As promised, here’s the third instalment of our Plastic Free July posts. This time we’re tackling the household haven of all things plastic – the bathroom. Below are a few tips on how to dramatically cut down on pesky polluting packaging.
- Switch shampoo – A recent clear-out of my bathroom unearthed about 5 different bottles of shampoo that I’ve accumulated over time. I gave four away (I wasn’t using them) and am making my way through my last, which is a 750ml bottle I’ve had on the go for a year and a half. When that’s finished, I’ll do what Lucy’s done and switch to bar shampoo. She swears by Lush shampoo bars, which her and her husband both use. Lucy uses a conditioner bar too. If a bar doesn’t work for you, look for refills. I know that in Bristol, Faith in Nature shampoo can be refilled at Scoopaway (Bristol).
- Soap bars – Shower gel is SUCH a con. Stop buying it immediately. You can get the most gorgeous solid soap bars that will clean you just as well and smell great too – honest. Lush is a fail safe but also try independent shops, Etsy and craft markets. You should be able to pick up paper wrapped soap bars in some supermarkets too. Keep them dry and they’ll last for ages.
- Brush with bamboo – No, you don’t need to chuck your plastic toothbrush in the bin right now. But when it does reach the end of its life, replace it with a wooden or bamboo alternative. Hundreds of millions of plastic toothbrushes head to landfill (and the ocean) every year. It’s a super simple and inexpensive switch to make. On the brush theme, next time you need a new hairbrush or comb, look into wooden of bamboo options. They feel great and do the job just as well. You can also get bamboo makeup brushes in plastic-free packaging.
- Toothpaste powder – A scary one for most. Admittedly I’ve not taken this step as my teeth are very sensitive and I’m strongly attached to my Sensodyne toothpaste. Braver and more committed zero wasters than I go down the DIY root, the simplest recipe being pure baking soda. Other recipes call for coconut oil, essential oils and other things I’ve never heard of. Our trusty Lush sells tooth powder. While not plastic free, you can return the tub to the shop to be recycled.
- Safety razor – The EPA estimates that around 2 billion disposable razors go to land fill each year. Yikes. I’m now using a metal safety razor (www.edwinjagger.co.uk or www.shavelounge.co.uk). It did take a while to get the hang of it but it’s worth it. The shave is close and the razor itself looks gorgeous. You can’t expect to shave as quickly though. It’s definitely a sit down and concentrate job. I’ve been brave enough to use it under my arms and I’ve not cut myself to ribbons. When it goes blunt I’ll replace the blade (really easy to do and they came wrapped in paper) rather than chuck the whole thing. Mine and Lucy’s partners both use electric razors on their faces and have these for ages. Soap wise, I use a regular soap bar but you can buy specific solid shaving soap, which can be stored in tins or wooden bowls, in department stores, or online.
- Ditch deodorant – Ok, maybe not completely. There are plastic free alternatives though. Lucy and her husband Matt use a bar from Lush (no, we’re not sponsored by them, nice as that would be!). I am still using a roll on as I stockpiled when my favourite brand was on offer. When that’s gone, I’ve got a jar of ‘Fit Pit’ ready to go. I’ve used it a couple of times already and was really pleased that I didn’t begin to stink half way through the day. It’s not an antiperspirant though so sweat could still be an issue. I’ll let you know. My boyfriend has gone down the au natural route, opting for a (very) quick shower at the beginning and end of each day. He smells great. Really. And he has a physical job and cycles to work. Worth a go if you’re feeling brave. Or if you don’t have to be in close proximity to other people on a daily basis!
- Minimise your makeup – I have almost completely stopped using makeup altogether so I’m admittedly not the best person to write about this. When I started to explore zero waste living I became aware of how much stuff I owned that was meant to make me look nicer. I overhauled my thinking on this and am now striving to just be happy with my face the way it is. Roughly once a week I put on a bit of mascara and tinted lip balm but that’s it. I would urge everyone to challenge them selves to see what they can do without or just start using less. It’s incredibly liberating. Unsurprisingly my skin is clearer and brighter now I’m not clogging my pores up with all sorts. If this is unthinkable to you, look out for makeup packaged in glass or metal. When removing, use coconut oil from a glass jar – a tiny bit melted between your fingers, rubbed over the face and removed with a cotton facecloth will do the job.
- Cut down on creams – No, you don’t need a day cream, an eye cream, a night cream, a neck cream, a lip cream and so on. Moisturiser is basically oil, blended with water. Now I just use oil in the evening; I like coconut but you can you any kind. Add a few drops of essential oil if you like a nice smell. You need hardly any. For the day, I like to use a cream with SPF. The best I’ve found are ones in glass jars with plastic lids but I’m sure they exist in tins too. Lush do some of course and the plastic tubs can be returned there for recycling.
9. Give hair products the heave-ho – Lucy, myself and both of our partners use no hair products whatsoever. None of us have been fired or ostracised by society as a result. Men, if you’re desperate for something, use wax in a metal tin or make a spray using lemon juice and water. There are recipes all over the Internet for DIY hairspray but personally I can do without. There are loads of zerowaste beauty bloggers out there so if you’re interested, check them out.
- Plastic- free toilet paper – Read Lucy’s post about Who Gives a Crap toilet roll which is socially and environmentally responsible. I’ve also discovered an amazing brand called Essential who make recycled toilet roll which comes wrapped in compostable film.
- Menstrual cups – Yep. There’s no way around it. Reuseable menstrual cups are THE BEST way to reduce the plastic involved in dealing with your period. I will be writing a full post about them soon (contain yourselves!) but in the mean time, do some research and find out how awesome they are. I know they’re not for everyone so if that’s you, switch to plastic free tampons and sanitary towels made by Natracare (see post here).
12. Say no – As I said in my kitchen post, a big part of minimising your plastic usage comes down to minimising your buying in general. I have simplified my bathroom shopping list beyond recognition and it feels great. I no longer yearn for a cabinet full of tubs, tubes and bottles. When I’m shopping I know to avoid the aisles and counters that are designed to pull me in and make me feel like my ugly body is in dire need of transformation. I’ve unfollowed anything beauty/toiletry related on social media so I don’t get sucked in that way. A good way to begin this daunting task is to simply not replace something the next time it runs out and see what happens. It’ll be fine, I promise. Oh, and you’ll save a LOT of money!
I hope that helps in some small way. Remember, as always, it’s not about perfection. Even just making one small change still makes a difference.
If you have any bathroom tips of your own, we’d really love to hear them.
Happy Plastic Free July.