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Environmentally friendly alternatives for when you can’t buy secondhand

Disclosure: NNG only recommends products we would use and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. Read full privacy policy here.

Buying secondhand and being part of the circular economy is one of the best things you can do for our planet. However, even the most seasoned bargain hunter should draw the line at buying personal care items preloved due to the risk of passing on infection. Don’t worry though, buying new isn’t always bad for the environment! Here are three (out of many) products that are great alternatives to buying secondhand for health and beauty items.

Toilet Paper, Paper Towel & Tissues

Using these items secondhand is just plain gross and unsanitary. You can use a handkerchief, but really, who wants to? Who Gives A Crap paper towel, toilet paper and tissues are a great environmentally friendly and socially conscious alternative. Their products don’t come from trees, but from 100% recycled paper or bamboo. They also donate 50% of profits towards building toilets and improving sanitation in developing countries where 1 in 3 people don’t have access to a toilet (by the way, that means that more people in the world have a mobile phone than a toilet – mind blown). Poor sanitation often leads to serious illness, and if people get sick, they can’t work to feed their families or go to school.

Good news is that your household can help by subscribing to fulfill all your toilet paper, paper towel and/or tissue needs so you never run out. Here at NNG HQ we have been loyal subscribers for over 5 years and love the quality and ethos of Who Gives A Crap.

Nappies & Baby Wipes

While there are ALOT of reusable cloth nappy brands out there that are the ultimate environmentally friendly option for your babe, the convenience of a disposable nappy in our modern world is hard to ignore. Many arguments for cloth nappies come from well meaning, but privileged parents who can afford to buy $500 worth of nappies in one go, have easy access to laundry facilities and the time to wash nappies everyday. If you aren’t willing to use cloth nappies/diapers full time, consider part time use i.e. only during the day at home and using disposables at night or for certain activities like swimming.

When you can’t use cloth nappies, brands like Tooshies by TOMS are an excellent environmentally friendly alternative. Their company goal is to see the entire life cycle of disposable nappies become more sustainable and are swapping out plastic and crude-oil based materials with plant based alternatives. They are also hypoallergenic, free from fragrances, lotions, phlalates and parabens. NNG baby, Indi, has been in eco friendly nappies since she was 4 days old. We have tried several brands, with Tooshies by TOMS always coming out best for our family.

Make Up

Unless you can source brand new, unopened makeup from secondhand stores, it is highly advisable not to buy secondhand to avoid spreading harmful infections. Like the environmentally friendly nappy/diaper market, there are a plethora of brands that aim to be zero waste and gentle on the planet. One that we have used is Inika Cosmetics, a really lovely mineral make up brand that is Certified Organic, Certified Cruelty-Free, Certified Vegan, Certified Halal and sustainably sourced. The mascara in particular is really great for definition and volume. But, there are also plenty of other brands to try at online earth friendly retailer Flora and Fauna.

That’s just a few tips for trying to live a little more sustainably, even if you can’t buy secondhand. Let us know in the comments if you have any other great environmentally friendly and ethical alternatives to secondhand!


I love opshopping, completing DIY projects, being thrifty and creating content. Most of all I want our presence to be light on our beautiful planet.