1. december 2014: i think we all know that there are harmful ingredients in drugstore cosmetics. here is a list of the david suzuki foundation's "dirty dozen" chemicals found in many of them. many of these chemicals are linked to cancer and are harmful for wildlife who encounter them through our water waste. when i began this quest, i looked at the labels on our bottles of drugstore shampoo and found "dirty dozen" ingredients on each label.
i tried my liquid soap as shampoo. it doesn't lather very well, so i used quite a bit. even when i tried using less, it left a waxy build up and left my hair looking greasy around the hairline when dry. i could have tried an apple cider vinegar/water rinse, but didn't want the scent... and i had already noticed a lot of breakage from the vigorous massaging used to get the hair clean. many people like this method, and it may work better on shorter hair (mine is on the longer side). i really was hoping it would work for me, since it is zero waste and very cheap!
3. if available, bulk shampoo and conditioner may be a great solution. yes, there will still be plastic packaging and transport involved with the larger containers of bulk shampoo and conditioner, but as bea says in zero waste home, "it invests money in bulk shopping and future development (ideally containers would travel back and forth between the two)." "the two" being factory and store shelf. i haven't been able to locate bulk shampoo or conditioner in our area.
5. march 2015: i've tried some more natural shampoos and conditioners in the past and found that the shampoos do not lather much and the conditioners don't moisturize as much as my previous drugstore brand. this has resulted in increased amounts of shampoo being used, so i don't feel like this makes them low waste. at this point, however, i feel like these are cheaper alternatives to aveda. there are some big bottles and some 100% recycled bottles, so i think i will now experiment with a few products available at whole foods. if this is to work for the girls too, i need to keep this cost effective.
since i could see the bulk containers in that instagram picture, i could read the brand name and search amazon for it. customers raved about its natural ingredients, and i was actually able to find a sample size container of the shampoo at whole foods to try first. it lathered well and didn't seem too drying, so i went ahead and bought a bulk container (january 2016). jo split the cost and the jug with me. not only are we saving many shampoo bottles from having to be made and recycled, but jo is paying half the price per ounce and i am paying one-third the price per ounce of our previous shampoos!
and then i double checked to see if any of the dirty dozen were hiding in this "natural" shampoo. i found cocomide MEA, which though partially derived from coconut can react with other chemicals to produce carcinogenic substances. further investigation revealed that it is allowable in the european union (a much better gauge of chemical safety than american regulation).
i'm not sure that my search is over, but i think we are in the best place we've been so far in terms of health, waste, and performance.
november 2016 update: we are still finishing up that one bulk container we bought in january! julia finished her bottle of alba and has been using the shikai as well. we are happy with it and have our next bulk container ready to go. three girls with longer hair (all shampooing every day) + one bulk container of shampoo = almost one year of clean hair.
what solutions have you found for natural, low-waste shampoo?