Zero Waste Shampoo: 5 Options for Beginners

zero waste shampoo bars

Switching to zero waste shampoo (and conditioner) is a great way to improve your health and the health of the planet. 

Did you know that 50 percent of people in the U.S. don’t recycle personal care products, according to DoSomething.org?

Does that shock you? 

Well, I’m thinking that while it is shocking, it makes sense.  If you think about it, plastic bottles need to be clean in order to be recycled properly. So that means washing out the shampoo bottle is an extra step that people need to take before tossing it in the recycling bin.  

Eliminating the waste will help reduce your carbon footprint and eliminating the harsh and toxic chemicals will help reduce your body burden – or chemical buildup in your body.

So really it’s a win-win situation to kick the single-use plastic bottles to the curb. Ok, well don’t really kick them to the curb.  That would be littering!

You can recycle them, and then use this simple guide to find the zero waste shampoo that works best for you and your family.  

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QUICK LINKS TO THE TOP 5 ZERO WASTE SHAMPOO OPTIONS

Most of the shampoo options include in this guide, except for one, are shampoo bars. These are the most common type of zero waste shampoo.  If you’re short on time, use these links to skip directly to the 5 best zero waste shampoo options!

Want to save time and money finding the zero waste swaps for your family? Download the FREE guide to 9 Zero Waste Swaps Every Family Can Make!

BENEFITS OF ZERO WASTE SHAMPOO

There are many benefits to buying and using zero waste shampoo. Many are environmental benefits but there are some unexpected health benefits too!  

Plastic-free

Eliminating single-use plastic from your daily hair care routine is a great goal and will help keep plastic from out of the oceans and other areas of our environment.  Only a small percentage of plastic is actually recycled. 

About 552 million plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles end up in U.S. landfills each year! Many end up in oceans too.  So let’s skip the plastic altogether and opt for zero waste or compostable packaging instead!

Environmentally-friendly

Speaking of plastic, according to Daily Sabah, did you know that it can take up to 1,000 years for plastic to decompose in landfills? Imagine all the leftover shampoo and conditioner, along with the toxic chemicals in the plastic bottles, leaching into our soil and waterways in the process.  

Eliminating single-use plastic is the only way to avoid this from happening since most plastic ends up in landfills and oceans. In fact, by 2050, scientists predict that there will be more plastic in our ocean than fish, according to the Washington Post

Toxic-free and Good for You

Many conventional shampoos (and conditioners) contain harmful toxins and chemicals that are not good for your health, such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), parabens, artificial fragrances, and silicone. 

There are many reasons you want to avoid fragrances and other harmful chemicals.

The good news is that zero waste shampoo companies also focus on eliminating these types of ingredients from their products. So that means you are getting safer, healthier, and more natural ingredients in your zero waste shampoo. 

Great for Traveling!

Traveling with shampoo and conditioner bars is easy! No more liquids to worry about leaking or limits on airplanes. Just toss your dry shampoo bar in a reusable container and you can travel anywhere  – mess-free! 

HOW TO FIND ZERO WASTE SHAMPOO 

Thankfully, there are many zero waste shampoo options available online that can be shipped to your home.  

If you are lucky enough to have a zero-waste store near you, it’s best to shop locally to cut down on your carbon footprint and reduce shipping waste. The rest of us can turn to online shopping to help us find the best quality, highest performing, and cheapest options.  

Yet, when doing so you may want to develop your own criteria for choosing the best product for you and your family. 

For example…

  1. Do you need to buy the least expensive zero waste shampoo?
  2. Are you more concerned with the quality of the ingredients? 
  3. Do you want a vegan shampoo?
  4. Are you looking for an organic zero waste shampoo?
  5. Do you want to use a shampoo bar or do you want something more conventional?
  6. Will you avoid products with palm oil?
  7. Are you looking for a cruelty-free product?

Decide on your criteria before determining which brand and products are best for you.

Related articles:

IS THERE A TRANSITION PERIOD FOR ZERO WASTE SHAMPOO?

There may be a short transition period when you switch from conventional shampoo from a plastic bottle and using more natural, safer shampoo bars.  When you eliminate the harsh chemicals from your shampoo and your hair is no longer stripped of its natural oils, your hair will feel different at first.

I recommend giving your hair some time to adjust. At first, my hair did feel a bit greasy and weighed down but I was also experimenting with washing my hair less often (vs. every day). Most companies and other customers find that their hair adjusts to the transition in about a week.  Another option to help you through the transition and leave your hair feeling lighter is to try an apple cider vinegar rinse after you shampoo.  You can learn more about this in the section below about zero waste conditioners

HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR ZERO WASTE SHAMPOO BARS

In order to make your shampoo (and conditioner) bars last as long as possible, you will want to make sure you care for them properly.  This simply means allowing them to dry in between uses.  

After your shower, shake off the excess water or pat dry with a washcloth or towel.  Place the shampoo bar on a dry shelf to air dry. 

You can also place the bar on a wire rack, a bamboo soap dish, or a stainless steel soap dish to ensure that the bottom of the shampoo bar is able to dry well. 

With proper care, your shampoo bar can last 50-75 washes (or more) depending on the size and brand.  Either way, they definitely last longer than most bottles of conventional shampoo, while also taking up a lot less space and eliminating waste!

PLAINE PRODUCTS SHAMPOO

Plaine Product's Fresh Shampoo

Plaine Products shampoo is the only non-bar shampoo included on this list.  They are a unique and innovative company that provides refillable aluminum bottled shampoo (and conditioner).  

So if you are accustomed to using bottled shampoo and are not quite sure you are ready to switch to a shampoo bar, you may want to give this refillable bottle program a try.  

When you are done with the aluminum bottles, send them back to Plaine Products by using the box it was mailed in originally and the pre-paid postage label.  So easy!

Plus, if you choose to recycle the aluminum bottles at some point, it’s good to know that aluminum can be recycled over and over again without any loss in quality – unlike plastic – and requires less energy than making the bottles originally.

Additionally, Plaine Products also thoroughly researches all its ingredients through the Environmental Working Group’s database to ensure that each one is safe and healthy for you. 

Other Key Features: 

  • Reusable and recyclable packaging
  • Free of single-use plastic
  • Vegan
  • Non-GMO
  • Cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny Certified
  • Certified B Corporation
  • No sulfates, parabens, phthalates, silicone and palm oil
  • No synthetic fragrances
  • Biodegradable ingredients
  • Safe for kids and babies
  • Value – 16 oz bottle is $30.00 (or $27.00 with subscription) Use the code SLG20 to save 20% on your first order!

Available at: Plaine Products

ETHIQUE SHAMPOO BARS

Ethique was the first type of shampoo and conditioner bars that I tried and loved them right away.  Ethique is on a mission to prevent plastic bottles from being made and disposed of and to date has prevented over 6 million plastic bottles from being made. Their goal is to reach 50 million by 2025!

Their sampler pack is a great way to test out the different popular types of shampoo and conditioners that they offer. It contains 5 bars total – 3 shampoo bars and 2 conditioner bars. 

Other Key Features: 

  • 100% sustainable
  • Compostable packaging
  • Biodegradable ingredients
  • Vegan
  • Palm-oil free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Certified B Corporation
  • Value – full bars are 3.88 oz for about $15.00

Available at: EthiqueAmazon, Target.com, and even in some Targets stores

CHAGRIN VALLEY SOAP & SALVE SHAMPOO BARS

Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve is a small family-owned business in Ohio, USA, that is committed to healthier skincare and hair products that are also kind to the planet.  I just became a customer recently and love their mission and quality of products.  

They have a variety of natural hair and skin care products to choose from but the most exciting part of their company is that Chagrin Valley really understands the importance of eco-friendly packaging and is 99% plastic-free! 

Check out their Green Packaging information page! You’ll find how remarkable their commitment is to being eco-friendly and following the 3 Rs of a zero waste lifestyle – reduce, reuse, recycle

Chagrin Valley reuses the materials they receive. So if your shampoo bars or other hair products come wrapped in plastic bubble wrap, you know it’s because they are reusing it – and you should too!

Other Key Features: 

  • Sustainable, eco-friendly and compostable packaging
  • Biodegradable products
  • Natural ingredients
  • Non-GMO
  • USDA Certified Organic
  • No synthetic ingredients
  • Palm oil is certified sustainable by the Rainforest Alliance
  • Leaping Bunny Certified / Cruelty-free
  • Offers some vegan products
  • Discloses all ingredients (for consumers to make informed choices)
  • Value – full bars are 5.5 to 5.8 oz for $8.95 to $9.50 (GREAT VALUE!)

Available at: Chagrin Valley and Amazon

ECOROOTS SHAMPOO BARS

EcoRoots Zero Waste Shampoo Bars

I just recently became aware of EcoRoots and am excited to try their products next. As always, I looked into their mission and values and was pleased to see their commitment to providing plastic-free and sustainable alternatives to everyday products, including shampoo bars. 

Additionally, EcoRoots will donate a portion of every purchase to Ocean Conservancy to help protect the planet. 

Other Key Features: 

  • 100% plastic-free
  • Recyclable and upcyclable packaging
  • 100% compostable and dissolvable cornstarch packing peanuts
  • Natural and organic ingredients
  • No harsh chemicals
  • No sulfates, silicones or parabens
  • Palm-oil free
  • Vegan
  • Value – full bars are 2.25 oz for $10.50 (lasts about 50 washes)

Available at: EcoRoots 

FRIENDLY SOAP SHAMPOO BARS

Friendly Soap was born from a desire of two friends in the UK to do right by the planet and its people. Reading about their story has given me the confidence to add them to this list, even though I haven’t tried their products yet.  Many others in the green space have recommended this company, and I see why!

Other Key Features: 

  • Plastic-free packaging
  • 100% recycled and recyclable 
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Ethically sourced ingredients
  • Biodegradable soap
  • No waste during the manufacturing process
  • No sulfates/SLS or parabens
  • Palm-oil free
  • Value – full bars are 3.35 oz (price varies depending on the store)

Available atFriendly Soap or Amazon

ZERO WASTE CONDITIONER

While it’s not the main focus of this article, I did want to mention that there are a few main zero waste conditioner options – Plaine Products conditioner, conditioner bars, and an apple cider vinegar hair rinse. 

Plaine Products Conditioner

Plaine Productions conditioner works the same as their zero waste shampoo and comes in the reusable, refillable aluminum bottles. Order it as a set with the shampoo and call it done!

Conditioner Bars

Conditioner bars are available by most of the shampoo bar companies listed here, except for Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve.  However, Chagrin Valley does offer great options for hair oils, hair balms, and apple cider vinegar rinse in glass and aluminum recyclable containers. 

I also read a great zero waste tip for when you have scraps of the conditioner bars leftover.  Dissolve them in a spray bottle with warm water and use it as a leave-in conditioner. Genius!

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

apple cider vinegar hair rinse

Use apple cider vinegar rinse as a natural conditioner for your hair.  It helps to restore the scalps PH balance, clarify the hair and scalp, remove residue, decrease tangles, and makes hair shine.  

It is also great to use during the transition between conventional bottled shampoos and the zero waste, natural shampoos. You can make your own or purchase the unconcentrated forms of apple cider vinegar and add water when ready to use. 

DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

  • 1 part apple cider vinegar
  • 4 parts water
  • 3 drops of your favorite essential oil

Mix together in a squirt bottle and apply to hair after washing.  Let sit for a couple of minutes. Then rinse thoroughly. 

FINAL THOUGHTS ON ZERO WASTE SHAMPOO

In the end, finding the right zero waste shampoo might take a little trial and error for each individual. However, this short list of great options will make your trial period far shorter! 

Remember to always give yourself a little grace during the transition and be patient with the changes.  In the end, it will not only be worth it for the health of your hair but also the health of the planet.  

Together, let’s keep those 552 million plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles out of U.S. (and other) landfills each year!

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P.S. – Want to save time and money finding the zero waste swaps for your family? Download the FREE guide to 9 Zero Waste Swaps Every Family Can Make!

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4 Comments

  1. June 17 / 6:44 AM

    I love this idea. Getting rid of garbage is a huge issue in our area. Plus those shampoo bars look really neat!

    • Rebekah
      Author
      June 18 / 1:49 PM

      Thanks! Let me know if you try out one of the shampoo bars!

  2. June 17 / 8:12 AM

    These are some great options for zero waste living! I’m doing my best to switch to a LW & ZW life and shampoo is something I haven’t switched yet. Thanks for these options!

    • Rebekah
      Author
      June 18 / 1:49 PM

      I’m so glad you found it helpful! Keep me posted on your journey!

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