Curly Girl Method vs Zero-Waste Living | Can You Do Both?

One of my struggles with being on the Curly Girl Method (CGM) is being able to strive for zero-waste living at the same time. When you first get into the method, it’s easy to get caught up in all the new products that fellow curly girls recommend as “must-haves”. Majority, if not all, of these products come in plastic packaging. Wash days also tend to take up a lot of time, and a LOT of water. I was determined to find a way to maintain my hair health while not being wasteful too. Apparently I wasn’t alone in this either because a lot of other members of  our curly girl support group on Facebook had expressed the same concerns. Eventually, I was able to come up with a routine I was satisfied with. While it’s certainly not perfectly zero-waste, here are my best Ecofriendly Curly Girl Routine tips:

1. Don’t hoard or shop impulsively.

Buy only what you need. We have to resist the temptation to think that if others are using a particular product, we have to have it too, or that we need 20 bottles of the same conditioner all at once. Remember that they have an expiration date so you might end up just throwing some of the bottles out unopened when you hoard. This has happened to many a curly girl and they ended up having to give a lot of their stash away. Ouch.

2. Use up the products that you already have.

Even if I decide that a particular product is not doing amazing things for my hair, I will use it all up before buying a different one. As long as it’s not making my hair fall out, I won’t waste it.

 

3. Refuse products in sachet packaging.

Sachets are a no-no for me even if that product works like magic for others. Single-use plastic is a huge contributor to pollution, and a big chunk of that comes from sachet packaging. FYI! Some Human Heart Nature outlets do accept empty bottles of their own products for recycling so you might want to check that out.

 

4. Shampoo/Conditioner bars.

Technically, shampoo/conditioner bars in general are not really considered CG-safe. This is because most of them go through a saponification process during manufacturing, where lye is added to the mixture. This results in a higher pH and renders them somewhat drying even if they are sulfate-and-silicone-free. They’re basically soap bars advertised as shampoo and conditioner.

However, I have recently found out that not all bars are made this way. Some manufacturers opt to use surfactants like Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, which is made from coconut fatty acids instead of lye. This ingredient is commonly used in baby shampoos and cleansers. This then produces shampoo/conditioner bars that have a lower pH, which is milder and safer for the hair.  The tricky part is just finding brands that manufacture them this way.

Cebu is fortunate to have one such brand, Chin’s Vegan Products by Chin Bernardino. Her popularity was already growing within the zero-waste community in Cebu when several CGM practitioners began requesting CG safe products. Chin happily obliged. Her shampoo and conditioner bars are hand-made from locally sourced, all-natural ingredients, and are free of lye, sulfates, silicones, and palm oil. Upon request, she can also make liquid versions of her conditioners and shampoos which you can either have packaged in your own refillable containers or in glass bottles. Click on the gallery below to view pictures of her products or the link above to check out her Facebook page.

As a precaution, a lot of “natural” products tend to be oil-heavy so they can weigh your hair down. If you’re okay with that, then I say go for it.

 

5. You don’t need to use stylers with every wash day.

My huge bottle of LA Looks Sport Gel has lasted me over a year already and is still not empty. Since the bottle is so big, I can probably repurpose it as a vase or something when I’m done with it. I go without stylers on most days, especially since my hair has become a lot healthier than it used to be. It’s also because I’ve just become more comfortable with my natural hair, frizz and all. I usually reserve stylers for when I have a special event.

 

6. Less frequent wash days.

Photo by Erick Larregui on Unsplash

Since starting CGM, I can go 3 to 4 days without washing my hair already (If I’m indoors most of the time anyway) and that already helps me to reduce water usage.

 

7. Don’t waste water.

While showering, turn the water off when you’re not using it. I don’t leave my shower running while I’m cowashing or doing S2C (Squish-To-Condish).

There’s also the planggana method. To do this, you slather the conditioner on your wet hair and S2C over a basin or bowl. When you squeeze out the water, make sure the basin catches it. Then, when you need more moisture, you dunk your hair into the basin and repeat the step as often as you want. This a good way to save water because you’re basically using the same water over and over again. If you need more moisture, give a few squirts with the shower and turn it off again.

8. Air dry.

You can conserve energy as well by air-drying your hair instead of using a diffuser. Your hair might not have as much volume but at least you won’t need to use additional electricity all the time. Besides, there are other ways to give your hair volume aside from diffusing. You can use hair clips to lift the roots as it dries and make sure you shake them out well after scrunching out the crunch.

air-dried curls

 

I hope this short list helps those of you who would like to learn how to take care of your curls and be kind to nature at the same time. If we are determined, I believe we can definitely do both.

 

Any additional tips would be most welcome. Just leave a comment!

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To join Curly Girls Philippines — https://www.facebook.com/groups/curlygirlsphilippines/

(Make sure to answer all 3 questions when requesting membership.)

Chin’s Vegan Products — https://www.facebook.com/chinsveganproducts/

 

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