One of the very first posts I wrote was about changing my deodorant from the standard plastic encased roll-on to a plastic-free one (read skincare and the new deodorant). After struggling with Lush’s solid deodorants I eventually settled for a deodorant stone that I found in a green supermarket while visiting some friends in Totnes.
The deodorant stone works a treat. The methodology behind it sounds completely implausible, but the fact is it works. Made of mineral salts, they look like a piece of crystal pulled straight from a rock in a dark, damp cave. Wetting the stone and rubbing it directly on the skin causes it to leave behind an invisible layer of salts that apparently prevents odour-causing bacteria from setting up home.
"What the hell is that?" asked my cousin H when I left it out on her bathroom shelf during a visit earlier this year.
"Umm, my deodorant..." I replied sheepishly. I love H to bits, but I don't think she's really all that into alternative concepts, so I generally don't share these particular sensibilities of mine with her.
"Well, I haven't noticed you smelling yet, so I suppose it must do something," was her closing comment.
And then Disaster Strikes
All was good for a year. And then a couple of months ago I had to lay my beloved deodorant stone to rest and go in a search of a new one (in other words, I dropped it on the floor and it shattered into about a million pieces). That was when things started to go wrong. First I thought I’d buy one direct from the company that made/sourced my original stone. No can do, they’re out of stock. As is every stockist I could find that stocks this particular brand.
Alright, so I’ll see if I can find one locally, I decided. Errm, no. None of my local health stores stock them in their completely packaging-free state. Do I drive to Totnes to buy one from the store I got the first one from? Seems a bit wrong, and somewhat hypocritical, to exude evil exhaust fumes for that purpose alone.
Ok, so there must be other companies that supply them, I thought. Internet here I come. And yes, after much deliberation, I settled on ‘Tawas Crystal’, pictured in a lovely little bamboo basket. Great, I thought, no plastic. Sorted.
Or not. When the crystal arrived a couple of days later it was in a jiffy bag. But not only in a jiffy bag. In a plastic box, wrapped in bubble wrap, in a jiffy bag. ‘Darn’ would be the polite way of phrasing my reaction. There was probably more plastic involved in this one package than if I had gone out and bought a typical roll-on deodorant from the shop down the road. I’ll use it for now obviously, but, I wondered, what am I going to do next time?
Hark the Herald Angels
Thank you Mrs Green over on My Zero Waste. You are my saviour.
“Not all crystal deodorants are the same,” she pointed out, and sent me off to read the details about them on Natural Spa Supplies. And this lovely company, Natural Spa Supplies, also sells the good kind. But what about their packaging I wonder? Although the fact that Mrs Green had already recommended them to me indicated that the packaging would be sustainable, having learnt my lesson from previous experiences, this time I thought I’d better check.
“I use padded envelopes which are filled with recycled paper," they tell me. "And corrugated cardboard and string to protect the contents. I do tend to use a strip of cellotape to make sure the envelope doesn’t fly open, but that is all.” A strip of cellotape? I can live with that.
Yippee! I think. There are other people out there who are trying to change the world. And so I have just placed my first order. As well as the alum deodorant, I’ve ordered some other things to try too – Rhassoul clay for washing, soapnuts for the washing machine, savon noir soap for Bron to shave with, and a clay water purifier to replace my plastic Brita filter. I suddenly feel very poor, but I feel confident it’ll be worth it! Besides, it's always fun to try something different.