The bathroom is home to a lot of unnecessary plastic that can be easy to overlook - cotton buds are just one example. / © Unsplash
In this second instalment of our new series on how to reduce household waste, Zara Castagna continues her look at one of the easiest places to start - the bathroom.
Following on from last week's article on reducing bathroom waste, this week’s article will focus on more general things that you might want to change in your bathroom, on your zero waste journey.
If you wear make-up you probably use cotton pads more than once a day. These do not only come in plastic packaging but also need to be thrown away after one use, which makes them less than eco-friendly. Instead of using them I bought reusable cotton pads made out of bamboo — these are the same shape just a bit bigger than the ordinary cotton pad, meaning that one is usually enough to remove all your make-up. After you are done using it you simply throw it in the wash instead of the bin. So far this has worked perfectly fine for me, the pads come out clean and I do not miss pre-packed cotton pads.
If you pair these pads with a make-up remover that comes in a reusable glass jar and not a plastic bottle, removing your make-up is almost completely waste free.
In case you don’t want to buy something new, an ordinary cloth works fine too to wash your face, it might just not be as soft but can, like the pads, be washed and used all over again.
Another bathroom item most of us use daily are cotton buds. These do not only come in a plastic box, but the stick between the actual buds is also made of plastic. The easiest alternative is opting for cotton buds that have a wooden or paper stick instead of the plastic one. These are entirely compostable and usually come in a paper box, saving you some more plastic. Alternatively, you can buy a reusable cotton bud that can be washed after its use, however these are relatively new and only available online.
After using your cotton bud, your automatic reaction might be to throw it into your bin lined with a plastic bag, but even this plastic can be avoided. Instead of using a new plastic bag each time, you can easily make your own bin liner out of old newspapers. That way you can reuse your newspapers while saving plastic. The bin liner can be composted if you only fill it with compostable rubbish, such as the ear buds, if not you can simply put it together with the rest of your household waste.
Clean and green shave
Your shaving routine wastes a lot of plastic but this can also be changed. It is quite easy to see what is wrong with disposable razors: they are made of plastic and need to be replaced several times a year. Moreover, are the blades that you can buy as refills surrounded by unnecessary plastic, in addition to all the packaging razors come in. To avoid this much waste you can buy a safety razor, which are completely made out of metal. Some come with a wooden handle, and are said to last a lifetime. The shaving might be slightly different from what you are used to, as these razors only have one blade and you do not need to apply as much pressure. At first you might be scared to cut yourself, because you are not used to the new razor — but you will soon notice that these razors are just as safe. Blades can be bought as refills, which come in plastic free packaging. In the long run this is not only more eco-friendly, but also saves you money.
In terms of shaving cream you can buy a solid shaving soap, which you can directly apply to your wet skin or you can use a shaving brush with wooden handle to apply it to your face. These solid shaving soaps reduce the plastic waste created by normal shaving creams and complete your zero waste shaving routine.
Whether you use a solid deodorant, stick or spray it is likely to come in at least some plastic packaging, which can be avoided. There are several options for cutting down your waste on this product. First, solid deodorants — these look a bit like soap bars and need to be wet before applying a thin layer under your arms. Another option are deodorant sticks which come in paper wrapping instead of plastic, these are especially useful if you have already used a stick before, as you do not have to change your habits, just the packaging. Finally, you can opt for deodorant cream which comes in a small glass jar or metal tin. To use it, you just apply a thin layer of cream under your arms. As these products only contain natural ingredients, they do not prevent you from sweating, as your ordinary antiperspirant deodorant might do, but they neutralise odours. Overall, this is better for your body anyway.
A hairy affair
You might not realise it but the hairbrush or comb you are using is most likely made out of plastic. This shows that plastic really is everywhere and hard to avoid. I would recommend not throwing your hairbrush away, as doing this while it could still be used is also wasteful. Instead, I would opt for a hairbrush or comb made out of wood — the next time you need to buy a new one as these are much more eco-friendly .
The bottom line
Finally, one of the items that creates the most waste and often remains unnoticed is toilet paper. Everyone uses several sheets a day and thus creates a lot of waste. This bathroom essential can be improved by opting for toilet paper made out of recycled materials which comes in paper, instead of plastic, packaging. This would avoid the plastic waste as there is no packaging and the actual toilet paper is completely biodegradable. Another option is ‘tree free’ toilet paper which is made out of fast-growing plants such as bamboo, and also comes in plastic free packaging. As it is made out of plants that grow much faster than normal trees, used for paper production, it is more sustainable in the long run and could save some trees.
Unfortunately, these options are not yet available in most ordinary supermarkets.
Similarly to the hairbrush, you might not realise that your toilet brush is completely or partly made out of plastic. Here you can opt for one made out of wood when buying a new one, the latter is recyclable and avoids plastic waste.
Finally, there is a waste free option for almost every bathroom product. In general you can find products I haven’t mentioned here, such as moisturiser, in glass jars, which can replace your plastic bottles.
Questions? Comments? Further suggestions for living an eco-friendly lifestyle? Leave a comment below!