As much as possible, we try to make sure that the toiletries we use are earth friendly and/or save us money. First and foremost, this means that we try to stretch everything as much as possible. Then, we employ our couponing strategies. We also try to make sure that we support local and small businesses as much as possible.
One of the ways we stretch our toiletries is by using them sparingly. Often, people use too much shampoo, when all you need is a little bit, about the size of a dime, depending on the length of your hair. When it comes to washing my hair, I find that (especially in the winter when it's really dry) every other day is plenty. I'm fortunate to have curly hair, so by just getting it wet in the mornings, that's often enough to make it bounce back. I also try to cut back on the amount of soap/body wash I use in the winter, as this can sometimes dry your skin out. When we get to the bottom of the shampoo or conditioner, I just add a little water to stretch the last little bit and to rinse the bottle for recycling. By using toiletries sparingly, you'll find that they go further and your budget does too. You'll also find that you have fewer plastic containers accumulating in your recycling bin, which means that you're using fewer petroleum derived resources.
We've found that Anders soap from the Raleigh (NC State) Farmer's Market is some of the best natural soap around. They have several other products, which I haven't tried yet, but with as much as I love their lavender scented soap, I'm sure I'll love the other bath and skin products too. Check out your local farmer's market, most of them allow craft vendors and many have one or two vendors who make their own soaps, lotions, shampoos, etc. from natural ingredients. By using soaps and shampoos from natural ingredients and eco-friendly products, you'll be preserving your water supply by not introducing sometimes harmful chemicals into the water. (If you're on a greywater system, this is even more crucial and if you water your garden with this water, you don't have to worry about the health of the plants.)
For shaving, I've found that using cheap conditioner works just as well as shave gel and keeps my skin moisturized too. I generally buy this conditioner for pennies with my coupons. We purchase Benny's shave gel with coupons also, so it's a lot cheaper. (If your guy isn't too picky, you will find that coupons for women's shave gel are generally more plentiful, so if you can convince him to switch, you'll save more.) I also purchase razors with coupons, or find them free using our favorite freebie section of the coupon forum we use. I try to check this about once a week to see if there are things we'd want to try or use regularly. Often, with the freebie (which usually takes 6-8 weeks to arrive) comes a coupon or two. I don't think I've purchased razors in over a year because of the number of free ones I've scored on the coupon forum.
With toothpaste, we never purchase it full price, but instead use coupons. We lost our brand loyalties long ago, so we use whatever coupons we have that match up with the store sales. Generally, we can pick up toothpaste (a full size tube) for around 50-75 cents. Also, when you get to the end of the tube, if you cut the end off (not the cap end, the flat one), you'll find that you've probably got a few more days worth of toothpaste in there that you can easily squeeze out through this wider opening.
The other alternative we have for toiletries and cleaning products is to purchase many toiletry items from Benny's mom, who sells (mostly to family and friends) Melaleuca products. I often use Melaleuca deodorant, because it doesn't have the aluminum compounds in it. We often get Melaleuca soaps and things in our stockings, which is nice. They have some great citrus scents. We've also used their laundry products, before we found Charlie's Soap, which was locally available.
If you're into really saving a buck, you can make your own homemade foaming hand soap by filling a foaming handsoap container about 1/4 of the way with liquid soap or shampoo and then the rest of the way with warm water. Leave a little room in the top and then gently swirl to mix it together. As soon as we use up what I have from gifts (Bath and Body Works seems to be the recent favorite gift for teachers), we'll use those foaming containers with our homemade mixture. I'll use the Palmolive naturals or Seventh Generation dish washing soap to make our soap, so that we're keeping the water supply (and our happy little septic tank bacteria) as healthy as possible.
What do you do to make your toiletry budget go further? How are you preserving your water supply and the earth by using eco-friendly products? I'd love to hear!
Sharin' the green love and savings!