4 Refillable Bathroom Products That Help Keep Plastic Out of Landfills

To reduce plastic use, some health and beauty brands are replacing disposable packaging with long-lasting refillable ones. Here are four refillable products available in Canada.

We all know that plastic is bad for the planet. And if you think that tossing your empty bottles into the recycling bin is enough to mitigate plastic’s negative effect on the earth, think again.

Only 14 percent of plastic packaging is recycled globally, and in Canada, that number is even more dismal: Just nine percent is recycled, while the rest ends up in landfills or the environment.

And then there is plastic’s role in accelerating climate change. Plastics are made of petrochemicals, which are products derived from fossil fuels. That means we’ll continue to produce fossil fuels as long as we continue to consume plastic, even if sectors like transportation and energy transition away from fossil fuel use. Plus, research shows that plastic pollution doesn’t just clog up waterways and damage integral ecosystems, it produces greenhouse gases like methane and ethylene when exposed to sunlight.

To curb plastic use, some brands are shifting away from excessive plastic packaging and looking to replace them with refillable versions. Refillable products have traditionally been the territory of bulk food stores, but more and more companies that make drugstore staples have begun to roll out refillable options for common bathroom products such as toothpaste, floss and mouthwash.

Dove, for example, recently launched a refillable deodorant, which features a durable stainless steel case that can be reused with deodorant inserts. The refills are still made of plastic, albeit 96 percent recycled plastic, in order to keep the deodorant hygienic, says Harsh V. Pant, brand manager at Unilever, Dove’s parent company. The product took two and a half years to develop and launched in Canada in early 2023. Dove is one of the world’s biggest beauty brands, so even cutting the majority of plastic from just one of their products has a big impact: Pant says that the refillable deodorants and their recycled plastic bottle initiative are reducing the company’s use of virgin plastics by more than 20,500 tonnes per year. (Unilever has, however, come under fire for their use of palm-sized single-use plastic sachets for products like shampoo and laundry detergent in countries such as Sri Lanka. The sachets are nearly impossible to recycle and aren’t biodegradable.)

Refillable products show how a circular economy—a system in which products are created to be reused over and over again, eliminating the need for new single-use products—might work. Proponents of a circular economy say that it’s a more effective way of cutting down on plastic waste, rather than relying on recycling. Switching over to refillables might not be a catch-all solution, but it’s a stepping stone to more sustainable business practices. Even if just 10 percent of all single-use packaging changed to refillables, it’s estimated that would stop almost half of all plastic waste from entering the ocean.

Fill ‘Er Up

Dove Refillable Deodorant Stick

Dove’s refillable deodorant starter kit comes with one deodorant insert and a durable stainless steel case that you can use again and again. The refillable range comes in four scents and is available at most major drugstores in Canada.
0% Aluminum Deodorant Stick Refill Kit, $23, londondrugs.com

Paume Sanitize Trio

This refillable hand sanitizer from Paume, a women-founded Canadian company, includes hydrating ingredients like aloe vera and safflower oil to counteract dry skin. Bonus: It smells of lemon and rosemary—a big improvement on the alcohol-y scent of most germ zappers.
Sanitize Trio, $82, mypaume.com

Change Toothpaste Tablets With Flouride

These toothpaste tablets include fluoride, an important ingredient for healthy teeth, and ship in a compostable pouch. To use, just wet your toothbrush, pop a tablet and bite down— the tablet will foam up like traditional toothpaste.
Toothpaste Tablets with Flouride, $10 for 65 tabs (one month’s supply), changetoothpaste.com

Rebels Refillable Lip Balm

The lip balms from Rebel’s Refinery, a Toronto company, come in compostable wheat paste pods that fit perfectly in their cute ice cream–shaped cases. The flavours are reminiscent of childhood Lip Smackers, like vanilla, strawberry and fuzzy peach.
Refillable Lip Balm, $13, rebelsrefinery.com 

Next: You May Want to Swap Your Shaving Cream for a Shave Bar

Originally Published in Best Health Canada