Health & Hygiene
Our hygiene is vital to a healthy life, however, the industries that provide us with hygiene “essentials” have tricked many of us into believing we need more and more chemically-laden products in order to keep ourselves smelling fresh and looking clean.
Hygiene is a lot simpler than current day society leads us to believe. If there was a basic formula for perfect hygiene it would be summarized as: wash your hands after using the restroom and before cooking and eating to avoid getting and spreading illnesses, wash your clothes when they are visibly dirty or smelly, shower when you feel dirty but use soap only on the dirtiest places because soap removes the beneficial barrier our skin produces, wash your hair less because shampoos strip and damage our hair, brush your teeth with a small dab of toothpaste twice daily, and floss everyday.
Not only are these changes easy, but they are also free and most may save you more money in the long-run. It should be noted that at first there will be an adjustment period. Your hair might get a little greasy after going one day without washing or your skin might break out in acne after not using soap, but it’ll get better. And of course, take it one step at a time. Wash your hair every other day first, or just re-wear jeans you’ve worn once or twice if that’s all you can handle at the moment. Each change will benefit you in the end. Your hair will get healthier and shinier, your skin will hold its moisture better, and your clothes will last longer. But always remember that change takes time and it is a process.
Making those changes are great, but you should also look at the type of products you use as well. Many of the popular hygiene products sold today are full of unnecessary and harmful ingredients like parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic additives, and other endocrine disrupters and carcinogens.
Try changing up your hygiene products like…
- Switching out liquid hand, body, and face soap with an unpackaged and natural bar soap
- Choosing shampoos and conditioners without parabens, sulfates, or silicones
- Maybe taking it one step further and choosing shampoo and conditioner bars over liquid ones
- Replacing your plastic toothbrush (that’ll never degrade) with a bamboo toothbrush you can compost
- Trading your plastic string floss with a compostable version
- If using single-use plastic floss sticks, switch to a standard string floss
- Favoring essential oil-based perfumes and colognes over fragrance oil-based ones
- Buying laundry detergent in cardboard paper boxes instead of plastic jugs
- Moisturizing with a natural oil or butter rather than an endocrine disruptor-filled lotion
- Replacing plastic loofas and shower scrubbers with plant-based body scrubbers
- Avoiding products with microbeads and other plastics
- Make your own deodorant and other body products
If you are a person who menstruates, check out the following videos for some ideas about how to have a low waste period:
Alane Ertel is a graduate from the MPH program at the University of North Florida, and was an Intern at their Environmental Center during the creation of this project. Alane’s goal in creating this project is to increase awareness of environmental issues, spread zero/low waste practices, and improve environmental and human health by utilizing her passions for the environment and for creating a healthier society.