With weather extremes and natural disasters occurring more frequently, and the growing awareness of climate change, many of us want to make more responsible choices in our lives so that we can leave this world a better place for the 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 completely 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. There are also other products humans use daily that we simply would not go without. Here are a list of such items, 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 tampons are made from cotton that has often been bleached. The 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. They’ve detected microplastic in just about everything, including our seafood. So any plastic we can remove from circulation will be the best chance we have at stopping the issue from becoming worse.
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 really 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
For the days and nights you don’t want to wear a cup, get yourself a few pairs of period panties. These are serious game-changers.
If you’re anything like me, you won’t like to wear a cup when you sleep, or when you’re on very light spotting days, you’d rather 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 are made with four thin fabric layers. The innermost layer is a discreet black layer of fabric. Then the next layer is the most absorbent layer for heavier days. The layer after that is a leak-proof layer that extends from front-to-back, and then the outer layer, the layer the rest of the underwear is made from, is soft bamboo fabric that is moisture-wicking.
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 definitely the kind of brand we like to support.
Reusable pantyliners by Smartliners
For those who prefer pantyliners, you might want to try some reusable pantyliners. Sanitary pads and liners are a problem for the environment. Conventional brands make their pads with up to 90% plastic. Sanitary items should never be flushed down the toilet as they can create blockages, and the plastic in the pads break down into microplastics, which, as mentioned earlier, is another global issue we are all facing.
Smartliners are certified organic cotton with absolutely 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 very handy 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
All of us bathe, whether it be 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 simplest 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 cardboard box that can be easily recycled.
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 are formulated using up-cycled food and beverage byproducts.
This soap bar has a luxurious lather that won’t dry out your skin. UpCircle Beauty uses Sodium Cocoate in lieu 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 completely 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 full of active ingredients that help soothe, calm, and nourish your skin. It replaces your face serums, oil, lotions, and even your hair and body oils. So, potentially removing up to five products from your bathroom, which 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 you won’t be adding to the current plastic problem, either.
Plastic-Free Deodorant by Meow Meow Tweet
Deodorant is one of those items that you need to work. I've been through 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 really 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, really.
Meow Meow Tweet has got us covered here. Their deodorant sticks are formulated with 100% safe and 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’re going to always need bandages on hand. But conventional bandages 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. These ones from Patch are really awesome. They are made from 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 also durable, and can be used for all kinds of small knicks, cuts, and scratches. Patch is also a certified B-Corp company, which means that they’ve jumped through a lot of hoops to get that stamp of approval. Not many companies have done that.
While we’re on a mission to become more sustainable, we end up thinking about the damage we’re doing as a collective species. This can cause anxiety and feelings of hopelessness, and can be downright disheartening to see other people not caring as much as you do.
This is why self-care is so important to our health. These items I’m about to list are all about taking care of yourself so that you can continue on your sustainable journey without getting bogged down with guilt and anxiety.
100% Silk Face Mask by Fait avec Coeur
Let’s start off with one of the most obvious items. Since the pandemic began, there has been a huge increase in the amount of pollution in our environment from face masks.
Most disposable masks are made from a form of plastic, 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? Most masks when worn against our face for long periods can create problems like maskne, skin irritation, and can also create a haven for bacteria.
You could opt for an organic cotton mask, but what I have found to be the best for skin and the environment is 100% silk momme masks. The Fait avec Coeur masks are made from the highest quality measured weight of silk, which means that it is durable—it will last long after the pandemic is over—and it is 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. Since getting a Fait avec Coeur silk mask, I stopped using other masks. They are honestly my favorite thing to complete an outfit, and are available in various colors.
Botanical Cork Yoga Mat by Scoria
It’s no secret that yoga is by far 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 do eventually become worn out, and they will eventually end up in landfill. So to combat this issue, while simultaneously addressing your self-care routine, try a yoga mat that is made from natural materials.
Scoria have a range of yoga products, mats being their key product. They are made from a combination of natural cork and rubber, both sustainably sourced from nature.
The printed mats are made with water-based non-toxic inks, and the cork and rubber are bonded together using a light water-based eco-adhesive under a very high heat. Their philosophy is to #SparkTheChildWithin and reconnect with our creativity that we have lost as adults. You can see in the designs of the yoga mats that they have a playful edge.
Scoria are also philanthropic. For every mat sold, they donate 10 meals to those in need through Feeding Children Everywhere.
Homi Tube Yoga Mat Stand by Mache
I don’t know about you, but I honestly despise 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 these innovative yoga mat stands, 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. But they are sturdy and durable so I imagine I shouldn’t need to dispose of 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, as this 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.
Using your bodyweight, you can manipulate yourself on top of the roller to massage, or roll over your muscles. It is recommended that you 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, like our back and glute muscles. I love to use this practice as a form of meditation.
Find a sore spot, and use your bodyweight to put pressure on 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 literally centuries, documented in ancient Ayurvedic rituals in India. It can also be traced back to many other civilizations in history, such as in Egypt, Greece, China, and Japan.
The three core benefits to dry brushing are that it:
- Stimulates blood circulation
- Stimulates the lymphatic system
- Exfoliates the skin’s epidermis
Some body brushes out there are made using plastic or animal bristles, but Redecker’s body brush is made from beechwood and tampico plant fibers. Both materials that have been sustainably sourced.
To use, 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 surface of the skin, 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 have hand-crafted their smaller facial brush from ethically sourced (meaning no harm was done) goat bristles, and solid oak.
Use this brush in a similar fashion to the body brush, but use lighter strokes, and avoid the eye area.
Province Apothecary are fellow one percenters for the planet, they donate to Canadian Organic Growers, Canadian Honey Council, and each purchase from Province Apothecary supports the health of the planet 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 in the morning for 10 minutes for reducing puffy eyes. I find 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. If you know of any other sustainable skincare or wellness products out there that you’d love us to mention in our blogs, or stock on our website, please email me at email@example.com.
All of the brands we promote are cruelty-free, sustainably and ethically sourced and made, and are manufactured using low-waste or plastic-free packaging.
Emma Masotti is an Australian now living in Austin, TX, and 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 make any profit from mentioning them in our blog. #CollaborationOverCompetition