The meticulous effort to stay germ-free through proper hand hygiene is now a significant part of our lives, primarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Hand sanitizers are now the in-thing. Unfortunately, many brands create these sanitizers in plastic bottles with little care for our planet.
Going for an eco-friendly option not only protects the environment but also ensures that you’re protecting your skin’s health. Sustainable companies pay attention to details such as safe ingredients, zero-waste packaging, and refill options. In this article, we’ve highlighted ten eco-friendly hand sanitizer product picks.
Before diving into the list of hand sanitizers, we’ve created a checklist for you to serve as a guide whenever you go shopping. It highlights what to look out for to determine if a brand or item passes the environmental-friendly test.
Containers are one of the leading causes of environmental pollution. Single-use plastic, for instance, is a popular material for containers. Studies show that between 1950 and 2018, there were 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic produced worldwide. Only 9% of this figure was recycled2. Consequently, plastic waste continues to pose a significant environmental problem.
Brands that opt for materials like aluminum bottles and glass for their containers prove that intentional packaging is undoubtedly possible. We can recycle these materials, unlike the ubiquitous plastic bottle, reducing landfill waste. So when you next pick out a bottle of sanitizer, pay attention to the container.
Offering refills is fast becoming popular among skin brands. You can see this even within the eco-conscious makeup industry. Refilling presents a creative and sustainable way to prevent container waste while keeping loyal customers. The refill option allows you to either send your sanitizer back for a refill or request refill pouches. This way, you’re sanitizing sustainably. Should you find yourself unsure about refill services, you can reach out to the brand’s customer service in question.
Choosing a natural hand sanitizer does not mean compromising the effect of killing germs and viruses. You want to ensure what you’re buying contains at least 60% alcohol. This is the recommendation given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mass-produced sanitizers can contain carbomer, synthetic fragrances, and synthetic preservatives. Carbomer is a thickening agent; however, it contains liquid plastic. To prevent substandard and harmful components in over-the-counter items, the FDA released a rule to curb toxic chemical use1. Concerning fragrance and moisturization, natural hand solutions will contain ingredients like essential oils, aloe vera, and vitamin e to do the job.
Below are some of our picks. These are friendly on the skin, tough on germs, and kind to the environment.
Eco Tomorrow is a cruelty-free brand that uses green technology to provide sustainable and natural goods. The brand uses safe and efficient processes to develop its offerings. Currently, Eco Tomorrow offers a range of hand sanitizers to support the green movement. Unlike many conventional sanitizer picks, this brand uses natural and safe ingredients for germ-free and moisturized hands.
The brand’s sanitizer collection contains a range of natural oils. The options include eucalyptus and lemon, lemongrass and mint, and lavender and tea tree. Along with these natural oils, each spray bottle also contains 70% alcohol to fight germs. For its packages, Eco Tomorrow uses recyclable sugarcane plastics. The brand claims that each 120ml bottle will last up to 1000 sprays. You can use this for your hands and surfaces.
The origin of Paume is tied to the founder’s personal story. Amy Welsman’s entry into motherhood heightened her awareness of germs. As a result, she and her husband began to purchase sanitizer products in bulk for their home. Due to the unappealing scents, disposable plastics, and harsh components of many of these products, she became inspired. Today, people recognize Paume as a staple name amongst skin-friendly luxurious sanitizer products.
Something that sets this brand apart from others is that it offers variations of products based on need. For instance, Paume has hand sanitizer sets for travelers, in-home purposes, and personal essentials kits. The essentials kit is an excellent addition to your home. It includes a pump, refill bag, and travel bottle.
Paume uses materials that are recyclable, biodegradable, multiuse, or refillable. This promotes sustainability and reduces disposable plastics. Paume recycles and repurposes one plastic unit, from the environment, for every unit it sells. So, purchasing from this brand also means indirectly removing plastics from the waterways and landfills.
Another way to maintain germ-free hands is using this sanitizer formula. The brand dedicated its collection to supporting holistic self-care. If you’re looking for a brand that offers affordable and all-natural self-care goods, Taylor’s Natural does just that. The brand offers zero-waste, sustainable, and animal-friendly goods.
The BALM! Baby sanitizer contains 62% ethanol. It comes in either aluminum or an amber glass bottle. Also, you can choose whether you want your sanitizer to contain moisturizing properties or not. Wherever you’re going, this travel-size bottle fits easily in your purse or bag. As part of its sustainable practices, the brand also offers refill options.
This is a solution created to make you “stand confident during these trying times.” Zona Trading Post formulates their ‘fortify thee’ hand sanitizer with an antiviral essential oil blend. But not to worry, each glass bottle is also 80% alcohol-based.
The Zona store also offers large 16 oz refill glass bottles. The content of each refill bottle is about 8 of the regular-sized small bottles making it an excellent alternative to buying multiple small bottles. Zona offers two different scent options, citrus and tea tree, rosemary and sage. The products include natural oils great for sensitive skin, including vitamin e and distilled water in their ingredients.
This is another environmentally-friendly hand sanitizer. The brand offers a 2.5oz travel size bottle and a 16oz refill bottle. So, once you finish the contents of the small bottle, you can easily refill it using the larger bottle. This brand also has a refill program where you can send your aluminum bottles back for a refill. If you’re looking to save some money on these bottles, you can opt for their subscription program.
With its vegan, zero-waste, and biodegradable nature, you’re sure your sanitizer offers no environmental harm. Each bottle is free of toxic components and synthetic fragrances. Instead, it contains ethyl alcohol and peppermint oil for fighting germs.
Formulated with 65% ethyl alcohol and moisturizing formula, this sanitizer is another top pick. The brand behind it, By Humankind, is dedicated to curbing single-use plastic in everyday personal care items. The brand avoids formulas that have toxic effects on human health.
The By Humankind sanitizer comes in a pocket-sized recyclable aluminum bottle. This is a planet-friendly alternative to plastic bottles. Not only is it targeted at germs, but it also has a moisturizing formula. It also contains hyaluronic acid, witch hazel, and water.
EO prides itself on making products that are gluten-free, cruelty-free, and free of harmful chemicals. It is a certified b-corp and a leading producer of organic bath and body care solutions. This means that the company meets high social and environmental performance standards. Sarah Griffin-Black and Brad Black founded EO. This leading company started off with the co-founders hand pouring and blending oils in their garage.
They make every sanitizer with alcohol derived from non-genetically modified sugarcane. Not to worry, it meets the CDC standard to fight germs. This particular organic french lavender sanitizer comes in a pack of 6. It contains vegetable glycerin and aloe vera for their moisturizing properties.
No water nearby for handwashing? This formula targets bacteria, fungi, and viruses for clean hands. Unlike many other sanitizer bottles, this one comes in a jar. Each jar you order comes with a wooden spatula to scoop the gel contents as part of its unique features. Also, you have the option to choose from 30ml or 60ml options. Each jar is made from aluminum and recycled glass. The gel formula contains high alcohol contents of 75% concentration.
Each bottle of their eco-friendly hand sanitizer contains aloe vera to provide moisturizing properties to prevent your skin from getting dry. It also contains essential oil components such as rosemary, tea tree, and lavender. With its germ-fighting features, aloe, and oils, this leaves your skin feeling clean, soft, and fresh.
Beauty Kitchen’s organic vegan sanitizer supports a sustainable and natural lifestyle. The brand offers a range of sanitizer sets for different uses. The sets include workplace collections, refillable starter packs, and refill bottles. So, if you’re looking to buy kits for specific purposes, Beauty Kitchen makes the shopping process smooth and easy.
We recommend the refill starter pack for individual use or if you have a small family. This comes with one 50ml spray bottle and a 300ml refill sanitizer bottle. Beauty Kitchen uses either aluminum or glass for its 50ml bottles. Either way, you can rest assured that you’re not contributing to waste and pollution.
For its germ-fighting properties, each bottle contains 62% ethanol to keep your hands clean. For moisturizing your hands, there’s aloe vera and glycerin that target dry skin. It is also free of microplastics.
Eco-friendly and zero-waste brands let us know that we can make sustainable choices even for the smallest purchases. With the list of eco-friendly hand sanitizers above, you have a lot of options to choose from and use. From handwashing to sanitizing, you can have clean and germ-free hands while protecting the environment.
Food and Drug Administration. (2019). Safety and Effectiveness of Consumer Antiseptic Rubs; Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use [PDF].
Alabi OA., Ologbonjaye KI., Awosolu O., & Alalade OE. (2019). Public and Environmental Health Effects of Plastic Wastes Disposal: A Review. doi.org/10.23937/2572-4061.1510021
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.