Many of us are aware of the havoc plastics are causing the environment and our health. This is especially so for single use plastics.
One of the ways we can reduce this negative impact on the environment is to opt for plastic free shampoo. Read on for alternatives to conventional plastic bottles as well as plastics in shampoo itself.
Plastics in shampoo
But wait! There’s plastic in our shampoo? While shampoo in plastic bottles is the norm most of us grew up with, this is not where the plastic stops when it comes to shampoo, conditioners and other hair care products.
Many products contain ‘microbeads’, which are extremely small pieces of plastics that are engineered to help exfoliate and help remove dead skin cells.
Microbeads and the environment
The microbeads that are in our shampoo and conditioner wash down the drain when we’ve showered. They then end up polluting freshwater and marine environments.
Microbeads have been found in deep oceanic water, ground water, remote lakes and even in drinking water. Harmful chemicals attach themselves to the microbeads when they are in the environment and when it is ingested, ends up in our bodies.
It is hard to clean up microbeads as they are extremely small in size. The best and most effective way to get rid of microplastic pollution is to stop it before it even enters the environment.
How to read your shampoo ingredient lists
One of the easiest ways to make sure that microbeads do not get into the environment is to stop using shampoos, conditioners or other hair care products that contain them.
However, most of us probably do not know which ingredients in shampoos are plastics. The long scientific names on labels make it even more confusing. Here are some common microbead ingredients that you want to avoid in your plastic free shampoo journey:
- Polyethylene (PE)
- Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
- Nylon (PA)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
- Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) – commonly found in hair sprays
Alternatives to plastic shampoo bottles
Here are some alternatives to purchasing conventional shampoos that comes in plastic bottles:
Buying shampoo and conditioner from bulk stores
Many bulk stores now have products such as shampoo and conditioners. All you have to do is bring your own container to make the purchase.
Doing this will definitely reduce the use of plastic bottles. Additionally, you can check out the other products that you can purchase free of packaging at your local bulk store.
Shampoo and conditioner bars
Shampoo and conditioner bars are getting more popular as more people are now conscious of how plastic harms the environment. You can now find shampoo and conditioner bars that are not only suitable for your hair type, but also you budget.
Using refillable bottles
While this is not common, there are some companies that will accept their bottles for cleaning and refilling.
Thus, when you buy shampoo or conditioner from them, you will be able to return the empty one when you purchase a new one. Plaine Products in the US is one such company that helps keep the environment clean by doing this.
You can also look out for products that are in glass bottles, reuse these bottles and lower your carbon footprint.
Soap nuts are actually dried berry shells that contain natural soap called sapanonin. They are native to the Himalayas, growing on the Sapindus mukorossi or Soap Berry tree. Soap nuts have been used for centuries to wash laundry and bodies and it’s a wonder that they’re only getting popular now.
Here’s how you can use this all natural, plastic free shampoo. Pour 500ml of boiling water on 9 to 10 soap nuts in a container. Allow the soap nuts to sit overnight. Remove the soap nuts and store the liquid in the fridge until it is ready. You can reuse the soap nuts a few times.
Use some of the liquid to wash your hair as you would using conventional shampoo. The liquid will not foam like shampoo but your hair will feel soft and clean.
Apple cider vinegar and Baking soda
You can try using apple cider vinegar or baking soda to wash your hair. For baking soda, mix two teaspoons with warm water. Lemon in water can also be used and is supposed to be food especially for blonde hair.
In place of conventional shampoo, you can try mixing some rye flour with water until it turns into a shampoo texture. Allow it to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes and then apply to your hair like conventional shampoo.
Rinse well and you’re all done. Do make sure not to use other types of flour as gluten will stick to your hair
Best plastic free shampoo
In addition to reducing the use of plastic bottles, here are some plastic free shampoo that are not only good for your hair but also help reduce the negative impact of microbeads on the environment.
As one of the brands leading the way in zero waste products in this industry, Lush’s shampoo bar lathers and distributes easily throughout hair and scalp, leaving hair silky and shiny after rinsing. One bar can last up to 80 washes which means it will last you a few months.
Ethique’s shampoo bar is made out of all natural ingredients, pH balanced, sustainable, vegan and plastic free. Ethique’s Heali Kiwi shampoo bar is the best choice if you’re dealing with dry scalp, dandruff or itchiness.
Green Planet Beauty
Green Planet’s Beauty shampoo and conditioner are not only plastic free but vegan and cruelty free. It contains argan oil, is SLS free and all natural ingredients. It comes in an aluminium bottle and tin that are both reusable and recyclable.
byHumankind’s plastic free shampoo bars are made with organic and all natural oils that are good for your hair roots. This gluten and sulfate free alternative comes in scents such as lemongrass and peppermint.
Meow Meow Tweet
Meow Meow Tweet’s bars not only smell heavenly, but are good for both hair and body! Made with natural and certified organic ingredients, Meow Meow Tweet’s shampoo bar is plastic free, palm oil free and fair trade. It comes with an eco friendly box that can easily be recycled.
Formulated with castor oil and aloe vera, Christophe Robin shampoo gives dry hair intense moisturization. Designed for frequent use, this shampoo bar will leave your hair feeling clean, soft and fresh.
Friendly Soap’s shampoo bar is sulphate free, paraben free, palm oil free and of course, plastic free. This vegan and biodegradable product is made from a cold press method and will leave your hair soft and frizz free.
Shampoo bars by Shea Moisture are sulfate free, cruelty free, plastic free, fair trade and made from natural ingredients. Their Coconut and Hibiscus Rhassoul Clay bar is specially designed for thick, curly hair. Unlike other clay bars, this one does not leave you feeling waxy after you wash your hair.
J.R. Liggett’s shampoo bars are made of 100% vegetable oils, are cruelty free and palm oil free. In fact, it is one of the best 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner bars, leaving hair soft and silky after wash. It’s also one of the most cost effective choices available.
Chargin Valley’s coconut milk shampoo gives deep conditioning and moisture for dry hair and scalps. It works really well for detangling hair and smells really good as well!
One of the best ways to reduce single use plastics is to switch from conventional shampoos to plastic free shampoos.
Taking this step not only helps reduce plastic shampoo bottle wastage but also helps eliminate microbeads in the environment which can leach into the food chain when ingested by marine animals.
Switching from conventional liquid shampoo to plastic free shampoo is one of the easiest ways to reduce our carbon footprint!