All the tips and tricks you need to turn your bathroom into a more sustainable plastic free bathroom!
In keeping with the Plastic Free July post, I thought I'd share a few ways that I cut down on plastic in our bathroom. While our bathroom is far from plastic-free, these are some of the swaps I've made over the years to reduce the amount of personal trash we make. Before I get into it there are a few points I want to make
- Using less plastic should not be a form of green-washed consumerism. It should be part of a mindset where we reuse and reduce our consumption as a whole.
- This is not about guilting anyone or making anyone feel bad about the products they do use. There are a ton of mitigating factors tied into what people can buy. Using less plastic is a constant work in progress and not a competition.
- I've linked to products in this post but I am no way affiliated with them nor do I think you need to buy them. I've shared them here so you can have a better idea of what I’m describing.
Hair and Body
When I was a teen I bought just about everything YM told me to, but over the years I've realized that I don't need much to keep my bath and beauty routine up to snuff. Today, our shower shelves contain only a handful of products for daily use, many of which are package free or can be refilled.
I've have an entire post about what I use in my hair which you can check out here. In that post I talk about how I use refillable castile soap to wash my hair, but I realize this isn't an option for everyone. Another, more package-free choice that most people in urban areas can find are shampoo bars. Just like bar soap, shampoo bars lather up to make sudsy shampoo. Major body retailers such as Lush or even natural grocery stores will have these for sale. They are affordable, package free, and are great for travel.
I like to keep my body routine simple with bulk package free bars of soap for washing. You can often find these at local soap makers, or even major health food store chains (such as Whole Foods). We keep one in the shower for body and one near the sink for hand-washing along with a natural bristle nail brush for those times you're extra dirty. A simple loofa or face cloth can replace plastic poufs and if you're inclined to shave, a safety razor can replace disposable ones.
Face Care + Make Up
As someone who has incredibly sensitive skin, I like to keep my face routine pretty simple. Basic room temperature water, bar soap, and a face cloth are all I use to wash my face in the morning and before bed.
If you find soap too drying, try my friend Lily's honey face wash method. Besides a gentle wash, I love a good face oil, toner, and light cream. When it comes to makeup I like to keep it as natural, vegan, and package free as possible. Pure Anada, Fat and the Moon, and Elate are a few of my favourites which are all pretty natural and come in compostable or recyclable containers. I keep my daily routine simple with an eyelash curler, mascara, and a dual lip + cheek tint.
Toothpaste doesn't always have to come in a tube. Today, powdered options (usually in glass) are common place but you can also make your own homemade versions with oil and baking soda, or clay. They are quick and inexpensive to make, and use only ingredients you can recognize.
850 million (over 50 million pounds) of toothbrushes are thrown away annually in the USA alone. Switching to a bamboo one is a simple way to help reduce this. There are often two different types of bamboo toothbrushes
1) ones with plastic bristles which have to be plucked and tossed prior to the brush being composted
2) or ones with animal hair bristles which can be composted as is, but aren't vegan.
Another plastic which can only end up in the landfill is dental floss. For compostable, but not vegan alternatives, look for silk floss which is fully biodegradable. As far as I know there aren't any vegan biodegradable options.
A lot of homes I've been to over the years have artificial air fresheners. If you're prone to migraines like me is a big YUCK. We like to have dried herbs or incense with matches at the ready for our guest to use or for us to cover up any kitty odor.
Natural deodorant gets a bad rap, but to be fair they're not all created equally. Finding one that works for you and your body is important. For natural varieties that come plastic free look for coconut based versions sold in glass (which work well but can stain clothes), deodorant bars (like the ones sold at Lush), deodorant salt crystals (which help with odor but not moister), or you can make your own with simple household ingredients.
Menstrual cups are getting a lot of attention these days, and that's great because typical feminine hygiene products aren't just expensive, and bad for the environment, but they're also full of chemicals that you probably don't want to put inside your body.
While Diva cups are the most well-known brand, there are a dozen other varieties that are just as good and have their own specific pluses. Some come in different sizes for flow, some are made for those who have given birth, and some are even designed for those with lower cervixes. So look around for the right one before you commit.
If cups aren't your thing there are also Thinx, and a few other period underpants which are amazingly comfortable. While they're not odourless, I do love them for sleeping in, or on days when I'm hanging out at home.
If you prefer pads, look for either reusable fabric ones (which people have been using these for millennia) or disposable ones that are both organic and biodegradable. For plastic free tampons, again look for organic varieties that are applicator free (you'll understand the last part if you've ever been to a beach and discovered it littered with plastic tampon applicators).
Most condom brands aren't vegan (as they contain casein) and they also contain a slew of gross chemicals including carcinogens. If you opt to use them, there are a ton of natural ones on the market with way less harmful ingredients. Finding many of these in Canada can be difficult.
Growing up the t.p. we got wasn't only wrapped in plastic, but each individual role was, too. What a lot of unnecessary waste! These days companies are reverting to older ways of packaging toilet paper like wrapping it in paper, or bulk in cardboard boxes.
Plus, most of the time these companies use recycled paper or sources like bamboo. And while you might think these options are costly, I've found many sources which cost than $1 CND a roll. Even Staples has it for sale. Alternatively, invest in a bidet.
Replacing Disposable Items
A few easy and affordable swaps are to change out typical disposable items for more long term, reusable items such as :
- disposable razors for a safety razors (which will last your lifetime)
- cotton balls and disposable wipes for flannel make up pads or crocheted cotton ones
- disposable emery boards for metal ones
- plastic bath pouf for a loofa sponge
- shaving cream with shaving soap and a brush
- plastic hairbrush with a wooden one
- get rid of items with aerosols
- use handkerchiefs instead of facial tissue (I promise they're not gross if you wash them regularly)