5 Tips for Building a Zero Waste First Aid Kit

Recently, I’ve been thinking about zero waste first-aid kits. Is it possible to get away from plastic band-aids and tiny ketchup-sized packets of Neosporin?

This article is in no way shape or form a referendum on personal health. So, upfront, I want to say do whatever is best for your health: buy the medicine, take the plastic, do whatever you need to do.

But, trying to be more eco-friendly/plastic free in the personal health space is something I’ve been thinking about so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

5 tips for creating a zero waste first aid kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #firstaid

I enjoy using natural remedies like sipping ginger tea for tummy aches, taking elderberry syrup during cold season, making sure I eat lots of foods rich in probiotics for optimal gut health, and of course aiding my body during that time of the month.

I also strongly believe in modern medicine, going to the doctor, and taking antibiotics.

Wanted to get all of that out upfront, and hope that you might be a little bit inspired when it comes to your own first aid kit. Several of the links below are affiliate links for more information please see my disclosure policy.

1. storage:

First, decide on how you want to store the items you will include in your zero waste first aid kit.

Instead of purchasing something new, are there items you currently own that are not serving a purpose for you? Consider upcycling an old lunchbox, tupperware container, or sealable storage boxes.

Once you’ve picked out the perfect storage container, it’s time to fill it up! Below is a list of many items that are good substitutes for “traditional” first aid items sorted by ailment.

5 tips for building a zero waste first aid kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #firstaidkit #ecofriendly

2. minor cuts and scrapes:

Basic wound care consists of cleansing a wound thoroughly, letting it dry to air, applying antiseptic as needed and leaving open to air or wrapping with a clean, sterile dressing.

For minor skin wounds cleansing a wound with clean water and bar soap is just as effective as using alcohol wipes or other wound irrigations. Wash the wound for at least 15 seconds, rinse thoroughly, and let air dry.

Manuka honey makes a great alternative to antibacterial and antiseptic ointment, and has been shown to effectively keep wounds healthy and help them heal.

Consumer product companies have created a narrative around minor wound care for decades. Band-Aids, or disposable adhesive bandages are rarely, if ever, biodegradable and usually unnecessary.

If your cut continues to reopen or truly needs to be covered, consider using scraps of clean organic cotton or silk, which can either be composted or washed and sterilized and used again. You can keep the bandage in place with paper tape, stainless steel safety pin, or tying the fabric into a knot.

5 tips for building a zero waste first aid kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #firstaidkit #ecofriendly

3. burns:

For minor first-degree burns (pinkish that only affect the top layer of skin), run the burn under cold water to dissipate the heat and break the leaf of an aloe plant off and use the sap on the burn.

You can also make your own zero waste aloe gel at home. Aloe is cooling, moisturizing and protects the moisture barrier of the skin.

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4. everyday aches, pains, and stings:

For achy muscles, soreness, cramps, and aches hot and cold therapy is a tried and true method for relief.

Reusable metal cold packs or ice bags offer convenience with no waste. In addition, many people are resorting to a standard hot water bottle for relief as well.

Any of these can be placed on the affected area for 30 minutes on and one hour off. Be sure to always place a barrier of some sort between your skin and the hot or cold therapy to minimize the risk of a burn.

In addition to hot and cold therapy, there is a significant amount of research showing CBD (cannabidiols) oils to be of great use for pain management.

Personally, I use a high potency CBD balm that comes in a metal tin. I find it has given me significant relief for tired, cramped legs, sore shoulders and neck after a long day of work or working out.

Rashes, stings and bug bites can be calmed in a variety of natural, waste-free ways.

For topical skin rashes a paste of oatmeal wrapped with organic cotton and secured with paper tape or a metal safety pin can relieve the itchiness and heat a rash can give off, while a paste of calamine or bentonite clay will dry out a poison ivy rash, pulling out the offending poison oil and drying out the rash so it can heal.

The sting and itchiness of bug bites can be calmed with a little apple cider vinegar. In addition, many of these ingredients can serve multiple purposes: zero waste deodorants, overnight oats, and more.

5 tips for building a zero waste first aid kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #firstaidkit #ecofriendly

5. preventative measures:

As you can probably guess, this is the part of the list that doesn’t live in your dedicated “zero waste first aid” container.

There is nothing better than not getting sick in the first place. And, while that’s not necessarily a reality 100% of the time, we can do our best to stay healthy in the first place.

Eating a diet that is full of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains (all of which easily come in package free options!) has been clinically shown to keep us strong, healthy, prevent certain types of cancers, and improve gut health, thereby improving immunity.

But, sometimes the stresses of life or traveling can wreak havoc on our bodies and we need a little extra help. A personal favorite low waste remedy of mine is elderberry syrup. It helps boost your natural immunity to viruses that cause the cold and flu.

There are many varieties available in health food stores, which also come in glass bottles or you can make your own from dried elderberries.

5 tips for creating a zero waste first aid kit from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #zerowaste #firstaid

If you are feeling mental and emotional stress herbs such as valerian, ashwagandha and rhodiola are very calming to your nervous system. They come in vegetarian capsules or also as loose leaf teas in the bulk section.

Insomnia can also be helped by drinking a homemade golden milk with nutmeg (aka “Ayurvedic ambien”). In addition to a healthy diet, supplements and herbs, there are many loose leaf teas that can help with everyday ailments.

Ginger tea helps with digestion and nausea, Smooth Move tea helps with constipation and bowel irregularity, and tulsi tea acts as a natural expectorant and cough suppressant.

Overall, take time to think about your regular health and first aid needs and include only what you need and can sustainably source and keep stocked.

This way you will be prepared for the minor emergencies and ailments that come your way while staying conscious and in line with the waste reduction principles implemented in the rest of your daily routines.

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GUEST POST: Beth Cruz is a registered nurse and freelance writer in New York City. She loves a good book, advocating for a zero-waste lifestyle, cuddling her rescue dog and watching true crime.

Zero Waste Hair Care

Pre-zero waste, my hair care routine consisted of so many different products that honestly didn’t do much for it. Plus, most of them were packaged in plastic and full of questionable ingredients. 

It was an ‘ah ha’ moment, when I realized most of the products I was using weren’t necessary.

Your hair care routine doesn’t have to wasteful (or elaborate) to be effective. While I acknowledge everyone’s hair is different, there are tons of low waste options to choose from and these are some of my favorite!

Zero Waste Hair Care from www.goingzerowaste #haircare #ecofriendly #zerowaste

1. shampoo and conditioner:

Before I went zero waste, I’d go through at least one shampoo and conditioner bottle every month. That’s about 24 plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner every year, give or take. 

Not to mention, where I live, squeezable plastic tubes cannot be recycled at all (and, of course, my favorite shampoo brand happened to package their products like this).

I’m so glad I made the switch to zero waste shampoo and conditioner instead. There are loads of options to choose from, but I really enjoy Plaine Products

How to find your perfect zero waste hair care routine from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #haircare #ecofriendly

They’re a zero waste brand that packages their products in refillable aluminum bottles.  When you’re finished with their products, you can just ship it back to them and they’ll send you a refill (how cool is that?). 

Related: My Top 5 Zero Waste Shower Essentials

Aluminum can be recycled over and over again without any quality loss. In fact, recycling aluminum requires less energy than was needed to make the bottles in the first place.

As if that’s not enough to love, my hair absolutely loves their products. No other shampoo or conditioner I’ve tried has made such a difference in it. 

My favorite scent from them is citrus lavender. I use just three to four pumps of each the shampoo and conditioner on my hair and it comes out looking so soft, sleek and voluptuous.

Plaine Products are definitely a pricier option, but I think it’s worth it. Just one bottle lasted me months (seriously – I had it for at least 5 months!). 

You can also try using shampoo and conditioner bars. Two of the most popular places to pick shampoo bars up is Lush and on Etsy. They might take a little getting used to, but they’re pretty straight forward.

Related: How to Make a 4 in 1 Soap Bar

All you have to do to is wet your hair, then gently rub the shampoo bar directly on your scalp. Make sure a good lather forms and try to work from the top down to prevent tangles. When you’re ready, just rinse like you normally would.

How to find your perfect zero waste hair care routine from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #haircare #ecofriendly

If you prefer, you can also create the lather in your hands, and then apply it to your hair (so you’re not rubbing the bar into your scalp).

For a conditioner bar, you use it the same way, but only apply to the ends of your hair.  Pretty straight forward, right?

Here’s a few no-waste and low-waste options:

How to find your perfect zero waste hair care routine from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #haircare #ecofriendly

2. dry shampoo:

While whittling down my hair care products, I found I could not part with dry shampoo. It’s great for the in between days you go without washing your hair. 

For most people, it’s not super health to wash your hair everyday because you’re stripping it of beneficial oils. It’s good to try to stretch washes which means saving water, product, and healthier hair.

3. wooden brush:

Anyone else have their plastic hairbrushes fall apart on them?

The little bristles used to come out when I brushed my hair and it drove me NUTS!

I’ve since switched over to a wooden brush and comb. With these items, make sure they’re kept in a well ventilated area since wood is a natural material it can grow mold.

If your bathroom is constantly steamy, either keep your brushes in your bedroom or plastic may be a better option for you.

4. hair spray:

I used to use hairspray like it was going out of style! I used to think fly away hairs were so gross, but now I embrace the frizzies!

That said, I know there are several occasions that call for a more polished look.

There are several more natural options to choose from out there, but you can whip up your own DIY hair spray relatively easily and you can find the DIY recipe in 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste!

If all you’re looking to do is give your hair a little texture, volume, and lift, you can also try a sea salt spray.

5. serums:

If you feel like your hair needs a little extra TLC, serums could help do the trick. While you could run out to the store and buy one, they’re incredibly easy to make at home.

But before you make your own, I recommend getting to know your hair first. A serum’s effectiveness will depend on what oils your hair loves.

Here are some oils I recommend experimenting with:

  • Aragan oil

  • Olive oil

  • Coconut oil

  • Grapeseed oil

  • Jojoba oil

  • Sweet almond oil

Just add a few drops to your wet hair right after a shower and leave it in as you blow it out. 

I like to create a serum using coconut oil, olive oil, and sweet almond oil. I use 3 teaspoons for each, put it in a small glass dropper bottle and shake it up. 

I add a few drops to my hair after showering, and it works like a charm. It does a nice job of moisturizing the hair follicles and preventing frizz.

But if DIY isn’t your style here are a few of my favorites some of them are face oils but wound up working better for my hair!

How to find your perfect zero waste hair care routine from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #haircare #ecofriendly

6. hair rinses:

Every once and a while, I like to treat myself with a hair rinse. It does wonders for the hair and is super easy to do.

My particular favorite is a green tea hair rinse. I just take two teaspoons of loose leaf tea, and I let them steep for 30 to 45 minutes, or until cool, and then apply it to my hair (wet or dry).

The key is to let it stay in the hair for five to fifteen minutes, gently massaging in a circular motion. Then, you rinse out with cold water.

Doing this helps add shine to my hair and promotes hair growth! Plus, it’s a lot of fun, if I’m being honest.

You can try it using different kinds of herbs too, not just green tea. Chamomile, rose petals, lavender and rosemary all work well and promote healthy locks.

If you do decide to use tea bags for this method, and not loose tea, here’s how to avoid plastic tea bags. Not all tea brands are created equal, and you want to make sure you can compost your tea bag after use!

Check out this post for tips on making iced tea from loose leaf tea.

How to find your perfect zero waste hair care routine from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #haircare #ecofriendly

7. hair gel:

I’m not a fan of conventional hair gel because it’s usually loaded with nasty ingredients. That said, it’s really easy to make your own that holds up just as well!

I recommend flax seed hair gel.

  • 2 cups of water

  • ¼ cup of whole raw flaxseeds

  1. Put the flax seeds and water in a sauce pan

  2. Bring the water to a boil

  3. Let the flax seeds simmer for about ten minutes until it starts looking gooey and sticky

  4. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool for about 30 minutes

  5. Strain the flaxseed mixture through a nut milk bag

  6. Transfer the mixture to a glass jar - you now have hair gel!.

  7. Store the hair gel in the fridge, and it should last 3-4 weeks.

You can save your flaxseeds and add them into smoothies in the morning!

Related: How to Freeze a Week’s Worth of Smoothies

How to find your perfect zero waste hair care routine from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #haircare #ecofriendly

8. hair ties:

Love putting your hair into ponytails, buns, or braids? You don’t have to give up hair ties.

There are eco-friendly hair ties available. Kooshoo makes organic cotton hair ties that are naturally dyed and are fully compostable at the end of their life. 

They are a bit on the pricey side though. Another option is to pick up hair ties off the ground, wash them with some soap and reuse them. 

You can also just reuse any old hair ties you have lying around your house until they break. I’ve been using the same scrunchie for the past year now, and it’s still holding up!

How do you keep your hair care routine zero waste? 

Guest Post: Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me.com, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on MindBodyGreen, Green Matters, The Penny Hoarder and several other publications. Get her free e-book "10 Ways to Reduce Trash" by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.

8 tips for nailing your zero waste hair care routine from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #haircare #zerowaste
how to find your perfect eco-friendly hair care routine from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #haircare #zerowaste

10 Affordable Ethical Clothing Brands

I think that everyone wants to support ethical fashion brands. I’m pretty sure if you ask anyone, “Hey do you condone slave labor to make cheap clothes?” The answer is going to no.

When it comes to actually purchasing clothing it can be difficult because:

a. you might not know of any ethical fashion brands.
b. you can’t easily go to a store to try the items on
c. it can be expensive!

10 affordable, ethical clothing brands that have cute pieces under $100 from www.goingzerowaste.com #ethicalfashion #sustainablefashion #ecofriendly #zerowaste

We view ethical fashion as expensive for many reasons, but one of them is that we’ve driven the cost of fashion down so far that what is actually a reasonable price and one that was normal until the 80s seems extreme or high.

But, no matter how many times you hear that fact, it still hurts to part with $100 for a dress when you could buy four for that price at the mall. Trust me… I understand.

But, I also really want to support sustainable makers and have been able to curb my shopping habits in a few ways.

  1. Waiting 30 days before making a purchase

  2. Asking myself these five questions BEFORE I buy

  3. Making sure it fits with my core style and colors (more on this to come)

  4. Making sure the measurements are appropriate for my body shape.

But, I wanted to round up a few ethical brands that have cute pieces you can snag for under $100.

I can’t stand it when I read these .blog articles and the only thing under $100 is a white t-shirt. I want to be able to buy something cute! So, I’ve done my best to round up those items.

Of course, all of these brands do offer more expensive items and you can also score a bunch of even better deals off the sales rack.

10 affordable, ethical clothing brands that have cute pieces under $100 from www.goingzerowaste.com #ethicalfashion #sustainablefashion #ecofriendly #zerowaste

1. tamga designs:

I love these bright colored pieces! Tamga is a member of 1% for the planet and sustainability is at the core of their message.

:At TAMGA we believe sustainability in the fashion industry is one of the greatest challenges of our time. If this sounds a bit far-fetched, think about how much clothing you’ve owned in your life.

“Now imagine more than 7 billion people with the same amount. Every piece of clothing has an impact, from chemical usage, to water, emissions, energy, and wages for garment workers.


”Sustainability in the fashion industry means finding ways to reduce this impact from design, through wear, to the end of a garment’s life. Ultimately, we’ll only be sustainable if we can create and re-create fashion through renewable materials, recyclable garments and wages that enable workers to thrive.”

My picks! Bella Poncho $69 & Lotus Cami $85

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2. armed angels:

Armed Angels is based in Europe and their transparence is pretty amazing. You can read more about their supply chain here.

“Organic is not just a trend for us it’s our belief and taking responsibility and protecting our environment is not an option but a must.

“Therefore, we only use sustainable materials such as organic cotton, organic linen, organic wool, recycled polyester, Lenzing Modal® and Tencel®. To show that these are not just empty words, we have been GOTS certified since 2011.

“It takes a lot of sweat and time to produce clothes as many people are involved in this long process. It is our responsibility to make sure that every single one of them works under fair conditions.

“No matter if they are a cotton farmer in India, a sewer in Turkey or a designer in Germany. We are far from perfect. We just want to do the right thing.

“Step by step, every day. Organisations like Fairtrade or Fair Wear Foundation help us to implement our high standards.”
My picks! Solenaa Dispersed Flowers Skirt $78 & Ylvaa Organic Cotton Sweater

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3. people tree:

Most thing at people tree other than their basic tees are over a hundred dollars. But, they do have a few fun pieces!

“People Tree actively supports farmers, producers and artisans through 14 producer groups, in 6 countries.

“We are a part of the WFTO community and a representative of Fair Trade, this means far more than paying a fair price, we provide technical assistance for producers, so they can improve their skills, strengthen their businesses and have a positive social impact.

“It is a partnership between producers and traders, which aims at sustainable development for excluded and economically disadvantaged people in developing countries.” 

My picks! Peter Jensen Pineapple Tee $71 & Renata Paisley Top $77

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4. everlane:

Everlane is known for their basics you’re not going to find a ton of fun prints and colors, but they do make great staples!

“At Everlane, we want the right choice to be as easy as putting on a great T-shirt.

“That’s why we partner with the best, ethical factories around the world. Source only the finest materials. And share those stories with you—down to the true cost of every product we make. It’s a new way of doing things. We call it Radical Transparency.”

My picks! The Japanese GoWeave Wrap Tank Dress $100 & Clean Silk Relaxed Shirt $98

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5. amour vert:

There’s no shock here, but I LOVE Amour Vert. I’ve been a big fan for along time. They’re made locally to me right here in SF and their sustainable fabrics are so luxurious. If you’re looking for cute prints and work appropriate clothes then look no further.

Most of their pieces are over $100 except for their tees. But, they do have nice colored tees that are more interesting than just the plain basic shape.

We are sustainable fashion. We create beautiful clothing with versatility in mind. We pioneer entirely new fabrics that don’t pollute. Our local supply chain and distribution channels have the lowest possible environmental impact.”

My picks! Melis Key Hole Tank $48 & Inna Twist Neck Top $78

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6. reformation:

This cool girl brand has been in the spotlight a lot. They have a sexy effortless feeling to their clothes. In my opinion, they’re a little too revealing for work clothes (if you work in an office), but they are perfect for going out and weekending.

“We put sustainability at the center of everything we do. It is an evolving goal and definition, and we don’t have all the answers. But we want to focus on efforts that have the biggest impact. It influences four main areas: Product; People; Planet; Progress”

My picks! Rou Dress $98 & Alexis Top $78

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7. sanchos:

This little boutique in the UK offers some sustainable basics at very reasonable price. They have a few interesting pieces, but find their selection to be mostly full of basics.

“Our two sustainable shops are based in Exeter, Devon. Unlike shops that you may find on the high street we source clothing that is certified fair trade and is constructed from sustainable natural materials. In both our men's and women's stores, we stock a carefully curated range of clothing, accessories and gifts from organic and fair trade producers.”

My picks! Mini Pini in Ash Pink $49 & Kikii Dress in Ocean Blue $84

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8. yala:

Yala is all about simple, comfortable pieces. Most of their pieces are pretty basic and look SUPER comfy. They look like they could easily transition from work wear to weekending to lounging at home. They also have a nice pajama selection.

“Our commitment to responsibility lives in the materials we choose, the ethical partners we work with, our employee benefits, community involvement and so much more. All of this is to satisfy our responsibility to you. Take comfort in how our clothes feel, look and are made.”

One of the dresses I chose is $108… I know it’s over a hundred but it’s my FAV.

My picks! Cecilia $108 & Geneva Skirt $86

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9. tentree:

Tentree is one of my favorite sustainable brands. I love their clothes for lounging and outdoor activities. If you’re looking for quirky, natured based graphic tees, this is the place for you! For every piece of clothing ten trees is planted. You can read more about their sustainability initiatives in this post about my five favorite hiking essentials.

“At tentree, our goal is to become the most environmentally progressive brand on the planet. We don’t want to just reduce the negative impact of the apparel industry, we want to use it as a vehicle for change.

“Our purpose is to revitalize our environment and inspire a generation to believe that they can do the same. Our goal is to plant 1 billion trees by 2030.”

My picks! TenTree Camp Trees $79 & Positive Impact Tee $37

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10. thought:

Thought has some beautiful pieces with beautiful colors, patterns, and classic silhouettes. These pieces would be great to wear to work and parties!

“Creating Thoughtful Clothing alone isn’t enough. We value doing the right thing and want to feel good about everything we touch.

“That means we work ethically. From the fabrics we use, to how we design and make and deliver our garments. We think about every impact our business has. And it’s with the greater aim of minimising our environmental footprint.

We’re also proud supporters of slow fashion, which is why we design clothing intended to last. We hope the contemporary, easy-to-wear pieces will become your favourites.”

My picks! Blomst Bamboo Dress $76 & Cassia Printed Jersey Tunic $44

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I hope you’ve discovered a few new ethical brands, let me know if you have any favorites in the comment section down below?