My travel-friendly, less-waste, and mostly plastic-free toiletry routine: After lots of trial and error (which I’ve covered in other product reviews over more than a year of testing!) this list contains only the best brands in each toiletry category! Look no further for plastic-free toiletries that are mostly gender-neutral and feel like a treat to use – not a sustainability obligation.
This is what I call my “travel” toiletry routine – because it’ll definitely stop leaks in your luggage and problems with TSA. But really, these plastic-free brands are what I use at home, too.
And while everyone’s talking about “zero-waste” products, I call these “less-waste” because zero feels impossible – and it probably is.
There’s no reason to stress ourselves out striving for perfection when we can make a difference starting with just doing better.
Why do I keep writing about going plastic-free?
If you follow this blog, you may have noticed that I’ve written about plastic-free brands a lot lately. The first reason might be that, in an out-of-control year, this feels like a decision I can dominate.
The second reason: Plastic recycling doesn’t work.
Plastic wasn’t designed to be recycled. And you know those little triangular recycling symbols with the numbers? They were actually invented by oil company marketers, not by recyclers. Essentially, they’re just greenwashing to make us believe there’s an environmentally responsible (and economically feasible) way to recycle plastics, when in reality there isn’t.
Plastic recycling plastic is a band-aid solution at best. The only real solution is to stop depending on recycling plastic by buying less plastic.
That’s why almost every product on this list is plastic-free, refillable, and/or designed to use minimal and more easily-recyclable packaging (paper, cardboard, aluminum or glass).
Some brands also offer recycling or up-cycling programs that the companies sponsor, which is a step up: When companies pay to recycle the waste they create, the economics of recycling are no longer a burden for cities and towns.
I also select brands based on other sustainability criteria, as well:
Many on this list are certified carbon-neutral, certified B Corps, members of 1% For The Planet, or all three! (That’s the starting point for me to try them. To get on the list, their products have to also be awesome.)
How do you get started with plastic-free toiletries?
The best advice I can give for using less plastic: Just start. Just pick one thing.
Don’t worry about your entire routine.
Don’t worry about other people, and how you’ll never make a difference (not true).
Either start with a product you’re almost out of, and would have to replace soon anyway, or a product you don’t really love anyway.
My example, before switching to my favorite shampoo bars, every bottle of shampoo I bought was a random choice at the drugstore. So I started my zero-waste journey with shampoo bars, and didn’t have to feel like I was giving up a favorite product.
Jump to the category where you want to start:
- Discount Codes!
- Plastic-Free Hand Sanitizer
- Best Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
- All-in-One Hair + Body + Face Bar
- Plastic-Free Hair Ties
- Less-Waste Face Wash Options
- Plastic-Free Acne Treatment, Serums & Moisturizers
- Daily Mineral Sunscreen for the Face
- Reusable “Cotton” Swabs, Cotton Rounds & Tissues
- Plastic-Free Dental Care! (Less-waste Floss, Toothpaste, Mouthwash & Toothbrushes)
- Plastic-Free Lip Balm
- Plastic-Free Deodorant (Two Ways):
- Period Care Sans Disposables
- Plastic-Free Shaving – But Not Quite with a Safety Razor
- Travel-Friendly Laundry
These discount codes are sprinkled throughout this list, but to keep things simple, they’re all right here, too:
- Save 15% at The Earthling Co. (shampoo + conditioner bars, and more plastic-free toiletries) automatically with any link on this blog (no code required!)
- Use the code TILTEDMAP10 for 10% off at:
- This referral link for 100 Senses will save you $15 off a $50 non-subscription order. (eg. two Ultimate Body Bars, their only product I use.)
- This referral link for the Package Free shop saves you $10 off a $40 order (there’ll be a pop-up right up away with a discount code to copy).
- Save 15% on PAPR deodorant with the code MAP15 .
- Shop through this link to save $10 off Thinx menstrual underwear (including their other brands – Thinx BTWN for teens, and Speax for bladder leaks.)
Plastic-Free Hand Sanitizer
Let’s start with an easy category that everyone needs these days: hand sanitizer that doesn’t suck.
byHumankind, a New York start-up that’s completely carbon-neutral, makes lot of high-quality, plastic-free, refillable toiletries. I’ve tried almost everything they make, and I think their hand sanitizer is one of their best products.
The small bottles come in three-packs with optional plastic pumps – meaning if you already have pumps at home, you can order without and reuse the ones you have. When you have enough travel-size bottles, just order the larger (8-ounce) refill bottles.
It’s all packaged in highly-recyclable aluminum bottles, instead of plastic, and their formula contains hyaluronic acid – an ingredient used in skin care for hydration (below, you’ll find a face serum I use with hyaluronic acid). So it doesn’t dry out your skin like other hand sanitizers. I think it feels smooth and silky, not sticky or chemical-y.
In my opinion, both the Grapefruit and Eucalyptus scents are really pleasant and not too strong, but for using hand sanitizer constantly throughout the day, their unscented option my go-to: It truly doesn’t smell like anything. No alcohol fumes; no industrial cleanser after-smell. Just clean.
Best Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
[Check out my detailed review comparing Earthling and HiBAR, or see the short version below.]
I’ve used the first three, and the Maintain bar is my favorite from HiBAR – it’s a great neutral, basic shampoo.
(And I like it for travel, because it stays harder, while the Moisturize bar is a slightly softer formula that gets a little more sticky while stored in a washcloth in your suitcase. (Which is how HiBAR recommends storing their bars for travel, and it’s the best method I’ve found.))
All HiBARs smell just the right amount like key lime pie (except their fragrance-free Moisturize bar). They lather and rinse really easily, and leave my hair shiny and totally indistinguishable from when I use really good bottled shampoo.
I still think HiBAR is a great option, especially if you’re looking for a formula specific to your hair type.
But The Earthling Co. is the only brand I’ve found whose bars might be even better.
Earthling Co. is a small Nevada-based company that’s carbon-neutral and a 1% For The Planet member. They make moisturizing, great-smelling shampoo and conditioner bars that lather better than any other bar I’ve tried.
But the main reason I recommend them? I have several friends who weren’t convinced by other shampoo bar brands (HiBAR included), but loved The Earthling Co. (More on that in my detailed review.)
Save 15% on any order from The Earthling Co. with any link in this post (no code required – the discount will apply automatically at checkout).
Save 10% on HiBAR (or any other products you order) from Earth Hero with the discount code tiltedmap10 .
Note: Sustainable shopping options & why I recommend Earth Hero
There are lots of zero-waste shops online, but Colorado-based Earth Hero has the best sustainability credentials of any I’ve found: They’re a B-Corp, they’re certified carbon-neutral, and a member of 1% For The Planet. (All excellent certifications that I always look for in sustainable companies.)
(And Earth Hero has the best prices on HiBAR, even before the discount code!)
All-in-One Hair + Body + Face Bar
When I travel (or when I’m in a hurry at home), I use the Ultimate Body Bar, from California-based 100 Senses, as the company intended – for everything.
For me, it works wonderfully to replace not only shampoo, but also body wash and even face wash! I have sensitive skin that breaks out if I use the wrong face wash, but this doesn’t give me any problems. It also lathers easily and richly, and works great for shaving my legs.
They bill it as a conditioner-replacement, too – and I do often use it without conditioner. It works well enough, but if your hair really needs moisture, the Ultimate Body Bar alone might not be quite enough. (In that case, I’d recommend pairing it with an Earthling Co. conditioner bar.)
Ultimate Body Bar Scents
I’ve been through several bars of the Citrus Neroli scent (which is fruity and bold and reminds me of this luxe perfume, which I plan to eventually treat myself to), and several bars of Wild Lavender, which smells luxurious and light. It’s not sweet, and not too herbal either – I’d call it a modern scent. They also offer Green Tea – the most subtle and, in my opinion, gender-neutral scent. I love them all! (And there’s an unscented bar, too.)
You can use this referral link for $15 off a non-subscription order of $50 or more from 100 Senses!
Sustainability Comparison (All the Best Bars)
HiBAR and Earthling are 100% plastic-free (even down to the paper packaging tape they use), and so is the Ultimate Body Bar (although other products by 100 Senses come in plastic bottles).
100 Senses’ and Earthling Co.’s bars are vegan, as are most of HiBAR’s (except for their Maintain bar, which contains a trace of honey).
Tie breaker: Of the three brands, The Earthling Co. is the only one that’s a member of 1% For The Planet, and is certified carbon-neutral.
Plastic-Free Hair Ties
Most hair ties are made of synthetic, petroleum-based rubber – so every time you lose one, it’s another piece of plastic pollution. But these hair ties from Terra Ties are made of organic cotton and natural rubber, which makes them biodegradable.
And they’ve become my absolute favorite because they don’t cut off the blood flow when I keep them on my wrist!! They’re just a tiiiny bit larger (instead of being designed for a child’s wrist, as others apparently are) and also a little thicker.
After years of putting new hair ties around my fattest lotion bottles to stretch them out, these have been such a welcome discovery. (Am I the only one who does that?)
I’d still use them even if they weren’t the more sustainable option.
Less-Waste Face Wash Options
This was the hardest category for me to get started with, because… it’s my face. I’ve had such trouble with persistent acne (it’s moderate… but still annoying) and dry skin that I was reluctant to mess with my skin care routine. (Even though it wasn’t really working – I just didn’t want to make things worse.)
But I’ve come up with three options that actually make my skin better:
- Surprisingly great face wash bars,
- a refillable glass bottle and,
- a recyclable plastic bottle from a company that actually makes sure its packaging can be recycled.
… And one philosophy: We don’t have to be perfect.
Even if you use a plastic-free option in the morning and your go-to face wash in a plastic bottle in the evening, that’s progress! It’s 50% less plastic, so start with that and feel good about it.
1. The Face Wash Bars
Even though they’re the most sustainable option, I was really reluctant to try face wash bars. I assumed they were either heavy, home-made formulas that would clog up my pores, or regular soap that would dry out my skin.
But I’ve since tried three options that have mostly proven that idea wrong:
- First, Ethique sent me a few samples of their face wash bars, and they’ve changed my attitude toward the “need” for a liquid face wash!
After using up the sample size of their Deep Green bar (a “solid face cleanser for normal to oily skin”), which lasted more than a month, I’m really impressed! It lathers well, smells subtly orange-y, is not drying, and isn’t making me break out. (Their Bliss bar on the other hand, which is more moisturizing, did make me break out… for a month.)
The New Zealand-based brand is a longtime sustainability superstar: They’re completely carbon-neutral, plastic-free, and palm oil-free. Plus, I love that they sell those sample packs (so you can try a variety of products if you’re not sure which one will work for you) and minis (for travel or for testing one product at a time). Most of their products are also available on their Amazon storefront.
Local alternatives (if you’re on this side of the ocean)
2. The Earthling Co., a small, Nevada-based company that makes my favorite shampoo & conditioner bars also makes two face wash bar formulas that I’ve been liking! I find both formulas slightly irritating if I get them in my eyes, but it’s pretty minor and they don’t give my skin any problems.
They’re also a carbon-neutral company and member of 1% For The Planet (and, of course, ship plastic-free).
Save 15% on any order from The Earthling Co. with any link here!
3. Another great option, which might be my new favorite, is the Coconut Charcoal Purifying Facial Soap from California-based Earth Harbor, which I find to be even more gentle and just as cleansing as the Earthling Co. bars.
Be warned – despite the name, it doesn’t smell like coconut. (It must be called that because it’s formulated with coconut oil, like most facial soap bars I’ve found.) It has more of a light herbal scent.
2. The Refillable Glass Bottle
My favorite back-up for the bars above, for when I just want a liquid face wash without the plastic bottle, is this “superfood cleanser” from Youth to the People. It’s really well-reviewed by tons of beauty bloggers – who aren’t necessarily even looking for sustainable products, but the brand is known for sustainability.
It’s made with kale and spinach extracts, and I love the bright, fresh smell (like a green smoothie), and how it lathers up, rinses off easily, and doesn’t dry out my sensitive skin.
Plus, it comes in an 8-ounce refillable glass bottle, and you can order a 16-ounce refill size without the plastic pump. (You can also start with a 2-ounce trial size.)
I just wish the refills came in light-weight milk cartons (like my Cleancult cleaning products do), instead of glass, which is heavier to ship. It’s not perfect, but switching between this and the bars above eliminates all the face washes in plastic bottles from my routine!
3. The Recyclable Option (Sort of)
Finally, if the options above don’t do it for you, Paula’s Choice does better than most companies when it comes plastic packaging + recycling.
2021 UPDATE: While I still think they’re a good company, I’m no longer quite satisfied with Paula’s Choice’s approach to packaging, as I explained in another post. That’s why I recommend starting with the first two face wash options, which are more sustainable + use less plastic.
Their Pore Normalizing Cleanser was one of the last plastic hold-outs in my skin care routine, before I found the two alternatives above. (I used to use a couple of different face washes from Clinique, but this is just as effective, and costs less.)
It’s formulated for acne, but very gentle with a low .5% salicylic acid content. (Higher concentrations of salicylic acid have never solved my acne problems anyway, and this isn’t my main solution for acne – that’s the niacinamide serum described below.)
Shopping Tip: Paula’s Choice also has a useful beauty “ingredient dictionary.” It cuts through the marketing jargon about what an ingredient actually does, how well it’s been tested, and whether it’s safe and worth trying.
What’s Sustainable about Paula’s Choice?
Paula’s Choice is cruelty-free, and all of their shipping materials are recyclable and minimal – brown paper cushioning instead of plastic, and most products don’t come with extra packaging like outer boxes (just the bottle with nothing else). Eliminated the outer boxes may seem like a small thing, but it’s actually less common than I expected.
But they do use plastic bottles, which goes against my goal of not buying any more products with single-use plastic packaging.
At least Paula’s Choice makes their packaging recyclable (and pays to make it more likely you actually can recycle it, no matter where you live) through a mail-in recycling program through TerraCycle.
Is it a long-term solution? No. Recycling isn’t the solution to our plastic problems; using less is.
But this is at least an effort by a company to do better than just expecting municipalities to fix the problem – because even in the best curbside recycling programs, not all plastic is recyclable.
So right now, I consider Paula’s Choice one of the best options for when you can’t find a plastic-free product that works for you.
Plastic-Free Acne Treatment, Serums & Moisturizers
Products from The Ordinary have significantly simplified my skin care routine, made it easier to take on the road, and actually stopped my acne for the first time since I was a teenager. Seriously. I hardly break out at all anymore.
They make a huge range of really affordable products, and finding formulas that work has allowed me to get off the beauty industry treadmill of always looking for a product that will actually do what it claims. (And accumulating more and more half-empty plastic bottles with each attempt.)
UPDATE: An alternative that I’ll be trying soon is the REFILLABLE skincare line from Activist Skincare. Yep, that’s right: Glass bottles for your first order, then refills in little pouches! Pretty much ideal for sustainable packaging, and I’ll let you know here how the formulas work. (In the meantime, if you want to try them with me, you can use the code TILTEDMAP50 for 50% off their 2-week trial kit.)
Acne Fixer: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
I probably shouldn’t say acne “cure,” but this has truly been a magic bullet for me. I’ve dealt with acne well into adulthood (nothing severe, but constant and noticeable), and nothing I’d tried before fixed the problem.
Well, for me, this actually fixed the problem. The large bottle costs around $10 and lasts me three months. (Either size is small enough for carry-on packing, so I never order the small.)
Why I Recommend Ordering from Sephora:
A lot of brands like The Ordinary that don’t consider themselves “sustainable brands” or “clean beauty” brands aren’t available from the specifically eco-friendly retailers I normally recommend.
For these, Sephora is actually a good option because they do ship with minimal plastic packaging.
My last Sephora order arrived with no plastic except a strip of tape on the outside – which has to be removed for recycling!
You can also order directly from DECIEM, The Ordinary’s parent brand.
Other Serums from The Ordinary (in glass bottles)
I also swear by The Ordinary’s “Buffet with copper peptides.” It’s for anti-aging and just overall skin health, and I can tell the difference in how smooth and plump my skin looks when I stop using it.
Their AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is great for a (surprisingly gentle) exfoliating acid peel.
For hydration, what I pack depends on the climate where I’m traveling:
The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum is one of their most cult-famous formulas, and it’s great for hydration when you’re not in a dry climate (airplanes included!) because hyaluronic acid helps your skin absorb the moisture that’s already in the air. If the air is dryer than your skin, it can do the opposite and drain moisture from your skin.
For something in the middle, the Amino Acids + B5, leaves my skin looking all glowy – it’s a great one to use in for daytime under makeup or sunscreen. (I really have tried a lot their formulas, and these are my favorites!)
Moisturizer: The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + B5
The one plastic-packaged hold-out in my routine: I love this smooth, non-greasy moisturizer for morning and night. And it’s so inexpensive that when I travel I use it on my hands and body, too. So it’s now the only lotion I travel with – easy!
Travel Tip: Even for travel, just order the larger size – it’s 100 mL, so you can still pack it in your carry-on. You pay less per ounce and use less packaging per ounce. (Since one tube with 100 mL takes much less plastic than three tubes of 30 mL each… or 3.3333 tubes.)
What’s Sustainable about The Ordinary?
Most products from The Ordinary are packaged in glass bottles, not plastic. This is a step up because glass is infinitely recyclable (whereas plastic can only be remolded a certain number of times and is usually downcycled).
So if you live in a place with a glass recycling program, you can recycle the bottles the same way you recycle any other glass bottles (but not the plastic and rubber droppers).
And DECIEM (the parent company of The Ordinary) also has a recycling program through TerraCycle (like Paula’s Choice). But DECIEM’s is one of the few programs that lets you turn in any brand of beauty product packaging for recycling.
That’s a step in the right direction, but the program is drop-off only, and is only available in a few of DECIEM’s US stores – in San Francisco, Chicago and New York – and in some locations in the UK and Canada.
[More about how TerraCycle works in this post.]
Daily Mineral Sunscreen for the Face
Why mineral? Mineral sunscreen formulas are considered “reef-safe” generally meaning they don’t contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, which damage coral reefs. There are other concerns about chemical sunscreens for our own health, too. Plus, even if I’m not swimming to the ocean, all water sources are connected, so I’m switching all my sunscreens to mineral formulas.
It took me a lot of looking, but I’ve finally found a mineral sunscreen with minimal plastic packaging that I can use daily on my face without breaking out (or looking like a ghost).
Where I started: For a while, I was using this mineral sunscreen from Paula’s Choice. It is packaged in plastic, but my thought was that at least it was recyclable through the company’s TerraCycle program.
But after looking into TerraCycle a lot more, I realized I wasn’t satisfied with that solution.
So I kept searching, and found the brand new formula below (launched in fall 2021). I’m glad I did, because I like it much more!
THE BEST I’VE FOUND: Eclipse Sheer Mineral Sunscreen from Earth Harbor is my new favorite daily facial sunscreen. It’s comes in a unique (very pretty) pink frosted glass bottle with a pump, and Earth Harbor is a member of 1% For The Planet.
The formula is unscented, and feels almost like a rich cream that goes on very smoothly, without leaving a white cast!
It takes the place of my daytime moisturizer, and makes a nice, smooth base for makeup, with no greasiness.
Earth Harbor is also available from Earth Hero (I wish they would work on less confusing names!) where you can use the code TILTEDMAP10 to save 10%.
Reusable “Cotton” Swabs, Cotton Rounds & Tissues
I use all of them; the design and quality are top-notch. But the most important thing to know, as I described in detail in my full LastObject review, is that LastObject is the original brand in a market that’s been flooded by a sea of cheap knock-offs.
They also have a great approach to Black Friday: Instead of offering discounts, LastObject’s November initiative is to keep 2 lbs. of plastic out of the ocean for every product sold, through a partnership with Plastic Bank.
(Translation: If you’re waiting for a Black Friday discount to shop for gifts from LastObject, don’t.)
Use the discount code tiltedmap10 for 10% off any order from LastObject!
Alternatives for cotton rounds:
I haven’t tried these but I do like two things about them: They’re colorful, which would be helpful to keep from losing them, and as a reminder not to toss them in the trash! And there are more in a set (14, versus 7 LastRounds) so you don’t have to do laundry as often.
The Earthling Co. also makes reusable bamboo rounds that come in a pack of 20 and come with a washing bag. (I haven’t tried these either, but I love lots of other products from this company.)
You can also save 15% on anything from The Earthling Co. with any link on my blog (no discount code needed!).
Plastic-Free Dental Care! (Less-waste Floss, Toothpaste, Mouthwash & Toothbrushes)
Just like deodorant tubes, toothpaste tubes can’t be recycled, except through this TerraCycle program. But most people don’t know about that (myself included, until last week) and it’s not exactly convenient to mail your recyclables around the country. So most of them go to landfills.
And those indestructible little floss containers are too small to be sorted by recycling machines, so they can’t be recycled either. (And why build such a solid package anyway, if it’ll only be used for a couple of months??) Plus, normal floss is itself made of plastic!
Luckily I’ve found completely plastic-free options that I actually prefer to the drugstore brands:
After trying several brands, byHumankind makes my favorite refillable, plastic-free floss.
Their floss is smoother than other brands. (Including other brands that are waxed. But the others I’ve tried, including Bite don’t feel waxed – more thick and rough. It’s just a matter of preference, but for me byHumankind was the strong favorite.)
I also love byHumankind’s sleek and functional refillable case (in the picture below). Also unique to byHumankind is that when you order your floss refills (in unflavored, peppermint, or cardamom – my favorite), they come in simple, compostable and/or recyclable paper packaging.
An Alternative Floss:
byHumankind’s floss does contain silk, so it’s not vegan. So far, Bite’s unflavored floss is my favorite vegan option.
Toothpaste Tablets (even for sensitive teeth!)
I was skeptical about trying any kind of eco toothpaste, even if just to write a review and then quit, because I have such sensitive teeth.
(How sensitive? I can’t bite into ice cream without tears coming to my eyes, and I’ve had two oral surgeries attempting to fix it. So let’s just say my mouth is a good litmus test for whether something will cause sensitivity.)
And it works! Bite has become one of my absolute favorite plastic-free toiletry finds. The “bits” foam up just enough, and the flavor is minty, but not overpowering.
I’ve been using Bite twice a day for months, and my sensitivity has not gotten any worse. (For comparison, when I’ve used any normal toothpaste for even a day or two, I’ve noticed a painful difference.)
Because of the texture and taste, I now actually prefer Bite tablets to toothpaste in a tube. (It’s not just a compromise to buy a more sustainable product, and it’s not even an equal trade!)
Don’t forget to use the code tiltedmap10 for 10% off at Bite!
Why Bite for sustainability?
The entire company is 100% plastic-free. Your first order of toothpaste or mouthwash comes in a refillable glass jar and (deeply discounted) subscription refills arrive in compostable paper packaging.
Plus, no animal testing, no artificial flavors, sulfates, parabens or other fillers.
Alternatives for Toothpaste & Toothpaste Tablets:
I was so impressed with Bite that I got curious and started trying lots more brands. Bite has remained my overall favorite, but here’s my full review of Bite and other options.
My top alternatives in that review:
- byHumankind (if you want fluoride in your tablets, these are the best).
- Crush & Brush Mint Charcoal tablets from Nelson Naturals (for really big, fluoride-free tablets that foam up a lot).
- Nelson Naturals also makes several flavors of toothpaste in a glass jar that I like, as does Georganics. (For details on both, see my other review.)
You can save 10% at Nelson Naturals, too, with the code TILTEDMAP10.
Bite makes fresh-tasting mint mouthwash tablets that I think are the best on the market. They have all the same good-for-your-teeth ingredients as Bite’s toothpaste, and come in a refillable glass jar to use at home, with a matchbook-sized tin for travel. (Just like for their toothpaste, refills come in compostable paper packets.)
You pop one tablet in your mouth, chew it up (don’t swallow), and take a sip of water to swish. I was skeptical before trying them, but they work really well, and are perfect for packing light. (They’re more convenient than liquid since you can carry them around in your bag or even in your pocket with the tiny travel tin.)
I’ll never go back to liquid mouthwash!
And don’t forget the discount code tiltedmap10 for 10% off at Bite.
Alternatives for Plastic-free Mouthwash:
If you want something very gentle with no stinging, byHumankind’s mouthwash is a good alternative. It comes in a travel-friendly container that stores tablets in the lid and serves as a glass to dissolve them in.
And there are interesting flavors – lemon-mint, peppermint, ginger and cinnamon. I tried peppermint and found the flavor much lighter than Bite’s (a good kid-friendly option).
[More details about zero-waste mouthwash options in this review.]
Bamboo or Recycled Toothbrushes
Bamboo grows quickly without pesticides, artificial fertilizers, or much water. It’s also a powerful carbon sink, absorbing more CO2 from the air than almost any other plant.
So it’s considered a sustainable material – mostly when used in place of plastics or hardwoods (but not necessarily as a fabric, which requires a lot of chemical processing to create).
Instead of a disposable plastic toothbrush, you can add a 100% plant-based, bamboo toothbrush to your Bite order.
Or choose from several options from Earth Hero, including toothbrushes made of either bamboo or recycled plastic.
On either site, save 10% with the code tiltedmap10 !
Plastic-Free Lip Balm
The Earthling Co. makes a lip balm I really like that comes in a cardboard tube – no plastic! It’s almost identical to Burt’s Bees’ classic peppermint balm, but with fewer ingredients (nothing but organic beeswax, organic coconut oil and peppermint essential oil).
Save 15% at The Earthling Co. with this link.
UPDATE (summer 2021): Earthling’s lip balm is currently out of stock, because they’re updating the formula to make it vegan.
In the meantime, here are some plastic-free lip balm alternatives:
They both also carry lots of other products – zero-waste, plastic-free, alternative, organic, vegan… you name it.
From Earth Hero, use the code tiltedmap10 for 10% off any order.
Plastic-Free Deodorant (Two Ways):
Deodorant packaging often isn’t recyclable in curbside recycling programs, and the fact that it’s always such heavy, solid plastic drives me crazy.
Luckily, there are two ways to do deodorant without single-use plastics: A sturdy, refillable plastic tube, or a compostable cardboard one.
1. The Best Refillable Option
The best refillable deodorant I’ve found is from byHumankind.
How does it work? Your first order comes in a hard plastic deodorant stick, similar to a disposable one, then your refills come in cardboard tubes that you insert into the plastic container. The subscription price makes each refill about $10, which isn’t bad for a high-quality, natural deodorant! Plus it lasts a really long time.
[See my detailed review of PAPR and byHumankind for more, including why byHumankind is more sustainable than other refillable options on the market.]
2. Even Better: Deodorant in Cardboard Packaging
byHumankind’s deodorant was one of my favorite discoveries of this entire plastic-free routine – until I found PAPR.
Both options are vegan and aluminum-free. But PAPR deodorant is completely plastic-free: It comes in a cardboard tube with no plastic whatsoever, reusable or otherwise.
Both are great products from really responsible companies, but after months of use, I prefer PAPR to byHumankind.
[For details, see my full review on the differences between the two brands.]
In short: I’ve found that PAPR deodorant leaves no white residue and it comes in really natural, fresh scents that I actually like (not just tolerate, like most drugstore deodorants).
Plus, you can’t beat the simplicity of compostable paper packaging for long-term travel: If you run out of deodorant, you don’t have to keep lugging around your refillable container – or feel bad about dumping more plastic waste, especially when traveling in developing countries that very often aren’t equipped to handle it.
You can save 15% on PAPR deodorants with the discount code MAP15 .
Period Care Sans Disposables
Over the past couple years, I’ve slowly stopped buying anything disposable for my period. Admittedly, both these products sound a little weird and like they might not work at all, but I give you my word that, at least for me, they do.
It took me a few periods of practice before I figured out how to position a menstrual cup comfortably, but now I’m convinced that my cramps are less intense using a cup than they were with tampons.
The Lena Cup works for me, but every brand has a different size, shape and firmness. This quiz is helpful to figure out which brand will fit you best.
Earth Hero sells a few other brands of menstrual cups, and of course, you get 10% off your order with the discount code tiltedmap10.
Even Easier: Thinx period underwear
Thinx makes lots of styles of underwear that absorb your flow. I know, it sounds weird and unlikely to be effective, but I’ve been truly impressed with them. They don’t leak, they don’t smell, and they don’t feel anything like a pad! And they’re very stealthy (they actually look and feel like normal undies).
[You can read more about how they work, how to take care of them, and differences between the styles in my full Thinx review.]
I was proud of myself for adapting to a menstrual cup instead of tampons, but honestly, period underwear are a way easier change and have become my go-to period product.
Travel Tip: When I’m traveling, I rinse my Thinx out in the sink, let them dry overnight if possible, and store them all in a laundry bag that I can throw in the wash whenever I get to a machine. (I always wash delicates in laundry bags anyway, as it keeps them in better shape longer. And they’re great for keeping dirty laundry separate in your suitcase!)
I use these bags for almost everything, including washing my Thinx. Or this bag is designed to filter microplastics, which break off of synthetic materials, ending up in waterways. (More about that in this review.)
There is also such a thing as washable pads and pantyliners, like these, that you attach around the gusset of normal underwear with snaps. But for me, Thinx just feel like a more elegant, simple solution.
Whichever kind you try, Thinx lets you test them for 60 days and if you’re not convinced you can get a refund, no questions asked.
Order through my Thinx ambassador page for $10 off your Thinx order, whether it’s your first order or not!
Plastic-Free Shaving – But Not Quite with a Safety Razor
A safety razor was the biggest, scariest (bloodiest) plastic-free toiletry swap I’ve made. It’s genuinely not for the faint of heart, despite what you may have read in reviews that make safety razors sound “easy.”
But safety razors are inherently plastic-free. The only thing to replace is the stainless steel blade, which is entirely recyclable. (You either take them to a sharps collection point, or use some kind of “blade bank” so that the people working at recycling facilities don’t get sliced.)
The Best Safety Razor Brand (Hands Down)
Leaf makes a unique razor design that combines the best of both worlds: The convenience of a cartridge-style razor, and the sustainability of recyclable, 100% metal blades.
Leaf’s original design is best for shaving large areas (like legs). Their other design, the Twig, is more like a traditional safety razor and is better more for detail work and small areas (like the face).
Of course, these options are all unisex – any safety razor works for any gender.
Both will undoubtably save money in the long-run. (When you think about plastic cartridges, like mine from Venus, costing several dollars each, while replacement blades for these cost just a few cents.)
And either would make a great sustainable gift that should last a lifetime for someone who’s trying to quit plastic!
One thing to remember for travel: While technically you can’t pack safety razor blades in your carry-on, I have gotten away with going through airport security several times already. (No questions asked.) But if you don’t want to take the risk, keep your stash of cartridge razors exclusively for travel.
Finally, these aren’t exactly travel toiletries, but if you’re planning to stay in Airbnbs or otherwise do your own laundry while traveling, laundry strips from the Canadian start-up TruEarth are a must. (They’re what I use at home, as well as on the road.)
TruEarth is the most eco-friendly laundry detergent I’ve found so far. They ship you enough super-concentrated detergent for 32 loads in a package only slightly thicker than a normal envelope!
If you want more details, you’ll find them in my post about all the plastic-free laundry and cleaning products I tested!
Use the discount code TEMap10 for 10% off any TruEarth order!
Questions? Ideas for other sustainable brands to check out? Drop them in the comments below, get in touch on Instagram, or email me!
Looking for more? Check out my other sustainable product reviews:
- Sustainable Gift Ideas!
- Safety razor review and comparison (PLEASE read this one before spending money on safety razors!)
- Details on my favorite shampoo & conditioner bars (from Earthling Co.)
- Lots of other shampoo & conditioner bars I’ve tested
- PAPR vs. byHumankind deodorant review
- Thinx period underwear review
- Several brands of toothpaste tablets (some great, some never-again)
- LastObject products: Q-tips, cotton pads & tissues – and tips on how to avoid greenwashing (AKA fake-sustainable companies)
- The best cleaning & laundry products, sans plastic
- Everything I learned in a master’s degree in sustainability!