Raising the bar
Updated: Apr 30, 2020
Earth Day 2020: Unbottling your beauty regimen
Before COVID-19 became the lens through which we view everything I already had a plan for how I was going to recognize Earth Day. I was considering what stories I’d write for the newspaper, possibly joining a group clean-up and writing and publishing this post on “unbottling your beauty regimen.”
So, while the overall health and economic stability of our society are very important, I decided to share this little Earth Day note anyway. To all of you looking to still be a little more environmentally friendly and focus on something other than the pandemic: this is for you.
For a few years now I’ve tried, however inconsistently, to minimize the plastic I use. The fact is that our Earth cannot sustain our consumption of single-use plastics (or our emissions, but that’s a topic for another day) and I, while one person, want to contribute less to that problem.
So, I started in my bathroom.
It’s amazing how many products we use daily to clean and beautify ourselves that come in plastic containers. Albeit some of them are recyclable, but not all. Plus, fun fact for all of you who try to use reusable straws because of the millions of guilt-inducing sea turtle videos: Any bottle with a pump contains a straw.
My suggestion: ditch the containers.
While there are certain products for which an environmental-yet-still-economical solution hasn’t really been made, there are plenty of products you can buy naked. (Scandalous, I know.)
One of the first “unbottled” products I fell head over heels for – a shampoo bar – I found at Lush while I was in college. While the Jason and the Argan Oil shampoo bar I love prices in at around $12.95 (a bit more than the average bottled shampoo you can get at the drug store) it saves waste by being package-less and also can last just as long – and usually longer for me – than your typical 13 oz. bottle. They also, of course, have conditioner bars, which I also own (Sugar Daddy-o is great for blondes). It does admittedly take some work to lather and apply the conditioner bars, but the work is worth both the environmental benefit for the Earth and the health benefit for your hair.
The next product that honestly took me a while to accept was just your simple bar of soap to replace my huge bottles of St. Ives Oatmeal Body Wash I’d been using since high school.
I’ve met many people with many qualms about using bar soap. Some say it’s “not as clean as they want,” to which I say: So, don’t directly apply it to your dirty body. Use something like a loofah or washcloth. Some say it dries out their skin, to which I say: You just haven’t found the right soap.
As someone who suffers from HS, an autoinflammatory skin disease, I am always weary of body cleansers. That’s part of why when St. Ives products didn’t cause me to break out worse than usual, I became a very local consumer. Fortunately for me, however, I live in Oregon: the land of agriculture, small-batch products, and Boring Goats.
I met Pam Enos and Laura Butterfield who own and operate Boring Goats, LLC. a few years ago when I interviewed them for a story on home-based businesses. It was then I learned about Pam’s match green tea oatmeal goat’s milk soap. While her soap comes in a variety of naturally derived scents, that one stuck out to me because of the dermatological benefits known to be found in green tea and oatmeal. So, not only does that soap not dry me out, it also has actually helped my skin. Adding it to my daily shower routine has definitely raised the bar for my skin and, consequently, my health. And it’s only like $6 a bar!
While I’m sure Pam’s soap would be safe and gentle enough to double as facial cleanser, I tend to need something with a little more umph for my face. I’ve also been using the bottled version of Say Yes to Tomatoes and appreciating the results for a few years, so I was very happy when I found that brand now offers soap bars in that activated charcoal formula. They work great, will likely outlast any bottled cleanser – I mean, look at the size of that bar – and only cost about $5.
My journey to having a container-free bathroom is far from over as I am still using up some old products and searching for alternatives to some items that I both work and are affordable – things like hairspray, moisturizer, etc.
That said, I am happy with the alternatives I have found. With it only costing me about $36 to switch how could I not be? And, as soon as I have other alternatives, I’ll of course share them.
Fee free to let me know if you have any suggestions in the comments and I hope you’re all healthy and hanging in there during this difficult time.