Blog post 10: Ecological personal hygiene

For personal hygiene, there are many changes possible; you can test them one by one 😉

What do I use? I use palmarosa essential oil for deodorant, washable pad cloth, baking soda for toothpaste (since few days), hard soap for hands and body and refill of liquid shampoo at the zero waste shop, and papier-cotton ear sticks. New bamboo toothbrush are ordered to be tested.

Picture (from left to right, up to bottom): menstrual cups, bamboo toothbrush and baking soda, peppermint-like hard toothpaste, cotton-paper ear stick, palmarosa essential oil, hard soap (with a condom drawn on it… receive at a AIDS conference many years ago, hihihi), and washable pad cloth.

Toothbrush: There are now many brands (and “fake copies”) of bamboo toothbrushes. I tried the “humble brush” and the “hydrophil”. Unfortunately, I’ve switched back to a classical (plastic) toothbrush. The ‘hairs” of the toothbrush are a little but too hard for my gums and they suffer of it. I want to give another try with the “toothbrush Bam Boo”. They propose “soft” toothbrushes. (Update Oct 2019: Bam Boo is as hard as the other ones…)

For the Dutch speaking, you can read the excellent blog of “Ma vie en vert” (she has two post on toothbrushes: 1st post and update).

Toothpaste: Here again, there are many options and I’ve tried some of them. Many DIY toothpaste require some preparation time (just what we want to avoid, he?) and some “exotic products” as coconut oil (not so ecological at the end…).

We bought the “lolly toothpaste”: you just have to go over it with your wet toothbrush. It is not foamy, so you have to get used to it. There are different taste. The one I tried, were not tasting very good…I was literally feeling sick of it.  We also tried the “candy toothpaste”: it looks like a small mint and you have to bite on it until it gets a paste. Then you can brush your teeth. I’m not fan of this neither (and I came in a tick plastic packaging…). But if you travel a lot it is very easy! You might find it without packaging at a zero waste shop.

For the purpose of the blog post, I decided to start using baking soda (commercial toothpaste have been proven better than toothpaste not containing baking soda by scientifics). It feels you are emptying completely your salivary glands in 2 seconds 😉 It cleans theeth very well (my theeth feels so smooth!); but you might want to try it for few weeks if you have sensitive gums. You can use it as it is; or add some peppermint extract or peppermint essential oil (if you limit the amount of essential oil, your toothpaste will be cheaper than a regular toothpaste). It is quite salty… but you get used to it. An if you prefer a paste, add little by little some water and mix well.

Deodorant: I only use a drop of palmarosa oil. I wrote on it here.

Reusable pad cloth: I love it! I use those from “Eco Femme”. Why? Because it is a social project for women empowerment in India, it saves a lot of waste… and the push button (to keep it in place in your uderware) is very thin (… if you bike every day it might be more comfortable). The cons: it comes from India… but yes… one makes choices… I’ve about 12 pieces (3eur per piece). But the quality is excellent.

Menstrual cup: there you also have a lot of choice. Big of small (according to your flow). And with different end… up to you… I like better the one with the small “button” end (blue one on the picture). The longer end felt uncomfortable to me.

I also read about menstrual underwear: a underwear keeping the menstruation without leaking or stinking…I didn’t try it, but find it a cool idea  😉

Ear stick: you can find quite easily bamboo or paper ear sticks with cotton at the end. Check at a bio/zero waste shops. I guess it will arrive (if not yet) in supermarket sooner or later. You can also use reusable sticks from inox or bamboo (e.g. oriculi). It looks like a mini spoon. But if you need time to changes your habits, as I do, you can start with the paper/cotton ear stick (it is more expensive in the long term, though).

Washable face scrub: yes, it does exist too. Either from cotton, Hemp or bamboo. Or if you can sew, just make some with old towels.

Soap and shampoo: I started with refilling my old bottles at the bio shop. But when I heard that the plastic packaging was not reused (OK, 1 big container of 20L is still better than 30 small bottles), I promised myself to look for an alternative. So I switched to hard soap…. Great. You can probably even promote local fabrication (Belgium: check one of my old flatmate new hobby/job). For Shampoo, I tried hard shampoo (2 different brands)… but I don’t like it. With long hair, I don’t get it everywhere and I don’t like the feeling of it in my hair. So I’m still refilling my bottle once in a while. I read about people using eggs, vinegar, not washing at all… But I’m not so far yet. Bu I succeeded to train my scalp to be less greasy (washing now every 3 or 4 days instead of every other day! When the become greasy, I rinse my hair with water only).

Good luck!

Anali