Zero Waste Shampoo: 7 Options to Go Plastic Free


You don’t need to use liquid shampoo in plastic bottles to have a clean, itch-free scalp. Nope! You do not. Try these zero waste shampoo options instead.

Zero waste shampoo typically comes in the form of a bar, wrapped in paper packaging. This eliminates plastic bottle waste. Aloe vera and soap nuts can also be used to make DIY, eco friendly shampoo.

But you should know you may need to try a few types to find the right fit for your hair because – let’s be real – everyone’s hair reacts differently to the same shampoo.

So, have an open mind as you venture into the world of zero waste shampoo.

zero waste shampoo and conditioner bars

Why use zero waste shampoo?

Shampoo today likely comes in a sturdy plastic bottle, right?

That’s a problem because plastic doesn’t degrade or decompose. It just breaks up into more plastic.

Yes, you can recycle the bottle if there are good recycling initiatives in your area.

But, recycling plastic just means making MORE plastic.

Recycling doesn’t change it into a material that is safer for the environment.

So, it’s time to switch to better, more sustainable packaging.

The thing is, though, packaging isn’t the only problematic thing about regular shampoo.

Some brands test on animals. They are not committed to being cruelty-free.

Plastic shampoo bottles

Then, there are the ingredients in shampoo.

Parabens are antimicrobial compounds used in cosmetics like shampoo. There is some debate as to whether or not parabens disrupt the endocrine system and cause cancer.

But, there is no debate on what parabens do when they hit the wastewater treatment plant.

They react with chlorine to form pollutants that can affect ecosystems. If the water or sludge is reused, the compounds could be hazardous to us too.

Another problematic ingredient in shampoo is palm oil.

I urge you to read this article from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). It explains how forests are being cut down to plant palm trees to make the oil.

There is no excuse for deforestation of this magnitude.

So, avoid products made with palm oil – including shampoo. 

Although there are other problematic ingredients, I’ll stop here. Check your labels and research the ingredients. You may be surprised what you are putting on your body.

What to look for when buying zero waste shampoo?

  • Packaging: It is important to purchase products in sustainable and recyclable packaging. Paper based packaging are often biodegradable and metal is infinitely recyclable.
  • Ingredients: Palm oil, parabens, and sulfates are problematic. When shopping for shampoo, always research the ingredients. Use products with natural compounds where possible.

Best zero waste shampoo and conditioners

The first thing to get used to when it comes to zero waste shampoo is that it isn’t usually a liquid. Shampoo and conditioner bars are the norm but there are dry powders too.

Here’s a summary of them:

BrandTypePackaging
Ethique *barpaper
Aspen Kay barpaper, metal tin
Bambo Earth **barpaper
Whiff Botanicals ***barpaper
Plaine Products liquidaluminum, plastic
Soap Nuts (Eco Nuts)nutpaper, cotton
Aloe vera (Plant)plant
* contains sulfates ** contains SLS *** contains sulfates and cetearyl

1. Ethique eco friendly solid shampoo bar

Ethique is committed to ridding the world of plastic while providing biodegradable and sustainable products. They have an entire range of shampoo bars for different types of hair.

This one – heali kiwi – is for sensitive scalps. It’s made with plant-based ingredients like:

Ethique Eco-Friendly Solid zero waste Shampoo Bar for Dandruff
  • oatmeal
  • coconut oil
  • cocoa butter
  • neem oil
  • lime oil
  • karanja oil (which is used for treating skin problems)

Pros:

  • palm oil free
  • paraben free
  • 100% vegan
  • paper based packaging (recycle or compost)

Cons:

  • contains sulfate compounds.

Get on Amazon: Ethique Heali Kiwi

2. Aspen Kay solid shampoo bar

Aspen Kay is a wonderful US based company that makes their soaps and shampoos by hand, the old-fashioned way.

They insist on making their products from certified sustainable, organic products.

Solid Shampoo Bar, Made With Natural & Organic Ingredients

This zero waste shampoo is great for all hair types. It is made with:

  • organic cocoa butter
  • sunflower oil
  • argan oil
  • extracts of hibiscus, chamomile, and turmeric
  • essential oils of lemongrass and orange

Pros:

  • paraben free
  • sulfate free
  • paper packaging (compost or recycle) with metal tin (recycle)

Get on Amazon: Aspen Kay Solid Shampoo Bar

3. BamboEarth shampoo bar with conditioning

Solid Shampoo Bar And Conditioner Effect Hair Soap

BamboEarth’s mission is all about zero waste so be sure to take a look at this honey shampoo bar. It contains:

  • honey
  • shear butter
  • bergamot oil
  • frankincense extract
  • sodium lauryl sulfate.

Pros:

  • paraben free
  • paper packaging (compost or recycle)

Cons:

  • contains sulfates

Get on Amazon: BamboEarth Shampoo Bar with Conditioning

4. Whiff Botanicals shampoo and conditioner bar

Whiff Botanicals is a US-based company that uses biodegradable ingredients and recyclable packaging.

Whiff Shampoo Bar and Conditioner Bar

The shampoo bar contains:

  • coconut oil
  • cocoa butter
  • essential oils.

The conditioner bar:

  • cocoa butter
  • coconut oil
  • olive oil
  • jojoba oil
  • wheat germ oil
  • vitamin E.

Pros:

  • paraben free
  • cardboard packaging with paper filling (compost or recycle)

Cons:

  • both bars contain sulfates
  • conditioner bar contains cetearyl which is a derivative of palm oil

Get on Amazon: Whiff Botanicals Shampoo Bar and Conditioner Bar

5. Plaine Products refillable shampoo and conditioner

Plaine Products Refillable Shampoo and Conditioner

Plaine Products solved the product cycle when it comes to shampoo, conditioner and body wash. How?

When you order, you receive aluminum refillable bottles of products with plastic pumps and plastic lids.

But, when you’re running low, they send you a new refillable bottle. And, when you’re done with the first bottle, you switch the plastic pump to your new bottle and return the old one too them with the old plastic lid.

Guess what? They cover the shipping cost to send the bottle back! How great is that?

As for ingredients, the shampoo contains:

  • coconut, safflower, sunflower, camellia and rice bran oil
  • aloe juice
  • extracts of chamomile, papaya, and pineapple
  • extracts of rosemary, mint and vanilla

The conditioner contains similar ingredients along with shea and mango butters and jojoba oil.

Get on Amazon: Plaine Products Refillable Shampoo and Conditioner

6. Soap Nuts as a Zero Waste Shampoo

Soap berries or soap nuts come from certain tropical trees of the lychee family. The interesting thing about them are they contain saponins which are natural detergents. They’ve been used for thousands of years by ancient Asians.

You can use soap nuts as shampoo, body wash, laundry soap, and dishwashing detergent. Yep they are very versatile.

Pick up your soap nuts from Eco Nuts – they come in cotton bags within a cardboard box. No plastic packaging here.

Soap nuts make great zero waste shampoo

Check out this Youtube video from We.Are.Wellness. Pia explains how easy it is to make soap nut shampoo.

7. Aloe Vera

I talked about gardening as an eco friendly self care idea.

There, I suggest getting aloe vera plants. They have so many uses and will fit perfectly into your zero waste lifestyle.

As for its use as a zero waste shampoo, all you need is the aloe vera gel. That’s it.

I did a super simple video on how to make the gel.

When you’re done with that, check out Priscilla’s Youtube video on the steps to make the shampoo.

I hope you try these zero waste shampoo options. But, you should know, there are many, many other brands too. Lush has incredibly popular options.

Have you ever tried any of these? I’d love to hear about what works for you.

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