Deodorant, as everyday as toothpaste, combing your hair or showering. Whether you spritz your pits with antiperspirant, or get your morning rolling with a roll-on, most of us are sure to use deodorant every day. But how often do you spare a thought for the packaging that keeps us smelling fresh?
79% of people in the UK have bought deodorant as part of their weekly shopping. That’s around fifty million people, and, when you think about how many of the deodorants on sale are packaged in plastic or aerosols, it isn’t hard to imagine the damage this could have on our environment.
Roll-on deodorants are often packaged in plastic, and, because they are usually made up of a thicker outer layer and a thinner inner layer, they are hard to recycle. Recycling two types of plastic in one item is not yet a cost or carbon efficient process, meaning it would cost more to recycle a roll-on than it would to simply make another.
This creates a big problem. Plastic can take 450 years to biodegrade, and, with millions of people using roll-ons everyday, the amount of plastic ending up in landfill is staggering - each year eight million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean alone, so it’s mind boggling to think how much is wasted around the world.
In the same way, the UK uses around 600 million aerosols each year, which is equivalent to about 10 cans per person. One of the main uses of aerosols is for deodorants, anti-perspirants and body sprays, and while the good news is that aerosols are recyclable, in practice this can be difficult.
To be processed an aerosol must be completely empty, dry and clean, and in reality this is hard to achieve. What’s more, the compressed gases that are used in aerosols have a harmful impact on CO2 emissions. A recent study showed that if one million people switched their regular aerosol for a newer, compressed aerosol then 696 tonnes of CO2 and enough aluminium to make 20,000 bikes could be saved. Imagine if, instead of swapping to another, smaller, aerosol, you canned the can altogether? Surely that’s something worth going naked for?
Aromaco and Sunflower solid (and naked) deodorants are somewhere between a cream and roll-on in terms of feel on the skin.
They use a base of propylene glycol derived from rapeseed oil, sodium bicarbonate derived from salt water, and sodium stearate derived from vegetable oil. This is melted down into naturally astringent herbal infusions and vinegars, and antibacterial essential oils. The sodium bicarbonate absorbs excess sweat and reduces the acidity of the skin to create an environment hostile to bacterial growth. These mixtures are then poured into moulds where they solidify to create blocks of self-preserving deodorant that can be cut fresh to the desired size. These bars are easy to use, and can be applied along the curves of the body, gliding like a roll-on.
T’eo is a solid deodorant with a powdery finish on the skin for areas of the body that require a hardworking absorbent product. A base of deodorising sodium bicarbonate, cream of tartar and magnesium carbonate are mixed with wet ingredients like skin softening apricot kernel oil and cleansing fresh green grapes to create a cake-like mix which is then compacted into a solid shape that can easily reach and deposit powder onto the curves of the body. For ease of use, one side is dipped in 100% biodegradable blue wax to create a handle to grip onto.
Powdered deodorants, like T For Toes or The Greeench, are packaged in simple recycled plastic bottles that are easy to clean, dry and reuse or recycle. The clear bottle is made in the UK from 100% recycled PET (Polyethylene terephthalate). that is easily recycled.
What’s more, the supplier has started incorporating the offcuts from recycled PET soap, deodorant and massage bar moulds into the recycled bottles - ensuring a closed loop cycle.
The bottle caps are made in India from 100% post-industrial recycled polypropylene plastic (PP). PP plastic is not yet easily recycled at local councils, but by returning bottle tops to your local Lush store, you can ensure they are recycled. Alternatively, check with your local council to see if they recycle PP plastic.
For those looking for an aerosol-free body spray to perfume the skin there are many spritzer-based sprays on the market. Most fine fragrance body sprays have a detachable glass bottle that is easily recycled. However pumps, being a mix of plastics and metal coils, are too complex to recycle easily so are currently a work in progress. As a shatterproof option, Lush’s body spray packaging is made of two parts, the bottle and the pump. The bottle is made of recycled High-density polyethylene (HDPE) - an easily recycled common plastic - and manufactured in the UK. It is easy to detach, clean, dry and can be recycled at any collection point. The mixed materials pump is also manufactured in the UK and is, as yet, unrecyclable - but don’t worry we’re working on it.
Can the can and go naked...
So, natural deodorants with little or no packaging seem the logical choice. Not only do they have minimal impact on the environment, but they work a treat too. Their natural ingredients help to minimise odour and maximise freshness, while keeping your skin’s natural balance in sync.
Their naturally self-preserving, aluminium-free formulas also mean you can be confident that the ingredients inside them will be kind to your body, as well as to the world around us.