As we have been on the journey to minimize our belongings and construct our tiny home, we’ve also been slowly but surely using all the products in our house and replacing them as needed with biodegradable products. While not completely finished, we thought it might be helpful to document our experiences with different products so others can benefit from our trials. Some of these products are ‘all natural’ as steps from mainstream products to a fully biodegradable alternative. We’ve listed all products we can, as it might work better for someone else than it did for us. If you have not already found the Environmental Working Group, they are a great resource. This page is about our own experience with products, they have a much wider scope- please go support the great work they do with a donation and use their guides regularly! We do.
About the term ‘biodegradable’: It is is admittedly a nebulous term, because there are no set regulations about what it constitutes. As a basic definition, biodegradable refers to any product/ingredient/substance that can decompose naturally. However, this does not encompass or define a time frame in which this has to happen, which means that companies are able to use the label as they see fit. Over the past few years, there have been some lawsuits to try and regulate its use (a law has been passed in California which stops any products containing plastics from being labeled as such), but it remains a contested term. In Europe, a product has to be able to break down within six months in order to receive a labeling of being biodegradable, but no such laws exist in North America
I’ve linked to Amazon in most of these cases so these products are accessible to people almost everywhere. In some cases, if you have the original stores near you, it may be cheaper through that route. If you have suggestions of products we should include, please email us, we’d love to expand this resource!
Dr. Bronner’s: This product has a multitude of uses and while many of them were great for us, we don’t love how drying it is on our skin in our desert climate. We still think it’s a great resource, and know many people who swear by it!
LUSH: Mostly “naked” products: meaning the products without packaging, because they don’t use preservatives in those. The products mentioned below do not contain any synthetic preservatives, which is why LUSH feels comfortable calling them biodegradable. They use safe synthetic preservatives in their liquid products, which slows the process of degrading down, which is why none of those products are listed here.
- Full of Grace Facial Moisturizer: contains rich, moisturizing butters, calming calamine, and antioxidant rich portobellos.
- Massage Bars by LUSH: can be used as body moisturizers
- Toothy Tabs: contain no synthetic preservatives, and instead rely on a solid base of baking soda (and lovely herbs and florals and oils)
- Lip Balms: Lip Service, Honey Trap, and None of Your Beeswax do not contain synthetic preservatives
- Powdered Deodorants do not contain synthetic preservatives. Megan has tried T’eo
before, and didn’t find it strong enough. Currently testing Guv’ner.
- Facial cleansers that contain synthetic preservatives: Ocean Salt Original formula, Kalamazoo, Mask of Magnaminty original, Ultrabland, 9 to 5, Grease Lightening. The rest of the facial cleansers will not, including the self-preserving formulas of the mask and Ocean Salt Face & Body Scrub. All fresh facial masks are made without safe synthetic preservatives as well.
- Hair Styling Products all have safe synthetics.
All EO and Everyone products are biodegradable. They are made with gentle plant-based ingredients and are pH balanced, safe for grey water systems and septic systems and are a great choice for use on the lake, river, boat and for outdoor bathing.
- EO Organic Deodorant: Megan has tried the Lavender and Jeff has tried the Vetiver. Even in the height of the Las Vegas summer, these have held up the best of the natural deodorants. We continue to look for alternatives.
- EO Shower Gel, French Lavender
- EO Hand Soap Refill, French Lavender: We subscribe to this via Subscribe and Save, we always have soap on hand and definitely appreciate the extra percentage discount.
Crystal Body Deodorant Stick: Our first stop on the natural deodorant search. Did not work much at all. We’re both fine with not wearing anti-perspirants, though we’d prefer not to offend others with our odor 🙁
Lavilin Underarm Deodorant Cream: Email out for biodegradability. Megan tested and was quite disappointed in its performance (more specifically absolutely no performance). This particular product gets great reviews, and will be one of the few products I have ever used the quality guarantee on.
365 Everyday Value: Found at our local Whole Foods
- 365 Everyday Value Herbal Mint Shampoo: Just beginning trials, stay tuned for detailed opinions 🙂
Trader Joe’s Refresh Citrus Body Wash: Not yet tried, identified biodegradable on the label.
Nutribiotic Nonsoap Skin Cleanser, Sensitive Skin: Biodegradable per the website, replaced our regular use of Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser. Also about half the cost! 🙂
- Whipped Squalene Mousse (Face & Eye Moisturizer) Las Vegas is extremely dry, being a desert and all. I liked this, using a metal spatula to remove portions. I stopped using this near my eyes at the suggestion of my Optometrist. She cited degradation in eyesight for women using oil based products near their eyes.
- Whipped Shea (Body Butter)
- Whipped Cocoa (Body Butter)
Lash Paint Mineral Mascara: Found on Etsy from Twink beauty. Seems their shop has been discontinued. 🙁
Plain Jane Beauty, Just Mascara: Identified as readily biodegradable per the website. Yet to be tested by Megan.
Bright Green: Available at our local Safeway Supermarket, Von’s.
- Earth Friendly Dishwasher Detergent Packets, Biodegradable, Dye, Phosphate & Fragrance Free (60 Packets)
- Automatic Dishwasher Rinse Aid
- Concentrated Dish Washing Liquid (Natural Citrus Scent)
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day:
- Liquid Laundry Detergent: Biodegradable per the package, we get this from Amazon Subscribe & Save. Right now, one lasts us about a month.We have tried the Lemon Verbena, and it was too fragrant for us.
- Surface Scrub : Does not specifically say biodegradable on the package, emailing Mrs. Meyers to confirm
- Liquid Hand Soap: We used this as both hand and body wash. Our favorite scent was the Orange Clove scent sold near the holidays. Megan was okay with Geranium, Jeff didn’t like it as much. Refill sizes are available should you use it throughout the house like we did!
- Dishwasher tabs: Jeff says these worked well, which is high praise as he’s pretty picky about our dishwasher results. He commented that the scent was a little funny, nothing that would impair their use.
- Liquid Dish Soap: We’ve tried a few of the scents, all of their performance was great and we found all of the scents perfectly acceptable.
- Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner: (Geranium) The one Mrs Meyers product we have tried that we did not like. It left surfaces sticky and was overly fragrant. We much prefer a vinegar water mix in a spray bottle with a few drops of essential oil.
Lemi Shine: Per their website, all Lemi Shine® Products are 100% Naturally Derived and biodegradable.
- Detergent Booster: With the hard Water in Las Vegas, all of our detergents need help. We love LemiShine!
Pridegreen Biodegradable 13 Gallon White Tall Kitchen Trash Bags with Ties, 90- Count: We were unhappy with the performance of these. We are currently using 365 Quick Tie 13 Gallon Tall Kitchen Bags, while they are 65% recycled plastic, they are not biodegradable. Does anyone have good suggestions that they like?
While not biodegradable, Megan has switched to reusable feminine products. Much cheaper financially, more comfortable, and better than creating a lot of trash each month. There are many choices, 2 she likes:
- Gladrags pads– I have bought a few sampler kits over the years, always choosing organic undyed cotton. This allowed me the freedom to try a few styles to understand what worked best for me.
- Diva Cup– Many choices of menstrual cups, this one has worked great.
COMING SOON: We have been testing sunscreens over the past few years, both in our sunny home of Las Vegas, as well as any travels we take. I’m spending time writing up our experience with different brands now, and we’ll post that here soon!
Companies that do not have any products tested to be biodegradable:
- ‘Yes to’: Carrots, tomatoes, etc. No biodegradable products
- Arbonne: Despite printed material stating that all final formulations are biodegradable, an email to the company to confirm was cryptic and general, stating only that they “strive” to use biodegradable ingredients.