Like the kitchen, the bathroom can be a big source of waste. It is typically home to a myriad of consumables, disposables, and impulse buys. If you have ever done a full bathroom clean out, you know just how much stuff can be packed into a little room! But the good news is, it’s actually quite easy to create a zero waste bathroom instead!
The bathroom: a space of our house we often tuck away and forget about, despite using it for some of the – ahem – most vital functions. In fact, the bathroom is full of many items we can choose to not repurchase, DIY, or find non-disposable alternatives for.
Modern bathrooms typically generate a lot of waste. Most products are sold as single-use items and made of several different materials, which renders them difficult to recycle and therefore just thrown in the dump. Consider simple toothbrushes for example: over one billion are thrown away every year in the United States alone.
These simple and easy tips will help you create your own zero waste bathroom.
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1. Bamboo Toothbrush
We know plastic toothbrushes are tantalizingly cheap and come in a rainbow of colors, but they’re devastating the environment. 90 billion of them get thrown away annually.
Bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable and compostable, with bamboo being a sustainable crop. They are even available in children’s sizes! Keep in mind that nylon bristles are not biodegradable and must be disposed of separately, while natural fibre bristles do not last as long. Bamboo toothbrush is the first thing you should think about if you want to create a zero waste bathroom.
However, look into the kind of bristles your toothbrush has because some are made with nylon bristles, some with boar bristles (fully biodegradable), and some are infused with charcoal. Do additional research to see what fits you the best! Remember to reuse your old toothbrushes for cleaning tasks before you dispose of them!
2. Zero Waste Toilet Paper – Perfect For Zero Waste Bathroom
Just like paper towels and napkins, toilet paper requires a ton of resources to be used for a few moments before being thrown away. It is usually made of virgin materials and then shrink-wrapped in non-recyclable plastic. It is a necessary evil, no butts about it. However, traditional TP is the bathroom’s most wasteful thing: from the harvesting of virgin trees (384 trees over each American’s life, to be precise), to the water, electricity, and literal tons of bleach used in the manufacturing process.
To make a zero waste bathroom, you can kook for 100% recycled content or an alternative fibre like bamboo, with rolls wrapped in paper. You may even want to move on to family cloth.
You can remove this waste stream completely by trying alternative products like toothpaste powder or toothpaste tablets, which come in hard plastic or glass jars with metal lids. They’re also great for travelling with, as they aren’t a liquid which you can only carry a restricted amount of. Or you can make your own toothpaste by mixing coconut oil, baking soda, and a few drops of mint essential oil and simply store it in a jar.
Plastic deodorant sticks may say they’re recyclable but in all likelihood they’re going straight to landfill. Because the roll-up style containers are made of multiple types of plastic, they are not accepted for recycling. If you are feeling wary about ingredients, now is a great time to switch to a natural option. Great thing for zero waste bathroom!
Looks for brands that package in compostable cardboard tubes or glass. You might also want to switch to making your own: simply mix baking soda, arrowroot powder (or corn starch), add your favorite essential oil, and store it in a jar. Natural deodorants work differently than drugstore products, so prepare for an adjustment period while your body adapts. It can be hard to find the best deodorant to fit your needs, so give it some time, don’t get discouraged.
5. Shampoo and Conditioner
Conventional products come in plastic bottles or soft tubes that are difficult to recycle, not mention that new bottles must be purchased time and again. If you have more than one bottle on the go, you may also have yourself some unnecessary shower clutter. Did you know, that all the shampoo bottles that get thrown away every year could completely cover 1,164 football fields?
Whatever kind of hair type you have you’ll definitely find a shampoo and conditioner that work for you. There are so many different kinds out there to choose from. Both shampoo and conditioner can be found in bars, with ingredients to suit your needs. Your local bulk store may offer refills, or you may choose a subscription service that accepts empty bottles in return.
6. Menstrual Products
Just in case bathroom banter hasn’t been personal enough, let’s talk menstruation. Having a zero waste period reduces so much waste in the form of pad wrappings and plastic tampon applicators. Invest in long-lasting reusables to suit your needs, comfort, and budget. Options include menstrual cups, washable pads and panty liners, period underwear, or any combination of the three.
Menstrual cups last around 10 years and are totally safe for your body too. This little zero waste bathroom swap is more useful than you think! For overnight, pair your cup with some period panties or when you can’t be bothered with the cup. These are basically just leak-resistant, absorbent underwear, that replace pads, only you can wash them and wear them again and again.
Remember to only purchase these items once you are in need of them. With simple product changes and near-effortless zero waste swaps, a lot of waste can be reduced or eliminated all together.
Just like the zero waste journey itself, there is no perfect zero waste bathroom out there. It’s a spectrum and we all land somewhere on the line. It’s just great to make incremental improvements over time. Remember, a zero waste bathroom doesn’t materialize overnight. It’s small incremental steps that will become good habits before you know it. Create your own zero waste bathroom from now!