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Trade Your Single-Use Products For These Thoughtful Essentials

Sustainability

We’re back with our another green shopping guide, highlighting great products you can buy, and easy actions you can take to reduce your impact on the environment – without compromising on aesthetics, or convenience.

Here we spotlight sustainable, locally-designed upgrades you can make to your bathroom and self-care supplies.

13th November, 2018

From left to right: nail polish ($20) from Kester BlackEcoMax Double-Sided Nail Brush ($13.50) from Biome. Meraki Classic Comb ($19.95) from The Lab Organics, Cassius Styling Clay ($38) and Normal Persons Shampoo ($34) from EvoKuu Konjac Naked Sponges ($10.95) from Biome, The Fab Four bamboo toothbrushes ($23.80) from Bamkiki, Natural bamboo pads ($6.80) from Tsuno, Santé by ENJO reusable makeup remover (set of 3 $44), Vanilla soap bar ($2.40) from Ecostore, and Rose Geranium Pink Clay Soap Bar ($15) from Soap Club. (Props: Cork Yoga Roller ($55) and Cork Yoga Block ($32.50) from Sure Project). Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Elle Murrell
Tuesday 13th November 2018

Since sharing our edit of eco-friendly work-day products, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report dropped. This global network of leading scientists and policy experts warned the world that we now have ‘12 years to limit climate change catastrophe‘.

You don’t have to look far to see that our impact on the environment is taking its toll– the national and international news, any beach you’ve visited over the past few warm weekends, those videos showing that even the ‘impenetrable Doomsday Vault’ built to ensure humanity’s food security is melting

As we strive for waste reduction and climate action targets, innovation and behavioural change have never been more important. Fortunately, there are already some bright spark designers and manufacturers who are heeding the call for sustainably produced, non-toxic and reusable alternatives.

Even the smallest switches can make a positive impact, which leads us to eco-conscious self-care products. Here are just a few ideas to get you started…

Menstrual cups ($55) from JuJu, natural bamboo pads ($6.80) from Tsuno, regular tampons ($7) and thin pads ($7) from Tom Organic,  Toilet paper (x48 for $48) from Who Gives A Crap. (Prop: Cork Yoga Roller ($55) from Sure Project). Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Menstrual cups ($55) from JuJu. Panty liners ($6.40) from Tsuno. Regular tampons ($7) and Thin pads ($7) from Tom Organic. Toilet paper (x48 for $48) from Who Gives A Crap. (Prop: Cork Yoga Roller ($55) from Sure Project). Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Sanitary Products

It really isn’t pretty – 24.6 million people using packaged toilet paper each day amounts to immense manufacturing demand. That’s bad news for trees, water reserves and, well, the air we all breathe. While it’s become a cultural necessity (until someone comes up with an alternative, or Aussies adopt the bidet in a much bigger way) there are still BETTER options.

And that goes for feminine hygiene too. Unlike toilet tissue, the majority of these products won’t break down in sewerage and septic systems, but will endure in landfill for some 800 years! On average, each Australian woman will use a staggering 10,000-12,000 disposable menstrual products in her lifetime. By simply trying a more sustainable alternative (or even moving to a combination of available options) there is huge potential to reduce waste.

Definitely Worth IT

Toilet paper from Who Gives A Crap. While it’s well-known for its charitable side (donating 50% of profits to build toilets), the Melbourne-based company makes its products without cutting down trees.

‘Period-friendly’ underwear, swimwear, and activewear from Modibodi – with their high-tech innovative fabrics and appealing designs, this homegrown brand has you covered, from menstruation to breastfeeding. No disposables needed!

Menstrual cups from JuJu – another trailblazing innovation, these Australian-made reusable, medical-grade silicon cups can’t be faulted; they are convenient, economical, hygienic and eco-friendly. Available in four different shape/volume models they come with a simple user guide, and any concerns you might have can be quashed here.

Tampons and pantyliners from Tsuno – for rare situations when you do need a disposable, these products are a good go-to. Made from certified organic cotton and natural bamboo fibres, Melbourne-based Tsuno don’t think ‘pesticides or synthetics are cool in our bodies or the environment’. They also donate an impressive 50% of profits to education and hygiene support for those less fortunate.

Tampons, pads, and nappies from Tom Organic – this Australian B Corp certified company took out ‘Australian Organic Business Of The Year’ in 2017. Their products are made from certified organic cotton, are 100% biodegradable, and packaging is recyclable as well as FSC certified.

Nail polish ($20) from Kester BlackCassius Styling Clay ($38) and Normal Persons Shampoo ($34) from EvoMeraki Classic Comb ($19.95) and from The Lab Organic. Beauty & the Bees Shampoo Bar ($15.95) from Biome. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Beauty + Haircare

‘Are the companies selling products that promise to protect our skin and hair from pollution doing enough to address their role in creating it?’ asked Refinery 29’s Sarah Shearman, when she spoke to Greenpeace as part of an investigation into the beauty industry.

When you think about the products you use day-to-day (and the packaging these come in) the irony Sarah raises is pretty hard to overlook. Plus, don’t forget, these companies are only supplying OUR demand.

SOME Good Options

Buy only what you need and in bulk. Transfer product to smaller easy-to-use reusable vessels like glass jars.

Beauty & the Bees Shampoo Bar from Biome – forgo the bottle with this handmade Tasmanian product. Packaged in simple cardboard, the chemical and palm oil-free shampoos come in several varieties to suit all hair types; there’s even an anti-dandruff local brewery beer-based bar. The positive reviews are unanimous too.

If you’re going to buy nail polish, get it from Kester Black – this Melbourne-based B Corp-certified brand’s products are cruelty-free, palm oil-free and vegan. They also walk the talk when it comes to sustainable production practices and recycling. I can personally attest that this is polish that lasts!

Cassius Styling Clay and Normal Persons Shampoo from Evo – with a no BS mission and the catchphrase ‘saving ordinary humans from themselves’ we couldn’t miss Australia’s largest independent distributor of haircare products. All packaging is 100% recyclable, the majority of it already recycled itself, plus Evo carbon offsets and prides itself on using natural and non-toxic ingredients. 

Sturdy wooden brushes and hairstyling tools (over flimsy plastic ones), like the Meraki Classic Comb from The Lab Organics.

Coconut, Manuka Honey & Kelp and Vanilla Soap ($2.40) from Ecostore, Absolute Avocado 100g and Lemon Myrtle 100g soap ($6.95) from The Australian Soap Company, and Rose Geranium Pink Clay Soap Bar ($15) and Activated Charcoal Soap ($15) from Soap Club. (Props: Cork Yoga Roller ($55) from Sure Project). Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

The Fab Four bamboo toothbrushes ($23.80) from Bamkiki, EcoMax Double-Sided Nail Brush ($13.50) from Biome, Santé by ENJO reusable makeup remover (set of 3 $44), Kuu Konjac Naked Sponges ($10.95) and Bamboo cotton buds ($8.95), both from Biome. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Dental Hygiene + Skincare

‘Plastic toothbrushes aren’t so bad’ you might assume… over 30 million are used and disposed of by Australians each year, amounting to approximately 1,000 tonnes of landfill. Massively bad. The same goes for other brushes, typically manufactured from nylon and polypropylene plastic (made from non-renewable fossil fuels).

Then there’s a slew of single-use ‘essentials’: dental floss with a handle (!!), cotton earbuds with their plastic stems, one-use make-up removing pads (usually paired with bottled, chemical solutions) and other non-biodegradable wipes.

These products are getting a lot of attention at the moment, with the astounding amount of waste in our oceans more visible than ever. The ongoing manufacture of plastics and demand for replacement disposable products is completely unsustainable, plus we’re actually inadvertently eating this toxic stuff!

In terms of liquids, like soaps and cleansers, we again return to that packaging conundrum. The verdict: solid bars reduce waste. Furthermore, natural, locally-made options are always best as they significantly reduce the carbon footprint that comes with international sourcing, manufacture, and transportation.

Tips on ditching disposables, in favour of reusable products for your work day.

Trade Your Disposables For These Use-At-Work Designs

alternatives to try

Any organic, natural-fibre cloth – disposable face wipes might be convenient for you now, not so much for your kids’ kids’ kids. It turns out applying water (and soap; see below) to your skin with clean hands, patting dry with said cloth, hanging it up to dry and washing it every few days for the next 10 years is the way to go.

The Fab Four bamboo toothbrushes from Bamkiki – offering biodegradable brushes made from sustainably sourced bamboo, this Aussie company also helps preserve the Great Barrier Reef, aka our impending climate change tragedy.

Santé by ENJO reusable makeup remover – no chemicals required, just water! This product is magical, even when you’re tackling stubborn mascara and eyeliners. I gift it to everyone.

EcoMax Double-Sided Nail Brush from Biome – This plant-fibre tool is biodegradable and environmentally-friendly, it’s amazing what you can achieve with only this and a little elbow ‘grease’. Even Biome (the eco-product online marketplace where you can buy it) is B Corp certified.

Kuu Konjac Naked Sponges from Biome – made from 100% Konjac vegetable plant root, these natural cleansing sponges remove dirt and oil, naturally restoring the pH level of the skin, as well as encourage new skin cells.

Go Bamboo cotton buds from Biome – Another offering in biodegradable, sustainably sourced bamboo. If we follow the UK, plastic versions may soon be banned anyway!

Absolute Avocado and Lemon Myrtle soap from The Australian Soap Company. – made from 100% pure virgin avocado oil, these affordable, moisturising soaps are palm oil-free, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, detergent-free, biodegradable and vegan.

Rose Geranium Pink Clay Soap Bar and Activated Charcoal Soap from Soap Club – This Melbourne-base studio offers natural cold-process bar soaps, liquid Castile soap, organic hand and body cream, natural deodorant, and natural perfume. Their entire range is vegan, palm oil-free and cruelty-free.

Coconut, Manuka Honey & Kelp and Vanilla Soap from Ecostore – one for our Kiwi readers: these plant-and-mineral-based soaps are made in New Zealand, to the strictest environmental standards in an Enviromark Diamond and CarboNZero certified factory.

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.