Zero Waste Personal Care

From the products you use to the salons you patronize, there are many ways to minimize your waste when it comes to personal care. In Sonoma County, there are THREE Refill / Zero Waste Shops where customers can bring their empty containers and purchase products such as hand soap, dish soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and essential oils based on weight. These stores also carry products to help make it easy for people to live low-waste lifestyles. See the Refill / Zero Waste Page for more information.


While everyone's hair requires different treatment, there are still many low-waste options. However, please note that some low or zero waste products may be more expensive, difficult to find, take time to adjust to, or all of the above.

Shampoo & Conditioner

Plastic bottles and containers of shampoo and conditioner are widespread and have been accepted as normal in society. Instead, consider these options:


  • Look for paraben and sulfate-free products that come in rigid containers, which can be cleaned, dried, and recycled with lids on through curbside collection programs. For bonus points, reuse these containers to store small items or organize art supplies


  • Purchasing products in bulk sizes and refilling existing bottles/containers (Public Goods provides such options which contain all natural ingredients)


  • Shampoo and conditioner bars (available at Lush or
  • Aluminum bottles that are accepted for refill (available through Plaine Products)
  • DIY your own liquid shampoo/conditioner or bars using all natural ingredients and containers you already have

A resource for shampoo/conditioner bars for natural hair can be found here.

Dry Shampoo

Washing your hair everyday can strip your hair and scalp of natural oils, drying it out. It's better to go a few days between washes, which also saves water, hair product, and results in healthier hair. To prolong your time between washes, consider using a chemical and talc-free dry shampoo which can be made at home using just a few ingredients, or found online (look for recyclable or reusable packaging). To DIY, just use a 1:1 ratio of bentonite clay and arrowroot powder, and add another one part cocoa powder for brunettes.

Hair Brush

Another way to keep beneficial oils where they should be is to use an organic wood brush which can condition and evenly distribute those oils throughout the hair. Another benefit of the wood brush is that the bristles massage the scalp and may also stimulate hair growth. Of course, if you have a good functioning brush that suits your needs, even if it is plastic, keep using it until you no longer can in order to extend its useful life.

Hair Salons

Green Circle Salons is the world's first sustainable salon solution dedicated to recycling, recover, and repurposing beauty waste from salons and spas to keep people and the planet beautiful. Visit their directory to find a sustainable salon near you.

Personal Care


Though it may be tempting to pick up a pack of disposable razors because they are cheap and available at any pharmacy, grocery, or convenience store, it's important to remember that they are made of hard to recycle materials that for the most part end up in the landfill. While Terracycle and Gilette have partnered with CVS to offer a mail back program for razors and accessories, the best option would be to purchase a safety razor. Replacement blades are very affordable, and may be stored in a blade bank or used mints tin until full, and can be recycled as metal scrap. Please note that safety razors are more dangerous than disposable blades, and should be stored accordingly, especially if there are children in the house.

Aerosol shaving creams / shaving foams contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to ozone depletion. Instead, we recommend using shaving soaps which can be purchased in recyclable tins, or making your own. Use a shaving brush made of a wood or bamboo base with either badger fur or if you prefer a vegan option, there are brushed with synthetic bristles available. Place the shaving soap in a shaving bowl (or any mug or cup) and wet with warm water. Swirl the wet brush on the soap to create a rich lather and apply to the area you want to shave. Grab your safety razor and happy shaving!


There are a million skin lotions, potions, and serums on the market and most of them contain harmful chemicals and synthetic ingredients and come packaged in containers that are difficult or impossible to recycle. Below are some sustainable skincare brands reviewed by Sustainable Jungle for different sustainability criteria including packaging and shipping materials:

EteeBathing CultureRaw Elements

Empiresquid Organics

Rainwater BotanicalsAndreas Organic Market
Dab HerbDirty Hippie CosmeticsByRobinCreation
Herbal ChestFat and the MoonMeow Meow Tweet
  • Washable/reusable makeup remover pads, tissues/hankies, and facecloths are available and recommended to replace single-use options, to reduce waste and save money over time.

Hand Soap

From a plastic packaging perspective, bar soap is a better option than liquid soap, and is just as effective at cleaning hands. If you are averse to using hand soap in bar form, consider using a metal grater to grate bar soap into a bowl, and then transfer the flakes into a glass jar with holes poked into the lid, so that bathroom and kitchen visitors can easily sprinkle some flakes into their hands for an easy lather without the gooey mess that can be left in a soapdish.

Lip Balm

Again, commercial lip balms are often made with unhealthy chemicals and other unregulated fragrances synthetics. A simple two-ingredient DIY lip balm calls for 3 tablespoons grated cocoa butter and 1 tablespoon of high quality olive oil. Melt the cocoa butter down to a liquid over a double boiler, stir in the olive oil, and pour into tins. Let the mixture cool over night and you'll have some wonderful lip balm. If purchasing cocoa butter in bulk, it is a great ingredient to use for as part of a DIY lotion or even on its own.

Dental Care

Bamboo toothbrushes are becoming widely available. They are low waste alternatives to plastic toothbrushes, and may be composted in your curbside bin after the bristles have been removed. Instead of brushing with toothpaste from a tube which is non-recyclable, you may want to try using toothpaste tablets or baking soda, and natural silk dental floss which is compostable. Products available at Well Earth Goods and other online retailers.

Photo Courtesy of Well Earth Goods