Best eco-friendly home and cleaning products
From toothpaste to cleaning spray to plasters, there are so many sustainable alternatives to common home essentials. Here's a list of the best eco-friendly home and cleaning products...
When looking for eco-friendly cleaning products and other home essentials on a budget, it can initially feel like a tough task. You'll be able to find all the items you need in supermarkets, but finding ones that are sustainably and ethically made can be a challenge.
But, when you know where to look, there are plenty of great alternative products out there. It'll help you reduce your carbon footprint, without spending a fortune.
15 best eco-friendly products
Here are the best eco-friendly cleaning and home products available in the UK:
Homethings refillable cleaning products
Key benefits: Non-toxic cleaning products with minimal packaging and weight.
If you haven't yet tried Homethings products, their refillable cleaning spray is a good place to start.
With the Cleaning Spray Kit, you'll get three bottles and three cleaning tabs. For the tabs, you just need to add water and they'll fill a whole bottle with non-toxic, vegan and cruelty-free cleaning spray.
It's slightly pricey as an initial purchase (around £30 for the kit with glass bottles or around £20 for the kit with bottles made of 100% recycled plastic). But, once you have the bottles, you only need to buy the tabs each time which keeps the costs down.
Using dissolvable tablets avoids the need for single-use plastic and transporting all the water that comes with mainstream cleaning products. The tabs cost £6 for three, or £5 if you set up a subscription.
You can cut the cost further by receiving 15% off with this Homethings discount code.
Homethings sells other eco-friendly products as well, including dishwasher and laundry tablets (more info below).
Or, if you'd like to try a different brand, Spruce also offers eco-friendly, refillable cleaning products. They sell aluminium spray bottles, along with refills that have plastic-free and compostable packaging.
Their Starter Kit Duo includes two bottles and two refills (for multipurpose and bathroom cleaning) and costs around £20 at full price. But, if you use the code SAVETHESTUDENTXSPRUCE at checkout, you can get 15% off.
Keep in mind that you could save more money, and use even less packaging, by making your own natural cleaning products at home.
Eco Living compostable sponge cleaning cloths
Key benefits: Compostable and biodegradable cleaning cloths, made from natural materials.
As well as getting refillable cleaning sprays, another great way to reduce your waste from cleaning products is by using compostable cleaning cloths.
These ones from Eco Living are free from microplastics and are good eco-friendly alternatives to disposable sponges (which often contain plastic). They cost around £7 for a pack of four.
The Cheeky Panda kitchen roll
Key benefits: Plastic-free and made from natural bamboo.
Kitchen roll is extremely convenient. But as it's single-use, generally wrapped in plastic and can contain toxic ingredients, it tends to be pretty wasteful. Luckily, there are eco-friendly alternatives to some of the leading kitchen roll brands.
This bamboo kitchen roll from The Cheeky Panda is made from sustainable bamboo, has strong fibres that mean it shouldn't disintegrate when wiping up spills, and is free from harsh chemicals. It has plastic-free packaging and costs around £5 for two rolls.
Or, if you're looking for an alternative brand to try, see the next point.
Who Gives A Crap toilet paper
Key benefits: Toilet paper that's made from recycled material with plastic-free packaging.
As with kitchen roll, it's often difficult to find a pack of toilet paper that doesn't come wrapped in single-use plastic packaging. But, if you look online, you'll find much more sustainable options.
Who Gives A Crap is a great, eco-friendly alternative to a lot of supermarket toilet rolls. Their toilet paper is made from 100% recycled fibres and comes wrapped in paper.
Better yet, 50% of profits go to their charity partners that focus on water, hygiene and sanitation.
At full price, it costs £44 for 48 rolls, but you can get £5 off your subscription using the code SAVETHESTUDENT via this link.
Mooncup menstrual cup
Key benefits: A reusable sanitary product that's low waste, ethically made and cost-effective.
Each month, the cost of sanitary pads and tampons quickly adds up – as does the waste from all of the packaging. An easy way to save money and reduce waste is by getting a reusable menstrual cup.
Mooncup is a leading menstrual cup brand. Their packaging is all plastic-free and recyclable. Plus, transparent Mooncups don't contain any dyes, perfumes, plastic, BPA (a chemical used in many plastics), phthalates (again, chemicals used in plastics), bleaches or toxins.
A menstrual cup from their website costs around £21 (including a £1 donation to an environmental non-profit, City to Sea). It should last for years, saving you a fair amount of money in future as you'll no longer need to buy a new pack of pads or tampons each period.
PATCH bamboo plasters
Key benefits: Plastic-free alternative to standard plasters.
A box of plasters is essential for any bathroom cupboard. Unfortunately, they're not great for the environment.
Typically, plasters contain plastic. So, if you're keen to cut down on plastic, an eco-friendly option would be to buy bamboo plasters.
PATCH plasters are plastic-free, made with sustainable bamboo and are vegan friendly. At the time of writing, their charcoal bamboo bandages cost around £7 for a pack of 25.
Eco Warrior shampoo bar
Key benefits: A shampoo bar that's sold with plastic-free packaging and made by an ethically-transparent company.
A great way to cut down on plastic is by switching out your usual bottle of shampoo with a shampoo bar.
For example, this Eco Warrior shampoo bar comes with packaging that's recyclable, biodegradable and free from plastic.
It's important to highlight that the Eco Warrior bars are created by the Little Soap Company who are transparent about their stance on palm oil. They believe that a complete boycott of the ingredient is not an effective solution (as they explain here).
Instead, they use organic, certified sustainable palm oil from traceable plantations that have not contributed to deforestation.
Their bars tend to cost around £4.50 each but you can get 10% off with Boots student discount.
If you've read the Little Soap Company's reasoning for using certified sustainable palm oil, but think that companies should be completely boycotting palm oil, the next product might appeal more.
Ethique conditioner bar
Key benefits: Conditioner bar with plastic-free packaging and free from palm oil.
As we touched on in the last point, there's a lot of debate around whether even sustainably-sourced palm oil should be used in products. Although Eco Warrior (above) has decided to use certified sustainable palm oil in their bars, other companies have decided to avoid it altogether.
If you're looking for a palm-free alternative to Eco Warrior/Little Soap Company, you could consider Ethique's products, such as their Wonderbar conditioner bar.
Ethique says on their website, "sustainable palm production is the best way forward, but it's a massive challenge". Due to the harm that the palm oil industry has on people, animals and the environment, they have taken a firm stance against using it in their products.
The conditioner bar is expensive (around £14 for a 60g bar), but it's said to last up to five months with regular use.
Friendly Soap bar
Key benefits: Ethically-made soap that's free from palm oil, preservatives, sulfates and plastic packaging.
Friendly Soap is another leading name in the world of eco-friendly toiletries. This peppermint and poppy seeds soap is cruelty-free, vegan and doesn't contain any palm oil. And unlike a lot of soaps, it comes with plastic-free packaging.
As an added perk, the poppy seeds in this soap mean that it's great for exfoliation.
At the time of writing, a 95g bar costs £2.45.
Key benefits: Toothpaste with natural ingredients and plastic-free packaging.
Typically, toothpaste comes in plastic packaging and contains harsh chemicals. If you're hoping to find an eco-friendly alternative, look into Smyle toothpaste.
Toothpaste tablets are sent with plastic-free packaging. Once opened, you can store them in an airtight container (e.g. a glass bottle, which they also sell). To use the tablets, simply crush them against your teeth and use a wet toothbrush as normal.
It costs just over £5 to buy one of their glass bottles, and around £13 for 125 toothpaste tablets (enough for two months of brushing twice a day).
Right now you can get 20% off your order with this link.
Smyle sells toothpaste tablets with and without fluoride. It's generally recommended to use toothpaste with fluoride – talk to your dentist if you're looking for advice about this.
LiveCoco toothbrush heads
Key benefits: Recyclable toothbrush heads which are vegan and cruelty-free.
They sell toothbrush heads that are compatible with a few types of electric toothbrushes, including Oral-B or Braun ones that are supplied with circular brush heads, excluding iO versions.
After using the toothbrush heads, you can send them back to LiveCoco for recycling.
At full price, it costs around £10 for two toothbrush heads but you can get 10% off with the code SAVETHESTUDENT.
If you prefer manual toothbrushes to electric ones, you could consider getting one made from sustainable bamboo, like this one.
Homethings laundry tablets
Key benefits: Biodegradable and non-toxic laundry tablets, made in a factory powered by renewable energy.
Homethings' laundry tablets (a.k.a. Laundrythings) are a good eco-friendly option. They use non-toxic, vegan and cruelty-free ingredients, and they try to keep their products as compact as possible to minimise their use of chemicals.
Similarly, Homethings' plant-based Dishthings tabs are also worth a try if you have a dishwasher.
You can save a bit of money if you subscribe to receive their products routinely but, as a one-off option, it costs around £16 for 72 laundry tablets or around £10 for 40 dishwasher tablets. Keep in mind that you can get 15% off with this Homethings discount code.
An alternative brand is Smol, which also focuses on eco-friendly washing tablets. To try their products, you can get free samples of their laundry and dishwasher tablets (just pay £1 P&P).
Guppyfriend microplastic catcher laundry bag
Key benefits: A laundry bag that's designed to reduce microplastic pollution and protect your clothes.
Using an eco-friendly laundry tablet is a great way to avoid toxic chemicals and plastic packaging. And you can improve on this further by also using a microplastic catcher laundry bag when using the washing machine.
Unfortunately, washing clothes contributes to microplastic pollution, with loads of tiny plastic fibres ending up in water systems.
You might have heard about microplastic filters that can be installed in washing machines. But, if you're in rented accommodation, this might not be a realistic option unless your landlord is keen to have one installed.
Instead, you could get a microplastic catcher laundry bag, like this one (available from The Ethical Superstore).
If you're looking for an easy way to reduce the microplastic pollution from your laundry, this could be a great option.
Beeswax Wrap Co. wrappers
Key benefits: Reusable food wraps are eco-friendly alternatives to cling film.
While cling film is convenient, it's single-use plastic which makes it very wasteful. Instead, wax food wraps are a lot more sustainable.
A leading brand in the field is Beeswax Wrap Co. Their wraps are made out of beeswax that's sourced locally to their Cotswolds workshop.
It's more expensive to buy the wraps than a roll of cling film (a medium wrap costs around £10), but as they can be reused for up to a year, you can get your money's worth out of them.
You could also look at the food wraps on Etsy – you might be able to find some that are cheaper.
As well as being handy to own, wax food wraps are also among the best eco-friendly gift ideas. You could even use them as a sustainable alternative to wrapping paper (which can't always be recycled) as they come in lovely, colourful designs.
Key benefits: Compost bins prevent unnecessary greenhouse emissions by reducing the amount of food that's sent to landfills.
Composting has loads of environmental benefits. It helps to enrich soil, and it also reduces the amount of food that's sent to a landfill, which in turn reduces the greenhouse gas emissions from rotting food.
Even if you don't have a garden, you could still use a compost bin at home. Perhaps if you're in a flat and your downstairs neighbours have a garden, they could use your compost as fertiliser. Or, you could use compost on your indoor potted plants to help them grow.
6 best places to buy eco-friendly products
These are the top stores to buy sustainable and eco-friendly products:
Peace With The Wild
Best for: Wide range of eco-friendly products.
Peace With The Wild has a huge selection of environmentally-friendly items, with an aim to make plastic-free and eco-friendly products more accessible.
The categories on their site include skincare, haircare, makeup, bathroom, kitchen, general home products and even cooking ingredients.
Also, if you happen to be in or near Epworth (North Lincolnshire), you can pop into their zero-waste refill store.
Best for: Finding products that fit your values.
Like Peace With The Wild, Wearth London also has a wide range of products on its online store.
You can find ethical and eco-friendly beauty items there, as well as sustainable fashion items, food products, homewares and cleaning products.
If there's a particular aspect of eco-design that you care about, you can 'shop by values' on their site. The values include plastic-free, made in the UK, vegan friendly, refillable and more.
The Cheeky Panda
Best for: Bamboo products for the kitchen and bathroom.
As we mentioned earlier, The Cheeky Panda sells great bamboo products like kitchen roll and toilet roll. And they have loads more home and cleaning products available, such as antibacterial wipes, cleansing wipes and pocket tissues.
The Cheeky Panda uses Virgin Pulp Bamboo which would have otherwise been wasted from sustainably sourced forests. As bamboo plants grow 30 times faster than trees, it's a more sustainable alternative.
You can find out more on their website.
Best for: Ethical products that contribute to good causes.
Oxfam has a brilliant online store. On top of second-hand products, they also sell lots of new products that they've sourced.
There are so many items to choose from, such as clothes, homeware, cleaning products, books and art to name a few.
Best for: Eco-friendly products from independent stores.
For eco-friendly products from independent and small businesses, Etsy is a great place to look.
You can find just about anything you need there. It's a great site for discovering sellers that you might otherwise never have come across.
Amazon (Climate Pledge Friendly)
Best for: Convenience.
We've included Amazon on this list because of their Climate Pledge Friendly filter.
But, it's important to recognise that Amazon faces strong criticism over many of its business practices. This includes its huge carbon footprint. According to the Amazon Sustainability 2020 report, the business emitted 60.64 million metric tons of CO2e in 2020.
However, because of its convenience, affordability and Prime student offer, Amazon is very popular among students, and we'd never tell you not to use it.
If you'd like to keep using Amazon but want to buy more eco-friendly products, try shopping with their Climate Pledge Friendly filter. This will show you loads of great items from brands that are making an effort to be as kind to the environment as they can.
If you're hoping to live more sustainably, switching to a renewable energy provider is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint.