We create a lot of waste simply by living in the modern world. Pretty much everything we buy, particularly for the bathroom, comes wrapped in plastic and is very difficult to dispose of responsibly. It would be much better to switch to zero waste bathroom products. Take, for example, the disposable razor. It’s made of plastic and cannot be recycled. Add to this the plastic shampoo bottles, plastic toothbrush, the shower gel packaging, the loofah, shower cap… You get the idea. It’s a lot of plastic. A lot of waste.
Want to skip the details and just go for a simple solution? Get the zero waste bathroom starter kit that will get you familiar with the basics!
Why does zero waste matter? Because our landfills are overflowing with “trash” (many of which are still usable), because we currently use too many of the earth’s resources for our own convenience, because we need to minimize the amount of plastic leaching out into the environment and affecting, well, everything.
Fortunately, there’s a suitable zero waste swap (i.e. reusable or biodegradable alternative) for every one of these common bathroom products.
What Is A Zero Waste Product?
Zero waste is about waste prevention, so a zero waste product is one with minimum waste. This includes plastic-free items, and excludes single-use products, non-biodegradable products, and non-recyclable products. Ideally, we should use products that are reusable and long-lasting, and can be recycled or are biodegradable. Think soap that comes as a bar (wrapped in paper), as opposed to liquid soap in a plastic dispenser. Or, using a menstrual cup over and over for years, as opposed to the use-and-throw sanitary napkins for your monthly period. A zero waste product is all about minimizing waste (cos zero waste is literally impossible!).
To take this one step further in this post, we also recommend using organic (non toxic) products, i.e. products that are free of microplastics and chemical toxins that adversely affect not only our health but that of the environment.
How Can I Make My Bathroom Plastic Free?
By slowly and deliberately swapping your regular products with zero waste products, you can help keep plastic out of the environment (at least, as far as you as an individual are concerned!). You will minimize the amount of trash you are sending to the landfill, and you will probably even save some money in the long run!
This list of zero waste bathroom essentials has swaps for all the most common bathroom products, stuff we use regularly. It’s all categorized under different topics for greater convenience. These are just suggestions, of course, and do not represent the entirety of what’s available in the market. Make sure to explore the options available to you, and make the best choice for yourself and your loved ones.
Zero Waste Bathroom Products to Swap To
It’s pretty easy to make the switch to zero waste bathroom essentials. There are tons of comparable products that will meet your requirements, without having to forego big-name brands. In fact, many brands now offer zero waste items as well. Besides, there are loads of smaller businesses that sell zero waste items (giving you an opportunity to support small, local businesses!). And, if none of those options suit you, you could always do what our great-grandmas did: make your own bathroom products. You’d be surprised at how simple it can be!
It’s more eco-friendly to swap your commercial, plastic-wrapped personal care products for organic products packaged in reusable materials. Here are some suggestions.
1 // Soap
There are loads of bar soap alternatives, many handmade even! Look for bar soaps on Etsy or buy at your local stores (brands such as Puro and Butter Me Up Organics, or locally made bar soaps with no name:)).
You also get packaging-free soap and other zero waste shower essentials at natural food stores and even Whole Foods.
2 // Shampoo
3 // Conditioner
Did you know conditioners come in solid bars as well? Ditch the plastic bottles and opt for a conditioner bar. Or, pre-condition your hair (prior to shampooing) with organic coconut oil or argan oil. And, to balance your scalp’s pH, opt for a homemade rinse with apple cider vinegar.
4 // Hand sanitizer
Zero waste hand sanitizer is the need of the hour, right? Package Free shop has one, but the pump is plastic (though the bottle is glass). New brand Clean Cult’s hand sanitizer looks promising, with refillable packs that are paper-based and designed like milk cartons.
5 // Loofah
The zero waste loofah is a bit tricky. Plastic loofahs are a no-no, obviously, but most natural loofahs (the original loofah!) can be harsh on the skin for quite a while until they soften sufficiently after long-term use. The trick is to be patient and try many options – or just use a soft sisal washcloth if all else fails.
6 // Toothbrush
Still using a plastic toothbrush? Well, your plastic toothbrush is part of the plastic crisis the planet is facing. The next time you need to get a new brush, please switch to a zero waste toothbrush.
7 // Toothpaste
Or, you can make your own toothpaste at home.
8 // Dental Floss
9 // Cotton Swabs (Earbuds)
10 // Safety Razors
Instead of plastic disposable razors, get a swanky, old-school safety razor that can last forever (you only have to change the blades). Read more about how safety razors are so much better for the environment.
11 // Deodorant
12 // Hair brushes
13 // Toilet paper
ZERO WASTE MAKEUP & SKIN CARE
Products we use for our skin and for makeup generally contain loads of disposable items. Fortunately, there are alternatives!
14 // Body Lotion
15 // Moisturizer
16 // Lip Balm
I get it – you’re a die-hard fan of Burt’s Bees. But if you want to switch to a plastic-free option, try this zero waste lip balm from River Organics.
17 // Sunscreen
You’ll love our post on reef-safe (and vegan + cruelty free) sunscreen!
18 // Makeup
We have a post on clean makeup brands.
19 // Makeup Remover
Stop with the single-use makeup remover cotton balls and rounds, and opt for reusable organic cotton facial makeup pads.
20 // Face Wipes
Instead of use-and-throw face wipes, choose reusable muslin face cloth.
ZERO WASTE PERIOD PRODUCTS
That time of the month sometimes wreaks havoc on our health, mood, and physical state. But we can continue to minimize waste by switching to zero waste period products.
21 // Menstrual Cups
ZERO WASTE BATHROOM CLEANING PRODUCTS
Zero waste bathroom cleaning products can be as effective as the ones that come wrapped in plastic, so worry not. (BTW, are dryer sheets necessary?)
22 // Bathroom Cleaner
23 // Toilet Cleaner
Check out these eco-friendly toilet bombs that clean your toilet and your drains.
24 // Cleaning Items (brushes, cloths and wipes)
Where To Buy Zero Waste Products
Look at your local stores and bulk shops for zero waste products. Nowadays many stores have, for example, bamboo toothbrushes. If you don’t have zero waste products available locally, then look at online zero waste stores. Remember to buy in bulk if you can, to minimize packaging and shipping waste. Plus, you’ll save money when you buy in bulk.
Now, don’t go immediately and throw away all your existing products! That would be quite wasteful. Instead, finish using whatever you are currently using, and when the time comes to buy new stuff to replace them, then you can buy zero waste products – and continue to buy them from then on. Be mindful, always, of your impact on your own life and on the environment. Nothing we do is inconsequential.
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