Sustainable Travel, War on Plastic

Here’s What Is In My Eco-Friendly Toiletries Bag

April 10, 2017

It’s been awhile since I last opened up my toiletries bag and gave you a peek inside.

I’ve been working hard on eliminating plastic from my travel essentials, by investing in reusable items made out of materials that were compostable or long-lasting, like bamboo and steel.

And I’ve been wanting to write an updated post for awhile, but funny thing – when I moved from the UK to Australia, I sort of accidentally left my toiletries bag at my Aunty’s place. Whoops.

So, you’ll just have to enjoy the illustrated version of this post, which I think is infinitely more fun, anyway.

Related: Seven Plastic Free Methods Which Work Gangbusters

eco-friendly toiletries bag

Bamboo toothbrush (with travelling case)

I think bamboo toothbrushes were the first swap over I made, in my quest to go plastic free. I purchased four adult toothbrushes from Brush with Bamboo, which is enough to see me through an entire year. The toothbrushes went in my compost in London at the end of their life and I then bought four my kids sized brushes, as I have an unnaturally tiny head.

I also bought the bamboo travelling case and it does all right, although it splits after awhile and needs to be aired out after travelling, so that it doesn’t mould over. No real dramas.

Here are some eco-friendly toiletries that are ideal for green travellers. #ResponsibleTravel Click To Tweet

eco-friendly toiletries bag

Bamboo comb

I had a really nice comb with a handle, but I lost it – I think I left it on the floor of a plane during a long-haul flight. Sigh.

Luckily, a friend came to the rescue, delivering onto me a replacement. It doesn’t have a handle, but it’s still made out of bamboo and is lovely.

I’ve had it a year and it shows no sign of breakage. Could never say the same with plastic combs or hairbrushes, when paired against my extremely thick hair.

eco-friendly toiletries bag

Merkur Razor (with blades)

I love my razor.

It took a little while to get used to using the stainless steel razors, rather than the horrible pink plastic ones – it’s an art, that’s for sure. I did cut myself the first time I used it and had terror flashbacks to being thirteen again (teenage years are years I would never want to repeat), but I quickly got the hang of it. It does a darn good job and gives me a close shave – I end up attending to my legs every 10 days or so, sometimes stretching it to two weeks.

If you want to get as much use out of your blades as possible, make sure you take the razor apart and dry it after use. Then, if you’re at home and not travelling, either stand it up in a little glass jar, or hang it off a proper razor stand. Letting it dry naturally will prevent the blade from dulling.

I got about two uses out of blades I let drip-dry, which I can’t say was hugely economic. When I started drying the razor myself, I could make them last for two to three months. It’s worth the extra effort.

eco-friendly toiletries bag

Face Toner

If your boyfriend/girlfriend/lover buys you roses, don’t throw them in the bin once they’ve wilted! Gather up the petals and pop them in some water. Leave them to boil then simmer for a bit. At the end, you’ll have your very own rosewater, which you can spritz on your face for toning purposes, or whenever your face fancies a bit of a refresh.


Or, divide the petals into two and soak some in vodka for 2-6 weeks. You’ll be left with an exquisite smelling perfume – one dab behind the ears and everyone will be swooning.

Don’t forget to patch test on your skin before application, as you would with any cream or cosmetic.

Related: A Year of No Plastic: The Final Result

Night Oil

I love rosehip oil, beyond all other oils. It’s thick, making it more of a night than day oil and feels lovely on the skin.

Although the bottles are made out of glass, the tops are plastic, which is annoying – but I try to repurpose the bottles, using them to house perfume and the like.

eco-friendly toiletries bag


I have been properly addicted to Ilia lipsticks for quite some time now. They’re made out of organic ingredients and housed in recyclable aluminium containers.

I also like the fact that they don’t dry my lips out – particularly the tinted lip conditioners. My go-to colour is Arabian Nights, although I like the brighter pops of colours for a night on the town (like this rather fetching shade of pink).

eco-friendly toiletries bag


I’ve used RMS Beauty blush for three years now, without any complaints whatsoever. The packaging is recyclable and I like the colours.

I don’t really ever wear foundation anymore, as it dries my skin out. A swipe of blush on the cheekbones and a bit of lippy does the trick. A good diet, plenty of water and a bit of sweaty exercise a few times a week is all one’s skin needs, I reckon.

Related: Green Up Your Travels With These Simple Eco-Friendly Swaps

What I’m gunning towards over the course of 2017

I have several goals over the next few months.

The first is to work on my deodorant situation. I love the Meow, Meow Tweet cream deodorant, but it doesn’t really do well in the harsh Australian heat – plus they jacked up the international shipping cost from $25 to $45 and just, no.

I’ve heard of apple cider vinegar and water working as a chemical free deodorant. Or maybe I could get by through giving my pits a G-rated Pommie Wash, with a rub down and rinse out every few hours.

I’m also working to eliminate more toiletry items. This year the two that I’d like to do without (or three, depending on how you look at it) are shampoo, conditioner and lip balm.

My hair and I have gone through an interesting journey over the last twelve months. I’ve tried shampoo bars, coconut oil and the “no-poo” method of bicarb soda and apple cider vinegar, with not so great results. I gave up for awhile and went back to using semi-conventional shampoos, feeling like a failure.

Well, I’m having a crack at it again, because the absence of the weight of a shampoo and conditioner in one’s luggage is something worth aiming for. This time I’m trying the “water only” method.

Related: One Month, Water Only Washing and Why I Don’t Use Lush Shampoo Bars Whilst Travelling

I blame Lip Smackers entirely for my dependency on lip balm. I remember being a young kid at primary school, comparing flavours with the other girls in my class. These innocent actions created a monster and now I can’t actually get through the day without having some form of lip balm on me. In fact, if I’d forget my tub of it during a day at work, my lips would get so dry and painful that I’d have to duck out to Coles or Sainsbury (depending on which country I was in at the time) to buy a new one.

We don’t really need lip balm – how many men do you see buying it on a regular basis? I shudder to think about how much I’ve spent on various gels and glosses over the years. Hundreds of dollars I’m sure. Not to mention that it’s difficult to get these small tubs of goop plastic free.

So, at some point this year, I’m going to try to give up lip balm. It might be one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through (I’ve admittedly had a charmed life), so wish me luck.

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Fan of responsible travel? Here are the contents of my eco-friendly toiletries bag - ideal for any traveller wanting to green up their routine.

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  • Reply Rhiannon April 10, 2017 at 11:51 am

    I love the illustrations, they’re great!! When I was about 10 I had a bamboo comb that I loved more than anything. Not because I was a particularly green child, just because it made me feel like a proper grown-up! It got left behind at Brownies camp one summer and I think it’s about high time I replaced it. With you on the lip balm – the only time I ever actually need it is in cold weather when my lips are drying out, but still every time I see a fancy new Lip Smackers flavour (cherry coke, YES!) I just have to have it.
    The chefs at my workplace use rose all the time – you’ve inspired me to steal some of their petals to bring home and make up my own green concoctions.

    • Reply LC April 10, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      Thank you Rhiannon! I’ve been wanting to consistently put my doodles on this blog for awhile but I suck at colouring in both with pencil and done digitally. Luckily my fella is a graphic designer, so he helped me out with them. Woot, teamwork!
      Brownies have a lot to answer for. Definitely time to replace it. And yeah, lip gloss is about the most pointless cosmetic there is, especially those horrible gooey glossy ones. Urgh. I actually found all my old ones from high school when I moved back to Oz. I tried them out, which was probably a bit dangerous, considering how old they are now. Still tasted super sugary. Legal drugs for teens.
      And yes, do it! Particularly if you love rosewater. I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of homemade toiletries, which makes me feel like I’m Hermione in potions class. Gonna share some of the successful recipes on here soon.

  • Reply Hope April 10, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Definitely addicted to lip balm too. Although, I find myself using it a lot here is Switzerland, especially over the cold months, AKA most of the year. In Australia, with a warmer climate I didn’t need it as much so it should be good conditions for you to quit.

    • Reply LC April 10, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      Yes! I hope so. I’ve definitely noticed that I use it less here – maybe twice a day at most. Conditions are good!

  • Reply Kati April 11, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    The illustrations are fab!!!! Does the bamboo toothbrush get smelly after a while though? And how’s that ‘water-only’ hair washing method going???

    Used to have a wooden comb but it became sort of blunt so then I stopped using it and now got this plastic one that combs through my hair so nicely. But yeah… it’s plastic. 🙁

    A friend gave me homemade body scrub (essentially sugar with essential oils) and body butter for Christmas, and I totally loved that! Looking forward to some “cosmetics recipes”.

    • Reply LC April 11, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks Kati 🙂 It’s actually fine. I’m not sure how it would do if I were travelling long-term and that’s not my style, so I haven’t tested it. But for just around the house and trips up to a month long, it’s been great.

      My hair is so thick it shatters plastic combs, so the bamboo one has worked out nicely. If you’ve found something that works for you, that’s all that matters. I still have a lot of plastic items (my KeepCup for example), but I don’t have to replace most of them, so the fact that they are plastic doesn’t bother me.

      Hair is going surprisingly well… will be posting the three month update in a couple of weeks(!).

      • Reply Kati April 12, 2017 at 11:57 am

        I’m so looking forward to your hair update!! Beyond four days, my scalp starts to get so itchy that it drives me nuts. I can stretch to about six or seven on holidays, especially in colder climates and without shower access, but that’s been about it. And i just want to scratch and scratch…

        • Reply LC April 12, 2017 at 1:28 pm

          I’ll publish it next Monday eve. ?? yeah had that problem too, but found a couple of natural solutions that have seemed to have worked!

  • Reply Karyn @ The Lost Lemurian April 12, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    This is awesome, and so helpful! I’ve just started trying to replace my bathroom stuff with zero waste alternatives so this has given me a few ideas. Love the illustrations too!

    • Reply LC April 12, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      Glad it was helpful Karyn and thanks! Good luck with the transition – you won’t look back!

  • Reply Ketki April 15, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    This is absolutely brilliant. We need more and more people who want to venture into sustainable lifestyle and travel. Being an environmentalist myself and following a lot of sustainable practices i am so stocked to come across this article. Keep up the good work.

    • Reply LC April 17, 2017 at 3:14 am

      Ageed! Good on you for blogging about it too.

  • Reply Tasha April 15, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    I loved reading this. You’ve introduced me to products I’ve never previously heard of. I had no idea a bamboo toothbrush existed! Had a quick look online and it looks great, thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Reply LC April 17, 2017 at 3:13 am

      No worries!

  • Reply Kaisa Lee April 15, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this list. I’ve been using diluted apple cider vinegar + grapefruit oil as a toner, but tbh it is a little harsh and I’ve been thinking of switching to rose water. Might just do it now!

    • Reply LC April 17, 2017 at 3:13 am

      I used to use ACV as face wash too and much prefer the rose water.

  • Reply Meg April 15, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    I’ve known people who’ve used water only methods on their hair but I would fear mine is too dry, particularly in the Australian sunshine. I would be interested to see how you go! It’s funny you should say that your lips become drier with the use of lip balm – it’s one of those weird cycles of dependency that means you become hooked on using them. I, for one, can’t sleep unless I’ve used some lip balm – crazy huh? I like the thought of a bamboo toothbrush and comb so will investigate these for my next trip. Do you have any suggestions for a good wash bag?

    • Reply LC April 17, 2017 at 3:13 am

      I upcycled a washbag from a friend! I think she’d got them in one of those buy-a-product-from-Myer-or-David-jones-whatsits-get-a-free-gift thingos. My hair has fared a lot better in Oz with water only than it did in London. I think the water is a bit less harsh here.

  • Reply Allison April 16, 2017 at 2:25 am

    Love this! I need to work on making my toiletries more eco-friendly and reducing my plastic use. So sad to hear that LUSH bars aren’t as eco-friendly as I thought they were 🙁 Any tips for a good tinted moisturizer or lightweight foundation that doesn’t use plastic?

    • Reply LC April 17, 2017 at 3:11 am

      Some people apparently use cocoa powder for foundation. I’m not very helpful as my BB cream has lasted for an age and I don’t really wear foundation, although I do like RMS.

  • Reply Maegan April 17, 2017 at 3:52 am

    Tons of great ideas for eco-friendly things to bring or make. I want to try the rose hip oil to see how my skin does with it.

    • Reply LC April 20, 2017 at 3:49 am

      I love the stuff. Hope you have success with it!

  • Reply Global Brunch April 22, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    You’re always such an inspiration for me on all things plastic-free and eco-friendly! I’m trying to better myself all the time but my efforts are put to shame by your discipline. I would love to give the bamboo toothbrushes and the rose water a go.

    Totally agree on the men and lip balm subject. I only thought about this the other day. Men always have smooth lips but never buy lip balm, so surely us ladies don’t need it either.

    • Reply LC April 23, 2017 at 2:58 am

      Shucks! You’ve made me blush, woman… I do like the bamboo brushes a lot and Sinplastico sells them in Europe.

      Yeah, exactly! I’m not looking forward to giving it the flick, however. I think I’ll try after winter is over, which should be timely as my current and last pot of gloss should last ’til then!

  • Reply Katie Featherstone April 24, 2017 at 6:01 am

    You can make your own lip balms with shea butter, coconut oil, bees wax and honey (or just shea butter on it’s own is fine). I made tonnes for christmas presents this year and they taste quite good with the honey.

    • Reply LC April 24, 2017 at 6:03 am

      I’m quite determined to break my dependency on the darn stuff, but that will make for a great back up, should I fail (or crack in the process!). Thanks Katie.

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