In 2019 the Environmental Action Team will be focusing on reducing plastic usage and plastic entering the waste stream by working with local merchants, partnering with  Orcas Recycling Services on various projects, publishing articles to educate the public, and creating a database of products with plastic-free or reduced-plastic packaging.

Eliminating plastic from your life is no easy task, but with these products, you can make the first 20 minutes of your day ALMOST plastic free.

Keurig Coffee Maker Cups.

One in three American homes now has a pod-based coffee machine. The pods are not recyclable or biodegradable.  In 2014 alone, enough K-Cups were sold to circle the globe 10.5 times. Almost all of them ended up in landfills.  “Recyclable” K-cups have an integrated filter and foil cap, which must be separated from the plastic cup to make it marginally recyclable.  

Simple Cups, are an eco-friendly product might appeal to users.  They are not as convenient as K-cups, but they are much cheaper.  Generic K-cups cost about $35 per 100, name brand ones about $60 per 100.   Simple Cups are recyclable paper cups that come in a cardboard box.  You fill them with your own coffee. They cost about $15 per 300.

Personal Care products

Shampoo & Conditioner

Places like The Market in Anacortes and the Co-op in Mt. Vernon, have variety of bulk personal care products available.  They sell reusable plastic bottles, or you can take your own reusable containers. (Look for palm oil free products.)

Several companies now make bars of shampoo and conditioners:

  • Ethnique bar shampoo and conditioner.  Costs about $15 dollars per bar, but the manufacturers say the bar is equivalent to three 8oz. bottles of shampoo or conditioner which makes it quite economical.  Made in New Zealand, they are available on Amazon, which means it will come in lots of packaging. :-(

  • Beauty and the Bees, Makes an assortment of zero-waste, toxin free personal care products, most costing in the $15 range.  You can order a sampler box of 6 kinds of shampoo bars to test out for yourself, for $15. The products are made in Tasmania, and carried by Amazon.

  • LUSH Cosmetics Makes shampoo and conditioner bars.  They also sell a tin for storing the bars. Lush makes a variety of personal care products with little or no plastic packaging.

  • Lamazuna  also makes high-quality body care products, including shampoo, toothpaste, shaving and massage bars, and deodorants. Each comes packaged in a small, recyclable cardboard box.

Moisturizers and Body Lotions

Again, there are bulk creams and moisturizers available at places the The Market in Anacortes and elsewhere, but BEWARE, many contain palm oils

Ethnique makes a body lotion moisturizer, comes in bar for in several scents such as sweet orange and vanilla, coconut and lime, and for your feet, peppermint and teatree oil.  Most cost about $15 a bar, which again is equivalent to about three 8 oz bottles. You do have to warm the bars in your hand before they will easily apply to your skin.

There are a number of oils and butters that come in mostly plastic-free containers.  Unfortunately the caps are almost always plastic. Butters and oils take a few minutes to soak in, unlike lotions, so they tend not to be as popular.

Grocery store oils such as avocado, almond, coconut and even olive oil can be used on the skin, and generally come in glass containers with metal lids.  Essential oils can be added for those who want a scented product.


A few products come in glass jars with metal lids, and others are in stick form.

  • Taylor’s PITS!  Comes in a glass jar. Ingredients include shea butter, olive oil infused with calendula & chamomile, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil, baking soda (which may irritate some people’s skin), arrow root, essential oil blend of tea tree, lavender, orange.  Sounds like a recipe for muffins, but I guess it works pretty well.

  • Lush Cosmetics makes deodorant bars with no packaging. – T’eo Solid Deodorant with witch hazel, and chamomile $7 a bar.

  • Primal life—a stick deodorant, in a cardboard tube, made with magnesium and zinc oxide which they say won't disrupt your natural moisture pH balance (no rash)! They also say it becomes more effective with use. $15 per stick.

  • Lamazuna—Solid Vegan Deodorant contains baking soda, coconut oil, sunflower seed wax.  Sells for about $12 a stick.


Several companies make bamboo toothbrushes with plant-based bristles that last as long as the plastic versions and will biodegrade in six months.  Most cost $3 to $4 and several are sold 4 to a pack. Amazon has several brands. Beware, there are many bamboo brushes with plastic bristles.

Toothpaste. There are a few options with toothpaste.  Some brands are available in metal tubes which may be more recyclable than plastic ones, but they are hard to find, pricey, and still have plastic caps.

Uncle Harry’s sells toothpaste in glass jars $6 for a 2 oz. jar, and there are a few toothpowders available in jars, but most of those have plastic lids.  The internet abounds with homemade toothpaste recipes, most based on baking soda.

Floss—EcoDent is the only floss I found that is packaged in paper, and is itself compostable.  However, the floss comes on a little plastic spool, but since about 700 million plastic floss containers are discarded each year, and floss is often sold in secondary packaging, like blister-packs, this is a step in the right direction.

Razors and Blades

Although they are retro and a bit of an investment initially at $25 to $35 dollars, the all-metal safety razor that uses all metal razor blades is a complete escape from plastic. The razor will last for decades.  The all-metal blades are relatively cheap compared to disposable razors. A few brands of razors are Julian Vue, Merkur, Elkaline, Bigfoot and Smoothere.

So there you have it.  The first plastic-free 20-minutes of your day. You can shower, shave, brush your teeth, floss, put on some deodorant, and lotion, and even have a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, making the remaining 23 hours and 40 minutes of your day plastic-free is a dang bit harder.