Where I Find My Zero Waste Consumables (Personal Care and Cleaning)
I”m often asked about the various places I find different items or products without packaging or single-use plastic, and it occurred to me that I’ve never sat down and written a list of ALL the places and ALL the things.
It also occurred to me that creating a list like this would be rather useful. What kinds of zero waste and plastic-free things do I buy, and where do I buy them from?
Of course, if you live in Perth (which is where I live) then these lists will be extra useful as you will actually be able to go to the places I visit.
Even if you’re not a local, I want to give you some ideas about the kinds of places you might be able to source similar products in your own area.
Last week I talked about where I source zero waste and plastic-free groceries and food items in Perth. This week I’m talking about the other consumables: personal care products and cleaning products.
Where I Source Zero Waste Consumables
By consumables, I mean things that run out, get used up and need replacing. Things like food, personal care products, and cleaning products.
Whilst I source things from a number of different places, I’m not going to all the places all of the time. Some places I only visit twice a year. Others I visit weekly. Over time I’ve established a routine that works for me.
Zero Waste Bathroom and Personal Care Products
I have simplified my bathroom routine hugely since going plastic-free and zero waste back in 2012. I’ve cut back on all of the non-essentials (turns out, there were a lot of non-essentials).
I buy good quality bar soap (which I use in place of shower gel, face wash, body wash, hand wash) from Earth Products in The Vines, Swan Valley. I buy 1.3kg blocks which I cut myself (they cut like firm butter) as it is more economical.
Earth Products is a wholesale and retail skincare business, and the owner Marie is an absolute legend. Although technically she doesn’t sell bulk products, she is more than happy for me to refill my own containers.
She is also a huge wealth of knowledge and I’ve learned a lot about DIY skincare and how to use ingredients from her.
I buy all my essential oil refills, almond, rosehip and other oils, shea butter, coconut oil, vegetable glycerine, zinc powder, clay and all kinds of other ingredients here.
I tend to go once every 6 – 12 months and stock up.
Aside from soap, which I buy, I make all my other personal care products myself. Really, it’s little more than stirring together a few ingredients together in a jar. Sometimes there’s a little melting involved.
I make my own deodorant and toothpaste (I buy bicarb and tapioca flour from the Source Whole Foods). I either use almond oil in place of a moisturiser, or I make cold cream (which is beeswax, olive oil and water blended together).
I also make sunscreen (a moisturizer with zinc oxide powder).
I wash my hair with bicarb (or rye flour) and vinegar. I use white vinegar, which I buy in bulk from Manna Whole Foods in South Fremantle (the only place I’ve ever seen 5% white vinegar).
I don’t actually use a bamboo toothbrush for my teeth (but I did buy one to brush my dog’s teeth!). Early on, I got fed up with the bristles constantly falling out and washing down the drain.
I found out about Silvercare toothbrushes, which have replaceable heads that can be changed every 6 months, and I switched to this.
I purchased my initial Silvercare toothbrush from Manna Whole Foods in South Fremantle and I also get the replacement heads from there.
The waste toothbrush heads and packaging can be recycled via Terracycle, and the closest hub to me is the Recycling Hub at Perth City Farm in East Perth.
I don’t use disposable menstrual products: I use a Diva cup, which is a silicone reusable menstrual cup. I’ve been using one since 2003 (I’ll write a blog post with more details about this in the coming weeks).
I also have a reusable pad that I use at night.
For hair removal I have an extremely old Gilette razor and I’m currently using up the last blade (purchased pre-2012, and I’m making it last). I also have an epilator whose battery is about to die (purchased circa 2010).
When these both give up the ghost I will switch to a stainless steel razor with stainless steel blades that can be recycled easily at metal recyclers.
This might be too much information (!) but I actually use tweezers to remove armpit air. I’m not ticklish and think my skin must be made of rubber, as I don’t find it painful in the slightest. I find I get a shaving rash with a razor. I appreciate that this might not be for everyone.
I purchase 100% recycled toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap, which is plastic-free and delivered to my doorstep. (I use the paper wrappers to pick up dog poo – they are the perfect size – and this all goes in the dog poo worm farm).
Zero Waste Cleaning Products
I don’t talk a whole lot about cleaning on my blog because cleaning is one of my least favourite things, and the less I can do of it, the better.
Zero Waste Kitchen Cleaning
Let’s start with the dishes. I purchase dishwashing liquid from The Source Bulk Foods (specifically my local store The Source Vic Park, which is about 5 minutes from my house).
I have a wooden dishbrush with a replaceable head, a Safix coconut coir scourer and an import.ants bottle brush cleaner. I used to have a wooden pot brush, but once it wore out I chose not to replace it.
All of these cleaning products can be composted once finished with. The small amount of metal in the dishbrush handle can be recycled via metal recyclers.
There are two physical shops in Perth where I buy these things: Urban Revolution on Albany Highway in Victoria Park, and the Zero Store inside the Raw Kitchen on High Street, Fremantle.
(Another store I recommend – I’ve never actually made it to their physical shop but I have purchased things from their pop-up stalls at markets – is Environment House on King William Street in Bayswater.)
Yes, I also have a plastic dish brush, circa 2012, still going. It must be the longest living plastic dishbrush in history. I will use it until it wears out, be grateful that it has lasted, and whilst it remains in my kitchen not dwell on the fact that it’s fluro green colour (and plastic-ness) is mildly offensive to my eyes.
I also use bicarb soda (purchased from the Source Bulk Foods) for anything that needs a good scrub, such as burnt saucepans.
For cleaning cloths for wiping down the kitchen benches, I no longer buy cloths. Instead, I cut up old clothes, tee-shirts, towels: whatever is worn out. I prefer 100% cotton or natural fibres as these can be composted once they are too tatty for cleaning.
Cleaning cloths tend to start in the bathroom, then migrate to the bathroom, then to the floors before being composted. Of course, they go through the washing machine several times during this process.
I tend to wash my counters down with water and sometimes dishwashing liquid. It seems to work fine. If there’s a stain, I scrub with a used piece of lemon to lift it (things like tea and coffee, typically).
Zero Waste Bathroom Cleaning
Most of the cleaning items I use in the bathroom started life in the kitchen. Cleaning cloths, my Safix scourer, old dishbrush heads: once these things aren’t suitable for dishes I move them on.
I use bicarb (from The Source) and 5% white vinegar from Manna Whole Foods in South Fremantle.
(Planet Ark in Fremantle sell 10% white vinegar for cleaning only, which I used when I had black mold in my damp flat several years ago. Generally I use the 5% vinegar, which is food grade and can be used for other things besides cleaning.)
I use a few essential oils for cleaning: tea tree, eucalyptus and clove oil. All are anti-microbial and clove oil in particular is anti-fungal and great for the shower. Bleach doesn’t actually kill mold, it just turns it white. Clove oil kills the spores. I put a few drops in vinegar and spray the tiles.
(My spray bottle is plastic. I’ve seen aluminium ones, but a reader told me that she stored vinegar in hers for a while, and the bottom fell out of it! I use the plastic one as that is what I have. I’ll try to fit the nozzle to a glass bottle if/when the plastic breaks.)
I also put a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil in the toilet to disinfect.
Zero Waste Laundry
I purchase laundry powder from The Source Bulk Foods. I’ve tried soap nuts, and they seemed to work for me, but I just prefer buying laundry powder (and it is more convenient to purchase).
For stains, I simply dab some dishwashing liquid on the stain, then pop into the washing machine. Having tried several remedies over the years, I find this one the most effective and simplest.
I don’t use fabric softener (never have) although white vinegar is reported to be excellent for this – and a couple of drops of essential oil for scent.
I no longer have any kind of rubbish bin in my home, so I do not need bin liners. Any non-recyclable, non-compostable waste (of which there is very little, if any) goes directly outside to the rubbish bin. (I kept a waste jar for a year in 2016 as an experiment, but no longer do so.)
Hopefully that’s given you some insight into the kinds of purchases I make and how I use them, and maybe some ideas for things you could incorporate into your life. If you’re in Perth I’d encourage you to visit some of the places I’ve listed. If you’re not, hopefully there’s something similar close to you.
(If there’s no local options, consider supporting an independent zero waste and plastic free business: I have put together a worldwide list of companies that care.)
When it comes to plastic-free and zero waste living, I find that there’s always a lot more options than we first expect.
Now I’d love to hear from you! Is there anything you’re trying to source that I haven’t covered? Anything you’ve had success with that you’d like to share? Anything that needs more explanation, or any tips you can add? Any other questions? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Do you have any suggestions for lower or zero waste replacements for rubber gloves? I prefer to wear them when washing up.
Thanks for your informative post .
Hi Alison, yes I do! And I should amend the post to include. Many years ago when I de-molded my flat, I purchased some If You Care FSC certified rubber gloves (I got them from Jacks In Claremont, but the brand If You Care is stocked by lots of IGAs and also online). They actually ended up biodegrading in the cupboard as I didn’t use them again, and went in the compost bin. I don’t tend to use gloves but if I needed, I would buy these again :)
I use thick reusable rubber gloves lined with cotton for cleaning and henna dyeing my hair which is another option
Dyeing my hair is something that hasn’t been on my agenda so far… but I can see the day when it is fast approaching! :/
Ah haha! Henna also supposedly covers greys!
Go grey with grace and see them as wisdom sprouts! Lol
Hmm well this year has definitely been the year for wisdom sprouts, Lisa! :/
Many thanks for these two very informative posts Lindsay.
My pleasure Ruth! :)
Thank you for such an informative post.
I shall definitely check out Earth Products! Have been wondering about refilling essential oil bottles and buying soap in large blocks is a great idea.
Hi Susan, ah I love Marie! A while ago I used to get shampoo and conditioner from her too. I’d drop off empty glass bottles, and when she made a batch she would pour into my bottles, then let me know they were ready to pick up. She is super accommodating and happy to support low waste efforts :)
Hi Lindsay! Do you scrub out the toilet with the old dishbrush heads? Thanks!
I hadn’t actually thought of that, Diane! By the time they are used up from the dishes, they are pretty used up completely!
Hey- what about essential oils? They all seem to come in the tiny bottles and although glass, I can’t work out how to get the plastic tops off so am not sure whether they can be recycled or not? Do you know anywhere that does refills? Thanks!
The plastic tops do come off an there is even a specific tool to do it without breaking nails. Here in Denver, Colorado we have a store called The Zero Market, and they’ve been refilling my store-bought EO bottles no problem. I think it’s mainly bulk specialty stores doing this, but it’s definitely worth researching in your area.
Hi Georgina, the bottle I use and refill definitely have tops that come off! Although technically the bottles are recyclable, they are very small and might not go through the machinery successfully. As I mentioned above, Earth Products do refills, and I know some bulk stores do too.
Hello Lindsay – my name is Stephanie and I found this very helpful – I want to start a Zero Wast Store so that these products and also food can be available for people on Cape Cod Massachusetts- but I am just trying to figure out where to start on this mission – can you point me in the right direction for how to get something like this off the ground?
I would love to hear if this comes to be I live in Massachusetts and know the struggle.
Great info as always.
Also a very timely read as I’ve been stuck we me in shower tiles grout & was about to succumb to hard core chemicals.
Already have clove oil for tooth pain and will now try it for mould!
Hi Felicity, the most important thing is that it kills mould spores, which leach does not. So it might not whiten it completely but it does a better job. Oxygen bleach might do the job of lifting any stains.
Well Lindsay I may meet you one day, as I shall be your new shopping shadow, trying to visit as many of these places as I can. I’ve been to a couple, but not been as diligent as I should. Environment House is walking distance so I need to go there for sure.
I struggle a bit because my boyfriend isn’t as passionate about being waste-free and eco-friendly on the chemicals as me. So he still wants to use his single use cleaning wipes, and forgets to put cans in the recycle bin.That said I used a chemical mould killer last night, and nearly went blind, so next time I will try clove oil. I’ve only ever used it as a fish drug in the past.
My pleasure Janey, hope you have success with some of the places. Don’t get too stressed about the boyfriend, just try to make things as easy as possible for him to do the right thing, and lead by example. You might find over time that he gets more and more on the bandwagon :) And if not, just do what YOU can and don’t lament what can’t be changed… yet… ;)
I’m overwhelmed by all you do, and the suggestions offered here. I’m such a beginner at this but I’m doing my very best to recycle everything possible and to use all food inventively. But I have a long way to go before I start achieving your way of life.
All best wishes,
Ah Jean, it is all about taking small steps! Don’t forget I began in 2012. No-one changes habits that took a lifetime to establish overnight. Just pick one thing, and work on that, and once you’re there it is just one more thing :)
Thanks for the recipe i will try it. I have very dry skin and with the heating on a lot in the hills in melbourne .I need something more. Hi have not tried almond oil , does it really soak in, i have concerns about the oil getting on clothes towels and not washing out i have have this problem with sheets towels How do you avoid this. Thanks
Hi Lindsay, i have met you before when i borrowed your “keep australian beautiful dishes” for my dads 80th party. I would like to share some zero waste ideas in my area. I live in floreat and i buy my bulk food from golden circle in Subiaco and bulk food source at the forum. I have my milk,cream and yoghurt delivered in glass bottles and jars. When you are finished,wash them leave them on the porch and Ron picks them up they gets re used. The company is sunnydale and based in your area of vic park. Its brilliant
Hi there, I’m a mother of four and do a great deal of laundry. I found the best ( and cheapest) laundry liquid can be made very easily. I fill a big pot ( 10l ) with hot water and grate half a bar of cleaning soap into it and mix until dissolved.
I use Savon de Marseille as I live in France and a buy big blocks without packaging but I think any strong soap would do.
Then I pour it into 2 5l containers. I’m using my old laundry liquid containers from five years ago. And that’s it!
You have to wash at 40 for the best results and sometimes it goes solid in the container and yo have to give it a good shake. All in all though, it takes 10 mins every now and again and costs about 2 euros every six months!
I use vinegar as a fabric softener as I’ve been told it cleans any soap residue off the workings of the washing machine. I’ve used this for 5 years and my machine is going fine.
If you have who gives a crap toilet wrappers that don’t get used for dog poo, they make excellent gift wrapping paper! Not that’s that’s really something that’s necessary, but I find every now and then I have to wrap a present and it’s so colorful and pretty. And can probably be reused for dog poo afterwards haha