There have been enough jokes about washing and over-washing our hands during these times of the worldwide virus. But with all the sanitizer usage, what are the implications for the environment? And for our health? We already know surgical masks have taken over the natural world. So, when it comes to sanitizers, have you tried any eco-friendly options? If you’re looking for the best eco friendly hand sanitizer in the market, read on. We also highlight the zero waste hand sanitizers and have a DIY suggestion for you to make your own eco friendly sanitizer.
- Why Choose an Eco Friendly Hand Sanitizer?
- Why Choose a Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer?
- What Makes an Effective Hand Sanitizer?
- Top 14 Eco Friendly Hand Sanitizers
- DIY Hand Sanitizer
Why Choose an Eco Friendly Hand Sanitizer?
Because we don’t want to expose ourselves to toxins that can mess up our health. And we also do not want said toxins to leach into the environment and cause untold misery to animals and plants, apart from affecting other people. When possible, opt for products with organic, sustainably-sourced ingredients. If it’s safe for us, it’s safe for the environment.
Why Choose a Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer?
Plastic pollution! Most drugstore hand sanitizers come in plastic containers with plastic pumps, and most of them are tossed into the landfill once empty. There’s already an unimaginable amount of plastic floating around on our planet – let’s not add to that. Using zero waste hand sanitizer options — glass bottles, recycling glass bottles, and minimizing our consumption of plastic — are all ways in which we can reduce our pollution of the planet. Another option is to opt for sanitizers that come in refillable bottles, or in aluminum bottles that are reusable and recyclable. You’ll see what I mean later in this post.
What Makes an Effective Hand Sanitizer?
It has to clean your hands effectively, of course, but without using ingredients that can harm your health or that of the environment. We’re looking for clean ingredients that do the job without doing damage. This means safe ingredients (i.e. no carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and other such horror ingredients). The hand sanitizers listed below are made with clean, safe ingredients. The key points of each sanitizer have been highlighted. You can also read through their websites before making up your mind for yourself.
One thing is that most sanitizers I’ve tried tend to dry out my skin – this is due to the alcohol content. To keep your hands from drying out, either opt for non alcohol-based sanitizers, such as Cleancult, or alcohol-based sanitizers with hyaluronic acid, such as the By Humankind sanitizers. Or, you could just use non-toxic hand soaps.
Top 14 Eco Friendly Hand Sanitizers
1 // 100% PURE
Price: Starts from $5
Alcohol-based | Vegan | Cruelty Free | Gluten Free | Made in USA
100% Pure’s hand sanitizer spray is FDA-compliant. It’s a quick-drying, non-sticky sanitizer made with hydrating aloe vera gel and antibacterial tea tree oil, in 62% ethyl alcohol. They’ve added glycerin for moisturizing. You can buy it in bulk.
2 // BY HUMANKIND [ZW]
Zero Waste | 100% carbon neutral | Vegan
By Humankind’s vegan hand sanitizer comes in eucalyptus and grapefruit scents (and unscented too, of course), and contains 65% alcohol (with hyaluronic acid to moisturize your hands). This is a zero-waste option – the refillable container is made from recyclable aluminum and the pump is reusable.
Shipping is carbon neutral, as they offset 100% of their carbon footprint (including all orders) by investing in strategic forest preservation projects.
3 // CLEANCULT [ZW]
Zero Waste | Alcohol-free | Recyclable cartons | Carbon neutral | Made in USA
Cleancult’s eco-friendly Hand Sanitizer Bundle is fragrance-free and safe even for kids to use. The dispenser bottle is made of glass, and the refill carton is recyclable and plastic-free. The pump is plastic but BPA-free, and recyclable.
4 // DOC SHULTZ [ZW]
Price: $29.99 (tester pack)
Zero Waste | Reusable | Cruelty Free | Carbon neutral | Made in USA
Doc Shultz eco-friendly hand sanitizers have essential oils infused with vitamins that moisturize the skin. You can even create your own custom bundle to suit your needs.
This is a zero-waste hand sanitizer – it comes in a refillable, reusable and recyclable glass bottle, with travel-sized spray options, as larger bottles for bulk purchases.
5 // DR BRONNER’S
Price: $4.99 (2 oz.)
Organic | Fair Trade | Vegan | Cruelty Free | Made in USA
Dr. Bronner’s organic hand sanitizer has fair-trade ethyl alcohol, organic glycerin, water and lavender oil, and is USDA organic certified. The lavender and peppermint smells are delicious and refreshing, and it’s perfectly safe to use on all skin types.
Dr. Bronner’s supports regenerative farming and climate friendly practices through their donations (which consumers support through their purchases!).
6 // NEZZA NATURALS [ZW]
Organic | Handmade | In-store Refilling
Nezza’s organic key lime and tea tree hand sanitizer is gentle and soothing on the skin (and therefore great for kids!). That’s because of the aloe juice, vegetable glycerin and essential oils. Smells great, too.
This handmade hand sanitizer has 70% alcohol. Nezza offers in-store refilling and zero-emissions shipping on orders over CAD$100.
7 // NUDESTIX
Price: CAD$11.00 (250ml)
Vegan | Cruelty-free | Gluten-free
Nudestix is a Korean beauty brand, and they developed this hand sanitizer when the COVID pandemic struck and there was a shortage of sanitizers. Great business instincts? Well, their product is a big hit among consumers. The hand sanitizer is an antibacterial gel without sulfates, synthetic fragrance or parabens. It contains 62% ethanol. The other ingredients are vegan (castor seed oil, green tea extract, etc), and there’s a bit of vitamin E and glycerin as well in the mix.
For every Nudestix sanitizer bottle bought online, Nudestix will donate a 30 ml bottle to communities in need, and has pledged to donate 20,000 bottles to front line workers.
8 // PACKAGE FREE [ZW]
Zero Waste | Package-free | Fully recyclable | Gluten-free
Package Free’s organic hand sanitizer has 80% ethanol and vegetable glycerin for hydrating your skin. The glycerin is made without palm oil.
True to its name, Package Free’s sanitizer bottles are made with recyclable glass, with labels made from recycled kraft paper. The plastic pump is reusable and recyclable.
9 // PAUME
Price: $14 onwards
Refillable | Plant-based
Paume’s eco friendly hand sanitizer comes in a chic, refillable container. The sanitizer is plant-based, with essential oils and divine smells. The refill spout pouch bags are made of plastic, but with less plastic than in regular plastic bottles. Which isn’t very encouraging, but hopefully they will think of switching to non-plastic materials soon.
Paume’s products, however, are certified as ‘Plastic Neutral’, and this is because they offset their plastic usage through a partnership with rePurpose Global. I am skeptical about how effective this is when their own products’ containers are made of plastic, but then this is essentially the same concept as carbon offsets (which I also side-eye).
On the plus side, all of Paume’s shipping materials and external packaging are recyclable or biodegradable.
10 // PIPETTE
Price: $4.99 onwards
Fragrance-free | Hypoallergenic | Vegan
Pipette makes safe baby products, so their sanitizer is likely safe for the kids. Pipette’s sanitizer contains 65% ethyl alcohol, along with glycerine and sugarcane-derived squalane.
11 // PLAINE PRODUCTS [ZW]
Price: $20 (subscribe for 10% off)
Zero waste | Refill program | Vegan | Cruelty-free | Biodegradable product
Plaine Products’ zero-waste hand sanitizer is a triple threat: non-GMO ingredients, biodegradable bottle and refillable contents! Their refill program is a bit clunky, though: you have to ship empty aluminum cans to them, they fill them up and send them back to you – and it goes back and forth. You basically order the refill bottles when you’re running low on your existing stash. But the reviews are great, with several people highlighting the non-stickiness and the smell.
12 // PUBLIC GOODS
Price: $7.50 (12 oz.)
Ethically sourced ingredients | For sensitive skin | Sugarcane bottles | Made in USA
Public Goods’ hand sanitizer is gentle and soothing on the skin, with 62% ethyl alcohol, glycerin and aloe vera. They’ve done no animal testing. It smells great, not like a sanitizer at all (which may not work for some).
The stylish, minimalist bottle is a Public Goods staple, and is made of sugarcane and tree-free paper. But there are no refill options for this product yet. It is affordable, though, with their annual membership plan of $79. They have partnered with Eden Reforestation Projects to plant a tree for every order placed (they use this to offset their carbon emissions also).
13 // TANGIE [ZW]
Zero waste | Sustainable shipping
Tangie’s hand sanitizer is made with natural ingredients – including 65% alcohol, essential oils for fragrance and hyaluronic acid for moisturizing. The bottle is made of glass with an aluminum twist lid, so it’s 100% plastic-free. This bottle is intended to refill your existing dispensers, so they’re also helping us save on plastic that didn’t come from them!
Waste Free products are packaged with reusable plastic and they reuse bubble wrap from incoming shipments. All Waste Free products come with a 30-day full money back guarantee.
14 // THE GOOD FILL CO. [ZW]
Zero waste | Sustainably sourced ingredients | Recyclable product | Made in USA
Good Fill’s hand sanitizer contains 66% alcohol, and can even disinfect surfaces for you. All ingredients are sustainably sourced, and are cleansing and nourishing.
The sanitizer comes in a glass bottle with a plastic pump. You can recycle the glass bottle after using, and send the pump back to The Good Fill Co. for them to recycle with TerraCycle.
15 // Indie Options
Want to support smaller sellers? Try this hand sanitizer from Etsy, or your local eco-friendly store.
DIY Hand Sanitizer
Now, the FDA frowns upon making your own hand sanitizer. This is because homemade sanitizer may not successfully sanitize, and they could also cause harm if made carelessly. Having said that, here is a wonderful recipe for homemade sanitizer. The ingredients you use are up to you (be it organic or fair trade or ethically sourced), but obviously it is in your best interest to use the safest and cleanest of ingredients if you are going to attempt making your own hand sanitizer. Use this glass bottle with spray pump to store your DIY sanitizer.
The best hand sanitizer, though, is soap. Always. When possible, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water (for 20 seconds, yes!) to banish all the harmful germs. Hand sanitizers should be in addition to soap and water, or simply a worst-case substitute for when you don’t have any soap on hand.
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NOTE: All brand photographs belong to the respective brands/businesses.