Plaine Products Sells Shampoo in Non-Plastic, Refillable Packaging

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A black woman in the shower lathers her hair.

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This Ohio-based company is every zero-waster's dream come true. Finally, it's possible to refill non-plastic containers through the mail.

While living in the Bahamas, Lindsay McCoy became deeply disturbed by the amount of plastic waste she saw everywhere. She said, “Plastic was on the beaches, in the water, on the side of the road. I have pictures full of plastic all over gorgeous beaches.” That’s when it really hit her that there is no ‘away’ when it comes to plastic trash. It might be more commonly out of sight back home in the United States, but it’s never actually gone. McCoy realized that she wanted to be part of a bigger solution to this huge environmental problem.

Plaine Products founders
Plaine Products' founders, Lindsay McCoy and Alison Delaplaine.

Courtesy of Plaine Products

Upon returning to the U.S., McCoy began reducing her personal use of plastic products. The bathroom was the toughest place to move away from plastic, which led her to develop a line of all-natural refillable shower products with her designer sister, Ali Delaplaine. It has taken two years, but Plaine Products finally launched in February 2017.

The company is based on a simple yet brilliant model. Customers purchase shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in aluminum bottles. Once empty, refills are ordered and the empty original bottles are mailed back in the same recycled paper packaging that the refills came in. A return shipping label is included. An optional plastic pump, purchased initially, is transferred to the new bottle. Voilà, zero-waste shampoo and conditioner!

Plaine Products in shipping box

Courtesy of Plaine Products

Plaine Products receives the old bottles, sterilizes, and refills them. At this early stage in the company’s life, McCoy doesn’t know how many uses each one will get before needing to be recycled, but so far the first bottles have come back in near-perfect condition. She told TreeHugger:

“The wonderful thing about aluminum [bottles] is that when they are recycled there is no quality loss, unlike plastic. While plastic is usually downgraded when it’s recycled and will eventually end up in a landfill, aluminum can be reused endlessly.”

The ingredients are free from sulfates, parabens, and phthalates, never tested on animals, vegan, and biodegradable. So far only shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are available (in regular and travel sizes), but McCoy hopes to add body lotion, hand wash, and additional scents to the list. Interestingly, she says the conditioner has been the most popular item among customers, possibly because there aren’t as many green, sustainable conditioner options as there are for shampoo, i.e. unpackaged bar shampoos.

Plaine Products is a fabulous example of a company uniting multiple environmental and ethical goals in a single product. It’s rare to find a green ingredient list, refillable product, and non-plastic packaging all in one.

Currently, Plaine Products are only available in the U.S., but hopefully, the market will expand to Canada and other countries soon. As McCoy explained, “Because our model is a new way of treating packaging, it’s not as simple as working out a distribution contract. We’re hopeful we can find the right partners to grow.”

And the right customers, no doubt, who believe in the importance of reducing one’s impact on the Earth. It's a great option for those zero-wasters who don't have any bulk stores nearby where they can refill products.