Your Zero Waste Bathroom
One of the easy starting points when you are just beginning your zero waste or minimal waste journey is in your bathroom. Bathrooms are full of unnecessary plastic. Literally bottles of plastic. Shower gel, liquid hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, deodorant, razors, cotton buds, shower puffs, even those disposable make up remover wipes contain plastic. And sanitary wear! Tampon applicators, disposable sanitary pads containing plastic AND wrapped in plastic too.
Soap served us well for many years, until for some reason we suddenly decided it needed to be in liquid form. And so shower gel and liquid hand soap was created. There is a growing number of people actively trying to avoid sulphates and parabens in their personal hygiene routines, and they are heading over to natural soaps as a healthier alternative. A good quality natural soap has everything you need to stay clean. The lack of sulphates in a natural soap may mean that you don’t get a big fancy lather that you are used to from the chemical stuffed shower gels, but that doesn’t mean you are any less clean. Liquid hand soap in a pump dispenser really is my bug bear, as a bar of soap will so that job too! Some people don’t like that soap may go soft and soggy between uses, but the key to prevent that is to get a good well draining soap dish.
Shampoo and conditioner are another source of mountains of plastic bottles each year. Your traditional supermarket bought bottle of shampoo is actually unnecessarily harsh on the hair, stripping out all the natural oils. Then of course we need conditioner to replace those lost oils. Solid shampoo bars have made a big appearance in the zero waste market in recent years. A good quality solid shampoo bar is less harsh on your hair, so little or no conditioner may be required. Shampoo bars are very specific to your hair type, so if you try one and you don’t like it, don’t give up just yet, try another brand. You can also get conditioner bars if you need one. Others make up their own detangling spray with diluted apple cider vinegar.
The handle of your plastic toothbrush will outlive you by a few hundred years, and when you are replacing these every few months, it really is a big pile of unnecessary plastic. Bamboo toothbrushes are really taking off. With the same cleaning abilities, but without the offensive plastic handle, these really are one of the easiest minimal waste switches to make. Toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwashes are all available in zero waste plastic free varieties, with Georganics really specialising in this area. Toothpaste tablets like Dent Tabs even come in a compostable packet.
Deodorant is another waste contributor within the bathroom. There are lots of negative articles about the potential unsafe effects of your regular spray deodorant. Some of the content of these articles are disputed, but I know that when I am placing something on my skin, up close to my lymph nodes, I want to be GUARANTEED that the ingredients are safe. With gorgeous smelling natural deodorants made by Pit Putty and Three Hills Soap available widely now, there is no better time to switch to natural deodorant. And these two brands definitely do work! These deodorants come in a tin which is easily cleaned and recycled, or you can simply repurpose the tins.
Shaving supplies is another area you can work on. Most shaving razors are surrounded by plastic, and have a plastic handle. Sometimes you can go through these pretty quickly, depending on how hairy your family is! When you are including the shaving of heads too, they really don’t last long. The old fashioned style safety razors can be a little terrifying at first, but with a little bit of practice they can gives you a cleaner, closer shave. You can also get wooden shaving brushes and lovely zero waste traditional shaving soaps, which will save you from heading down the shaving foam route.
Cotton buds with the pink or a blue plastic sticks do seem to be dying out the the supermarkets. Well unfortunately every one you have ever used is still out there in land fill for many more years to come. But at least their availability is diminishing. Most of the paper stick cotton buds available in supermarkets are presented in a plastic container which is pretty annoying. The bamboo stick cotton buds are presented in recycled cardboard cartons. Shower puffs are a knotted up plastic mesh, and while they do aid getting a good lather, there are great plastic free options. A natural loofah or a sisal soap pouch will work well and help exfoliate your skin.
The disposable makeup remover wipes can be handy when exhausted and you want the quickest method to removing your makeup. But did you know that they contain plastic fibres? So they are terrible for the environment, and not great for your skin either. Much like wet wipes, they can ultimately end up in waterways, and when bobbing along in the sea they look like tasty jellyfish to unsuspecting sea life. If you opt for cotton wool makeup remover pads, well firstly those are usually presented in a plastic packet. Buy also think of the manufacturing process and air miles used to bring that cotton wool pad to you, only to be used once and then disposed of. You can select from a whole range of organic cotton or bamboo reusable makeup remover pads. You simply wash them in the washing machine. If you aren’t too fussed on the shape of your cleansing pads, you can simply use an old flannel. People are often surprised how clear and smooth their skin is after they switch to flannel.
The changes required don’t stop there of course. Lots of makeup brands have excessive quantities of plastic in their packaging. It’s a good starting place though! Next goal will be to gradually replace your current makeup with plastic free brands as you run out.
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