8 Simple Bathroom Swaps

My zero-waste journey naturally started in the kitchen (view previous post), with some bathroom swaps here and there. But the truth is that we accumulate a lot of “stuff” in the bathroom. And a lot of it is single-use packaging made of plastic. Sometimes you cannot even reuse those containers, right?

If you have roommates or kids, you’re accumulating even more as we all have different needs for our hair, skin or simply our “beauty routine”. The positive side is this means your bathroom is the perfect place to start swapping out these single use plastic products for more sustainable, eco-friendly, and cleaner ones! 

Some of my bathroom swaps were right on, others required more research, trying different models and brands – not all of them would work for my skin or hair type! Switching out one product at a time as you need to restock, will slowly start turning your bathroom into a more sustainable one! This post is not supposed to review products – what worked for me may not work for you, especially when it comes to bathroom products.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com
  1. First and foremost, refuse those tiny toiletries from hotels or small samples of hand cream, lotions or whatever: you don’t need to bring home more “stuff” and you know those products will sit in your drawer for months (or years) until you throw away without even trying it. With a few exceptions, those are neither recyclable or good quality products.
  1. Wipes: I have 2 kids and the “wiping” part is often a pain in the butt, literally! I wish I knew this trick when they were very little, and I used to buy those “flushable” wipes.
    • 🔴 Problem: most flushable wipes are not biodegradable or recyclable and when you flush them, you’re not just clogging your toilet, but also sending plastic straight to the water system. On top of that, they often contain potentially harmful parabens and other preservatives, phthalates, artificial fragrances, and other chemicals.
    • 🔄 Swap: spray “water bum” on toilet paper and voila: natural, nourishing, emolient, cheap and biodegradable wipe! I learned that with our collaborator Livia (here’s her post).
    • 👩🏽‍🍳How to make it: Reuse old spray containers, add about 8oz of water and 5 drops of any essential oil (I use organic lavender oil), shake it and spray over toilet paper. That’s your wet wipe!
  1. Bar fever! So many plastic containers can be eliminated by using bars. And there are so many great and clean bar products in the market today. This was the easiest swap ever!
    • 🧴 Shampoo & conditioner: I like the ones in paper boxes, because it doesn’t make sense to buy a shampoo bar wrapped in plastic like the one sold at Trader Joe’s… I’ve tried Humankind (shampoo and conditioner) and J.R. Liggett’s (shampoo) and am happy with both brands for my hair type. Here are some types for a smooth switch:
      • Bar tip 1: it’s very important to know that when you use a shampoo bar, you need to wash your hair differently. There are many tutorials out there to help you.
      • Bar tip 2: when you transition to a more natural solution, you need to give some time to your body to adjust – it’s called detox. It usually takes 2 to 4 weeks depending on your scalp type and wash frequency.
      • Bar tip 3: I’ve learned that rinsing your hair with apple cider vinegar (ACV) once a week may be helpful to help equilibrate your scalp’s pH. I make my own preparation and my hair has never been so shiny (ok probably during pregnancy it was!)
    • 🧼 Soap that comes in compostable wrap paper (kids too). Do you have a favorite body wash? Switch to same brand in bar or, even better, look for a more natural bar solution like Chagrin Valley.
  1. Dry shampoo: argh all those sprays! Arrowroot flour it is! Buy in the grocery store, put in an old powder container, and pour in your hair as you usually do with a spray. Work as a miracle! And it’s natural!
Photo by Sarah Chai on Pexels.com
  1. Cotton pads: I tried the bamboo ones but they don’t seem to hold well liquids, like a face tonic. I’ve seen reviews mentioning that they are better for creams… I decided I would reuse a few times the cotton rounds I have and it’s working so far. Do you know a reusable pad that works well for liquids? Please write on the comments section!
  1. Bamboo toothbrush: I spent some time researching before buying one and what I found out is that most bamboo toothbrushes use plastic bristles made of nylon, a petroleum-based material. That’s what we call greenwashing! Bite developed a toothbrush 100% compostable, with bristles made of castor oil resin (a bioplastic). The brush is soft and lasts 3 months (what your dentist recommends anyway). After that, you start to see mold around the bristles, which is natural in wood type material. when you’re done, you remove the bristles – because there is a little metal part underneath – and throw in your home composter! I’ll report how it broke down in a couple of months.
  1. Tooth tablets: I have only tried the fresh mint flavor from Bite so far. I haven’t tried anything else because I love how they work and taste. Also, Bite uses a non-toxic alternative for fluoride, called nano-hydroxyapatite. Bonus: it comes in a cute glass jar (with metal cap) that I reuse for other homemade stuff. 
  1. Razor: my husband’s department. After some research we’ve decided for the butterfly model from Albatross. Beautiful slim design! It required some adjustment in the first couple of times he shaved but he’s now fully adapted and happy with it. They also have a take back program for the blades, which’s a win! With the blades, they make mobile, stainless steel zero-waste utensil sets, meant to help eliminate the 100 million plastic utensils thrown out in the US alone each day. Isn’t it a beautiful business model?

In all my swaps I try to consider both the packaging material and the product ingredients. What’s the point to reduce plastic footprint while increasing your exposure to toxic substances, right? My saver for ingredients check is an app called EWG. This was recommended by Elizabeth Boulos, a bad ass, expert, and consultant in clean beauty. Check more on her work here, where she shares amazing tips to reduce toxic exposure! Going zero waste AND clean is not always possible, but there’s some brands doing a decent job out there! A good topic for a next post 😉

What’s next in my to-do list? Reusable cotton swab and bamboo paper towel (suggestions please!).

Now it’s your turn to start swapping out and, before you know it, you’ll have a zero (or low) waste bathroom with less toxic products! Change what makes sense for you and your family and do what you can, when you can. The best part about zero waste is that it’s completely on your terms 💚

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