Plastic-Free July Eco-Challenge, Day 15: Green Your Hygiene, Part 1

Last year, I started a new phase of ZooFit, called Eco-Wellness. It’s been an amazing journey of self-discovery and even helped shape some of my new book, The ZooFit Safari.

Health and fitness is so much more than eating and working out. Taking care of our bodies improves our well-being, and improves our ability to eat better and work out harder. Sleep is important, as is drinking water.

But hygiene is an often overlooked aspect of wellness. Which is ironic because it can have a huge impact on the rest of our health. It’s also a great way to promote a more positive impact on the planet.

The most basic form of hygiene is cleaning our bodies. However we wash ourselves (shower, bath, or sink), this seemingly simple act is vital for our health. But let’s not go into how washing your hands after going to the restroom helps your health. We already know these aspects.

What we may not be aware of is how taking care of our body can help care for the planet. There are dozens of ways to help the environment and conservation efforts while keeping ourselves clean. Today I want to focus on eliminating our plastic use.

The shower is the best place to start in reducing our plastic use in the bathroom. Here are some options for greening your hygiene:

Shift to bar soap

I have two major issues with body cleansers that come in plastic bottles. First, they come in plastic bottles. Bar soaps, especially those made from local vendors are often wrapped in non-plastic packaging, or none at all. I love local, handmade soaps. They often smell heavenly and natural.

I turned away from exfoliating body cleansers a while ago not because of the plastic packaging, but because the microbeads in these cleansers were made of plastic. These tiny beads washed down the drain and entered the water system. Once in the ocean, it never goes away, and often is ingested by marine life. Fortunately, microbeads are banned in the US (for now, it was, however, an Obama regulation, and those things don’t seem to last too long these days). But by then, I had already turned from plastic packaged products and gone all-in with bar soap. Getting away from cleansers means we have a greater chance of protecting the fragile ecosystems.

Shampoo bars

After I discovered my first shampoo bar, I thought it was so cool. And then I started seeing them everywhere. I thought I could only get them online or at Lush stores, but I’ve seen shampoo bars in co-ops, Whole Foods, and specialty stores. And they aren’t as expensive as I thought they’d be. Lush has shampoo bars for around $11, and that’s about the priciest I’ve seen. I started using a local brand, called Booda Butter. It’s made in Bellingham, but I’ve seen them in stores on Whidbey Island and Everett. The best part about these products is absolutely no plastic waste.

Conditioner

Okay, so technically, you COULD get conditioner bars, but I am not particularly fond of them. They clump in your hair, and are difficult to use. I have a hard time liking them. However, I have them in case we run out of conditioner and can’t get any more from the zero-waste station.

I personally advocate finding a zero-waste station which specializes in health and beauty products. Fortunately, we have one on Whidbey Island called the Madrona Supply Store. Unfortunately, they haven’t been open since they switched to their new storefront. I’m trying to be patient and understanding, but they are the only place around where I can get liquid conditioner, lotion, and even laundry detergent and dish washing soap.

I do prefer this option for conditioners. It still eliminates the plastic bottle, but without compromising your bathing experience with any annoyances.

Bath salts/soaks

Bath bombs are becoming ever more popular. There is a way for you to make your own, but I haven’t tried it myself, so I can’t speak for its effectiveness. It does require citric acid, which often comes in plastic bags.

However, just like shampoo bars, you can find bath salts and soaks in plastic-free packaging at many retailers. Some are in bulk while others are sold in solid shaped items (Lush has some shaped like animals, hearts, stars, and holiday themes).

Turn your shower into an eco-plastic-free zone. Stay clean, and keep the planet clean from plastic. A win-win.

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