Trying to go zero waste in the Bathroom? Bathrooms can be a huge source of waste. This post will take you through some low waste and zero waste choices you can make to be more eco-friendly in this room of the house.
This post is part of the War On Waste Challenge series - If you missed the start, head here.
Tackling the waste in your bathroom early on in your zero waste journey can be fun and rewarding. Not only does it help you live greener, but you might find some easy ways of saving money as well as reducing your household rubbish and recycling bin contents.
Don’t sweat, I am not going to tell you to throw out or give up your favourite products or suggest you give up toilet paper (yes, people ARE actually doing this, here is a great article on Why You Should Switch to Family Cloth if you want to learn more).
Today it's all about bathroom products and we'll be covering cleaning in the Green Cleaning topic soon.
And NO, you don't have to try to go zero waste here, just concentrate on reducing.
This post contains some affiliate links, which means if you click and purchase something, the price is the same to you, but I may receive a small commission that helps to keep this site up and running.
How to do a Bathroom Waste Challenge
> Find one or two Bathroom items or habits to alter
> Set yourself up for success - plan a simple swap and giving yourself time to test it out
>Once you have the hang of it, make it permanent
Where To Get Started
Take a look in your bin, bathroom cabinet, or your shopping trolley and consider what things you buy most frequently for the bathroom and what is thrown away or recycled most often.
Alternatively, you can just go with the item that bugs you the most or the one that is easiest to change.
This might be an aim to make a product swap for better packaging, eliminate a product entirely, or use a suitable alternative.
Below is a list of items and actions you may want to consider taking, make sure whatever you choose fits your goals and lifestyle.
Stop Buying Bathroom Items Until You Run Out
Use what you have until it runs out, and don’t be tempted to stock up on anything.
Locate any multiple products like soaps, toothpaste and moisturisers, store them together so you can easily see what you have and commit to not buying anything else until you have used them up.
Some cosmetics and bathroom items have a used by date it is worth not overstocking on anything.
Heading into summer, double check your sunscreen supplies and used by dates before buying more.
Simply not buying more products will save you money, give you more cabinet space, help you locate the items you want and avoid perished products ending up in the bin.
I'd love to believe it could slow down the production rate of cosmetics too, we just need more people to get onboard.
Donate Your Unwanted Items
Many of us have a bathroom cabinet full of samples and unused, or tried once items.
Last year I put together a big box of items I didn't want, use or need and slowly gave them all away to family, friends and school mums. For unopened products and samples, I donated these to a women's shelter and a homeless shelter so that those without could use them.
If you are hanging onto items you know you will never use, find a way to give them to someone who will and enjoy the extra space you create in the bathroom cabinet.
Don't Be Fooled By Advertising To Buy Products
While we are on the topic of too many items and unused items, becoming more aware of advertising ploys can help us avoid getting sucked in to empty claims.
Can a product really eliminate our wrinkles, rid us of cellulite, or make our skin glow?
In my experience, its a lot of hype and unsubstantiated claims and a quick look at ingredients listed can reveal a lot about how unnatural a product really is.
Check your brand's approach to packaging and sustainability and always question packaging claims.
This way, you'll end up with less junk at the end of the day and probably be much happier. One of my favourite online shops for low waste, eco-friendly items is Flora & Fauna, they make a huge effort to ship plastic free and you can opt for minimal packaging during checkout (even their masking tape is ecofriendly!). They also take back product packaging for recycling and give you points towards your next order.
Swap to Low Waste Tooth Brushes
One of my big annoyances used to be toothbrushes.
My bin was never full of toothbrushes, but they come in so much packaging and once used for 3 months, they head to landfill and stay there for longer than I care to think.
Did you know every toothbrush you ever used is still in existence?
This is such an easy item to swap for the whole family and it also isn't going to cost you more money.
My favourite is the Environmental Toothbrush made from bamboo, and the bristles don't come out while brushing my teeth. It is very easy to remove the bristles at the end of their life and compost the handle or use it for a plant marker.
There are plenty of ecofriendly options to choose from, even kids brushes.
Package Free Soap
I've spoken a lot about liquid soap in the past and the best thing we ever did was go back to bar soap.
This was a zero waste swap for us and helped to reduce the amount of plastics in our recycle bin and our weekly shopping bill.
There are so many beautiful natural soaps to choose from including palm oil free and vegan options. I even started dabbling in making my own soap and began following some handmade soap companies on Instagram just to drool over their creations. If you're in Australia, check out Guava Handmade Soap.
Next time you head to a local market, look around for locally handmade soap that is package free.
Package Free Products From Bulk Stores
If you have a local bulk store, check out what bathroom products they have on tap.
If you love your body wash, shampoos and liquid soaps, simply take your own bottles to refill. They are often delivered in drums they go back to the manufacturer for refilling so you'll be cutting out a few areas of waste with this move.
While you're there, don't forget to check out other low or zero waste options they might have for other areas of your house.
If You Cant Go Package Free, Choose Better Packaging
Not everything is available package free but there are ways to make better choices.
Take a close look at any items you are purchasing and see if you can find a plastic free or recyclable option.
For example, some soap bars from the supermarket may be in cardboard boxes, but internally are individually wrapped in plastic.
Pump bottles can be difficult to recycle because of mixed materials like metal and plastic that are hard to separate.
Toilet paper can be found in paper wrapping instead of plastic (check out Who Gives A Crap).
These are just simple examples of making sure you can recycle as much as possible and send the least amount to landfill.
As mentioned above, you can easily purchase liquid products from stores that will refill your containers.
Alternatively you could try a 'No-Poo' routine. This involves using either just water to wash, or a homemade mix generally of bicarb soda and vinegar to replace shampoo and conditioner. You can read my approach here.
This doesn't work well for everyone and is really one of those swaps that can take some time to adjust and perfect.
Many people (including me) have had great success with shampoo & conditioner bars, but you don't need to put up with awful hair just for the sake of the planet. If you're brand new to these, I suggest getting a sampler box that will allow you to try out several rather than committing to a large soap bar.
Instead of all the hair products I used to buy, I now use coconut oil or almond oil which works so well in my unruly hair.
Plastic Free Bubble Bath
This has been one I've been trying to swap for ages by making my own bubble bath, driven by my daughters love for bubbles.
None of my recipes have been successful and now we have swapped to Lush Bubble Bars. One bar can last several baths and they come in paper bag, so no plastic bottles to fill up your recycle bin. You can read a bit more on these in a recent post here.
Going Green with Tissues
Swapping to handkerchiefs is a great step to reducing waste and expenses, but it will take a time commitment to wash and fold each week.
For several reasons, we have chosen not to make this swap but do use handkerchiefs sometimes.
In our council area, we can place tissues into the green curb side bin and they head off to be commercially composted. Our bathroom bin is only for green waste these days.
Sustainable Cotton Buds
I know that many people do decide to give up cotton buds altogether, but I wasn't willing to do this.
We all have our favourite items and habits in the bathroom, so remember as you read through, just choose those that appeal to you. We replaced our plastic cotton buds with a cardboard stemmed variety and I was very happy with the quality.
You can also get bamboo stemmed ones, a little more expensive, and this is another of those simple swaps that are easy to make permanent.
Swap to Non-disposable Razors
Instead of disposable, or partly disposable razors, you might consider swapping to a safety razor, where just the blade is replaced. I haven't done this yet as I'm pretty lazy when it comes to shaving and I hear they take some getting used to initially.
Try Sustainable Menstrual Products
There are several great items on the market that can help you replace disposable pads and tampons.
Reusable pads are a simple, easy option to avoid all the typical plastics. If you're considering swapping to pads, then check out this article with absolutely everything you need to know about reusable cloth pads.
Each choice has its pros and cons and it really is down to your personal preferences.
Baby Wipes & Cloth Diapers
Ok, this is perhaps going beyond the bathroom, but it's an important topic and Baby wipes and diapers are very relevant. One regret I have is that I didn't make the swap to cloth diapers when I had a baby and is one thing I would do differently (that and sleep more). Cloth diapers save so much trash heading to landfill and although they are expensive to purchase, in the long run you will save loads of money. Here is great article from an expert on How To Use Cloth Diapers - Tips & Lessons.
Switching to cloth baby wipes is so simple, so much better for babies sensitive skin.
Check out this piece on Why You Should Switch To Cloth Baby Wipes (I'm sure you're going to be convinced on this easy swap.
Try Some DIY Recipes
DIY recipes are a really fun way to create your own natural skin care products very cheaply, avoiding any nasties, micro beads and excessive packaging.
There are literally thousands of options out there, but here are a few you might want to try out:
Recycle What You Can
We discussed how to look into your local recycling options at the beginning of the challenge, but a few unusual bathroom items things you can recycle through Teracycle include contact lenses, toothpaste tubes, tooth brushes, cosmetic tubs and beauty items. Head here to see more details on their website.
This list is just a start of the numerous things you could consider swapping or eliminating to reduce the waste in your bathroom. Remember, just choose one or two things to change at a time.
What do you plan to swap out? Or maybe you already have a great swap you want to share. Add your comments below.
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