I take a shower every day and so it’s an area I’ve really focused on in my attempts to take a more low-waste approach to beauty. It’s horrifying, really, when you think about all the plastic containers we must throw away each year: shower gels, shampoos, conditioners, shaving oils, razors… and that’s before you think about all the extras, like body scrubs and lotions.
Here’s how I’ve been creating a more sustainable shower routine.
Try solid products
Shower gel has been the easiest to switch out by far, thanks to the variety of cruelty-free, vegan soaps available. Gone are the harsh, sulphate-riddled bars I remember from my childhood, and in their place are more natural, sustainable choices. My go-to is The Body Shop’s Shea Soap, which costs a mere £2.50 and is always on a 3-for-2 deal. However, occasionally I fancy trying something new, which is how I’ve discovered gems like Nathalie Bond’s Bloom Soap Bar (£6, small batch, handcrafted, fragrant AF) and Herbivore’s Blue Clay Cleansing Bar Soap (£10, so not the cheapest, but it’s got kaolin clay and lavender in it, so it’s great for clarifying skin and helping you relax in the evenings).
You might have spotted what looks like netting at the bottom of the stack in the photo above. This is a nifty little item I picked up after getting frustrated with all those tiny bits of soap you’re left with when the bar is nearly gone. It seems like such a waste to wash them down the drain, but they’re difficult to hold and therefore almost impossible to wash with.
A soap pouch changes all that. You just put your soap in the pouch once it’s on the smaller side, close the drawstring, and run the pouch under the shower to lather it up. It’s storage, wash cloth and exfoliator in one—and your soap lasts much longer. The pouch is made using water-neutral processes in a Fairtrade workplace, from a biodegradable fibre called sisal.
Other products that are getting easier to find in solid form are scrubs and shampoos. I’ve yet to find a solid scrub I didn’t like (the Lavender & Lemon and Beach Bum scrubs from WiDEYE are my current favourites) but shampoo is proving to be more tricky. KiteNest’s lemon shampoo bar* [gifted] is the best one I’ve tried, but I still have to wash my hair a day sooner if I use it.
Look for glass packaging
Sometimes it’s easier to buy something housed in packaging—but that doesn’t mean it has to be plastic. Glass jars and bottles take less energy to make than the plastic versions and they’re also much easier to recycle. Recycled glass can be used over and over again without losing any quality, with around 80% of recovered glass containers being made into new glass bottles. I often clean out empty jars and use them for storage.
My current body lotion (Beach Bum by WiDEYE) comes packaged in a glass bottle and it smells delightful: lemon and genevieve make a great comination. I’ve also tried the Bloom Body Oil by Nathalie Bond, which is great for drier areas.
Buy from companies with a closed-loop recycling system
It’s all too easy to forget that reusing packing is an option. But companies with a closed-loop recycling system make it more straightforward. The best known example is Lush; their scheme allows you to swap five pots for a fresh face mask. I’d highly recommend their body lotions, with Dream Cream being my number one for sensitive skin. British brand Kind Beeuty allow you to send back your empties for free so they can be used again, and The Body Shop have recently got on board with closed-loop recycling, too. Just bring back five plastic containers and they’ll send them off to be recycled with Terracycle, who’ll repurpose them.
Are you trying to find alternatives to the usual shower products? What are your favourites? Let me know in the comments—and let me know if there’s another aspect of low-waste beauty you’d like to hear about.
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Beth, 26, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!