Deodorant and shaving equipment – zero waste or recycling?
Previously, I have had a look at shampoo and soaps and dental care. I consider those two to be absolute essentials, especially when it comes to taking care of your teeth. The best way is probably this: minimise and not get stressed if it is not absolutely zero waste, for even if you do make some of your personal care products yourself there will be some waste, even if it just cardboard. But every little bit may help towards minimising plastic waste and the exposure to chemicals in your daily pampering routine 🙂
Deodorants and shaving equipment are another source of excess plastic waste in our bathrooms. Apart from single-use razors (which I will come to later), there is also the problem of aerosol cans, both for spray-on deodorants and ready-made shaving foam. A lot of the containers include different types of material such as plastic and aluminium (about 40%) or plastic and tinplated steel (about 60%) which makes them more difficult to recycle. Think of a typical aluminium spray bottle with a plastic cap and a small dip tube and valve you need to depress for the airflow. All of these components need to be extracted for the recycling process, and you can help by separating these parts prior to it. They also need to be empty. If there is anything left in them they need to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Unfortunately, some of these cans still end up in landfill where they will remain long after you have shuffled off this mortal coil. And your children. And your grandchildren. And for many generations to come.
The biggest problem with a lot of our waste, such as plastics and nuclear waste, is that they are here to remain, as far as we are able to assess at the moment, forever.
There are certain guidelines you will need to check to have them recycled properly. The best thing is though to minimise their use as much as possible, although some progress has been made, as the assessment of the European Aerosol Federation shows.
Along with the masses of spray bottles come bucketloads of used plastic roll-ons. These are probably the lesser of two evils but we are still faced with a recycling problem. Fair enough if a glass bottle is used to hold the liquid, but the little revolving ball to apply the deodorant on to your armpits is still made from plastic. The same problem occurs: once again we have two different types of material which are difficult to be separated and therefore returned and be used for something else. So, try and reuse as much as you can and look out for other options which I will discuss below.
Chemicals in deodorants
Some of them, such as triclosan, uncertified fragrance and aluminium can be particularly harmful. The potential health hazards are fairly well-known. However, with our recent heightened climate change awareness (thanks to Extinction Rebellion and many other active local groups) I had a closer look at aerosols and what they do to us and our environment.
What is the problem with aerosols?
The confusion around this term is due to its use in the media during the 1980s and 1990s when spray cans releasing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) into the air were a serious problem as it created the ozone hole. Despite the reduction in CFC-free aerosols, VOC’s are still emitted every time you spray. They contain hydrocarbon and compressed gasses and thereby contribute to ground-level ozone levels which can lead to asthma-inducing smog.
Aerosols are tiny particles in the air that can occur when we burn different types of fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, wood and biofuels which can gather on your windows as soot, especially if you live in big cities. The main contributor is cars and factories. When scientists refer aerosols they more specifically mean “atmospheric particulate”. Interestingly, aerosols have even slowed down the rise in global temperatures. The real threat occurring from them is that they put our planet’s radiative balance out of adjustment. According to a new MIT study published in Geophysical Research Letters, they may be altering rainfall. NASA explains how aerosols can affect the rain:
“Aerosols are thought to suppress precipitation because the particles decrease the size of water droplets in clouds. However, under some environmental conditions, aerosols can lead to taller clouds that are more likely to produce lightning and strong downpours. In a few places, meteorologists have even detected a cycle in which the frequency of thunderstorms is connected to mid-week peaks in aerosol emissions.”
So, what are your options?
A lot of people will say natural deodorants just won’t work. Are there any natural deodorants that are strong enough? As it is, there are lots of fabulous natural deodorants in tins or cardboard tubes available nowadays, in a range of wonderful scents or fragrance-free. It is therefore fairly easy to do your plastic-free and aerosol-free swap in this sector. And they do work pretty well to regulate your perspiration.
Here are some of the ones I have tried:
- Faith in Nature: These still involve a lot of plastic but you can buy refill cases which allows you to keep the top with the roll-on ball. These are also pretty handy for refilling when you make your own, as featured in my recent recipe article. The ingredients are free from Parabens and SLS, but although they are certified as 100% natural, this does not mean organic. It isn’t clear where the glycerin (palm oil-based??) originates from either.
- Earth conscious: This one really ticks all the boxes. No plastic. Made on the Isle of Wight (although this won’t help any American, European or Southern Hemisphere readers as this will still cover air miles, sorry!). They also include pledges for an ethical policy and donate to the Marine Conservation Society. What more are you looking for? Oh, yes, it works very well too, is kind on your skin and no nasties will find their way through your pores into your system 🙂 Find out more here.
- Salt of the Earth: Also very good and widely available through different retailers. They could improve their packaging though (still too much plastic for my taste). They also include effective crystal deodorants in their range. Another good point is that they manufacture in the UK (yes, this only helps if you live around here) and they are currently working on optimising their packaging. Read more about their ethos here.
For more inspiration and brands to try, look here.
If you want to take it a step further, you can also make it yourself, check out my post on this. It is based on bicarbonate of soda and coconut oil.
I have written something about shaving in one of my former posts when I first started my bathroom clear-out so I’ll keep this brief. Making your shaving routine more eco-friendly is very easy too.
Disposable plastic razors fuel our throw-away economy as much as any other and are a prime example of unnecessary single-use plastic. The old fashioned safety razor actually gives you a closer, cleaner shave and replacement blades are almost always cheaper than the disposables you find on the high street.
Peace with the Wild has a wonderful range of plastic-free and eco-friendly products to choose from – and it’s not all about shaving!
I have included one of them in my travel kit. There is no need for gendered designs, like pink razors apparently far better shaped for the female leg. If you want to continue to believe that nonsense, don’t listen to me. Otherwise, try and pare down to the minimum. It is all you need.
Happy waste-reduced and aerosol-free shaving and spraying (if you must 😉