Plastic Free July Day 21: Refilling Lotions and More!

plastic waste skincare haircare bottles

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Blog post written by Madison from Zero Waste California.

When it comes to the 4 R's of sustainability (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot) there is a fifth R that should be included: Refill.

If and whenever possible, refilling containers you already own is the best way to reduce waste. All sorts of reusable containers are available at second hand stores at very affordable prices! In fact, most of my mason jars came from thrift stores.

Dry ingredients like flour or oats are pretty easy to refill and store in air-tight containers. Check out our post on Bulk Shopping and Food Storage for more information. But what about other products? Like lotions, shampoos, or even cooking oil? You know, the wet stuff.

refill store online zero waste

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If you live in the Bay Area, offers the convenience of refilling many bath products as well as home delivery. You can also refill your bottles in their store.

plaine products refill body lotion all natural zero waste

Live outside of the Bay? Or outside of California? Don't fret! There are still plenty of options for you.


*Most* co-ops offer some form of a refill service. 

EO products refill station california

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Grass Roots Natural Foods in Tahoe, CA, has refillable supplies of honey (various flavors), olive oil (various flavors), vinegars, shampoo, conditioner and soap!

grass roots natural food store tahoe california

Co-ops are popping up all over the place. Just search for one in your area and see what they offer!


fillgood zero waste store berkeley

(Photo Credit: Fillgood)

Refills stations are popping up everywhere.  Find one near you using local or national directories like this one on Zero Waste California or this one on Litterless. 

Make Your Own Lotion or Deodorant

Making your own lotion is as easy as making your own deodorant. I say this because the recipe I made up for both have very few differences between them. I've tried several recipes for zero waste deodorant, but this one seems to work the best for me.


I stuffed shea butter into a mason jar and placed it in a pot filled with water. Turn the stove to high heat, and allow the water to boil and gently melt the butter.

You can also use:

  • Coconut oil
  • Mango Butter
  • Cocoa butter
  • Sweet almond butter
  • Avocado
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Olive butter
  • Pumpkin seed butter

homemade deodorant zero waste natural

After several minutes, the butter will melt into an oil.

homemade natural deodorant zero waste


Pour your liquid into a container and add essential oils as needed. I like lemongrass, or lavender, or vanilla.


Add tea tree oil or other essential oils. I like lemongrass or lavender. Mix in baking soda at a ratio of 3 parts oil, 1 part baking soda, mix. If still too liquid-y after 10 minutes, mix with a teaspoon of baking soda at a time to reach the right consistency:

homemade deodorant natural mason jar

Remember: it will continue to harden as it solidifies at room temperature, don't add too much baking soda or it will get too stiff and be difficult to apply!

Ta-da, that's it. Once they're cool they are ready to use.

homemade lotion and deodorant zero waste

Left picture : Lotion on the left, deodorant on the right, still in liquid state.

Right picture: Storing them in mini-containers like these make them super easy for travel. Or, store some in an old Altoids tin, or something similar, for lotion or deodorant on-the-go!

Join the conversation!