Take a few minutes to look around your bathroom. How many of the products and items you see do you use everyday? How many are disposable items which could easily be replaced by reusable ones? Whether you don’t know where to begin or are looking to bring your zero waste efforts to the next level, we hope this article will help you find new ideas to implement in your own home. From zero waste cosmetics to reusable essentials, here are our top tips for a zero waste bathroom!
Choose reusable/washable items:
A good place to start when trying to minimise your bathroom waste is to get rid of disposable items and replace them with more sustainable alternatives.
Here are some example of items you can easily replace without changing your routine too much:
Safety razors: rather than disposable plastic razors that will inevitably end up in landfill, opt for a safety razor. These razors are built to last, and use recyclable stainless steel blades which can be disposed of (after multiple uses) in your normal recycling bin. Most brands offer adjustable settings so you can find your perfect shave, and it’s worth noting that safety razors are for everyone, regardless of gender or hair type!
Metal nail file, clippers and scissors: keep everything simple and avoid non-recyclable materials. Stainless steel is very reliable for all your bathroom ‘tools’ and will last a long time before it can be disposed of in the recycling bin.
Makeup pads: if you use cotton pads to wash your face and remove your makeup, chances are you will spend a lot of money over time on these little discs which often come in plastic packaging. Why not try a washable pad or flannel instead? Opt for natural materials such as cotton or bamboo and pop the dirty pads in your washing machine with your clothes.
Menstrual pads or cup: another way to reduce waste and save money is to swap from disposable to reusable hygiene products such as fabric washable pads or menstrual cups.
→ Even if the initial ‘investment’ cost seems higher, these types of swaps will save a lot of waste and money over time!
Try compostable / natural items
For the products you cannot replace with reusables, alway prefer natural materials which can be composted when the products are not fit for purpose anymore:
Bamboo (tooth)brushes: even though 100% compostable toothbrushes are still difficult to find, you can choose to opt for a toothbrush with a bamboo head and handle. The bristles will often need to be binned separately but this is a much more sustainable option than toothbrushes made entirely of plastic! (Also applies to hairbrushes, nail brushes and combs!)
Compostable earbuds: good news, plastic-stemmed cotton buds were banned in the UK on 1st October 2020, along with other single-use plastic items! You can easily find compostable alternatives such as bamboo and cotton ear buds which are used in the same way. Although these are single-use items, they are 100% home compostable and will not end up harming other species or the environment when you are done using them.
Natural Dental floss: why not try a dental floss made of silk or corn instead of plastic? The result is the same and dental floss made of natural materials can be composted safely at home!
Natural sponge: if you like to spend some time pampering yourself in the bathroom, treat yourself to a natural sponge, there are many options available out there which are sustainably grown and will not harm the environment: konjac sponge (from the konjac root), loofah pads, natural sea sponges… all 100% compostable!
Choose solid or refillable products
Zero waste shops, specialised cosmetic shops and even some supermarkets are now offering refills for your everyday bathroom products. Alternatively, you can also try solid version of your usual products:
Toothpaste: replace your plastic toothpaste tub with a refillable toothpaste or try solid toothpaste tablets instead!
Soap: a good old-fashioned soap bar is our preferred alternative to plastic bottled body wash and hand soap but if solid bars are not for you, you can also refill your old bottles in your local zero waste shop!
Shampoo: as with soap, shampoo can also be found in bars or refills. If you have tried a shampoo bar in the past and didn’t find it satisfying, it is worth trying a different type or brand before giving up as their effect will vary depending on your hair and water type.
Conditioner: these days, conditioner bars and liquid refills are more readily available than even 2-3 years ago. As with the shampoo, it is worth experimenting a little before making your mind up that all conditioner bars will not work for you. You can also try natural alternatives such as apple cider vinegar which work very on all hair types!
Deodorant: solid or 100% natural deodorants are the best alternatives to roll-ons and sprays which contain plastic and harmful substances!
If the product you use is not available in refills or as a solid alternative, always prefer containers made of easily recyclable materials (glass, aluminium, cardboard).
Finally, if liquid refills are not available near you and solid alternatives are not for you, try to buy products in large quantities to reduce the packaging used overtime.
Stick to basic products with simple ingredients
Opt for minimalism. Choose a few basics that are well suited to your skin and avoid piling up a lot of unnecessary bottles in your cupboard. Just ask yourself when was the last time you used a certain product. If the answer is more than one month ago or you cannot answer the question, it is probably not a necessary item in your bathroom and one which you could do without.
Try DIY recipes for your cosmetics and makeup products. Be sure to check your sources before trying any recipes, especially if they use essential oils. A safe place to start is to try using vegetable or natural oils such as coconut or almond oil in place of your moisturiser and makeup removal lotion.
Refuse unnecessary samples. Free samples are very common in the cosmetics industry but they are absolutely unnecessary in your zero waste bathroom and always come in un-recyclable packaging so just say no to them.
Avoid harmful chemicals and products which are not sourced sustainably (eg. check labels for palm oil in your soaps). The list of known carcinogens and other endocrine or hormonal disruptors used in everyday ‘care’ products is just mind blowing: parabens, phthalate, Synthetic Colours and fragrances, SLS, (sodium lauryl sulfate)... These are all toxic chemicals which are absorbed by your skin and assimilated by your body and have been linked with developmental, reproductive, brain, immune, and other problems. Also remember that the cosmetic products you use are eventually flushed directly from your sink or shower to the sewage and into our oceans every time you wash! In order to protect your health as well as the environment it is therefore important to keep well informed and always choose the most natural products with the fewest number of ingredients.
European Commission: What are endocrine disruptors?
Guardian: Plastic microbeads ban enters force in UK