Earlier this month, India’s post taught us several easy ways to reduce waste in our first world lives, and I must thank her for inspiring me to write this. Over the past three years, I’ve been steadily removing environmentally harmful products from my bathroom cabinet and enjoying the thrill of finding replacements that I actually prefer to the old ones. So, here are a few of my favorite swaps that are kinder to the earth, my body, and my bank account.
Before we jump in: this post is not only for women. Your feet are crusty, Ryan. Exfoliation is for all the people.
Bath bombs are appreciated for the bright colors, pleasant scent, and fizzy spectacle they contribute to a soak in the tub. Alas, many bath bombs contain some less than ideal ingredients, including dyes and fragrances that can disrupt vaginal pH, resulting in irritation or worse, infection. What’s more, bath bombs frequently contain glitter, which is naught but tiny pieces of plastic that can slip through filtration systems, end up in oceans, lakes, and rivers, and be mistaken for food by aquatic life long after it swirls down the drain. As an alternative, I offer bath salts.
Will you have psychedelic bathwater? No. Will you be picking glitter out of your nether regions? Also no.
In a large bowl, mix 2 cups unscented Epsom salts, 1 cup baking soda, and 10-12 drops pure essential oils, and gradually add to bathwater under the tap. Epsom salts and baking soda may help your body release toxins, and essential oils provide an atmosphere free of the literal headaches that synthetic fragrances can cause. Personally, I use and recommend Young Living Essential Oils due to their sustainable farming practices and excellent products, and my bathtime favorites are Eucalyptus Globulus with Lemon and Cedarwood with Orange.
Price wise, a 6-pound bag of unscented Epsom salts costs $5.09 at Meijer, 32 ounces of baking soda is $1.49 at Meijer, and the Young Living oils I mention above range from $11.00-$14.75 for a 15 milliliter bottle containing 250 drops. Bath bombs at Ulta can be as much as $7.50 a piece, but you can enjoy a relaxing, healthy soak for $1.82= $0.85 for 2 cups of Epsom salts + $0.37 for 1 cup of baking soda + $0.60 for 10 drops of oils. Need I say more?
I have never tried a body scrub better than the one I make at home; if the rich among you know a better one, don’t tell me about it because I probably can’t afford it. Like the bath salts above, a homemade sugar scrub is free of synthetic fragrance and many other unsavory ingredients. To make, place 2 cups of white or brown sugar in a bowl, drizzle a few tablespoons of grapeseed or olive oil over it, add 10-15 drops of essential oil, and mix. My preference is for the sugar to be slightly damp with the oil; some people like the sugar practically swimming in oil, so do it however you prefer. Citrus scented scrubs are deliciously invigorating for me, so I recommend the Citrus Fresh essential oil blend.
In terms of price, 4 pounds of Meijer brand white sugar is $1.49, 17 ounces of Meijer olive oil is $3.99, and Citrus Fresh is $15.75 for 15 ml. An 18-ounce Tree Hut Sugar Scrub costs $7.99 at Ulta, but a batch of homemade scrub will only set you back $1.63= $0.40 for 2 cups of sugar + $1.00 for half a cup of olive oil + $0.63 for 10 drops essential oil. Go forth and become silky.
Instead of single-use makeup wipes, try applying coconut oil to your skin and removing with a soft, damp cloth. Not only are most makeup wipes nonbiodegradable, many contain drying, irritating ingredients such as alcohol and emulsifiers, while the naturally moisturizing properties of coconut oil conditions delicate skin.
Financially speaking, a 25-pack of Neutrogena makeup wipes costs $4.97 at Target, while a 16 oz glass jar of coconut oil at the Trader Joe’s in Grand Rapids is about $10; I’ve been using the same jar for the past 9 months and still have about a ½ inch left. My eyelashes have never looked better.
Sadie Burgher (‘17) graduated with degrees in environmental studies and writing and has spent the past year working in libraries. She loves essential oils, books, and the idea of getting fit. She is married to Luke, and they make their nest in Grand Rapids, MI.