A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the ways that I am reducing waste in my kitchen. The other focal point in my zero-waste journey has been in my bathroom. I’ve been guilty in the past of being a bathroom product junkie, testing out different face masks, shampoos, and liquid body soaps in the hopes of finding the best in each category. I’ve also had a bad habit of not recycling in the bathroom. When bottles ran out I would simply toss them because I was too lazy to rinse them out and place them in the recycling bin mere feet away in the kitchen. I still have quite a few swaps to make in the bathroom (and one swap I will not be making) before I reach my desired goal, but I’m really happy with most of the swaps and they are easy enough for anyone to make.
1: Reusable cotton wipes
I wear makeup pretty much every day, including waterproof mascara, so it’s important that I am able to remove my makeup every night before bed. In the past, I’ve used cotton rounds you can buy at the drug store to take off my makeup, using multiple per day and going through many packs per year. I have a couple of reusable products in my collection, including some terrycloth face towels that remove makeup with only warm water (mine are a knockoff of the Makeup Eraser that I found at TJ Maxx) and a pack of microfiber squares. I don’t think both are necessary (I prefer the microfiber squares). Both options are machine washable and are going to be far more affordable in the long run over disposable cotton rounds.
The one problem I foresee is when I want to remove nail polish. I can’t imagine nail polish remover would be gentle on my reusables, which is probably why I never see pictures of zero-wasters wearing nail polish.
2: Solid Everything!
I’ve already declared my love for solid deodorant but I found other solid products to love on that same LUSH trip. Solids are great since they’re often sold package-free or at least in cardboard that can be recycled more sustainably than plastic.
I picked up a bar of Fresh Farmacy, which has been a lovely solid face wash that is gentle on my skin. It doesn’t leave my skin as soft as my previous cleansing milk, but it works for my skin so I can’t complain. I’ve been using the Lullaby shampoo for a few months now (one bonus about solid shampoo, it lasts forever). I also made the switch back to solid soap a few months ago. I had been buying bar soap at Walgreens but recently picked up Sexy Peel from LUSH. I go through solid soap more quickly than liquid soap, but I’m happy to make the swap in order to reduce my waste. To avoid plastic packaging I buy the bars of soap individually so I don’t have to buy them all wrapped together in plastic.
3: Bamboo Toothbrush
Oral hygiene is one area where I absolutely do not want to make sacrifices in order to be more environmentally friendly. Fortunately, I’ve found that the bamboo toothbrushes from Mother’s Vault have not been a compromise when it comes to keeping my teeth clean. The bristles are firmer than my previous toothbrush and my gums were a bit sensitive at first, but that has passed. The handle is compostable (though I believe I will need to use pliers to remove and recycle the bristles) so I can just toss it in my food waste bin once it’s done. I haven’t swapped floss, tooth paste, or mouth wash yet since I have all of those in stock, but I’d love to hear any zero-waste option other people use.
4: Menstrual Cup
I have been a menstrual cup convert for going on 4 years now and I can safely say I will never go back to conventional menstrual products. If you have a period, you know how frustrating it is to a) pay money to manage a biological process that isn’t pleasant and b) throw away menstrual products every month. Since switching to the Diva Cup, I have purchased exactly 3 boxes of tampons (all to donate to my local domestic violence shelter) meaning I have spent $0 on my own period since December of 2013. There are plenty of other sustainable options including menstrual underwear and reusable pads if a menstrual cup isn’t your thing.
The average period-haver uses 10,000 tampons in their life, that is a HUGE amount of waste and a TON of money. I think reusable menstrual products have an added bonus of encouraging us to talk about periods and removes some of the stigma around them. This is easily the swap I would reccommend the most.
One Swap I will not be making: Toilet Paper
I’ve had quite a few friends jokingly ask me if I’m going to keep using toilet paper, the answer is yes. I know that some zero-waste people use bidets, but this is an change I am just not interested in. I have a roommate that is supportive of my zero-waste goals, but going toilet paper free is a huge thing to ask of someone (especially since I don’t want to do it myself). Going toilet paper free would also be a huge inconvenience to any guests I may have. While I want to influence other people to use less waste, I am not going to force my choices on anyone.
I still haven’t found a perfect toilet paper option. There is a great looking company online that makes bamboo toilet paper, but since I don’t have secure package delivery at home I get packages delivered to work. I’m not sure I want to have a box of 48 rolls of toilet paper delivered to work that I then have to take home on the bus. I’m going to try buying more individual rolls and look to see what other options I may have online.
How do you reduce waste in your bathroom? And if you end up trying any of these swaps (or products I’ve mentioned in earlier posts) I’d love to know how they work for you!