One thing I’ve learned in my adult life is to always have an emergency stash of first aid supplies. It’s never fun when you get a small cut or sunburn and need to rush to the store for supplies. Something I’ve noticed though is that a lot of first-aid supplies come in so much packaging. While I understand the need for extra plastic and packaging as sterile precautions, there are still some sustainable alternatives you can keep in your own home should you ever need it! Please note, I am not a medical professional whatsoever. Therefore if it’s truly an emergency or actually displaying worsening symptoms, seek a medical professional!!
All first aid kits I’ve seen come in plastic containers. Rather than going out and buying a whole new one, look around your home for any containers lying around and create your own! Perhaps an old shoe box? You can even use an old tupper-ware container. The possibilities are endless!
Bandages are a staple in all first-aid kits. Personally, I believe they are necessary at times to protect certain cuts from contamination, however they can be pretty wasteful especially if not used correctly. A wasteful practice that I’ve seen is people using bandages as decoration or worn just because it has a cute design. So unless you have a cut that’s in an area of easy contamination like your fingers or soles of your feet, or if it’s a much larger cut or scrape, there really is no need for a bandage. Simply apply pressure to help the bleeding stop and make sure you keep the area clean. Another awesome alternative would be fabric bandages! Simply take those old, torn shirts that are not really in wearable condition any more and cut them into strips. When you need it, apply pressure to the area to stop the bleeding, and wrap it with the fabric.
If you absolutely need a bandage, here’s an eco-friendly version! It’s made from bamboo and is hypoallergenic, making it perfect for those with sensitive skin. Unlike mainstream bandages that get thrown into the trash, these are biodegradable and compostable!
Many ointments and salves come in plastic packaging. As I mentioned earlier, this is mainly for cross contamination purposes but as always, there are other remedies you can use at home that don’t need to come from packaging.
Aloe Vera can be used for so many ailments! It’s AMAZING for sun burns and also has healing properties that can help promote healing of cuts and scrapes. You can find whole Aloe Vera leaves at health food stores or small markets. I highly recommend planting a few as well! They’re very low maintenance, in that you can leave it outside in the shade and water about once a week. When properly cared for, those babies can GROW!
Iodine is another great remedy for disinfecting and keeping wounds clean! A little goes a long way with it but beware! It can easily stain your clothes or anything you touch so make sure to keep it localized to the affected region. This particular iodine is sold in a glass bottle with a stopper making it much more sustainable than the plastic version at the store.
Calendula is another fantastic multi-purpose item! It can be used to keep wounds clean, help with inflammation, rashes, and dry skin. It’s fantastic for those with sensitive skin and can be used on children. This one by MJ’s Herbals is sold in a glass container and also contains Vitamin E oil which helps reduce the appearance of scars.
Vitamin E Oil is a multi-purpose oil with many benefits! One awesome benefit is that it can help reduce the appearance of scars. Simply massage the affected area daily with some oil. While I can’t guarantee that it will completely prevent a scar, it’ll keep it moisturized enough to minimize the appearance of it.
Manuka honey has a multitude of uses! Have a sore throat? Grab a spoon and eat it by itself or add it to some tea. Honey has also been noted to have medicinal properties and can promote healing of small wounds, dry and irritated skin, and the appearance of scars.
Cold & Heating Pads
When you were a child, did your parents or the school nurse ever apply those cold patches to your head when you had a fever? Or if you’re getting older like myself and experiencing bouts of back pain, have you ever placed those disposable heating pads. Well, you guessed it. Wasteful but super easy to make yourself! Instead of buying cold patches or placing ice in a disposable plastic baggie, purchase a reusable ice bag! It can be used for pretty much anything and is super simple. Don’t want to purchase one? Use a Stasher bag with ice! Need a heating pad? You can easily make your own by adding rice to an old sock!
Aches and Pains
Hemp salves are awesome for random aches and pains that you can randomly get from anything, or in my personal experience, from sneezing too hard. Hemp has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe muscles that become inflamed from wear and tear. Check out this one by The Fay Farm.
Looking for something other than hemp for pain? Try peppers! Yep, I said it. Regular peppers from the store! Peppers contain capsaicin which is the chemical that produces heat in the peppers. Capsaicin is also a common ingredient in many OTC salves as well! When rubbed over the skin, it can help with pain and inflammation. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after and do not touch your eyes or face as that could cause serious irritation and burns.
Want something a little less spicy? Try peppermint oil! Peppermint oil contains menthol which can help reduce the inflammation in affected muscles and joints. It’s also fantastic for headaches! Simply massage it onto the affected area and let it work its magic. Just be sure to purchase versions that are safe for therapeutic use! Some are sold exclusively for essential oil use and are not safe applied to your skin. Check out this one by Radha Beauty here!