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5 Zero Waste Products Swaps For Your Bathroom!

Photo by Diana Light on Unsplash

Let’s tackle zero waste products for bathrooms now, shall we?

You might figure, “Oh, it’s the smallest room in the house. I’m sure it has the least amount of trash.”

Yeah, okay. If you don’t have a celebrity-level bathroom, it will generally be smaller than other parts of your home. But this doesn’t mean we’re the least wasteful here!

Disposable razors, cotton swabs, toilet paper – and a whole array of plastic bottles and tubes, many of which, aren’t even used regularly!

Living zero waste means getting our act together and reducing the number of materials we buy and ultimately discard (forget about those exfoliants and that sonic facial cleanser you know will just gather dust in the closet). 

So how can we substantially reduce our waste in the bathroom department?

Here are some easy zero waste products or more like wonderful swaps that work the same as our less sustainable goods. Try these alternatives for you and your family: 

1. Get a bidet or opt for eco-friendly toilet paper

Remember the toilet paper shortage during the pandemic? Was that fascinatingly irrational or what?

Yes, it’s something we use daily, but it was just outrageous how people were scrambled for it!

Since toilet paper is something of a necessity in our homes, we don’t have to eliminate it entirely.

We just have to give a bit of a crap (we went there) of how we use it. Reducing the amount of consumption – that’s the goal.

On average, each person uses about 57 rolls of toilet paper per person in a year. Add it up to billions of people and you’ll realize the scale of paper needed to meet the demand.

US consumption translates to massive parts of the Canadian boreal forest – a crucial carbon sink – to be cut in order to get the virgin softwood pulp that goes into each square of T.P!

According to Environment America, of the $9.4 billion US toilet paper market, only $161 million (less than 2%) are generated from recycled products.

For a more sustainable home, you could install a bidet. It’s cheap, it lasts for years, and you’ll use fewer rolls of toilet paper for sure. Here is a rough estimate of savings if you make the change.

And get this: only around 30% of the global population uses toilet paper. That means there are other hygienic alternatives to using paper-based materials.

Again, you can opt for recycled zero waste products or brands if you have to have toilet paper. Sierra Club suggests getting products made of recyclable materials: paper, bamboo, and something called mullein weed.

They also recommended one brand, Who Gives a Crap. This brand has the highest percentage of recycled paper, is chlorine-free, and is packaged in recycled boxes. Another brand, Natural Value, is US-made, chlorine-free, and 100% sustainable.

2. Try sustainable soap and shampoo bars

Okay, so science says we don’t need to worry about surfactants. You know, from the suds that slide off on our bodies and head down the drain? They are not the main culprits polluting our water systems.

However, we want to point out that there is the problem of non-biodegradable packaging that typical soap and shampoos have. You see it on the personal care aisle. Your go-to shampoo and conditioner? Contained in plastic bottles. Body wash, facial wash, exfoliating gel – same.

We’ve been so used to using liquid products on our hair and bodies. But it wasn’t always the case. If you could remember, bar soaps were the norm a decade or so ago.

The National Geographic notes that when people preferred showers to baths, companies then developed liquids and gels that ran down the drain. And since people are storing them inside showers, the packaging needed to withstand wetness. Enter then plastic.

Zeroing in on plastic consumption is at the heart of zero waste philosophy. So if there are options out there that promote compostable packaging and reduce our plastic use, they’re the way to go.

Shampoo and soap bars swap the traditional plastic-encased liquid options we’ve been so used to. These bars eliminate the water content in the product, making them more compact (less carbon for shipping).

Not only that, but the plastic packaging as well. They can last a very long time, too.

Ethique is one sustainable brand to try.

If you can’t budge on your liquid lathers and bubble baths, there are companies like All Things Being Eco that provide package free soaps. You can bring your own empty containers to fill as you shop on these zero-waste stores.

3. Use recyclable or compostable toothbrushes

When it comes to toothbrushes, we usually reach for those colorful plastic ones at the grocery. But now, there are other options to help curb the billions of plastic toothbrushes thrown away yearly.

There’s the bamboo toothbrush, which is gaining more popularity. Only the bristles are plastic, and the stick is compostable. There are also cornstarch-based ones that feel like plastic but are also biodegradable sans the bristles.

In one study, however, findings show that replaceable-plastic head toothrbushes aren’t as harmful as we assume – granted they are recycled.

In fact, studying the environmental and human health impact of these products suggests that both bamboo and replaceable-head plastic toothbrushes had the lowest impacts in all categories.

The electric toothbrush and the disposable plastic kind are the worst in terms of sustainability.  

So now we know that the plastic disposables are a no-no, and using electric while brushing is just too wasteful.

As long as you use only the energy that your arm can muster, you can opt for compostable toothbrushes like bamboo/starch-based. Or get a replaceable-head type made of plastic, aluminum, etc. These may look small in the bigger picture, but if we choose more zero waste products, they can potentially minimize the plastic that ends up polluting land and marine systems.

4. Raise your hand for plastic-free deodorant

Again, this is an issue of packaging more so than the pollutants from the product itself. 

If your deo stick says it’s recyclable on the packaging, you better not count on it. There wouldn’t be millions of tons of plastic waste in our landfills if recycling were as spread out as it should be.

So what can you use to keep those underarms smelling fresh?

There are quite a few zero waste deodorants available now. Ethique has a line of deodorant bars.

Fat & the Moon has their light cream formulation that can block microbes without stifling the body’s natural sweat system.

There’s also Meow Meow Tweet, a popular brand that sells small batch deodorants in both stick and cream form. These are USDA certified organic, vegan, cruelty-free, and are encased in compostable cardboard packaging. 

5. Invest in a sustainable razor

We might have been too lazy to shave regularly while the lockdown was imposed (who would see anyway), but shavers are still and will be a common item in most bathrooms.

If you want to go more sustainable, dispose of disposables when you can. Wait for your last plastic razor or cartridge refills to be used up, and try a safety razor.

The safety razor has been around (and virtually unchanged) since the 1900s, and until now professional barbers still prefer them to disposable models.

It works better, is the more sustainable razor option out there, and is more cost-friendly.

How? Well, in a cartridge razor, once the first blade dulls, it starts to pull the hair up. The second and third blades will then cut under the skin instead of the hair.

The result? Irritation and ingrown hair.

A safety razor on the other hand, only has one double-sided blade. It’s really the only blade that does the cutting. Once it dulls, you only have to replace the blade as the  encasement is made of sturdy materials like steel.

Check this safety razor from Net Zero Co, made of plated steel and bamboo handle. It’s sleek, it guarantees a close shave, and can be used for a long time.

There are also shaving soap bars available. These are usually stored in refillable tins, a great alternative to aerosol cans. 

Zero Waste Bathroom: Do Good, Smell Good 

These are only the most basic zero waste products swaps we’ve applied. We could go on and on in this post, but we’ll make it a series to give more info about other swaps we’re interested in trying.

As you can see, our bathrooms may be small but they are packed with so much stuff. If you elect to reduce products, and replace one, two, or more of these disposable and plastic items with more sustainable products, you’re already helping without jarring routine changes.

What else do you want to talk about? Let us know if you have some more useful bathroom hacks. Share your ideas in the comment section below! And check out our very own zero waste products in our online store.

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