra where I can to use something that’s better for me and the planet. I’m hoping the higher price tag for items like this will start to reduce in time so it’s more accessible for more people.
Another recent swap has been from regular single-use cotton buds to a reusable swab. The Last Swab is made by LastObject, whose mission is to ‘eliminate single use items by creating reusable sustainable alternatives.’
The swab is made from a rubber type material on the ends and then the stick is either a plant-based material or made from recycled ocean-bound plastic. The swab has been tested to withstand up to 1,000 uses, is easily cleaned with warm water and soap, and comes in a little carry case that’s made from a corn-based material.
So far the swap has been a good one. I love the little case and the swab itself is easy to clean. It is harder than a normal cotton bud so I’m more cautious when using it, which is probably a good thing. It did take a few uses to get used to the change, but that tends to be the case with most swaps! I’m really enjoying the fact that I’m not buying pots of cotton buds that just get used and thrown straight in the bin. At just under £10, I think this will be a economically positive swap over time, compared to what I’d usually spend on single-use swabs.
This has been one of my absolute favourite sustainable swaps that I’ve made. I’ve been using reusable pads for over a year and I couldn’t be happier with the transition from single-use sanitary items. I did try using a moon cup but really couldn’t get on with it. If you’re used to using tampons then you might find a moon cup perfect for you, but if not, then I highly recommend reusable sanitary pads.
I’ve found them much more comfortable than single use ones, they’re easier to use, come in cute patterns and are easy to clean. The Fancy Pads sell a range of sizes, thickness and designs so you can get all the typical ones that you’d use throughout your cycle.
I’ve been using my collection for over a year and they’re still in great condition and haven’t worn down. Of course, there’s the initial upfront cost which will be more than buying throwaway pads, but if you are able to afford the starting cost, you should save money in the long term by not having to buy sanitary items each month. Alternatively, you could buy one new reusable pad every so often as I did, so that you use up whatever single-use items you have left and to spread the cost over a couple of months rather than doing it all in one go.
This is another favourite swap of mine. I used to use cotton wool balls (with a cream or oil-based remover) to take off my make up, but I always found these quite harsh on my skin. Now, I use my reusable pads and they are perfect. They are much softer, take off all my make up and can be thrown straight into the wash. As with my reusable sanitary pads, these are still in great condition after countless uses.
I got a little four pack of cute designed pads from a local environmental shop in Swansea, handmade by someone in the area. I can’t remember the exact cost but they weren’t too expensive. If you’re still using make up wipes, I strongly recommend making the swap to something that’s much better for your skin and the environment! You can find plenty of different styles available on Etsy here.
Next up on my list of swaps to purchase is a reusable razor. I’m aware that I’m just throwing away lots of plastic with razors that only last a few a uses then go in the bin. I’m currently in the research stage of finding a razor that I think will suit me and will be good quality, but there seems to be a wide range available that have a solid, reusable handle and use the relatively cheap packs of razor blades.
I’m planning to stop buying plastic razors from now and go for something that I can keep and only have to get rid of the small steel razor. If you’re looking for a reusable razor too, here’s some options on Etsy.
Have you made, or are you planning to make, any eco-friendly swaps?
I’d love to hear about your plans, or recommendations for anything I could consider for my own health and beauty routines. I’m planning to keep assessing the things that I’m using and see where I can make the change to alternatives. I’ll also start looking at other areas of my life including home items and cleaning items.
I hope you find this post useful if you’re making your own swaps. I know that some of the higher price tags for sustainable items means that they are not as accessible as they could be, but hopefully this is something that will start to improve as more people use sustainable items.