One of the first things I stocked my new apartment with was a year’s supply of zero waste hand soap. Why you ask? Well, aside from wanting squeaky clean hands, I’m a big advocate of refill systems. Conventional hand soap often comes in a plastic bottle designed for one use. They lure you in by creating seasonal and/or irresistible scents which you want to buy on repeat. Problem is, that quickly adds up to a lot of plastic bottles. Plastic is only recycled 4-5% of the time, so the likelihood of those bottles being sent to landfill is pretty high.
The ingredients matter just as much as the packaging too. Lets not forget: We’re washing this stuff down the drain. And all pipes lead back to the ocean, right? So we probably shouldn’t be washing anything that has any harsh chemicals. Many conventional hand soaps often contain dyes and additives that could potentially pollute waterways. I’d rather not risk that. So here’s a list of the best zero waste hand soap brands I’ve come to know and trust.
FYI, this is a guest post written by Sydney Montagna, a zero waste advocate and aspiring writer. This post contains affiliate links. This means if you choose to purchase one of these items I will make a very small commission at no extra charge to you. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.
11 Best Zero Waste Hand Soap Brands For Clean Hands
What is zero waste hand soap?
Zero waste hand soap simply means hand soap that doesn’t harm the environment through packaging or the ingredients used to make it. The harmful ingredients we avoid for skincare products are just the same as the ones we want to avoid using to wash our hands.
Most zero waste hand soaps are plastic-free, or at least not packaged in single-use casing. They’re made with natural, eco-friendly ingredients that won’t harm waterways once washed down the drain.
At the end of their life, there’s minimal to no waste (aka, you use up the entirety of it, can refill it, or recycle it).
Is bar soap zero waste?
Yes, bar soap is zero waste! Compared to liquid soap, bar soap is considered the most sustainable soap option, with 10 times less an environmental impact.
The idea is to use up an entire bar of soap while washing your hands before recycling or composting the packaging it arrived in. Generally they’ll arrive in paper or cardboard packaging, which can be broken down much easier than plastic containers.
Bar soap uses 30% less water than liquid soap and has an overall greener manufacturing process. It’s also more likely to be shipped in recyclable or compostable packaging and last much longer than liquid soap.
Many conventional hand soaps contain perfumes and dyes that can irritate the skin, including chemicals like parabens, which are a class of preservatives. They’ve also been linked to breast cancer and reproductive health issues.
The packaging for conventional bar soap is more likely to be plastic free than liquid soap. The soap bars can come in cardboard or paper, but sometimes they’re wrapped in paper with plastic film- which isn’t recyclable.
However, liquid hand soap is typically packaged in a plastic dispenser bottle. This is hard to recycle and it is designed to only be used once.
There is the option to buy your own glass bottle dispenser from a retailer, but you’ll want to make sure to fill it up with a sustainable brand of liquid hand soap. For example, you can mix castile soap with water, or check your local refillery to see if they sell hand soap in bulk.
Is there an eco-friendly soap?
Yes, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to eco-friendly soap. Whether you prefer liquid soap or bar soap, you’ll be able to take your pick.
Since bar soap would be considered the most zero waste option, there’s sustainable brands that make bars with gentle, natural ingredients and minimal packaging. They’re usually plastic free and arrive in recyclable or compostable packaging. You can get a cute thrifted soap dish to place underneath them by the sink.
Eco-friendly liquid soap typically includes a glass dispenser with dissolvable tablets to place in water or liquid refills in sustainable packaging.
Here, I’ve put together a list of the most notable zero waste hand soaps around:
- Refillable, glass bottle
- Foaming hand soap
- Refill with .3 oz concentrated tablets
- Plant based ingredients/vegan
- Comes in multiple natural scents
Image credit: Blueland (Instagram: @Blueland)
- Soap bar (can double as body wash)
- Recyclable cardboard box
- Organic + vegan
- No synthetic fragrances or colorants
- Handmade in USA
- Comes in eight unique, natural scents
Image credit: Ecoroots (Instagram: @Ecoroots)
- Sustainable, metal packaging
- Send back for free refills
- Sulfate + paraben free
- Vegan + GMO free
- Comes in four natural scents
Image credit: Plaine Products
- Glass + metal dispenser
- Gel refills in metal bottle
- Reusable bottle
- Natural oils + plant extracts
Image credit: Grove Collaborative
- Concentrated foaming hand soap
- Compostable refill pods
- Made in canada
- Plant based ingredients
Image credit: Etee
- Dissolvable paste bar turns into liquid soap
- Lavender or unscented options
- One bar makes ~1 gallon of liquid soap
- Natural ingredients
Image Credit: Tiny Yellow Bungalow
Image credit: EarthHero/Soap Distillery
- Refillable hand soap tablets
- Organic ingredients
- Lavender or unscented options
- Plastic-free cardboard packaging
- Woman owned
- Donates 2% of sales to nonprofits
Image Credit: EarthHero/Meliora
- Recyclable, aluminum packaging
- Options with or without reusable pump
- Vegan, cruelty free & organic
- Made in USA
- Palm-oil free
- Donate 1% of sales to youth leadership programs
Image Credit: EarthHero/Alpine Provisions
- Bar soap (doubles as body soap)
- Handmade in USA
- Plastic-free recyclable packaging
- Sustainably harvested oils + butter
- Palm oil free
Image Credit: EarthHero/ Bell Mountain Naturals
Image Credit: EarthHero/Moon Valley Organics
So, what do you think of these zero waste hand soaps? Which are you most excited to try? Let me know in the comments below!
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