One of the most helpful ways to approach zero waste living is to apply the 6Rs hierarchy to all possible waste-producing scenarios. That is, to Refuse, Replace, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, and only in that order. (The ‘Replace’ R is a new addition, suggested to us by our wonderful plastic-free friend, Rachel Benefield.).
Most toiletries come packaged, so they instantly require us to use the 6Rs. Recycle is quite far down the hierarchy. So, even if a particular bathroom item comes in recyclable packaging, the first question we ask ourselves is still whether we can Refuse the packaged item and Replace it with a zero waste alternative. The answer is almost always “yes!”
The replacement for most toiletries has been to make them ourselves, at home, with simple and inexpensive ingredients that we purchase in bulk or in packaging that we can reuse. Doing so has been a pleasure for us because:
- we have saved so much money;
- often we find we have better results for our bodies using our homemade toiletries;
- we have control over the ingredients and quantities of those ingredients that go into the stuff we put on our body; and
- we greatly enjoy the creative/discovery aspect inherent in learning how to make common bathroom products.
At our presentations, people often want to know our recipes. We don’t generally have time to share them in detail during our presentations, so uploading our recipes seemed like the logical thing to do. However, we dragged our heels a little bit because every body is different and what works for us may not work for everyone (our own experiments with toiletries recipes that other people swear by have occasionally gone haywire for us!) We really didn’t want people to try our recipes, have them not work, and then come to the conclusion that all homemade products are less effective than store-bought ones.
But then we thought, well, we can provide you with that disclaimer, i.e. that you may need to tweak our recipes to suit your body. And, at the very least, what works for us is at least a good starting point – much easier than trying to work everything out from scratch! We also hope that, when you see how cheap and easy DIY bathroom products can be to make, you may be inspired to branch out and try even more recipes 🙂
So, without further ado, here’s our “Bare Essentials” DIY toiletries booklet (click on the booklet to make it full-screen). If you have any other go-to recipes, feel free to mention them in a comment below. ALSO, please read our position statement on the use of essential oils in DIY toiletries and cleaners. Spoiler – we don’t recommend it except in the limited circumstances outlined.