Don't DIY? Where To Buy Local, Ethically Handmade Zero Waste Alternatives
You can DIY a lot of zero waste alternatives, but not everyone has the time to or wants to DIY everything. Luckily, there are loads of local crafters worth supporting who you can buy handmade and ethically made plastic free products from. We share some of our favs...
DIYing is a great way to avoid heaps of waste. With homemade items, you can control the ingredients that go in and the waste created during its creation. But, it’s not possible to DIY everything you can DIY - there just isn’t the time, it can be difficult to find what you need to make it and not everyone enjoys doing it themselves.
This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy zero waste, home-crafted goodies - you just need to buy them from people and companies who do the DIYing for you! Throughout Australia, there are loads of local crafters worth supporting who you can buy ethically handmade, plastic free products from.
As we often get asked where you can buy handcrafted zero waste products from instead of making your own, we’ve created a list of our favourite local homemade products made by people and small businesses that you can trust to do the DIYing for you. Their products are low tox, ethical, plastic free and as zero waste as possible.
If you’re not in Melbourne or Australia and are looking for DIYed items made by locals, your best bet is going to local craft markets and browsing for them there or search for local stores on Etsy - the home of handmade!
When searching for soap, we look for soap that is made from natural ingredients only - no chemicals! - that is palm oil free and preferably vegan, and made locally.
We love soap from Australian Natural Soap Company as it ticks all these boxes! It has a physical store in Melbourne’s CBD and at South Melbourne Market, as well as an online store and numerous stockists Australia wide.
It has a great range including face soap, shampoo and conditioner bars and even shampoo for your dog! The company is certified cruelty free and does not use palm oil. Each piece of soap is cut by hand to 100g and it only uses recycled and recyclable packaging when posting orders.
Australian Soap Natural Soap Company soaps, and other natural soaps, can be bought via websites like Biome, Flora and Fauna, and The Clean Collective. In fact, Biome’s entire soap range is palm-oil free.
A great switch for dishwashing liquid in plastic bottles is dish soap and Melbourne-based Happily Eco After stocks a great kitchen soap for dishwashing made by Urthly Organics. It contains no harmful ingredients, is 100% palm oil and palm derivative free and the ingredients come straight from the grower where possible and are produced in a sustainable environment.
The small, local business also stocks handcrafted hair and body shampoo, hand soap, pet soap, shaving soap and loofah soap.
Another local company making really good shampoo and conditioner bars, as well as soaps of all sorts, is Quintessence Soaps. It only uses natural ingredients and traditional processes. Quintessence Soaps does use a small amount of palm oil, but it is 100% certified organic and sourced in an environmentally and socially responsible way.
These pure and natural soaps are handmade in Melbourne and can be found at health stores all around Victoria, as well as in other states, or online via its website.
2. Lip balms and makeup
When it comes to zero waste cosmetics, Dirty Hippie Cosmetics brings the goods! Based in Googong, New South Wales, this small business embodies zero waste, natural makeup!
Each item is hand made to order, vegan, cruelty free, organic, toxin free, ethically sourced, fair trade where required, and formulated to suit all skin types (including sensitive), comes in eco friendly packaging, refill options are available and its products are zero waste/sustainably geared, with the labels printed in-house using vege-based ink and recycled paper and the products are made in a green energy powered and rain water supplied lab.
And the products themselves are amazing and come highly recommended. Talk about ticking all the boxes!
You’ll find its range online on Flora and Flora here. It includes mascara, mineral eyeshadows, brow powders, contour powder, mineral lipstick, tinted lip balm, foundation powder, primer, lip and cheek tint, mineral blush and a makeup remover, there’s a great range of colours to choose from. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m trying to be a minimalist so I don’t buy everything!
You can get locally handcrafted natural lip balm in a reusable metal tin online from Happily Eco After, and handmade lip balm in a 100% biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable paperboard push-up tubes or pot from Oakbank Organics on Etsy.
Tasmanian-based Wild Raven Soap makes small batch lip balms and other natural body care products using the traditional cold process and pure and simple ingredients with apothecary blends from the maker’s kitchen and garden. Organic, fair trade, home grown and local products are used wherever possible and all of Wild Raven Soap’s creations are palm oil free.
Wild Raven Soap lip balms include lavender lip balm, shea butter lip balm, raw cacao lip balm, and honey bee lip balm. It also makes Boo Boo Balm, which is a gentle but effective healing balm that helps soothe nappy rashes and other minor boo boos like insect bites, light burns, chapped lips and minor cuts, hand balm, body balm, and evening eye balm.
3. Crocheted dish and face cloths
We love our crocheted cloth that we use to clean our dishes. Ours was gifted to us from a relative in South Africa and was made locally over there, but you can buy these from a number of local sellers.
Biome sells BohoThings hemp dish cloths, Victorian-based MazIlyS and Abby Sewell sell crocheted cotton wash cloths and Two Cents Handmade sells crocheted wash/dish cloths, as does Clean Hippie Cloths, which are both Queesnland based.
Crocheted face and eye wipes are also an awesome zero waste investment. Both Clean Hippie Cloths and Two Cents Handmade also sell crocheted face scrubbies, while New South Wales-based Bunyetska Handmade hand makes crocheted face cloths.
4. Beeswax wraps
You can easily find beeswax wraps at most markets and eco-friendly focused stores these days, but if you want to buy handmade beeswax wraps online, there are loads of makers to choose from on Etsy.
Some of our favourite sellers on Etsy include:
Bek’s Home Studio - more beautiful fabric, Melbourne based and made using GOTS certified organic 100% cotton fabric and a blend of Australian Beeswax, Australian Jojoba oil, and natural resins,
Cotton Tree Co - absolutely gorgeous patterns, made using Australian pure beeswax, 100% natural Australian jojoba oil & GOTS certified organic cotton and Victoria based, and
Naturally Messy’s Gentleman’s Beeswax Food Wraps - monochrome, more manly handmade beeswax wraps any man would be proud to own.
If you’re after vegan wraps, you can buy Wrappa vegan reusable food wraps, which are hand crafted in South Australia, from Biome here, or Melbourne brand, Greener Life’s vegan food wraps, which are made by hand from recycled material, from Flora and Fauna here.
5. Natural cleaning supplies
You can fill up your old detergent bottles with natural cleaning products like all purpose cleaner and laundry powder, at bulk stores if you’re lucky enough to have one near you. You can also usually buy laundry powder in plain cardboard boxes without sneaky inside plastic at supermarkets and eco stores.
Keep an eye out in stores for Ecostore laundry powder, which comes in cardboard only, made from plant- and mineral-based ingredients, and uses enzyme technology. It is made in New Zealand and does come with a plastic scoop, but it is made from recycled plastic. We’ve personally used this one and it works well. You can buy it online here (fragrance free or fragranced).
You can buy non-toxic, DIYed toilet bombs to clean your toilet online via Happily Eco After. You simply drop one of the bombs into your toilet bowl and let it fizz and dissolve for 5 minutes, and then clean your toilet with a toilet brush. And they come in a compostable egg carton!
Another great DIYed cleaning product you can buy is the Tuff Stuff Stain Remover, which is a soap bar inside some netting that can be used to remove stains on clothing and carpets. It is made by The Tasmanian Soap and Skincare Company and made from all natural ingredients.
Biome has a number of low waste green cleaning solutions, including detergents such as all purpose cleaner, coconut soap flakes, ground coconut soap, oxygen bleach, degreaser, laundry powder, toilet fizz, and cream cleanser in glass jars, as well as toilet cleaning tablets and a natural dishwashing powder that is septic and grey water system safe. And they’re all palm-oil free and made by small family businesses based in Australia.
You can also buy soap nuts in stores and online from most vendors, but we don’t recommend using these as it has been scientifically proven that they do not work. You can read more about this in our Waste-free Laundry: Do Soap Nuts Actually Work? article.
6. Creams and deodorants
Did you know you can get a solid face cream in the form of bars? Neither did I until I came across Ethique’s The Perfector - Dreamy Face Moisturiser for Dry to Mature Skin. Ethique is a New Zealand company that is certified carbon neutral, and certified cruelty free and vegan. Its packaging is compostable and its products are palm oil free.
It makes all kind of amazing bars, including face cream bars, body lotion bars, a face serum bar, deodorant bars and the world’s first natural self tanning bar! You can find it in some Melbourne health/eco stores or online via Nourished Life.
Happily Eco After stocks homemade multipurpose, light and nourishing hand and body cream made from ethical butters and oils, as well as natural face moisturiser and handmade deodorants that are hand-blended from locally sourced, Australian grown, natural, food grade and certified organic ingredients and come in compostable containers.
Dirty Hippie Cosmetics makes a really good deodorant that comes in a completely compostable push-up tube. The 100% vegan probiotics used in its handmade Probiotic Deodorant provide brilliant protection against bacterial-based odours, while the certified bicarbonate soda, arrowroot and kaolin clay used work together to soak up and trap odours. skin. David and I both use and love this one.
The Physic Garden makes its Relax, Revitalise and Sensitive deodorant pastes in Melbourne using medicinal herbs from its organic herb nursery and nourishing oils. They come in glass jars with metal lids and are 100% natural, vegan, free from petroleum jelly, paraffins, alcohol and beeswax, naturopathically formulated using a stain-free formula.
You can often find vintage handkerchiefs and fabric napkins in second-hand stores though - or raid your gran’s closet! Etsy Australia is your best bet for buying local, handcrafted fabric napkins and hankies online if you’d rather buy these new, as well as handmade tote bags and cutlery wraps.
Hanky Revolution makes some super fun hankies. They’re Sydney based and the handkerchiefs are handmade and screen-printed. I came across Hanky Revolution on Instagram and immediately fell in love with its slogans and designs, especially the one with a hand pointing and “BOOGERS” in large writing.
Do you know of any local, handmade, zero waste products that we should add to this list? Let us know below in the comments!
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