Sustainable Self-Care: Check Out These Zero-Waste Ideas

Self-care shouldn't be wasteful or expensive.

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Apr. 5 2024, Updated 9:50 a.m. ET

Candles and natural loofa at the edge of a bubble bath with a towel for pillow
Source: Getty Images

Self-care is certainly important — but the self-care economy, or the push from brands to buy stuff to support your self-care routine, is a problem. There are so many ways to practice self-care without wasting money on wasteful products or supporting big companies, especially on a day like National Self-Care Day, celebrated annually on April 5.

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Keep reading for our best zero-waste self-care ideas, from DIYs to try to sustainable products to buy, which are sure to make your bath, candle, face mask, and manicure habits much more eco-friendly.

Make your own bubble bath or bath bomb.

Woman lounges in bath
Source: Getty Images

No need to buy bath bombs or bubble in plastic packaging or with questionable ingredients — it’s actually pretty easy to make your own. Here is a simple bubble bath recipe from Healthline, and a few of our favorite DIY bath bomb recipes. You can also buy package-free bath bombs from stores like Lush, or check out our recommendations of cruelty-free and vegan bubble bath products.

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Spend time in nature.

Self-care doesn’t have to take place in the bathroom, or even at home. There is endless research proving the benefits of spending time in nature — so visit your local park, lay in the grass, or take a walk (and consider plogging while doing so).

Invest in a reusable silicone sheet mask.

Instead of buying single-use sheet masks, consider ​​investing in a reusable silicone sheet mask. For example, the Avant Guard is a reusable silicone sheet mask that can be reused infinitely — just coat it with a hydrating product, place on your face for a few minutes to relax, and then gently hand wash the mask and hang to dry. A few brands also make reusable under eye patches and forehead masks — check out our list of our favorite reusable and compostable sheet masks.

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You can also make a DIY face mask out of natural ingredients found in your kitchen, or buy a powdered face mask, such as this one from vegan and cruelty-free company The Fanciful Fox, which is packaged in a glass jar. Just mix half a teaspoon of the powder with the same amount of water, and apply to your face.

Treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure, facial, or massage.

A spa moment is the ultimate self-care for many people — but salons tend to be wasteful. If you’re interested in an in-person treatment, we recommend using Green Circle Salons’ search feature to find a local salon or spa that makes energy- and waste-reduction efforts.

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There are also non-toxic, cruelty-free nail salons in many major cities, such as Sundays and Takunya Nail Studio in New York. And if you can’t find a nail salon to your standards, consider bringing your own cruelty-free nail polish, as well as your own file, buffer, etc. to your local salon, to avoid wasting disposable products.

Add fresh eucalyptus to your shower.

Shower time can be about much more than getting clean — hanging fresh eucalyptus from your shower stall can turn your daily rinse off into an aromatherapy session. Not only that, but eucalyptus in your shower can help relieve discomfort from winter colds, congestion, and related inflammation, according to Prevention.

Eucalyptus bundles can sometimes be found at farmers markets, but if you can’t find any locally, you can order a bundle of fresh eucalyptus from Etsy.

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Meditate, do yoga, or exercise.

Taking care of your mind and body is an act of self-care for many — and meditation and exercise are typically zero-waste activities. Here’s our guide to making your yoga practice more sustainable, and a few recommendations of meditation apps.

Light up some non-toxic, vegan candles.

Many people find dimming the lights and lighting up some candles to be relaxing — just make sure to avoid petroleum-based candles, which release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. We rounded up some of our favorite zero-waste, non-toxic candles here, and if you’re interested in making your own candles, we are fans of this recipe by YouTuber Holly Homebody.

This article, originally published on Nov. 17, 2021, has been updated.

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