Many of you have probably seen the posts about Plastic Free July and guides to start reducing plastic in your life. I figured many of our readers have already taken steps to reduce their plastic footprint such as bringing their own shopping bags and using reusable drink containers. Once you start the deep dive into removing plastic from your lifestyle, things can get a bit challenging (and sometimes expensive).

The approach I am taking is to focus on one room or part of my life at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed. I’m currently working on my bathroom, so here are some tips for cutting plastics from that room. It’s important to recognize that no one is perfect and change can take time.

Here are the steps I’ve taken thus far to reduce my environmental impact, focusing on toiletries.

First, here’s a peek into my toiletry bag to give you a visual of my attempts to reduce plastic:

Where I’ve had success…

  • Toothpaste/power: Finding ways to reduce plastic in your dental routine can be difficult considering even “eco friendly” toothpaste comes in plastic tubes. My solution is making my own tooth powder stored in a glass jar. I Wellness Mama’s Remineralizing Tooth Powder Recipe (I skip the xylitol powder and add extra peppermint powder). It’s kind of weird using tooth powder at first, but I’m so used to it by now that using regular cream toothpaste seems weird (and tastes sweeter than candy to me).
  • Toothbrush: For brushing, I use a bamboo toothbrush made by EcoKiss. Unfortunately, the bristles are made of nylon, but they are trying to find a more eco-friendly option. Bonus – the packaging is 100% recyclable (even in the current recycling crisis).
  • Floss: For floss, I use Dental Lace Refillable Floss. I love the natural mint flavor on the silk floss string. The string is stored in a glass vial with a metal lid. Bummer: The silk floss refills are in plastic bags — what’s up with that!? I’m writing to the company to see if they can change their ways…
  • Soap: When traveling, I use a solid shampoo bar as my only soap. If you aren’t ready to make the switch to solid shampoo and you’re lucky enough to live near a store that has bulk items, check to see if they carry bulk shampoo and just reuse the bottle you already have! Travel tip: I like to buy local soaps which are usually on the larger side. The only non-plastic travel soap container I’ve found is tiny so I bought a food storage container to hold my soap (the metal box with blue lid in the photo above).
  • Eye cream: Late nights and long days can lead to tired looking eyes (especially when you crash on your friend’s couch and have morning meetings the next day) so I like to use lavender eye cream at night. I used Wellness Mama’s Eye Cream Recipe as a base but added lavender for a soothing night time scent. Since I travel a lot with it, I bought small round silver tins (seen in the photo above).
  • Razor: I finally kicked my plastic razor to the curb after a couple Surfrider volunteers told me they loved their straight razors. I’m using the WowE LifeStyle double edge safety razor with a bamboo handle. It takes some getting used to, but I’m loving it! It’s also much cheaper in the long run (those tiny razor heads for my old razor were so expensive!).
  • Reusable cotton rounds: Okay, this isn’t plastic, but our cotton industry isn’t very sustainable and cotton balls are another single-use item. I bought a stack of reusable organic cotton rounds that I wash in a mesh bag when they’re dirty. They are super soft and I love them. I bought mine off of Etsy.

Where I’m struggling…

  • Contacts: I have terrible eye sight and wearing glasses 100% of the time doesn’t work for me. This is an area where I recognize I am allowing my personal hatred of wearing glasses to outweigh my efforts to reduce plastic. Ultimately, my goal is to save up for Lasik. Until then, I’ll continue over-wearing my contacts so I use less and using as little solution as possible when I put them in their case (and cringing every time I have to dispose of the packaging).
  • Deodorant: This is a huge guilt for me. I’ve tried several eco friendly deodorants in non plastic containers. Unfortunately, they all give me a very uncomfortable rash. Yes, I’ve tried the ones for sensitive skin and yes, those give me a rash, too. So, I keep going back to traditional deodorant. I’ve been researching different recipes and my next goal is to make a couple of them to see if I can stay rash and plastic free!

What have been your successes and struggles with plastic reduction? Email them to oregon@surfrider.org and I’ll add them to this blog.