We have a TerraCycle recycling program for personal care items going on now in our hometown, Kansas City!
As you collect your waste from toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss containers, mouthwash containers, deodorant, and shaving, notice how much waste you produce!
Even if it’s recycled, there is still the energy usage for manufacturing these containers in the first place, the carbon impact from creating their packaging, and the fuel consumption in shipping.
Paying attention to the amount of waste you produce is just one way to make a difference. Incorporating this awareness into all aspects of your life is vital but only if you also step up to other forms of action that can have an even broader impact. This article from the World Wildlife Fund, 10 Things You Can Do To Help Save Our Planet , can boost the impact of your actions to the next level!
So what can you do to go “Zero-Waste” with personal care?
Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with any of this. Start with one product that makes sense to you and gradually your understanding (and patience!) will shift so you can take your changes deeper as you are ready.
First, think about your dental, deodorant, and shaving waste in the context of the
- Reconnect to Nature
- What ingredients are used in the products you purchase? Can you pronounce the names of the ingredients? Do the aromas smell natural and healthy or is there a chemical odor? Are there any studies that show concerning links between the ingredients and health issues?
- Respect all Life
- Are the products manufactured by a company that takes time to certify their products as fair trade and fairly sourced?
- Regreen our Planet
- Does the manufacturer give back to the planet in some way? Through environmental initiatives, philanthropy, or through sourcing only organic and sustainably sourced plants and minerals?
- Revamp our Spending
- Do you really need it? Or are you buying the item out of habit?
- Review the types of certifications and memberships of the products according to their corporate responsibility initiatives. Is the company a Certified Benefit Corp or a member of 1% For the Planet?
- Replenish our Resources
- Does the company have recycling, composting, or take-back initiatives to reduce waste from their products?
Granted, some of these questions are almost impossible to answer – so start with the manufacturer’s website. If they are proud of the initiatives they are taking to support a healthy environment, they will most certainly advertise it on their website!
So what can you do to reduce your personal care waste?
The most important first step is to become mindful of what you purchase and what materials you have left when the product is used up.
Can you get the product in a zero-waste container? Can you make it yourself and store it in your own containers? Is there a local manufacturer or crafts-person who makes this product where you could turn your used containers back into them for re-use? Locally made deodorant, for example, for sale at your favorite Farmers’ Market?
Are there products you use, like toothbrushes, that are either made from sustainable materials like bamboo, or that have replaceable heads that are recyclable?
It can get complicated when you understand the nuances of where the raw materials are sourced and the amount of energy that is used in the manufacturing processes. What do you know about their packaging or the carbon footprint of their shipping processes?
Here are links to some sites that will give you pointers and fresh ways to think about the personal-care items in your life. What solutions would work for you?
Environmental Working Group, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.
My Plastic-Free Life by Beth Terry, author of Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too (Skyhorse).
From the Sierra Club:
- Green Dentistry Week: Homemade Toothpaste
- Search on “Toothpaste”
- 3 DIY Toiletries You Can Make At Home
Join a local or national Zero Waste group such as Zero Waste Nerd.
In the Kansas City area
- The local Facebook group Zero Waste KC is very active and helpful.
- Contact Bridging the Gap’s Recycle programs or Recycle Spot to learn more about what you can recycle and the best way to dispose of items that cannot be recycled.
- Contact Johnson County Kansas’s Environmental Division about Recycling Centers on the Kansas side of the state line.
Do an internet search for the personal care products you use, using “Zero Waste …” such as “Zero Waste shaving cream”, “Zero Waste razor”, or “Zero Waste deodorant”.
And then see what simple steps you can make to shift your focus to more sustainable products and to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill.