Sustainable Personal, Home and Studio !


Sponges: Kitchen and personal care

Switching to eco-friendly sponges is a great step towards lowering your plastic waste.

Eco friendly sponges are made from natural fibers like those from coconut, hemp, wood, loofah, cotton, jute, agave (sisal). These are compostable and sustainable.


Soft sponges today are made from polyester and more abrasive ones are made from polyurethane. They are types of plastic.

We don’t need more plastic in our landfills and our environment to break down into smaller pieces of microplastics. They don’t degrade and we’re not exactly sure about the true damage they can do to our health.

So, it’s important to switch to biodegradable sponges.

What to look for when buying eco-friendly sponges

Sponge Material: Sponges should be made from natural materials and fibers that can biodegrade in compost bins. The materials should also be soft on hands, be able to absorb water and soap suds, and be able to dry quickly between each use.

Other Materials: The materials used to hold the sponge fibers together (if applicable) should also be made from compostable, recyclable or reusable materials like metal and wood.

Packaging: The sponges should come in sustainable and recyclable packaging like paper or cardboard.

How to look after your sponge alternatives

When sponges (like the plastic ones) stay wet for many hours, they become perfect hosts for bacteria, yeast, and mold.

Popping them in the microwave will kill some of these microbes; but not all! The resilient ones survive and they can get you sick.

The best way to look after your sponge is to keep them dry between each use. Without water, the microbes won’t be able to reproduce.

So, squeeze the sponges as much as you can and hang them over the sink to dry. You can also alternate between two or more sponges, giving each one time to dry properly and stay dry.

Boiling the sponges is another effective way to disinfect them.

Cleaning and sanitizing your eco-friendly sponges often will ensure they last longer than the plastic ones.

Best Eco Friendly Sponges

Coconut Fiber

Brown nuts are surrounded by thick layers of the fiber. So, if you can get your hands on a fresh unshelled coconut, take it. It’ll make enough eco friendly sponges for a year.

My parents and grandparents have washed their dishes with these fibers for many decades.

Pros: Free with a tasty coconut, organic, biodegradable, soft on hands, package-free, extracts of coconut fibers are antibacterial and anti-fungal

Cons: The fibers break up over time (you can see bits of fiber in the photo [left])

What to do at the end of its life:

Rinse and add them to the garden. Coconut fibers are used as natural potting mix.grow Orchids in them (my mom does this)


Tawashis

Tawashis are the Japanese term for scrubbers. Traditional ones are made with coconut or hemp fibers tied tightly together with wire. Newer versions can be made with fabric like repurposed socks.

Pros: Low cost, biodegradable or recyclable materials used, if coconut fibers are used, they are antimicrobial and soft on hands

Cons: May come in plastic packaging.

What to do at the end of its life: For traditional tawashis, remove and reuse the metal wire. Compost the fibers. For cloth tawashis, repurpose or compost the fabric

Loofah Scrubbers

The pieces can feel a little rigid when dry. Just add water to soften.

Pros: Low cost, biodegradable materials used, soft on hands when wet and dries quickly.

What to do at the end of its life: Disinfect and reuse as a skin exfoliator, add to compost bin


Cotton Scrubbers

Natural, biodegradable fabrics also make great eco friendly sponges for dishes and general cleaning.

Pros: low cost and biodegradable materials used. They are soft

great way to reuse old fabrics and tshirts (stitch the edges do they don’t fray)

Cons: Takes longer to dry than coconut fiber

What to do at the end of its life: Add to compost bin

Jute DIY Scrubbers

Jute is a natural fiber that is used to make string and burlap.

Pros: Low cost, jute is compostable. They are soft

What to do at the end of its life: Reuse as string and can compost

Make your own:

Fairyland Cottage has the best video for making a jute macramé that you can use as an eco friendly scrubber. It’s a great craft activity for the kids too.

Natural Brushes

Great for washing my dishes. They are sturdy and not made with plastic.

Pros: Wooden handles made from natural bamboo or beechwood, handles protect your hands from the soap, bristles are made from natural fibers like sisal which is derived from a type of agave plant.

Cons: Wooden handles may split if left soaking in water, some bristles may fall off

What to do at the end of its life: Compost


Other Eco Friendly Options


Microfiber dish clothes. They are so absorbent. Lots of brands available.

These cloths from Superscandi are made with compostable, natural materials like cotton and cellulose wood pulp. Even the packaging is plant-based and biodegradable.

They are certainly about that zero waste life!


PERSONAL CARE

Eco Friendly Self Care Ideas to Unwind and Relax (suzigardnerphotography.com)


We’ve become much more conscious of what we put into our bodies. It’s easy to find organic food up and down the aisles of your local grocery store. With all the attention we put into keeping the chemicals out of our food, we sometimes don’t think about the other ways our body absorbs harmful toxins: through our skin. Below is a guide to alternatives.


DEODORANTS

The jury is still out on whether deodorant increases your chances of breast cancer, dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease. We do know aluminum build-up in the body will cause dementia; however, this is from aluminum that has been ingested. Aside from aluminum, there are other chemicals in deodorant, so you can take your chances, or you can make the switch to something natural. Now, I’ll be honest: I’ve tried many natural deodorants and have had little luck finding ones that work…until now. Check out these natural deodorant and anti-perspirant alternatives:

Native, founded in San Francisco, never uses aluminum, parabens, or sulfates in their deodorant. In fact, there’s nothing in their list of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, and they never test on animals. With almost 9,000 reviews, they’ve received a 4.5 star rating (out of 5). And they offer interesting scents you won’t find from other deodorants, like charcoal, cucumber & mint, and blackberry & green tea.

Blissoma specializes in care for demanding skin types. If you suffer from extremely sensitive skin, allergies, or other skin problems, they can help. Every product they make contains certified organic botanicals, bioavailable vitamins, essential fatty acids, and skin-soothing seed oils. Their products are also cruelty-free, certified vegan, and made in-house in the U.S. Blissoma makes deodorants sprays for medium protection and deodorant sticks for strong protection.


BODY WASH

Thesis is a family-run business dedicated to the development of natural and organic products. Nothing in their products is synthetic or chemically processed (some products you have to shake well before use) and they package in eco-friendly apothecary glass containers. They have an Exotic Patchouli Shower Gel infused with Aloe Vera and hemp oil. For those of you that don’t enjoy the smell of patchouli (I’m one of you), they have an unscented version, as well.

SHAMPOOS AND CONDITIONERS

Avalon Organics makes a line of hair-care products that are formulated with organic botanicals and essential oils. The line contains no GMO’s, harsh sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances/colors, or parabens. Avalon products are NSF/ANSI 305 certified, vegan, and cruelty-free. They have a vast array of shampoos and conditioners for all hair types to choose from.

Another brand to try is Lather. Lather is a carbon-neutral business that uses EcoPure in their packaging, recycled materials, and soy-based inks. And their products are free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances and colors. They make hair washes, crème rinses, conditioners, and repair products, among other things.

STYLING SPRAY

Traditional hairsprays are loaded with harmful chemicals, and many of them test on animals. Furthermore, adding styling products to hair and then using hot styling tools that heat the chemicals releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be breathed in. Style Sea Salt Spray is a great alternative to chemical hairsprays.

This styling spray by BEAUTYCOUNTER is suitable for all hair types. Made with Himalayan pink salt and red algae extract, the spray restores shine and enhances curls, giving your hair that beachy look. The majority of the packaging this product comes in is recyclable. The company also prohibits the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and bisphenol A (BPA) in their product packaging to prevent these chemicals from leaching into the product. Customer reviews have earned the Style Sea Salt Spray 4.5 stars.

HAIR REMOVAL

If you shave, you should consider replacing your disposable plastic razors with a durable, reusable safety razor. Albatross Designs makes a beautiful razor called the Flagship Butterfly. It creates zero plastic waste and they have the Albatross Blade Take Back Program which will take both your Albatross blades or non-Albatross blades! They also sell a shaving soap made with responsibly-sourced, plant-based oils.

For those of you that prefer to wax, try MOOM. MOOM makes organic, 100% natural hair removals waxes and wax strips. And the best part is they make products for women and men and they make products for different areas of the body: Bikini & Brazilian and Face & Eyebrows, for example.

SKIN CARE

The cosmetic industry is highly unregulated. Many of the thousands of chemicals found in skin care products are known skin irritants, skin penetrators, endocrine disrupters, and are carcinogenic. It’s time to trade in your traditional skin care line for something natural. After all, cultures around the world have been using natural ingredients for skin care for centuries, why not you? Here are two great options with two different price points:

Kahina Giving Beauty offers an eco-friendly alternative to skin care without compromising on the luxury. Native Moroccan Argan oil and other high-quality ingredients from around the world are used to make skin care products here in the U.S. The line’s ingredients natural and organic ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced. The company pays the Berber women of Southwest Morocco who extract the argan oil fare wages. Also, a percentage of the company profits is donated to programs that improve the lives of these women and their families.

Tata Harper uses 300+ ingredients from over 68 countries to create complex skin care formulas. The company uses intense concentrations of the most effective ingredients, and every product is free from GMO’s, toxins, fillers, artificial colors and fragrances, and synthetic chemicals. Products are made in small batches with a batch number etched onto the bottle that you can trace to see how fresh your product is.

A few other great skin care companies to check out: Georgette Klinger, Indie Lee, and Clark’s Botanicals.

SUN PROTECTION

Drunk Elephant makes two sunscreens: Umbra Sheer and Umbra Tinte. The company does use some synthetic ingredients in their products; however, you won’t find “toxins,” sensitizers, and irritants on their ingredient list. They stay away from what they call the “Suspicious 6:” essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical screens, fragrances/dyes, and SLS. Both their sunscreens are SPF 30, but the Umbra Tinte has a hint of tint for a glowing finish.

Sun Bum makes sunscreens that are reef-safe for those of you that like to snorkel or dive. The NOAA has determined that sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinate are harmful to coral reefs. Sun Bum has neither of these ingredients in their product. They are also paraben free, PABA free, oil free, fragrance free, petroleum free, and cruelty free.

FACE MASKS

Cocokind makes a customizable chlorophyll mask. The antioxidant-rich mask is made from four ingredients: organic spirulina powder, organic wheatgrass powder, organic chlorella powder, and organic ylang ylang oil. It comes in powder form, allowing you to mix it with whatever carrier you want: water, milk, yogurt, honey, rosewater, or whatever your skin needs.

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay is bentonite clay from Death Valley, California. The mask removes dirt and impurities from the pores without using additives, fragrances, or animal products, The product is 100% bentonite clay. To use the mask, you must mix the dry, powdered clay with equal parts water or 100% raw apple cider vinegar.

COSMETICS

Makeup is chock full of bad chemicals: plastic microbeads, parabens, and triclosan…just to name a few. Aside from the chemicals found in makeup, the packaging is almost always made from plastic, and most packaging can’t be recycled.

Kari Gran, an eco-friendly beauty brand, uses naturally-derived, organic, wild-harvested, non-GMO ingredients in their hand-poured makeup. Their products also don’t contain petrochemicals, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, chemical additives, known toxins, preservatives, or synthetic fragrances. They make foundation, blush, eye shadow, concealer, and lip color (among other things.

Another great brand to try is RMS Beauty. RMS products contain raw, food-grade, and organic ingredients. Their packaging is minimal, and all of it is biodegradable, recyclable, or reusable. They have a great selection of products for the face, lips, and eyes.

PERFUMES

Perfumes contain harsh chemicals and artificial scents that can be bad for your skin. Many women opt out of perfumes for essential oils. That’s a great alternative, but there are some eco-friendly perfumes out there you don’t need to feel guilty wearing.

Earth Tu Face Jasmine Balm is a handmade botanical perfume that comes in a seashell! The company infuses pure flower oils of Jasmine Grandiflorum and Jasmine Sambac with safflower oil and raw, unfiltered beeswax. They’ve also added in 100% plant-derived vitamin E to nourish the skin. They carry two other scents, as well: Leaves + Wood and Geranium + Vetiver.

Pour le Monde makes three all natural perfumes. Part of the profit from their eu de parfums go to charity. Each scent donates to a different charity. Together is a light floral scent with lemon, bergamot, jasmine, violet, and lilac. Together helps Cancer Support Community and Gilda’s Club. Envision, an oriental, unisex scent, helps the National MS Society; and Empower, a citrus, unisex scent benefits Guiding Eyes for the Blind and Heeling Autism.

Brite Homes is committed to promoting a responsible, eco-friendly lifestyle. We build energy-efficient, solar-powered homes across the state of Florida. Together, we can make a difference and hand over a better planet to our children. If you know of other amazing eco-friendly products, please let us know. We would love to hear from you.


TOOTHPASTE

Hello makes oral care products from responsibly-sourced ingredients and materials, from sustainable bamboo and stevia to boxes made from 100% recycled paper printed with soy-based ink. Their toothpastes are free of dyes, artificial sweeteners/flavors, parabens, triclosan, microbeads, and gluten. They’re also vegan and cruelty-free. Try their new activated charcoal whitening toothpaste.

Jāsön makes one of the best natural whitening toothpastes I’ve ever tried. The Powersmile whitening paste in powerful peppermint contains bamboo powder (to gently scrub teeth), calcium carbonate and baking soda (for whitening), and grapefruit seed and perilla seed extracts (to fight sugar acids).


TOOTHBRUSHES Top of Form

Bottom of Form


The best zero waste, eco-friendly toothbrushes are chewing sticks. They are 100% organic, biodegradable and provide comparable cleaning to bristle toothbrushes. Other eco friendly options are made with bamboo and nylon (plastic) bristles

Packaging is another important factor to look at. You don’t want that hard plastic packaging. Recyclable and biodegradable paper products are more environmentally friendly.

If you want to be completely zero waste though, maybe it’s time to embrace the ways of rural communities in the world and


TOOTHBRUSHES

Most eco friendly toothbrushes are made with bamboo.

Now, bamboo grows really quickly so it is certainly a sustainable material. It is still technically a wood product so you will need to keep your toothbrushes dry when not in use.

Isshah Natural Bamboo Charcoal Toothbrush


They are made with biodegradable bamboo.

Even the packaging is made with recycled, biodegradable craft paper.

The bristles are nylon, so there is some plastic here. The company says it makes up 5% of the brush.

5% plastic is still so much better than 100%. Wouldn’t you agree?

The bristles are carbon treated so you get that charcoal effect and benefits. And the brush itself is cruelty-free, vegan and BPA free.

Since the bristles are made with the same material you are accustomed to, you know they are soft and won’t fall off anytime soon.

GoWoo Natural Bamboo Eco Friendly Toothbrushes


These are made with bamboo and their packaging is also biodegradable and recyclable.

As for their bristles, they are made with 38% nylon and 62% castor oil.

That makes them bio-based bristles since they are predominately made of castor oil.

Still, with nylon, these toothbrushes do contain some levels of plastic.

Terra Futura Bamboo Ergonomic Toothbrush


Terra Futura is all in when it comes to eco friendly toothbrushes.

Their brushes are made with sustainable bamboo and their packaging material is recyclable, biodegradable & compostable.

Their bristles are made with nylon, but they are BPA free. And they’re ergonomically shaped for a different brushing experience.

Nuduko Kids Bamboo Toothbrush


If you are interested in smaller toothbrushes or fun toothbrushes for the kids, then try out these from Nuduko.

Much like the other eco-friendly toothbrushes in this list, these are made with bamboo and have nylon bristles. They also come in recyclable paper packaging.

CHEWING STICKS

1. Hibiscus Chewing Stick

You can buy a plant and put in your garden if you wish or buy these.

If you have the plant - cut a small twig, remove the leaves, clip both ends and rinse the branch.

Strip one side of the twig to remove the outer ‘skin’ of the branch. This will reveal the fibers of the plant.

Chew these fibers until they separate and become like a brush.


2. liquorice root chewing sticks.

3. Neem Chewing Stick


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