Life & Style

Health & Beauty, Life & Style

Washing & Cleansing The Eco-Friendly Way

eco friendly bathing products

I’ve fielded a lot of queries lately about my washing and cleaning routine and if I can recommend eco-friendly replacements for much-loved bathing products.

I thought I would share what we are doing right now – not by way of saying that what we are doing is perfect – but in the interests of satisfying reader curiosity!


We have switched from using liquid shower gel in plastic bottles for a plain old bar of soap.  I thought I would miss shower gel but actually, I am quite enjoying using bar soap.  I have found both Faith In Nature soap and Suma soap unpackaged at my closest health food store for little more than a pound a bar so it’s a fairly economical switch.  If you want something a bit more luxurious then I really like Marie’s Artisan Soaps.

When it comes to scrubbing I just use a plain old flannel.  It’s not fancy but it does the job effectively.

If you want to be a bit fancier, there are a few different options that aren’t heavy on the plastic.  Natural ramie shower puffs are a natural alternative to those nylon/plastic shower puff things.  They are made from natural fibres for a biodegradable clean.  Alternatively, you can buy little bamboo bags that you pop your bar of soap into for a bit of an upgrade from a flannel.

You can even buy soap pebbles, which are bars of soap wrapped in a felted wool cover.  I bought one out of curiosity and have regretted that purchase ever since.  I’ve personally found it makes for a really unpleasant showering experience.  I’m using it up because I don’t want it to go to waste but it’s safe to say I would not repurchase.


eco friendly bathing products

My kids love a good bubble bath.  Trying to find a less plastic version has been difficult, and the best solution I have found is from Lush.  Lush sell solid bubble bath bars, and my kids current favourite is this packaging free bubble spinner – a solid bubble bath bar that spins around under the tap as it releases soap.  Let it spin round under the tap for 1 minute, and then dry it off and store it away for next time.  One spinner lasts for up to 10 baths, and the wooden bit can just go in our fire or the composter once it’s finished.

The ingredients aren’t perfect, but when you’re walking a fine line between trying to live a little more lightly, keeping your kids happy and not spending a fortune then this wins for us.  My kids, who aren’t always on board with reducing waste, adore this bubble bath, so it’s a keeper.


Since the start of the year, we have been on a mission to switch to a solid shampoo bar.  This has proved to be tricky as not all of them perform how we would like, and some I’ve found have been very expensive.

So far we tried a Soapnuts one that I picked up for £6 that is SLS free, but sadly none of us got on with it.  It left our hair greasy (even the kids) and with what felt like a nasty residue in our hair.  Let’s also just say it doesn’t have the nicest of scents.  It has since been relegated to use a soap for washing our body as I’m keen not to waste it but even then it isn’t my favourite to use.

I have struggled to find other shampoo bars that have good reviews and are effective and affordable.  I have heard good reviews of this one but it’s £11 a bar, and with four heads to wash on a regular basis it’s not going to happen!

As such, we are currently using Lush solid shampoo bars.  We have tried a few different ones but so far Montalbano has been our favourite.  One bar lasts the four of us around a month and costs £6.50 a pop.  It lathers up really well and does a great job of cleaning our hair, but, boy, I wish they would remove the slice of dried lemon from the bar!  Towards the end of the bar, you end up with bits of lemon pip and pith in your hair, which isn’t the best!

My hair requires conditioner otherwise it becomes a dry tangled mess, so I have also been using Lush’s solid conditioner bar, which smells divine and does the job.  It took me a little while to get used to it – it can be hard to gauge exactly how much conditioner you are using – but now that I’m more accustomed to it I am really enjoying using it.

Again, in both the shampoo and conditioner bars the ingredients aren’t perfect, but for us, the choice has been a more affordable packaging free product that works and everyone is happy to use, or switching back to shampoo and conditioner in plastic bottles.   We’ve made a compromise here, but are still on the lookout for an affordable and effective shampoo bar so if you have found one then do let me know!

Perhaps the most sustainable option would be to stop washing our hair.   There are many advocates of this no hair washing movement, which is called the No Poo method.   I know – what a name – talk about selling it to you!  I’m not ready to make that leap yet.  Call it a hunch, but I don’t think this one would go down that well with the rest of my family either!  One for the future, maybe…!


A few of the questions I’ve fielded lately are on how I wash and cleanse my face and remove makeup.

My routine is really simple.  It’s probably as simple as it gets – all I do is use a bar of soap (the one from the shower – no need for a separate bar of soap) and a flannel and that’s the full extent of my face washing/makeup removal/cleansing routine.  The flannel acts as a gentle exfoliant, removing the need for a separate exfoliant, and it removes all traces of makeup.

I’ve been using this method for year upon year and haven’t found anything better.  Even beauty expert Sali Hughes swears by the flannel so I know I am on to something good.  I keep a stack of them in my bathroom cupboard, use a fresh one each day, and then chuck it in the washing machine in the evening.  Simple, quick, cheap and effective.  What’s not to love?

If you are after something more like a cotton wool pad then you can try this reusable cotton wool pad pattern.


handsoap recipe

I keep a bar of soap beside my kitchen sink for handwashing.  I tried this in the bathroom too, but what I found was that my kids aren’t keen to use bar soap.  The other thing I’ve found with bar soap by the bathroom sink is that even in a soap dish the soap sits in a puddle all day.  This makes for a soggy soap that isn’t pleasant to use.  Instead, I make my own liquid hand soap – delicious scented grapefruit and ginger foaming hand soap – pictured above, that you can find the recipe to in Fresh Clean Home on page 90.

Making hand soap sounds like a time-consuming and difficult process, but the reality is it takes approximately 5 seconds to make, and just a handful of easily sourced ingredients!  There is nothing more involved than mixing a few liquids together!

If you have any other questions or have any recommendations for what’s working for you then do let me know – I’d love to hear!

Life & Style

AD | Ethical Spotlight: Wearth London

sustainable shop

sustainable shop

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Imagine walking into a department store where every single item in the store was vegan and cruelty-free and made by small UK based brands.  Where in one department you could shop for plastic free products; then in another department shop for items that give back to society in some way; and in another shop for products that are made from recycled materials.

Sounds like a utopian dream?  Whilst there is no bricks-and-mortar department shop quite like this (yet!), you can find such a store online – the newly launched Wearth London, who flung upon their virtual doors in late October 2017.

Started by young graduates, Imogen and Edward, Wearth London is an eco-friendly online department store promoting sustainable and ethical living in the UK.  They say they are one of the first UK stores online to be completely vegan and cruelty-free.

Selling an array of products to promote sustainable living from 30+ small rigorously vetted independent UK brands, the focus is very much on transparency.  On each product, there are helpful visual labels, for example, plastic-free, and you can also check out what packaging is used in both the product and for delivery in the product descriptions.

Ready for a virtual tour of the store?  Let me guide you through the departments!

The Natural Beauty Department

wearth london

The first stop on our tour of Wearth London is the natural beauty department, where you can find natural and organic vegan and cruelty-free beauty products, all of which are lovingly made in small batches in the UK.  As an added bonus, every bottled product is packaged in glass to reduce the amount of single-use plastic used.

One brand I’m keen to try is Soap Daze, who make wholesome soap and skincare products packed full of natural vegan ingredients. All Soap Daze products are lovingly handcrafted in small batches in a garden workshop in Devon, using plant oils, essential oils, herbs and spices.

The Jewellery Department

ethical department store

Moving on to the jewellery department, here you will find pretty handmade ethical jewellery, with each and every piece for sale being handcrafted using recycled silver.  This department includes brands such as Smoke & Ash, where each piece is handcrafted in the South East of England from recycled sterling silver.   Even the packaging is made from recycled materials, including the Smoke & Ash business cards which are made for 100% recycled cotton t-shirts.

The Homewares Department

ethical cushions

The homewares department is always my favourite department of any shop, and Wearth London’s ethical homewares department does not disappoint.  Bringing together a collection of UK made homewares from plant pots, chopping boards made from recycled wood to organic linen cushions there are lots of beautiful pieces to choose from.

Look out for Linen and Stripes, where the husband and wife team, Anna and Istvan, make beautiful soft furnishings by hand in Liverpool, using eco-friendly materials.

The Furniture Department

sustainable furniture

Looking for sustainable furniture?  Hop right over to the furniture department, where each piece of furniture is made by independent furniture makers in the UK who handcraft their contemporary pieces using either sustainably sourced or reclaimed wood.

Look out for brands such as Made Anew, where all the pieces are made by hand in Bristol, using only sustainably sourced materials.  Here they use utilise recycled materials such as old wine boxes and reclaimed timber into stunning statement pieces you’ll be proud to have in your home.

The Gift Department

ethical gift shop

The last stop on any great tour is always the gift shop.  Looking for a gift for that special environmentally-minded loved one?  Wearth London has a great selection of green gift ideas which will have you covered.  Browse the for him, for her, for kids, or for couples categories or simply browse the whole range.  There’s nothing tacky or throwaway here, just classic made-to-last pieces that are sure to be loved by the lucky recipients.

Now that we’ve toured the whole shop, let’s sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat with co-founder Edward Davies to find out more about Wearth London:

So, Edward, we’re intrigued, tell us a bit about yourself and your background before starting Wearth London.

We are both in our twenties, Imogen is finishing a marketing degree at Manchester and for a long time now has led a conscious lifestyle building up a knowledge of how to live more sustainably.  This interest started after she went vegan, realising how much of an impact humans are having on the planet, and so went on to learn about the zero-waste lifestyle.

Meanwhile, I studied Geography at Durham so learned a lot about how as a society we are impacting the environment through unsustainable and unethical practices.  During my time studying, I also ran the Uni’s social enterprise and this is where I realised I wanted to start my own business.

How did Wearth London come to fruition?

Imogen felt that there was not anywhere online where she could easily find brands which aligned with her values, whilst also being contemporary and stylish.  We did some research and realised that there are some great independent UK brands out there which were environmentally and socially minded.  However, these were often hard to find and there were little opportunities for these brands to increase their exposure and grow.

This is where the idea for Wearth came from, creating a new online community which helps consciously minded people to find brands which align with their values and all in all we want to promote an eco-friendly and ethical lifestyle.

Why was starting a sustainable/ethical department shop important to you, rather than a store without these focuses?

Firstly, the retail industry is having a significant impact on the environment.  For example, in 2014 non-grocery retail plastic packaging was estimated to be around 550,000 tonnes, with only a third of consumer plastic recycled and the rest ending up in landfill or into nature.

We feel we need to do more to protect the environment and as young people, we will be around to see the consequences if we do not act now, and so we want to make it easier for others to make better purchases.  Likewise, it is very important to us that our store is exploitation-free, both in terms of working with brands which treat their workers with respect and also animals with all our products being vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.

You sell such lovely and carefully considered products.  What are your criteria for choosing products to sell on Wearth London?

For each of our departments, we have different criteria, with the over-arching aim of supporting independent UK brands who take the environment seriously and are ethically minded, whilst making high-quality and stylish products.  For example, for our beauty department, we look for brands which only use natural ingredients, make their products in small batches in the UK and use glass packaging, reducing the use of plastic.

Likewise, our jewellery brands use recycled silver, reducing the demand for mined silver which has a devastating impact on the environment, and every piece is handmade in the UK, which has a lower carbon footprint.  For our homewares and furniture, we look for products which use either sustainable or reclaimed materials and are made in the UK, as we want to support British craftsmanship.

Sourcing brands which also use eco-friendly packaging is very important to us, and on our site, you can see exactly what packaging has been used both for the product itself and the delivery.

Wearth London sources from a lot of talented small-scale makers and designers.  How do you discover them?

A lot of research!  We had the idea for Wearth over a year ago and then we spent around 6 months researching brands.  Our aim was to find brands which have products which we see as ‘eco-rarities’, products which are both contemporary, stylish and made to last but which also have really strong environmental and ethical values.  At first, we discovered these brands through spending a lot of time searching on Google as well as on social media.  Now it’s great to see brands approaching us and wanting to be part of the Wearth community.

What Wearth London products can you not live without?

We both have steel water bottles from One Green Bottle which we love and use every day.  They are a really easy way of reducing demand on single-use plastic and the bottles are also really popular.

Imogen loves the organic rosehip facial oil from Soap Daze, which is very nourishing, light-weight and leaves her skin glowing (another bonus is that it smells like jam tarts!).

I really love that you can shop Wearth London according to your values – e.g. by filtering for plastic free, or vegan products, or for products that give back to society.  Do you have any other top tips for buying responsibly?

Our top 3 tips are:

1) Shop from companies who are transparent about all the processes involved in making and delivering their products – we agree that our shop by values feature really helps with this as it uses clear labels rather than just “eco-friendly” or “ethical”, which companies use to greenwash their brand.

2) Read the about us (and on a site like ours the brand stories), to see whether the company aligns with your values and is somewhere you feel good purchasing from.

3) Buying local produce and second-hand clothing are other good ways to purchase responsibly and support smaller businesses, we think you vote with your money in the society we live in and so just make the most sustainable/ethical purchases you can!

You just launched Wearth London in October, so you are a very young business. What are your long-term goals for Wearth London?

One of our main goals is to be the go-to place for discovering conscious brands in the UK.  We have had many people asking whether we will have physical stores and this is something which might be possible if we are able to do this is a sustainable way.  If we are a success domestically we also have ambitions to launch online stores around the world, for example, Wearth New York, Sydney, Vancouver etc., which would source brands local to that area with the same values we have now.  Being able to not only promote sustainable/ethical living in the UK but also around the world, would be amazing and we think with a lot of hard work this could be possible.

Thanks for the chat Edward!  This eco-friendly and ethical department store is definitely worth checking out.  You can also follow on Facebook and Instagram.