You’ll find traditional body sprays and antiperspirants lining supermarket aisles in their plastic containers and single-use aerosols. Big brands merchandise the ubiquitous deodorant as fashion accessories, with all the qualities of lifestyle and even the ability to attract the opposite sex. Amongst this big business rife with single-use and wasteful product ranges, what does zero-waste deodorant mean anyway? You put it on, and it disappears except for, hopefully, a pleasant aroma.
Approximately eight out of every 10 Americans use some kind of deodorant. Our choices are dictated to us in no small measure by the cosmetics industry and its very creative advertising promotions. Yet, the majority of purchases end up with plastic waste or discarded aluminum.
Many plastic deodorant containers can’t be recycled due to their mixed composition and go to waste. At the same time, aerosols made from steel and aluminum require significant energy resources in their manufacture and recycling. The best we can do for the environment is to avoid single-use metals and plastics in the first place.
Meanwhile, big brand deodorant advertising campaigns not only make us wonder if we really smell like a dainty woman or a musky man, but they also distract us from asking important questions, such as, how else can we prevent perspiration odor? What chemicals do the deodorants we buy and use without much thought contain?
Here we take a look at 18 innovative, creative zero-waste deodorants better for you and better for the planet. Later on, we spend a little more time pointing out why these choices are better for us and the environment.
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Schmidt’s zero waste deodorant offering comes in two-ounce plastic-free glass jars shipped in a compostable paper box (although the lid is plastic). They enclose a small spatula with the order you use to take a pea-sized portion of zero waste deodorant cream warmed with the fingers before applying it.
Not only will you be odor-free, but the formula is scent-free as well. It is non-greasy and non-sticky. The deodorant is free of aluminum, propylene glycol, parabens, phthalates, and any artificial fragrance. It is gluten-free, cruelty-free, and certified vegan. And zero aluminum. Schmidt’s make their zero waste deodorant from ingredients including shea butter, arrowroot powder, baking soda, cocoa seed butter, and vitamin E from sunflowers
Stick up makes this unisex plastic-free deodorant, scented with white lavender, that comes in a recyclable, compostable natural cardboard container. It contains bentonite clay powder, arrowroot, magnesium, candelilla wax, lavender oil, vitamin E, hemp, and zinc oxide. The manufacturer estimates the three-ounce stick will last about 3-4 months with regular use.
They make this zero waste stick without baking soda and magnesium instead since baking soda can impact the body’s normal pH and cause a rash. While Stick Up Natural Deodorant stops the unpleasant odor of sweat, it does not interfere with the natural sweating process, nature’s way of cooling the body. They make each zero plastic order fresh—palm oil-free and no aluminum, fragrance, or toxicity here.
This small, sustainable package contains a plethora of powerful ingredients: magnesium hydroxide, coconut oil, arrowroot powder, shea butter, candelilla wax, kaolin clay, zinc ricinolate, natural fragrance, probiotics. And several oils, including vitamin E, neroli, jasmine, and ylang-ylang. This baking soda-free option comes in a compostable cardboard tube for excellent zero waste cred. It requires only one or two swipes under the arm to be very effective. You should avoid using excess pressure.
This zero-waste deodorant choice has a beautiful natural jasmine and honeysuckle fragrance. The product ships free within the US from Hiram, Georgia, and arrives within one to two weeks of your order.
Hammond’s unisex plastic-free deodorant comes in an attractive, ingenious recyclable tube. The product contains several certified organic ingredients: Fair Trade cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, Fair Trade shea butter, arrowroot powder, and beeswax.
Their standard formula contains natural baking soda, while they have a baking soda-free version for sensitive skin that uses natural sea salt instead.
Zero aluminum and shipped plastic-free, your skin will thank you for choosing one of their best-selling long-lasting sticks. The merchant notes that this product has a stable shelf life of six months. Best used on clean, dry underarms and, when not in use, you should store it in a cool, dry location. It ships from Eugene, Oregon, and has no shipping charge on any order of $35 or more.
With several varieties to choose from, this stick deodorant in a cardboard tube is from the famous holistic, sustainable brand Bohemian Tea Peddler. It contains arrowroot powder, beeswax, cocoa butter, essential oils, doterra, and activated charcoal. The standard size is a 1.8-ounce tube, although you’ll also find their .25-ounce tube great for travel.
Other available deodorant scents in the range include Ash, Green Witch, Gypsie Woman, and Happy Camper. They recommend the best results when you periodically switch scents. Bohemian Tea Peddler ships orders from Madras, Oregon. Deliveries usually require one to two weeks.
Few products have the sort of outstanding reputation as Ethique’s brand, which offers many environmentally friendly self-care products. Reasons to choose their eco-friendly deodorant bar include its natural ingredients and its vegan, non-toxic, aluminum-free, baking soda-free. Scented with lavender and vanilla, the bar biodegrades naturally.
A New Zealand company, Ethique, was founded intentionally to create eco-friendly self-care products and has become known for the quality of its zero-waste & sustainable goods. As they are fond of saying, to date, they believe they have curtailed the use of over eight million single-use plastic items. And that in itself makes them worth a look.
Meow Meow Tweets’s developed its zero waste cream deodorant baking soda free for those with sensitive skin. They designed this lavender-scented formula, which comes in a 2.4-ounce glass jar, to go on smoothly with a creamy texture. As an essential part of what makes this product ideal for sensitive skin, it’s free of aluminum, parabens, sulfates, and all plastics.
The product is US handcrafted, certified organic, vegan, and cruelty-free with Fair Trade ingredients. You only need a pea-sized amount to rub gently into each armpit until the substance is thoroughly blended. This application should provide a full day of odor protection.
Next up, take a look at this highly regarded unisex cream deodorant. It comes in a 2.4-ounce jar with a steel cap and a wooden scoop. You use the scoop to take a pea-sized dollop from the pot to rub on the arms’ underside.
Little Seed Farm has designed the formula to combat odor for 24 hours. This aluminum-free deodorant also shuns baking soda, parabens, or phthalates. They’ve also ensured GMO-free and certified cruelty-free credentials as well. Ingredients include activated charcoal, arrowroot powder, magnesium hydroxide, beeswax, and several organic oils: coconut, jojoba, vegetable glycerin, geranium, rosemary, and spearmint.
The manufacturers stress the zero-waste nature of this deodorant, which comes in multiple scents. Ingredients used include arrowroot powder, diatomaceous earth, virgin coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda, candelilla wax, and several essential oils, including peppermint, orange, cedarwood, rosemary, vanilla, and lemongrass.
The available scents include peppermint and bergamot, bergamot and vanilla, lemongrass and clove, orange and cedarwood, rosemary and cedarwood, orange and bergamot, and vanilla and ylang-ylang.
The deodorant comes in compostable zero plastic three-ounce tubes that typically last for a month or more. Customers receive free US shipping on minimum orders of $35. Orders ship from Charlotte, North Carolina, and arrive in about a week.
Next up, we have a handmade, all-natural, organic lavender deodorant bar with a refreshing scent. Ingredients include shea butter, coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder, and vitamin E.
Kind to the skin; the zero-waste bars contain no sulfates, parabens, or phthalates. No animal testing either. It’s important to note that due to the highly concentrated ingredients in these deodorant bars, they’ll last three times longer than conventional deodorant options.
When you purchase this product, you get to bring home a scented piece of the islands as they make this product in Kailua, Hawaii. They ship US orders over £35 free of charge. Deliveries typically arrive in about a week from the time you place your order.
From the Pacific, we go to the Caribbean for a deodorant specially designed for high activity. Kokoa Botanics creates this product without propylene glycol or any synthetic chemicals. Instead, the ingredients include coconut oil, arrowroot powder, coral calcium, shea butter, kaolin clay, baking soda, white grapefruit essential oil, coconut scent, candelilla wax, cocoa butter, babussa butter, and copaiba essential oil. Caribbean Coconut is aluminum and plastic-free.
The manufacturer worked diligently to find the right amount of different ingredients—including baking soda—to include in the product to achieve a deodorant that would allow high activity levels and still allow the user to remain odor-free. The product ships from Asheville, North Carolina, and arrives within about a week.
Sold in a two-ounce glass jar with a metal cap, this organic offering is free of sulfates, aluminum, and parabens. Of course, you can reuse the jar to reduce waste. What it does contain are coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot starch, beeswax, essential oils of black pepper, clary sage, bergamot, tea tree, and grapefruit. They scent the cream with lavender rose.
The deodorant is naturally bacteria resistant and antimicrobial. It also will not leave white marks on dark clothing. The formula results from much testing and research by founder Rachel Budde through her commitment to using well-known, time-tested ingredients.
Ben & Anna deodorants come in a variety of scents, including this aroma: Persian lime. Gluten and aluminum-free, this deodorant includes 30 carefully formulated ingredients. The product glides onto the skin smoothly without stickiness and has a solid consistency, thanks in no small measure to the shea butter and soda it contains. All come in a 60-gram paper tube for minimum waste.
Ben and Anna use no chemical stabilizers to make this deodorant. Therefore, it sometimes softens in high temperatures. You can compensate for this softening by placing the product in a refrigerator for a brief period.
This deodorant is formulated in particular to be very amenable to sensitive skin. It contains no aluminum, parabens, or phthalates and only the barest minimum of baking soda. Despite its concessions to sensitive skin, Kaiame Naturals is highly effective against odor. It comes packaged in a blue, recyclable two-ounce jar for less waste. It is also cruelty-free and GMO-free.
The ingredients include several organics: coconut oil, arrowroot powder, charcoal powder, and lavender essential oil. The mix also contains natural baking soda, colloidal silver, vodka, candelilla wax, and pure magnesium oil. A pea-sized amount of the product is to be scooped and rubbed beneath the armpits.
Unusual among our zero-waste deodorant choices for smelling fresh all day is Viren Apothecary’s Geoderant because it comes in liquid form. It comes packaged in a clear, small two-ounce spray bottle you can refill the eco-friendly way.
Ingredients include food-grade alum, silver citrate, vodka, witch hazel, tea tree oil, organic white willow bark extract, and organic aloe leaf juice. People have used alum as a deodorant in the Middle East for centuries. Another one of the better baking soda-free options, you can also use it as an aftershave. Orders ship from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, and arrive within a couple of weeks.
Packed in a tin for zero plastic waste, this zero waste deodorant is an all-natural product.
Zen Patchouli makes this product from all-natural ingredients, including shea butter and cocoa. Zen Patchouli has zero harmful chemicals in it and is also void of aluminum, parabens, triclosan, and phthalates. It comes packaged in a zero-waste container that is either compostable, reusable, or recyclable.
The merchant has a “send back” program that allows customers to return a minimum of five empty metal containers in return for one free product. This fulfills the aim of the company to have a circular rather than linear merchandise flow. Products ship from New Braunfels, Texas, and usually arrive within one week.
Just as important as what goes in is what stays out. Our final selection is one of the more highly regarded zero waste deodorant options. Handmade with great care, Apothecary Muse has indeed been one of the trailblazers in the production of sustainable deodorants.
Ingredients include coconut oil, illipe butter, candelilla wax, bentonite clay, arrowroot powder, grapeseed oil, lavender, sandalwood, rosemary, guaiac wood, and non-nano zinc. Thus, you’ll find the product baking soda-free and with zero aluminum and paraben-free. Orders ship within one to two days from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The best estimate for the number of Americans who use deodorant is about 293 million. If deodorant users only discarded their deodorant containers twice a year, that would still be over half a billion single-use items that hit the landfill. Because they contain residual product—and many are pressurized, many don’t make the recycling cut.
Depending upon which estimates you believe, the plastic used in manufacturing those containers will not biodegrade for either 500 or 700 years (we’ll have to wait and see). All the while, they abound in the landfill—and a fair percentage are found in the environment, particularly the ocean. There they leach the toxic chemicals used to make them. Which, in turn, only exacerbates the environmental nightmare of single-use plastics.
The second issue we have with commercially marketed body deodorants, which most pay little attention to, is the chemicals those products apply to our bodies. Aluminum chloralhydrate is the best known of these. It works by clogging our sweat glands to prevent odor causing bacteria having anywhere to spend time.
Researchers have found potential links to certain troubling health conditions such as breast cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. Most will know less about other chemicals that make it into our deodorants, such as parabens, DEA, TEA, stearates, propylene glycol, and triclosan. With each potentially linked to serious health threats.
By contrast, look around a bit, and you’ll find many inventive, economical, pleasant-smelling zero waste natural deodorants. To qualify, they don’t come in single-use, problematic plastic tubes or containers. In fact, you’ll find a range of compostable cardboard tubes, glass jars with a metal lid, and plastic-free packaging options.
Furthermore, many zero-waste deodorants use only natural ingredients, avoiding synthetic fragrances. As such, your traditional deodorant starts to look like a relic in a world where we should all seek to reduce our environmental impact and carbon footprint.
Elsewhere you can also make deodorants at home should you have the time and the will. A quick online search for diy deodorant recipes will quickly turn up some options for a homemade natural alternative to pruchasing.
Many innovative teams, companies, and individuals in the zero plastic and waste-free movement are devoting themselves to steering our society away from its dependence upon plastic and questionable chemical compounds. Instead, they lead us in the direction of unexplored new territory. We must be grateful for their entrepreneurial spirit as they help educate us on ecological realities and possibilities to which we are often blind.
One such group of innovators go out of their way to make sure we can protect ourselves from unwanted body odor even as they are protecting us from the commercial antiperspirant industry. Check out their zero waste deodorant creations above, give them a try, offer them some support. Each in their own way shows that we don’t need to choose mass-produced products complete with their single-use packaging.