I’ve been trying quite a few new products in my attempt to replace products in plastic packaging with zero waste alternatives. Some of them have been awful, some have been bearable, but I’ve also found quite a few products that have eclipsed their wasteful counterparts. So, what are some of my current standout personal care items?

Some of my personal zero waste essentials.

1: Jojoba Oil

In the height of my makeup obsessed post-college days, I amassed quite the collection of personal care items and was convinced I needed a multi-step skincare routine. These days, I use mostly two products: bar soap and jojoba oil. Sephora does have a decent selection of skin care items that are packaged in glass, but they also tend to be more expensive products. When I was at the Seattle Central Co-op earlier this month, I filled up a glass bottle with some bulk jojoba oil to start using as a moisturizer. I can’t remember the exact price I paid, but it was certainly cheaper than anything I would be able to pick up at Sephora. I have pretty low-key skin, so something as simple as jojoba oil has been great at giving me some moisture without overloading my skin with product. Jojoba oil can also be used for hair, scalp, lips, and makeup removal so it is a great multipurpose that could replace many other products (though I currently only use it as a moisturizer).

2: Bamboo Toothbrush

Have you ever thought about how many plastic toothbrushes you’ve thrown out over the course of your life? Every plastic toothbrush I’ve ever used will be on the planet forever, not exactly the legacy I want to leave behind. There are quite a few bamboo toothbrushes on the market, I personally like them from Mother’s Vault because they don’t use any plastic in their packaging. Bamboo is a fast-growing plant, so it is a great base ingredient for sustainable products. The handle is compostable, but the bristles do have to be removed and thrown out (but still a way better option than a plastic toothbrush). I haven’t tried removing the bristles from my bamboo toothbrushes yet, but I think it will be a painless process. I would highly recommend making the switch to bamboo if you’re looking to cut back on waste in your life.

3: Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste

Finding a zero waste toothpaste has been a quest. I’ve tried DIY (tasted disgusting), tooth powders (messy) and brushing soap (good but tasted like soap). I found the Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste at the Seattle Central Co-op and it is definitely the best tooth product I’ve used since going zero waste. The base ingredient is bentonite clay, which I think gives it a thicker texture that makes it way less messy than other zero waste tooth products and it tastes like cinnamon instead of soap. It definitely isn’t the same as stuff made by Crest, but it leaves my mouth feeling clean and I know longer have to deal with plastic tubes that you can never quite get empty.

4: Burt’s Bees Cuticle Cream

It has been a particularly cold winter in Tacoma, which has not been kind on my skin. My cuticles, in particular, have been in bad shape this winter and the only thing that has helped has been the Burt’s Bees Cuticle Cream. Not all Burt’s Bees products are zero waste, but this product comes in a metal tin and in a cardboard box with absolutely no plastic. The product smells great and a little goes a long way, so I’ll be able to use the tin I picked up earlier this year for a long time. Now that I’m no longer painting my nails, it’s nice to have a product that gives me a self-care routine for my hands.

5: Stainless Steel Ear Cleaner

Looks like a small torture device, but in reality the best little ear cleaning tool a girl could ask for.

I know we aren’t supposed to use Q-Tips, but let’s face it they one product I’m just not willing to give up. I found this stainless steel ear cleaner on Amazon and have been incredibly impressed by how easily it replaces disposable Q-Tips. I use mine almost daily and it is great at removing excess wax. It is a bit weird to shove a piece of metal into your ear (I really hope I never get surprised while cleaning my ears because I’ll probably puncture myself), but it is really great to think that I will never have to buy or throw away Q-Tips ever again. This product is a great example of how a zero waste swap can really simplify your life, especially when traveling. Now, when I go on vacation I don’t need to remember to pack a stash of cotton Q-Tips. Instead, I just throw one product in my bag and I’m good to go!

I have never been particularly loyal to brands when it comes to personal care items, but as I am exploring the world of zero waster personal care products I am finding more and more products that I imagine I will be using for a long time. DIY products have never been my strong-suit, so I’m glad to have cultivated my own little collection of products that meet my personal care needs without generating a lot of waste.

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