3 Products You Didn't Know You Could Buy Plastic-Free

Looking to further reduce your plastic waste? Here's where to find plastic-free toothpaste, lip balm, and insect repellent.

Woman putting toothpaste on a toothbrush
Have you ever considered alternatives to plastic toothpaste tubes?. Sally Anscombe / Getty Images

In support of Free the Ocean's mission to clean up the ocean and reduce plastic use, each month we feature a selection from their plastic-free shop. We do not earn a commission from these links.

We have a profoundly perplexing plastic pollution problem. Consider these statistics from the World Economic Forum:

  • Of the 40 million tons of plastic waste generated in the U.S. in 2021, only 5% to 6%—or about two million tons—was recycled.
  • About 98% of single-use plastic products are made from fossil fuels.
  • Globally, we produce about 400 million tons of plastic waste yearly.
  • Between 75 and 199 million tons of plastic are currently in our oceans.

You are likely familiar with the scope of the problem. Maybe you've switched to a reusable water bottle or have gone even further with a zero waste lifestyle. But even for the most plastic-averse among us, there are a number of products for which it is hard to find plastic-free options that do the job.

In these instances, we like to turn to Free The Ocean's plastic-free shop. The items have been vetted by the site, and every purchase funds the removal of plastic from the ocean. It could be argued that shopping here doubles your impact.

About the trickier zero waste items to shop for—and the ones featured below—Free The Ocean founder Mimi Ausland says, "All of these products typically come in plastic packaging and/or contain toxic ingredients harmful to you and the planet. And, of course, ours contain none of the above!"


Toothpaste tablets


Most toothpaste tubes cannot be recycled because they are made from plastic sheets sandwiched with a layer of aluminum. Given that 20 billion toothpaste tubes are made every year, this is a problem. While some companies are working on more eco-friendly packaging, toothpaste tabs are a wonderfully sustainable alternative to toothpaste in a tube. Toothpaste tablets made by Huppy foam like regular toothpaste and, despite expectations, are not chalky. They come in a recyclable tin, and the refill packets are compostable—purchase the tin once, and then get the refills for the smallest carbon footprint possible.

Bonus! Your purchase removes 10 pieces of plastic from the ocean.

Shop: Huppy Peppermint Toothpaste Tabs and Refills

Lip Balm

Lip balm on a board background with berries

Blue Heron Botanicals

The beauty and personal care industry has a plastic problem—and finding sustainable workarounds for these kinds of products has proven challenging. But not for everyone! Blue Heron Botanicals makes high-quality, small-batch products using 100% home-compostable, recyclable, or reusable packaging. As in, no more plastic tubes for lip balms.

Their Lip Therapy balms are ultra-rich lip conditioners formulated to keep lips hydrated with a creamy blend of botanical butter and oils, perfect everyday beauty.

Bonus! A baby sea turtle is saved for every balm purchased.

Shop: Blue Heron Botanicals Lip Therapy Balms

Insect Repellent

Chagrin Valley Don’t Bug Me Lotion Bar

Chagrin Valley

For anyone wanting to avoid repellents with DEET, products that have been formulated with oil of lemon eucalyptus are a great option. This natural ingredient has undergone efficacy testing, is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, and is even recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) as an alternative to DEET. 

Now if you want to double that goodness by using a plastic-free product, then Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve's "Don't Bug Me" Lotion Bar are a great choice. They come as a solid bar in a metal tin, which eliminates the plastic bottle and hard-to-recycle spray mechanism (or, worse yet, aerosol) that most repellents come in.

Bonus! Your purchase removes 10 pieces of plastic from the ocean.

Shop: Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve Bug Repellent Lotion Bar

View Article Sources
  1. World Economic Forum

  2. Market Watch