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I’m not being dramatic when I say I’m debilitated by decision-making. It’s true, even the smallest of decisions can feel overwhelming: Which shampoo is best for the planet? And my hair? And my wallet?
Or, is this the cheapest way I can buy this bathroom cleaner? Is it cleaner, greener, cheaper somewhere else?
Trying to stretch my dollar AND do the best possible thing for the planet through my consumer choices can feel burdensome. That’s why a few years ago, I got a Public Goods membership.
No more questioning, no more bargain hunting. Just quality products without questionable ingredients, at reasonable prices, shipped straight to my door.
So, if you dread the shopping experience like me, this Public Goods product review will relieve your anxiety. Public Goods has already completed the time-consuming search for you and made the best choices of items you can trust.
Complete Public Goods Review: Good for You, Good for the Planet
If you’re exhausted by filtering through all the nontoxic and natural personal care brands on the internet, you’ve come to the right place.
The benefits of a Public Goods membership extend far beyond the extremely minimalist and cohesive new “vibe” of your bathroom counter or shower shelf.
Purchasing through Public Goods not only helps you build more sustainable habits like using a bamboo toothbrush or a shampoo bar, it also helps fight climate change through tree planting. That’s right. For each order placed, the company donates to the Eden Reforestation Project to plant trees in your honor—well, kind of. You know the importance of trees to fight climate change, so why not plant them with your purchases?
What does it look like to purchase a membership, start shopping, and get those goods in your hands?
Purchasing a Public Goods Membership
When you first start shopping on the website, a membership trial will automatically be added to your account. You can purchase goods for two weeks with a free trial; then you’ll be charged the annual fee of $69.
You have to have a membership to get anything from the marketplace. The main benefit is direct-to-consumer pricing on everyday products, making the model sustainable for the company and for customers. Essentially, Public Goods is removing the third party by selling their own goods directly from their factories to consumers, under their own brand. Therefore, customers aren’t paying for the markups that are seen on brands and products on retail shelves.
Shopping at Public Goods
The company is always releasing new items, so, if you don’t see something on their virtual shelves now, that doesn’t mean it’s not in production. Shop by personal care, household, grocery, supplements, pet, and CBD. You get free shipping in the United States on every order of $45 or more. (Pro tip: add those $1 razor blades or $2 lip balm to tip that total over the edge!)
Shipping & Packaging
Since I’ve been a member of Public Goods for a few years, I can speak to their packaging quite well. Each order arrives in a recyclable cardboard box with items separated by type. For example, a bottle of shaving cream is bagged with soap, not next to your cookies. That way, if anything leaks, the damage is minimal. (I did have this happen once a while back, but the company was totally apologetic and sent an ENTIRE new package for free. Bless their hearts.)
To reduce dependency on petroleum-based plastic, Public Goods uses a unique sugarcane “plastic,” which is recyclable and reusable. Everything else is wrapped in brown paper, which you can repurpose or recycle. Public Goods is even hoping to eventually be 100% plastic-free!
Shipping is via UPS and currently 100% offset, so you can rest easy knowing that the transport of your product isn’t harming the planet.
Public Goods Products: From Petcare to Paper Products
When you shop at Public Goods, you have access to an array of daily necessities, unique food items, beauty products, zero-waste-living items, and even pet care. When you view a product on the site, you can see exactly what’s in it AND what’s not, revealing just how harmful the mainstream industry can be for things like essential oils and even food!
New Public Goods products come out all the time and as a member, you’ll get that “new product drop” email before the masses. As I write this, I just got one about new essential oil diffuser blends. Sign me up!
Let’s dive into some individual products from Public Goods and see how they stack up to conventional options.
From hand soap to tree-free toilet paper, personal care items on the Public Goods marketplace are high quality and come at an affordable price and with minimal packaging. Plus, everything is natural, certified organic, or made from eco-friendly materials like bamboo.
If you’re setting up your first order on the two-week trial (the prelude to a subscription), I recommend putting some care products in your cart to give you a holistic sense of the PG values. My top fave? The hand soap comes in a sleek bottle, and it’s gentle on your skin, making it one of my daily essentials. The tree-free paper towels are also a great find since they reduce the demand for traditional paper products.
I love how versatile essential oils are. I use them often to clean, scent the air, sprinkle on my pillow, or add to my wool dryer balls. Previously, I’d only ever used super fancy expensive essential oils because I wanted to know they were extra pure and safe. I struck those costly items from my budget when I found the lavender essential oil from Public Goods.
It is one fluid ounce of pure organic oil. I put it in my diffuser, use it in cleaning, and occasionally just smell the bottle because it’s just that great. The fancy essential oil companies charge upwards of $30 for a fraction of the size, a marketing practice that now seems like an awful waste. The dropper top is not fancy. It perfectly meets my needs: It’s convenient, smells amazing, and will last me quite a long time.
Public Goods Shampoo Bar Review
If you’re wondering how to go plastic free, hair care is a great place to start. A good plastic-free shampoo and conditioner can be tough to find, but, with some determination and an ounce of patience, you too can relieve your shower shelves of plastic containers.
The Public Goods shampoo bar is a wonderful alternative to plastic that uses safe, recognizable ingredients to green your hair care routine. With a signature formulation of musky essential oils, the shampoo bar is great for anyone with hair. (No men’s/women’s options here!)
The bar itself is organic and doesn’t have any parabens, synthetic fragrances, or phthalates—a welcome option for those of us trying to avoid added chemicals in our beauty regimen.
Any shampoo bar can take some getting used to, but the one from Public Goods lathers well and gets your hair squeaky clean. Personally, I don’t love the feel of my hair after shampooing with the bar. Before using conditioner, it can feel a little too squeaky. But some conditioner and drying will ease that feeling.
Loving the bar? Round out your shower routine with the bar soap instead of traditional bottled body wash.
Low Waste Products
A number of my now essential zero-waste products came into my life during monthly-“ish” perusing and ordering from Public Goods.
Let’s start with two of my favorites: bamboo toothbrushes and refillable dental floss.
Finding an eco-friendly toothbrush under $5 can be a challenge. So how about TWO for $4? No arm twisting needed here! This is an item that’s always in my orders because it’s biodegradable and well-designed with soft, yet effective, bristles. When you’re ready to toss your brush, use it for cleaning faucets or tubs and then simply remove the bristles before sending it to your local compost pile.
Any 90s kids here who used those individual dinosaur-shaped plastic flossers? I shudder to think of mine, now rotting in a landfill somewhere. Traditional floss is incredibly wasteful. It’s housed in unrecyclable plastic containers that wind up in landfills and oceans. Not to mention, the “wax” coating on the floss is often riddled with perfluorinated chemicals, substances that I definitely do not want between my teeth.
The Public Goods silk floss is just three ingredients: silk (which is biodegradable), peppermint oil, and candelilla wax. It comes in a reusable glass container that’s both beautiful and functional. Simply order floss refills, which run $5.50 for three. A pretty sweet deal and you’re stocked up on floss without all the waste.
Both the toothbrush and silk floss can take some getting used to. With the toothbrush, you won’t feel that same glide you get with a plastic handle, but, after a few uses, you will adapt to it. The silk floss is a little more prone to breakage, but I’ve personally found that, if you’re gentle. It’s really effective.
I can’t write this review without mentioning my favorite Public Goods product: ramen.
That’s right. This direct-to-consumer brand makes phenomenal ramen that’s free of all the crazy added ingredients found in your dorm room stash of conventional ramen packets. No MSG, preservatives, or artificial colors.
Not a ramen fan? That’s fine because there are tons of other options from the Public Goods grocery section like its magnificently cheesy mac & cheese, canned goods, or another favorite of mine: the vegetable broth concentrate. It cuts down on waste from purchasing cartons of broth AND tastes great in everything from enchilada sauce to chili.
The Good & Bad of Choosing Public Goods
- One of everything (no tough choices here)
- Minimalist and eco-friendly packaging
- No controversial ingredients (parabens, preservatives)
- Discounts, free gifts, and a Surplus Store
- No company-wide certifications like B Corporation.
- Some items can be more expensive per ounce than other services, like Castile soap.
- On the expensive side for an annual membership fee at $69
FAQs—Public Goods Membership
How much is a Public Goods membership?
As of May 2021, the cost of an annual Public Goods membership is $69.
What does a Public Goods membership do?
A Public Goods membership gives you access to tons of healthy, affordable, and toxin-free grocery, beauty, and household products.
How do I cancel a Public Goods membership?
To cancel your membership, simply reach out to [email protected], and they’ll take care of that for you!
Is Public Goods an ethical company?
Public Goods has some great sustainability initiatives like using recyclable or biodegradable materials, planting a tree for each order, shipping carbon-neutral, and making it easier to live a zero-waste life. However, the company could be more transparent about its labor and factory practices or seek out third-party certifications that confirm its social and environmental commitments.
Are Public Goods clean?
When it comes to personal care and household products especially, Public Goods is a wonderful, clean alternative to what’s traditionally on the shelves. Predominantly derived from plants and essential oils, their concentrated cleaning formulas are effective and safe for the whole family to be around.
Is Public Goods Any Good?
We sure think so! When you compare their predominantly sustainably made goods to what you’d see on retail shelves, Public Goods products are cheaper and more natural, come in packaging that’s better for the planet, and the company is actively taking steps to become more environmentally friendly. When we buy whatever is available at the corner store, it’s easy to get greenwashed, overpay for items, or be unaware of where our money is actually going. With Public Goods, you know exactly what your dollar is supporting.
Public Goods: Other Online Reviews?… 💬
Public Goods Alternatives 🤔
To supplement a Public Goods membership, check out Butcher Box. I’m betting their selection of high-quality organic meats would pair well in your next ramen creation. All their meat is sustainably sourced, meaning it’s better for people and the planet.
Check out the Butcher Box review to get the whole scoop on this B Corporation, which makes it simple for you to order top-notch meats straight to your doorstep.
Another subscription-based service, Grove Collaborative offers an array of sustainable brands for menstrual care, personal care, beauty, and cleaning.
Grove is on track to be plastic-free, and we even had the pleasure of chatting with their VP of Communications Meika Hollender on the podcast. Check out our Grove Collaborative review for more info on the membership.
A crowd-pleaser for sure, Thrive Market is a subscription-based membership for anyone looking for a hybrid of Costco and Whole Foods. If you’re more in need of a grocery store, Thrive Market has everything from snacks to canned goods, frozen meat, and even sustainable wine. Thrive boasts an array of accreditations like B Corporation and donates a membership for each purchase. Check out our Thrive Membership Review if you’re interested in swapping out your conventional grocery trip for a virtual one!
Conclusion: Get Your Goods
To remove the burden of finding cheaper, cleaner products, get yourself a Public Goods membership. Purchasing from their website is an outstanding way to get only what you need, without overconsuming. You’ll spend less money, all while making a positive impact on the planet and supporting an online business with shared values.
Plus, a Public Goods membership is an excellent way to dip your toe in the water of low waste living if you’re new to the scene.
Visit their site here to test out a trial and see if Public Goods meets your needs for a one-stop shopping experience.
Sustainable Workplaces Manager & Writer
Jackie is the Sustainable Workplaces Manager at Urban Green Lab, a sustainability education nonprofit in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s passionate about connecting people with actionable ways to make a positive impact on the environment. She graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in Environmental Studies and a certificate in Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Jackie worked in the nonprofit world in Washington D.C. for Ashoka and the National Building Museum.
Jackie enjoys hiking with her rescue dog, finding craft breweries, and traveling the globe in search of plant-based eats.