Martin and I are constantly trying to reduce plastic waste in our home and make greener choices so we were super excited to come across some sustainable items during a visit to a new bulk store last week. We are still at the very beginning of swapping wasteful items with zero waste ones. So in this post, I will tell you about my top 5 ways to reduce waste in the bathroom.
Bathrooms are where a lot of the waste and toxic residue in a household accumulates: plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles, make-up tubes, creams, toxic ingredients that get flushed down the drain, plastic toothbrushes, cotton pads, make-up remover wipes, plastic razors, dental floss in plastic packaging, and and and…So with all these wasteful items, where do you start?
Think about what it is you use on a regular basis and start investigating if you can swap those items with greener options:
Whatever your goal in going green and zero waste is, you will have to find ways that work for you and your life. Are you willing to forego plastic bottles? Do you want to give up using your favorite liquid eye makeup remover? Are you ok with spending more money on some good quality items?
List the items that you frequently use and feel you don’t want to give up and then see what you can swap. In my case these items were:
- Plastic toothbrush = swapped with water-neutral, vegan and fair bamboo toothbrush by Hydrophil
This brush is not only made of a natural resource but Hydrophil also works with Viva con Agua, an organization that wants to make clean water available for everyone. It comes in different degrees of softness and can be ordered in bulks.
- Shampoo and conditioner = swapped with a shampoo and conditioner bar from the bulk store (Glaskiste in Freiburg im Breisgau)
This is new territory for me and I hope that these bars deliver. They smell of lemongrass and are of an oily consistency. I am also very curious to see how economical they are.
- Plastic razors = swapped with a stainless steel razor and blades
I am most excited about this new addition to my bathroom: not only does it look sleek, it saves me A LOT of disposable, plastic cased blades. The metal blades can be disposed at the nearest metal scrapping place.
- Dental floss = swapped with silk dental floss in paper packaging from a German manufacturer
I have to admit, I am a bad flosser. As in I rarely floss even though my dental hygienist is on my case about it every time I see her. Most floss is made of nylon which is a huge environmental problem because of its horrible effect on fish and water creatures. Even many “green” dental flosses create extra waste because they come in plastic cases. So this is a good option for me, it’s made of pure silk and coated with bee’s wax.
- Cotton pads/make-up remover wipes = swapped with natural sea sponge
A few months ago I stopped using cotton pads or make-up remover wipes and instead started using a medium sized natural sea sponge to wash my face and take off my make-up. It works great and leaves my skin clean and soft due to the light scrubbing effect of the sponge. There are different types of sea sponges, from very soft to hard, and it will depend on your skin and preference which one works for you. I use a medium soft sponge with Dr. Bronners face soap to remove my make-up. Every two weeks I put it in an apple cider vinegar and water bath to clean it.
- Face wash/soap/shower gel = swapped with Dr.Bronners castile soap and face soap
I used to have different products for cleaning my face, hands, and body. Now I am simply using Dr. Bronners castile soap in liquid or soap bar form and their body lotion. This saves me a ton of products and the bar simply comes in a paper packaging. Their plastic bottles for the soaps are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic.
- Panty liners = swapped with a washable cotton panty liner made by a regional manufacturer
This is going to be a bit of an experiment. I stopped using pantyliners because, well, I didn’t really need them. Still, sometimes it is nice to have one. The washable cotton panty liner is thin and feels very comfortable but I guess I will have to see how I feel about the washing frequency. If I end up washing more because of it then it might not work for me. It’s definitely better than using panty liners that are filled with synthetic scents that mess with your vaginal ph balance.
Go to a bulk store and get inspired:
Often we might not be aware that a greener option exists for something until we see it. It is only when I went to a bulk store that I came across dental floss that is packaged in a paper envelope instead of plastic. Even though it’s not vegan (it is made of silk) I would rather use this and avoid the packaging than going for a vegan option in a packaging that creates waste. Again, it’s up to you to choose what is more important to you and make the compromise accordingly.
Try out different items and don’t give up easily:
You might not always find what works right away but remember that finding your favorites is no different when they are sustainable than when they are not. Just because a soap bar is green, fair trade and vegan it doesn’t mean you will love the smell or it will work with your skin type. Don’t dismiss green items on a first try, take advantage of sample sizes at bulk stores or health stores or try a green beauty box to sample different brands.
How many different eyeshadow sets do you really need? How many different lipsticks? Do you really need three different curling irons? What about towels? Are these things all clogging your bathroom to the point that you can’t tell what you own anymore? In minimizing the things you have in your bathroom you can simplify your beauty routine and more easily stick to a manageable set of steps you do on a daily basis. A big part of going zero waste is knowing what you own and not accumulating unnecessary items that could become waste without you having used them.
Try a DIY green beauty challenge:
In creating your own beauty products you can massively reduce waste because you can use things like glass jars or small bottles to store the products in. Check out littlegreendot’s website for inspirations. Right now, I make my own DIY body scrub but I definitely want to try more recipes in the future.
I am excited to have found the listed items at the bulk store and will let you know how I fare using them.
What are your green and zero waste goals for the bathroom? Let me know in the comments below.