A lot of products in our bathrooms are responsible for producing a lot of waste, so here is a list of low impact or zero waste bathroom swaps you can make.
In addition to being more the more environmentally-friendly, these options are usually better for our health and the environment as natural, organic ingredients are used.
Two editions of this list will be made, this one and another version with DIY recipes for the various personal care products.
1. Natural Bar Hand Soap instead of Liquid Soap
Changing to a natural ‘savon de Marseille’ made from vegetable oils is the only type of soap, we have in our household. Not only is is better for our health, but considering the challenges of recycling hand or body shower cream bottles, it is the most environmentally friendly option.
A few of the following options come in bars. Some prefer liquid soap and many zero waste stores do sell soap in bulk – so you can bring your bottle and refill it as much as you like.
Mine are from La Maison du Savon.
2. Natural Shampoo Bar or ‘No Poo’ instead of Bottled Shampoo
Have you ever seen shampoos being marketed as sulphate-free or SLS free?
It’s because typical shampoos, facial cleansers and even toothpastes contain sodium laureth sulphate, sodium lauryl sulphate, and ammonium laureth sulphate, which can be too harsh for many hair types.
In shampoos, the lauryl sulphate makes it foam easily and it’s used for deep cleansing your hair – so much so that it may be too harsh for your hair. This usually works best with oily hair to reduce its ‘oiliness’.
This scientific article in the Indian Journal of Dermatology breaks down the typical ingredients of shampoos are and why they’re used.
The shampoo bar I recently finished was from Manège Botanique. It was handmade in France, from organic oil, no palm oil, silicone, parabens, sulphates, essential oils or preservatives.
The one I currently use is from Anthea’s Treasure Trove, bought in Tobago, when on holiday in the Caribbean.
Alternatively, no shampoo at all works too – so only water. Katt, from My Vegan Experiment talks about her experience using no shampoo in her Youtube video here.
She recommends it and her hair looks great!
3. Deodorant Bar instead of the Typical Deodorant in Plastic or Glass
As you know, most deodorants found are usually packaged in a plastic or glass.
Solid deodorant bars bypass both of these. This may be a controversial choice but my bars are from Lush – Sunflower, Aramaco and T’eo. (The ingredients are not entirely natural.)
Aramaco and Sunflower (bars) will definitely be repurchased again. They worked better than any other convention deodorant I have ever used and I’m extremely picky. However T’eo (a bar with more of a dusty consistency because it is sodium bicarbonate based) was a bit rough and irritated my skin.
Kept in a little tin found at home, pieces can also cut off and brought with you everywhere, with me which made it very practical.
4. Stainless Steel Safety Razor instead of a Plastic Disposable Razor
Disposable razors are, well, disposable and usually plastic.
Stainless steel safety razors can be used for years, all you need to do is replace the blade every few months. Not necessarily zero waste, but surely it creates less waste than disposing of entire razors every few weeks due to the dull blades. They also give a cleaner shave.
Perhaps you can ask your doctor or dentist whether you can dispose of your blades in their sharps bin.
Surely they are available in most drug stores or pharmacies. Mine used to be my father’s.
6. Toilet Paper in Recyclable Packaging instead of Toilet Paper in Plastic Packaging
Ever noticed that most toilet paper comes in plastic? Look out for TP that comes in recyclable packaging – surely TP without packaging is a health hazard.
Check out Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. Made from 100% recycled paper or blends of bamboo and sugarcane or 100% bamboo depending on the product. You can purchase up to 48 rolls in bulk. Plus 50% of their profits are donated to NGOs that work towards improving access to water and sanitation in developing countries.
Depending on where you live, this may be unnecessary. (In many countries, such as, India, Turkey, Philippines or Thailand, toilet paper is not used as much. Small hoses are used and then perhaps a little bit of toilet paper.)
7. Reusable Cotton Rounds instead of Cotton Rounds Packaged in Plastic
The fact that they’re typically named ‘disposable cotton rounds’ is worrying, but these are wonderful and feel soft of your skin.
All sorts can be found on Etsy.
8. Bamboo Toothbrush instead of a Typical Plastic Toothbrush
This is a no brainer once you think about it – every single toothbrush you have used is somewhere on this Earth – be it in landfill, in our waterways or polluting somewhere else. Considering that we go through one almost every 2-3 months it’s a lot!
Mine is from Environmental Toothbrush. It is mostly compostable, except for the bristles, but these can be pulled out with strong tweezers or pliers and disposed of responsibly.
9. Toothpaste Tabs instead of Tubed Toothpaste
Again, a potentially controversial choice as it’s from Lush: Miles of Smiles toothy tabs – My preferred flavour, as they are minty.
Unfortunately there are not too many tabs in there and they do not offer refills of the same bottle so perhaps making your own toothpaste may be better. A recipe for this will be on the other post about DIY options for most of the ones discussed.
10. Dental Floss
Typical dental floss is just a long string of nylon, so it’s plastic and it comes in plastic too.
I have also heard of some options that come in small glass bottle rather than the plastic packaging but the
If you use animal products, there are silk or beeswax options.
Radius is a good silk option.
This ones needs requires a bit more research.
11. Bamboo or Wooden Cotton Buds instead of Plastic Cotton Buds
Yes, those are mostly made of plastic too!
Look around your local shops. If you’re in the UK, here‘s a good option,
12. Reusable Feminine Products instead of Disposable Pads and Tampons
For those who menstruate, these are absolute lifesavers.
Some feel more comfortable using a menstrual cup and some prefer using reusable cloth sanitary pads. Personally, I never use sanitary pads so I cannot express an opinion on them, but you can check out Aussie Beauty Talk’s video called ‘Reusable vs. Disposable Pads – Comparison of Cost, Feel, Absorption.’
To learn more about menstrual cups, check out my article here, explaining what they are and the pros and cons of using one, drawing on my personal experience and research, of course.
14. Toner in a Glass Bottle instead of Plastic Bottle
The type of plastic my toner bottle came in was not recyclable and I happened to need a new bottle of toner, I decided to use rosewater in a glass bottle, made locally.
Additional tips for a zero waste or minimal impact bathroom would be to:
- Ensure that your facial scrubs do not contain any microbeads – those are little pieces of plastic typically used for exfoliation – they can be found in toothpastes and body scrubs as well. They’re banned in the UK but not in other countries so look out for ‘polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymathy methacrylate, polyactic acid or nylon’ which are the most common plastics that make up microbeads.
- Take showers instead of baths
- Set a timer to tell you when to get out of the shower
Anyone got any more tips to share? Feel free to comment below.