I’ve started a new blog series for Zero Waste Swaps! Let’s be honest, the world is going to shit and I can’t do anything about the current government administration, but I can do little changes to keep as much plastic and waste out of landfills, not to mention vote with my dollars and let Big Business know that they need to change and they need to change NOW! So below I’m sharing my Zero Waste Bathroom Swaps that I’ve been working with for the past 6 months to really give you a good review so you aren’t wasting your money or needless plastic on items that may or may not work.
So, I know the correct terminology is Zero Waste (and I know that zero doesn’t really mean absolutely zero), but I’m not trying to be perfect over here, I’m just trying to reduce my waste and my impact on the world, so in reality, these are more like “Lower Waste” Bathroom Swaps! The bathroom is probably the second most wasteful room in the house (with the kitchen getting the first place prize), but I felt like the bathroom was the easiest place to start with lower waste swaps for plastic toothbrushes, shampoo in plastic bottles, body wash in plastic bottles, menstrual hygiene products (tampons are SO wasteful with the plastic applicators, plastic wrappers, and the tampon itself), and even plastic hairbrushes!
A couple of points:
I know I’m not an expert on this subject at all. There are bloggers out there who focus on eco-friendly products for the home. But I wanted to share what I’m doing in order to make little changes around the house. I’m never going to get to the “Trash-in-a-Mason-Jar” level of zero waste. Yes, that’s a thing – collecting your trash in a mason jar to show how little waste you produce. However, as Anne-Marie Bonneau of Zero Waste Chef has said, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” So, hopefully, I’ll just be one in millions doing this imperfectly and I just hope to inspire you to make some swaps and do this with me!
Please note that I did NOT throw out my plastic toothbrushes or any unused tampons in order to make these swaps. I did a thorough purge in my bathroom where I cleaned and organized all our drawers and cabinets and then we started “using up” whatever products we had already purchased. Since these items were already in the consumer stream, throwing them out wouldn’t do any good, so I committed to using any shampoo, body wash, plastic toothbrushes, and tampons I already had. Then I made sure to purchase my new “lower waste swaps” and have them ready to use only once I needed a replacement.
And have you seen the obvious efforts to capitalize on this growing Zero Waste movement? I see ads for zero waste items in my Instagram feed and stories all the time. So, just remember, you don’t need to purchase something new just because it’s the eco-friendly thing to do. Can you reuse, borrow or DIY an alternative? Have you used up what you already owned? Only purchase a new eco-conscious swap if you really need it, after you’ve done your research, and you know you’re going to use it. It’s not all about the new gear!
Have you ever thought about how every plastic toothbrush ever made still exists? That’s a shit ton of toothbrushes! Apparently, in the U.S. alone, we throw out a billion plastic toothbrushes every year. A billion. Every year.
So, my first lower waste swap was for a bamboo toothbrush. I purchased a pack of The Green Root bamboo toothbrushes because after reading the reviews, it seemed like they had really soft bristles (I used to use “Extra Soft” toothbrushes when I was purchasing the plastic toothbrush type), plus I liked that they came in rainbow colors and were numbered so my husband and I can both use them (and not mix up our toothbrushes, because yeah, I’m a germaphobe). And while the bristles aren’t 100% recyclable (they’re made of 38% nylon), I figure it’s a huge difference from an entirely plastic-made toothbrush.
My next swap? A menstrual cup. I was really hesitant about this swap and I’m not really sure why. I think it’s just such a change from what I’m used to and it takes more effort than just swapping from one toothbrush to another. I honestly haven’t started using it yet (because hello surprise pregnancy!), but my cup has been boiled and is ready to go for whenever I start my next cycle!
If you’re interested in swapping to a menstrual cup, I highly recommend checking out the Put A Cup In It website which has tons of tips, videos, reviews, and “the cup quiz” which will give you a recommendation on which cup to try based on your body. My quiz recommended the Fleurcup for me, but it wasn’t available on Amazon (and let’s face it, if I can’t order it from Amazon, I’m not going to order it), so I went with the second runner up, the Lena Sensitive Cup. Not gonna lie, I’m a little mad it’s only available in clear when all the other companies offer cute colors, but I’m saving the world one period at a time over here.
I also purchased a storage/sterilizing container for my cup and I’m going to get a couple of pairs of period panties as backups when I start using the cup because I’ve read that leaks definitely do happen as you learn how to use a cup.
Next up? A biodegradable Go Green Wet Brush. My regular hairbrush will last me years and years, but my Wet Brushes take a beating (thanks super curly, tangled hair!) and the bristles get bent and worn out after about a year to a year and a half so then I have to replace the entire brush. But, I was pretty happy to see a biodegradable version! The handle is made from all-natural biodegradable plant starch that will (allegedly, according to the company) naturally break down in a landfill within 5 years.
I don’t think this brush is the greatest compared to the paddle-sized Wet Brush Pro that I use, so I would NOT recommend it for those with super thick, curly hair, but if you have a normal amount of hair, I think it would be fine.
Shampoo & Body Bars
And last, but not least, I’ve swapped my shampoo and body wash in plastic bottles for an Ethique shampoo bar and an Ethique body polish bar. I went with the Ethique brand after some recommendations and reading their reviews. Plus, I liked that they also sold a biodegradable in-shower storage container (that composts after 5 years) that keeps the bars from sitting in a pool of water and getting gross on the bottom.
I’m trying out the Ethique body polish bar, but honestly, I’m not the biggest fan, it’s super expensive and I will probably swap to Dr. Bronner’s Pue-Castile Bar Soap in the future. But the Ethique shampoo bar is awesome. Like I mentioned above, I have thick, curly hair and I was afraid a shampoo bar wouldn’t lather as well, but it does!!
What I’m not switching just yet? My conditioner and face wash. With super thick, curly hair, I’m not ready to give up my conditioner. And I really like my foaming face wash. Maybe eventually down the line, I’ll make some swaps, but as I said, I’m going lower waste, not zero waste.
Other bathroom swap ideas for in the future? I haven’t tried these yet, but they are next on my swap list and I will update this post as I continue to make swaps. If you happen to try something and love it or hate it, PLEASE let me know in a comment or email!
- Silk Dental Floss: Dental floss is made out of plastic, so if you have the cash and you want to make the swap, changing to a silk dental floss (which is housed in a glass/stainless steel container) is another way to go lower waste in the bathroom. I got a Waterpik for my birthday, so that’s another way to swap out using plastic floss. Just be sure to do your research and make sure you’re going to use the Waterpik before purchasing it because otherwise it’s just more wasted plastic/trash.
- Bamboo Toilet Paper: I’m looking into making the swap to a bamboo toilet paper.
- Safety Razor: Instead of a plastic disposable razor, I’m looking into making the switch to a stainless steel safety razor. I still have like 6 refills on my Venus plastic razor, and I hardly ever switch them out, so this is probably a 2021 swap if I’m honest.
- Bath Loofah: If you have a recommendation for a good quality, non-plastic bath loofah, please let me know.
- Skin Care & Makeup: I’ve already swapped my heavily packaged$25 Neutrogena Hydro Boost face moisturizer for a $4 bottle of Trader Joe’s Vitamin E Oil (yes, it comes in a plastic bottle, but I use so little of it, that it will last me a long time and the packaging is probably 1/10th of the plastic of my previous face moisturizer). And my current makeup is all new, so I won’t be making any makeup swaps for awhile. But if you have an eco-friendly makeup recommendation, please let me know in a comment!
- Sugar & Salt Scrubs: Instead of purchasing a sugar or salt scrub, DIY one using ingredients you have at home! Here’s the link to my favorite Grapefruit Mint Sugar Scrub or my Pina Colada Sugar Scrub.
- Tooth Powder: you can make your own tooth powder instead of using toothpaste. I’m not at that level just yet.
- Qtips: if you use Qtips, be sure to use the ones that have a paper base (the part that connects the two ends) instead of the kind that has a plastic base (usually pink or blue).
- Deodorant: I tried the Myro deodorant that’s available at Target – it’s a refillable tube so you’re just purchasing refills to go into the applicator capsule. It smells great, but … my armpits do not. It just doesn’t work for me in my current “chasing after toddlers nonstop, sweating just to get them dressed” season of life. But several of the reviews online talk about how it’s great protection, so if you don’t sweat and smell, it might work for you.
If you’re ready to make any of the above swaps, and you’ve committed to using up whatever you already own (no throwing out any perfectly good plastic toothbrushes!), then be sure to shop my recommendations below:
What eco-friendly changes are you making in the bathroom? Let me know in a comment below!
And be sure to check out some of my other Zero Waste posts: