Our lives revolve around convenience and cheap products wrapped in plastic, but at what cost? In this article series, I’ll aim to show that if each of us make small changes in our everyday life, we can make a huge impact on our waste production. Today we’ll be tackling one of the most wasteful areas of the home: the bathroom.
Shampoo and Conditioner
Shampoo and conditioner bars are fantastic. They last longer than bottled products and can be bought naked or in paper or cardboard packaging. I love Lush; they do numerous ‘naked’ bars and try to be as green and zero waste as they can. Not all of their ingredients are 100 percent natural though. You can have a look at their policies here.
You can also try the ‘No-Poo Method.’ There’s loads of information online about this method. You can use water, apple cider vinegar or baking powder. As your hair adjusts it may get greasy, but this will pass!
BuyMeOnce Tip: Shampoo bars will last longer if you do not keep them in the shower.
Body Wash and Moisturiser
All you need is a bar of soap. All Natural Soap Co.’s products are handmade, completely natural, palm oil free, sustainable and come minimally packaged in plastic-free recyclable or compostable packaging.
A lot of soaps naturally moisturise your skin, so you may not need to buy moisturiser (this will also reduce your waste!). But if you do, solid moisturisers are best as they can come naked. You can also get lotions in glass bottles and jars. I use a Lush serum bar for my face (you warm it up in your hands first) and use their massage bars for my body.
Always try and buy local if you can (this saves on transport and packaging). If you’re buying products online, ensure they’re eco-friendly and come in plastic-free packaging. If you are unhappy with the packaging, let the company know.
Try some homemade recipes online using baking soda, coconut oil and essential oils, or Lush sell solid deodorant bars and powders with fantastic reviews. You need to experiment to find what works for you.
I struggled a bit with deodorant. My underarm skin reacted to baking soda, so I had to look elsewhere and found Earth Conscious’ Natural Deodorant. It comes in a hand-sized steel tub (which I upcycle as a container for coconut oil make-up remover), smells great and is gentle on the skin! This company are earth and body friendly, and their deodorant is unisex.
Mutiny Shaving is against corporate shaving companies and their advertisements. They have awesome shaving kits and use shaving soaps. They are eco-friendly, vegan, plastic-free and use recyclable products, and they donate some of their profits to various environmental organisations to ensure they are zero carbon.
For your daily brushing, use bamboo. The toothbrush handle can be composted and the bristles can be removed and either composted (depends on the brand) or sent to landfill.
Dental floss is usually made from nylon or silk in plastic spools, but you can get silk floss in glass vials or nylon floss in a cardboard packaging. I use Stim-u-dent – a wooden stick that you slide between your teeth. These dental sticks come in cardboard packaging, but they also come with a plastic hook. It’s not the greatest option but the best I have found so far.
Natural toothpaste does take some time to adjust to because it’s very different from conventional toothpaste. It has a different texture, isn’t sweet and it can be clay-like. Initially I found it to be a difficult transition, but now I prefer them and find ‘normal’ toothpaste too sweet! Truthpaste and Georganics Natural Toothpaste make mineral toothpaste with natural antibacterial ingredients in a reusable glass jar. Lush makes toothy tabs (which foam like conventional toothpaste), which I really like but they are sold in recyclable plastic bottles.
Coconut oil is a fabulous, all-natural makeup remover. Use it with reusable and washable pads that you can make yourself out of old fabric, or you can purchase premade ones.
It is almost impossible to get plastic-free toilet paper in the UK! However, Australian company WhoGivesACrap – who make their TP from bamboo and sugarcane – have a UK site, and they also donate 50 percent of their profits to help build toilets in developing countries.
EcoLeaf Recycled Toilet Paper is wrapped in compostable bioplastic material, but only use this if you can compost at home. Bioplastics do not break down in landfill but will break down in compostable conditions with access to soil micro-organisms. You can also buy recycled toilet paper wrapped in polythene, which can be recycled in the carrier bag recycling bin at your local supermarket. And if you truly want to be waste-free, try washable cloth wipes.
Not something we really think about when talking about zero waste but it is important. No contraceptive is zero waste. IUDs and implants are the closest; they last for three to five years and only have the packaging and medical equipment required for insertion, but they are not suitable for everyone. Speak to your doctor about your options.
This is another one most people forget! Most brushes are made of plastic, but you can buy wooden ones. Redecker is a German company selling many types of wooden brushes and they look great too!
Hopefully this article has inspired you to make some small changes in your bathroom and reduce your waste production. Every little change helps! Next time, we will look at the eco-friendly home office.
Other articles in this series: