Personal care products account for one third of the waste in our landfills. So how can we tweak our personal hygiene habits to help bring ourselves and our planet into balance?
The "A Year for Earth" series is all about making small, consistent and sustainable changes which add up to big results, so this month I am challenging you in the personal hygiene areas that I think will have the biggest impact on your health and the health of our planet.
Antiperspirants and deodorants contain toxins, most commonly parabens, triclosan, phthalates, propylene glycol and aluminum. These chemicals are easily absorbed through our skin and can contribute to health issues.
Switching to natural aluminum free deodorants will allow your pores to sweat naturally (which is a healthy thing). Just a heads up though, when you first make the switch, be prepared to smell more than normal as your body detoxes the built up chemicals causing a change in your underarm bacteria. Don’t let that scare you off making the switch though, it doesn’t last forever!
There are a lot of options out there for natural deodorants, your personal preference will determine which works best for you, so I would suggest to experiment!
One small but impactful switch you can make in your personal hygiene is moving away from plastic toothbrushes. We should switch to a new toothbrush every 3-4 months, so in our lifetime that adds up to a lot of plastic. Make the swap to bamboo toothbrushes or use ones made with recycled plastics.
Toothpaste can contain chemicals harmful not just to you, but to Earth’s eco systems as it’s rinsed out into our waterways. Make the swap to a toothpaste with all natural ingredients, and even better if you purchase brands that come in eco-friendly packaging.
Hair Care & Body Care
There are so many options now for soap, shampoo and conditioner bars, eliminating plastic packaging. And switching to an all natural option will also eliminate a long list of harmful ingredients found in non-natural shampoos:
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
- Sodium Chloride
- Polyethylene Glycols (PEG)
- Synthetic Fragrances
These chemicals are not only harmful to our bodies, but to nature as well as we rinse them down the drain and into our water systems.
Look for non-toxic, natural makeup products whenever possible. These are often more expensive than commercial makeup, so look to make the transition slowly but consistently.
Unfortunately most makeup products come in non-recyclable packaging. Mirrors, pumps, applicators and brushes are not recyclable. So the biggest change we can make here is investing in better quality products that can be refilled and or cleaned so that we can keep reusing products for as long as possible.
Making the switch to menstrual cups or reusable cloth pads will save hundreds of pounds of plastic pollution per person. And that’s just the packaging! The fact is that commercial menstrual pads are 90% plastic, and tampons also contain plastic. There are also debates about the health issues associated with using tampons.
A bonus: Disposable menstrual products reinforce the idea that menstruation is dirty, gross and taboo. Embracing your body and understanding your personal cycle is a big part of bringing yourself into balance.
Nature Aligned Personal Hygiene Action Steps
Switch to a natural deodorant and say no to aluminum and other harmful ingredients.
Make the swap to bamboo or recycled toothbrushes and natural toothpaste.
Switch to soap, shampoo and conditioner bars instead of commercial products and save yourself and the Earth the chemicals and the plastic.
Transition to reusable menstrual products to keep plastics out of landfills.
- Take small steps to switch your makeup to non-toxic options, and find good quality refillable containers and washable brushes to lengthen the lifespan of your products.