With weather extremes, natural disasters occurring more frequently, and the growing awareness of climate change, many of us want to make more responsible choices to leave this world a better place for generations to come. But I know from personal experience that this can be completely overwhelming. Where to start?
I decided to create a woman's guide to becoming more sustainable because I know how difficult it is to start from the beginning. Especially if this is entirely new to you and everyone around you. I've categorized this guide into two sections:
- Bare Necessities - feminine hygiene products and things we can't go without.
- Wellness Products - items we should invest in for our self-care needs.
As women, thanks to our complex anatomy, we have bare essential items we cannot go without. Humans also use other products daily that we would not go without. Here is a list of such things, as sustainable as they come:
Menstrual cup by Hevea
Most of us have used or currently use tampons. These convenient, compact, and discrete products have been around for years.
But did you know that the cotton in tampons is often bleached? Cotton is usually a blend of unknown quality cotton and synthetic material, like plastic (around 5%).
In case you weren't aware, we currently have a microplastic epidemic. Scientists have detected microplastic in just about everything, including our seafood. So any plastic we can remove from circulation will be the best chance to stop the issue from worsening.
Now, I know that menstrual cups can be quite daunting. The sheer thought of using a cup, particularly on heavier-flow days, can cause some serious anxiety. But, I promise you that once you start using a cup and get comfortable with using one—full disclosure, it may take you a few months to get the hang of it— you will never look back.
Like most cups, Hevea's menstrual cups are non-toxic. But these cups are also made from 100% biodegradable and compostable natural rubber (from hevea rubber trees), unlike many brands made from silicone—which is essentially just another form of plastic.
The other difference with Hevea cups compared to many other brands is that they are made with a handy loop at the base for easy removal—something you'll appreciate when you start using one.
You can wear it for up to 12 hours and choose from three sizes. Start your sustainable journey by getting one of these, and say goodbye to single-use tampons.
Period Panties by Bambody
Get yourself a few pairs of period panties for the days and nights you don't want to wear a cup. These are serious game-changers.
If you're anything like me, you won't like to wear a cup when you sleep or on very light spotting days; instead, just put on a pair of underwear and be done with it.
But if you're not like me, perhaps you won't want to wear your cup on heavier or painful days because let's be honest, it's just one more thing to think about when you'd rather just curl up in a ball of pain and sleep.
Bambody absorbent panties have four thin fabric layers. The innermost layer is a discreet black layer of fabric, and the next layer is the most absorbent layer for heavier days. The layer after that is a leakproof layer that extends from front to back. And the outer layer is a moisture-wicking soft bamboo.
Another reason to get behind Bambody is when you purchase one of their panties from the Maasai range; they donate a pair to a girl in need through the Maasai Water Project. This is the kind of brand we like to support.
Reusable pantyliners by Smartliners
You might want to try some reusable pantyliners for those who prefer pantyliners. Sanitary pads and liners are a problem for the environment. Conventional brands make their pads with up to 90% plastic. Sanitary pads should never be flushed down the toilet as they can create blockages. The plastic in the pads breaks down into microplastics, which, as mentioned earlier, is another global issue we are all facing.
Smartliners are certified organic cotton with no plastic in them besides the recycled polyester velcro that helps the liners stay in place. They're ultra-absorbent and odor-resistant and come with a convenient wash pouch.
Women use on average 350 packs of sanitary pads in a lifetime. That is a lot of waste. Reusable liners are a little more effort to manage, but the benefits to your health and the planet outweigh the effort by miles.
Cinnamon Ginger Chai Face and Body Soap Bar by UpCircle
We all bathe, whether twice a day, once a day, or other (no judgments, here). But the plastic packaging epidemic on our planet is out of control. Switching to a soap bar is one of the most uncomplicated and best swaps you can make on your sustainable journey.
This bar from UpCircle replaces your face cleanser and body wash, eliminating plastic packaging waste from two products in your bathroom. The bar also comes in a recyclable cardboard box.
The bar itself is formulated using shea butter, coconut extract, a handful of other organic and natural ingredients, and salvaged chai spices from the beverage industry. In fact, all of UpCircle's products use up-cycled food and beverage byproducts.
This soap bar has a luxurious lather that won't dry your skin. UpCircle Beauty uses Sodium Cocoate in place of sulfates. And shea butter is known for its nourishing properties. My favorite thing about this bar is that it smells delicious—like a chai latte—but is entirely free from synthetic fragrance.
If you want to start your sustainable skincare journey but don't know where to begin, start with UpCircle's soap bar.
Bloom Jelly Serum Bar by Dew Mighty
This mighty little bar is packed with active ingredients that help soothe, calm, and nourish your skin. It replaces your face serums, oil, lotions, and hair and body oils. So, potentially removing up to five products from your bathroom saves you a lot of money and the planet simultaneously.
The serum bar is a convenient on-the-go moisturizer and comes with a compact metal case you can fit in any purse and is housed in compostable packaging so that you won't be adding to the current plastic problem.
Plastic-Free Deodorant by Meow Meow Tweet
Deodorant is one of those items that we can't compromise. I've been through so many brands of deodorants in my lifetime, and 90% of them do not work for me, thanks to an inherited case of hyperhidrosis.
While it's not possible to stop sweating without using an antiperspirant that is aluminum-based (which some people avoid due to a potential link to causing breast cancer —unproven, but still a concern) or getting botox injected into your armpits (something I am not really game to try), you can get natural deodorants that promise to stop the odor, which is the main issue.
Meow Meow Tweet has got us covered here. Their deodorant sticks are 100% safe with natural baking soda, magnesium, and arrow-root powder, which absorb sweat and stop odors. With their paper push-up tube, you can easily use the deodorant until the very last drop and then toss the tube into the recycling can.
Meow Meow Tweet's products are small batch and handmade and are also Leaping Bunny-Certified.
Natural Compostable Bamboo Bandages by Patch
If you're anything like me in the kitchen, you will always need bandages on hand. But conventional dressings are made from a type of plastic. If you've been paying attention to my article, you'll see a trend. Plastic = Bad for the planet.
So when I found that compostable bandages existed, I was all over it. Patch is pretty awesome. They are 100% organic and natural bamboo fiber with a mineral-based pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA). They are latex and plastic-free, hypoallergenic for sensitive skin, vegan-friendly, and cruelty-free.
These bandages are breathable but durable and are great for all kinds of small knicks, cuts, and scratches. Patch is also a certified B-Corp company, which means that they've jumped through many hoops to get that stamp of approval. Not many companies have done that.
While we're on a mission to become more sustainable, we think about the damage we're doing as a collective species. This can cause anxiety and hopelessness and can be downright disheartening to see other people not caring as much as you do.
This is why self-care is so crucial to our health. These items I'm about to list are all about taking care of yourself to continue on your sustainable journey without getting bogged down with guilt and anxiety.
100% Silk Face Mask by Fait avec Coeur
Let's start with one of the most prominent items. Since the pandemic began, there has been a massive increase in pollution in our environment from face masks.
Most disposable masks are made from a plastic blend, which again, as you know, is a big problem for our environment. Then you have non-disposable masks that are often made from synthetic fibers that cannot break down in nature when disposed of.
What about if we take the environment out of the equation? When worn against our face for long periods, most masks can give us maskne, skin irritation and create a haven for bacteria.
You could opt for an organic cotton mask, but I have found 100% silk momme masks to be the best for skin and the environment. The Fait avec Coeur masks are the highest quality measured weight of silk, which means that they are durable—they will last long after the pandemic is over—and are incredibly soft.
Silk is naturally hypoallergenic, antibacterial, and biodegradable. These masks are breathable, contain a filter pocket for extra protection, and are 100% machine washable. I stopped using other masks since getting a Fait avec Coeur silk mask. They are honestly my favorite thing to complete any outfit and are available in various colors.
Botanical Cork Yoga Mat by Scoria
It's no secret that yoga is one of the best ways to manage stress, mentally and physically. Just the thought of stepping onto your yoga mat can be like flicking a switch from Tension Town to Calm City.
But most yoga mats are made from synthetic materials that are usually forms of, you guessed it, plastic. Yoga mats eventually become worn out, and they will ultimately end up in landfills. So to combat this issue while simultaneously addressing your self-care routine, try a yoga mat made from natural materials.
Scoria has a range of yoga products, mats being their key product. They are a combination of natural cork and rubber, both sustainably sourced from nature.
The printed mats are water-based and non-toxic, and the cork and rubber are bonded together using a light water-based eco-adhesive under very high heat. Their philosophy is to #SparkTheChildWithin and reconnect with the creativity we have lost as adults. In the designs of the yoga mats, you can see that they have a playful edge.
Scoria is also philanthropic. They donate ten meals to those in need through Feeding Children Everywhere for every mat sold.
Homi Tube Yoga Mat Stand by Mache
I don't know about you, but I wouldn't say I like storing my yoga mat. It always ends up stuffed in the closet, and I have to go rummaging to locate it every single time I want to practice.
When I saw this innovative yoga mat stand, I jumped at getting one. They are made from recycled kraft paper and recycled wood and can be recycled at the end of their life. They are sturdy, durable and all they do is sit there, so I imagine I shouldn't need to recycle mine any time soon.
Natural Cork Roller and Natural Cork Trigger Point Balls by Scoria
Here are a couple of other products by Scoria that I wanted to mention: the cork roller and the trigger point balls. Again, like the yoga mats, these are made from sustainably harvested cork. They are great for self-massage, stretching, and general maintenance of your body's mobility and muscles.
I roll at least twice a week, which helps with blood circulation after sitting down at a desk for hours. Rolling also helps to elongate the muscles after contracting them during a workout.
You can manipulate yourself on top of the roller to massage or roll over your muscles using your body weight. You should roll towards the heart so your blood flows into the heart muscle for better circulation.
The trigger point balls are perfect for getting into those sore spots in your muscles that the roller can't reach, such as your back and glute muscles. I love to use this practice as a form of meditation.
Find a sore spot, and use your body weight to pressure that spot. Start slow, deep meditative breaths once your trigger point ball is in position. Roll around on the spot to gently release the tight muscle fibers, lifting off at any point the sensation becomes painful. Deep breathing will help your body to relax, so any knots and tight spots release a lot easier.
Wooden Dry Brushing Body Brush by Redecker
Dry brushing has been in practice for centuries, documented in ancient Ayurvedic rituals in India. It can also be traced back to many other civilizations, such as Egypt, Greece, China, and Japan.
The three core benefits of dry brushing are that it:
- Stimulates blood circulation.
- Stimulates the lymphatic system.
- Exfoliates the skin's epidermis.
Some types of body brushes are plastic or animal bristles, but Redecker's body brush is Beechwood and Tampico plant fibers. Both materials have been sustainably sourced.
Simply brush dry skin with light strokes, again moving towards the heart. If the skin has become a flushed red color, this just means the blood is flowing closer to the skin's surface and is completely normal and healthy.
I practice body brushing once or twice a week before a shower. I like to light some incense, put on my favorite ambient music, and dim the lights for the full immersive experience. But you can do it however you like.
Body brushing is an exceptional practice that often gets overlooked in the self-care space. But do yourself a favor and begin. You wish you'd have started it sooner.
Daily Glow Facial Dry Brush by Province Apothecary
The Redecker brush is a great size for the body, but what about the face? Province Apothecary has hand-crafted their smaller facial brush from ethically sourced goat bristles and solid oak.
Use this brush like the body brush, but use lighter strokes and avoid the eye area.
Province Apothecary is a one percenter for the planet. They donate to Canadian Organic Growers and the Canadian Honey Council, and each purchase from Province Apothecary supports the planet's health and responsible agriculture.
Gemstone Eye Mask by Earth Harbor
After a long workday staring at a screen, our eyes can be quite tired, and we can often suffer from headaches. The jade Gemstone Eye Mask from Earth Harbor is a sweet addition to your self-care arsenal.
Find a quiet moment, lay down, and place the mask over your eyes for 10 minutes. This can help relieve strained, sore, and irritated eyes. Store it in the refrigerator for additional relief. You can also use it for ten minutes to reduce puffy eyes in the morning. Sitting on a sofa slightly reclined works best as gravity also naturally helps any fluid drain.
We love Earth Harbor as a brand, as they donate a portion of their profits to protecting marine life and oceans worldwide.
Being more sustainable in your daily life is a win-win for everyone. You adopt better habits as a human being, which ultimately helps our planet while simultaneously saving money.
Emma Jade has been a trained esthetician for over 15 years. She is a sustainable skincare writer, educating and building awareness around proper skin health that doesn't cost the Earth.
Some of the products promoted in our blog are from our online store. Many others are brands we have researched and found to be great examples of sustainable, ethical, and innovative brands in their field, and we don't profit from mentioning them in our blog. #CollaborationOverCompetition