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My Favorite Zero-Waste Shampoo and Conditioner


When I first made the decision to eliminate plastic containers and bags from my life and “go zero waste,” some switches were easy peasy. Some had me in a panic. 

My attachment to my favorite hair products (sold in plastic bottles) had me wondering if I would just have to make an exception when it came to styling my locks. But with a little time, a lot of research, and an irrational determination to see things through to the end, I made some new discoveries.

I have not yet found a zero-waste solution for all of my hair needs such as styling products (future post coming!), but in the meantime, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned and what I love so you can get started, too.

It took me decades to figure out what my fickle hair needed — in terms of the right style, the right stylist, the right shampoo and conditioner, and the right styling products. 

Of course for all of these decades the main criteria for choosing hair products have been first and foremost: vegan and cruelty-free (that is, free of animal products and free of animal-testing). I’ve tried a gazillion products over the years, and the brand that ticks all of my ethical and beauty boxes is Aveda. Having used and loved this brand for over a decade, the thought of switching brands was not something I relished. 

Because Aveda primarily sells their products to Aveda-approved salons (one of which I go to for my hair cuts and highlights), for a time I thought that my solution would be to ask my hair stylist if I could just fill up my existing Aveda containers with shampoo and conditioner from the large bottles she would already have open for washing clients’ hair. 

While this would slightly reduce the existence of additional plastic bottles in the world and while I think it’s a brilliant stop-gap (you can steal this idea!), I was open to exploring other solutions that would bring me closer to the zero-waste goals I was trying to achieve. 

And a solution I found!

Let me cut to the chase and tell you about the products I love so much that they successfully helped wean me off of Aveda, then I’ll provide some other ideas so you have a bunch to choose from. (Keep reading for your 15% off coupon code!)

Plaine Products

When I heard about a sister-owned company that made cruelty-free, plastic-free, chemical-free, biodegradable, vegan shampoo and conditioner (and body lotion and body wash), I had to give them a try! They were kind enough to send me some products to test, and I was hooked immediately. 

Even so, I wanted to give my hair some time to experience the products before I shared my enthusiasm. Now that time has passed, I’m here to share why my enthusiasm has only increased. I’m hooked.

Plaine Products come in aluminum containers that they refill for customers again and again and again. Here’s how it works:

  1. For your first order, you order the products you want with a pump for each aluminum bottle. 
  2. When you run out of (or are running low on) your products, you order a refill, say “no” to the pump option (since you already ordered them in your first shipment), and opt for a return label to be sent with your order.
  3. When your new order arrives, you just switch the pump over to the new bottles, and send the old bottles back using the same box and the label (that you don’t pay additionally for). They sanitize the bottles, refill them, and send them to their new home for other customers.

As you learned from the podcast episode called Zero Waste: It Ain’t About Recycling, very little of the plastic we buy gets recycled and because it lasts for so long, every bit of plastic ever created still exists on this planet. Experts predict that at our current rate of plastic use and disposal, soon there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. That is a depressing thought.

What you also learned is that when it comes to materials, glass is indeed 100% recyclable (though we should re-use it rather than recycle it when it’s perfectly functional), as is aluminum. And in the case of Plaine Products, the aluminum bottles are sterilized to be used a number of times before they even get recycled. AND, the recycling process for aluminum requires even less energy than was needed to make the bottles in the first place!

What’s more: the boxes they use to ship (which you can use to send your bottles back) are custom-made to fit their bottles (eliminating the need for peanuts or packaging) and are made from a mix of 95% post-consumer waste and 5% post-industrial waste. Absolutely NO new materials are used in the manufacturing of their green shipping cartons. They even use plastic-free tape. 

AND…everything comes in two natural scents: Mint + Rosemary or Citrus + Lavender. Both are divine!

Buy Your Plaine Products for 15% Off!

If I haven’t convinced you to give them a try yet, then experience their awesomeness yourself. Use this link anytime you make a purchase, and enter “compassion” as the coupon code to receive 15% off your order! The shipping is a flat $5, which is pretty amazing. 

The Aveda conditioner I was using before cost $44. You might think that’s crazy, but for a fantastic, cruelty-free, toxin-free, vegan, natural conditioner that I loved, I was willing to pay it — especially because I had tried so many others that just didn’t work for my hair. 

The fact that I’m paying 1/3 less now for a zero-waste, sustainable, plastic-free, vegan, toxic-free, biodegradable conditioner (and shampoo, etc.) is the icing on the cake! By the time you factor in your 15% off coupon code using this link, I think you’ll be happy with that, too! 

Other Zero-Waste Options

Shampoo Bars – I’ve never tried them, but I’ve heard mixed opinions about shampoo bars. Give them a try yourself, and let me know what you think. 

Refilling from Bulk Section – Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco is the closest store to me that has bulk shampoos and conditioners with which you can fill your own bottles. HOWEVER, the brands they have aren’t vegan or cruelty-free. But look to stores near you with good bulk sections!

DIY – Make your own. Good luck. 🙂

SHOP Summary

REMEMBER TO USE ANY OF THE LINKS BELOW AND USE “compassion” TO RECEIVE 15% OFF YOUR ORDERS 

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