The bathroom should be a fairly easy room to tackle when it comes to attempting to go zero waste; it is simple decluttering and replacing the basics with waste-free alternatives. Where you may struggle is letting go of ALL the beauty and hygiene products you think you need. I would say I am a middle of the road girlie girl. I grew up a tomboy but morphed into a teenage girl consumed with how I looked; today, gladly, I am no longer that self-obsessed teenager and young woman. I still take pride in my appearance and always will, but thankfully, the notion that my beauty hinges on applying a plethora of product to my hair and body no longer has a hold of me.
During my twenties, I acquired a multitude of creams, masks, make-up, hair products, travel size products, perfume, and so on and so forth. When I tackled my bathroom, I found many of these items half-used and untouched sitting in my linen closet and under my sink collecting dust. Embarrassing to admit, but some of these items have traveled with me across Canada and back and remained untouched. My thought process was that I would use them all, eventually.
Often times the linen closet and beneath the bathroom sink are where people store cleaning products as well. For me, an entire shelf in the linen closet was filled with cleaning products: sanitizer, tub and tile cleaner, floor cleaner, wood oils and polishers, stainless steel appliance cleaner, “environmentally” friendly cleaners for the kids toys and the list goes on.
Paring Down the Bathroom
First step was to take everything out that wasn’t going to stay. I piled all of the cleaners, excess moisturizers and products and anything I hadn’t touched in the last six months onto my kitchen table. We have been using citrus vinegar cleaner and baking soda to clean everything, so I simply boxed up all my old cleaners (new and used) and put an ad online, I sold the entire box for 15.00 dollars within two days! Who knew?
I donated hygiene and beauty products, new moisturizers, hand soaps, unused toothbrushes, hair products and similar to our local single parent resource center. Any half used moisturizers were combined into a small jar and put away. Any product I no longer used such as nail polish and remover, tanning creams, and certain perfumes were given away to friends or family. I tossed very little into the trash.
Before buying or making anything new, I vowed to use up everything I already had. This took about six months. I used up our collection of hotel travel size shampoos and conditioners, our many tubes of toothpaste, (we are still making our way through the six packages of dental floss), various deodorants, and facial creams/masks. As I approached the end of a product, I had to make a decision about whether or not I needed to replace the item with a waste free version. In many cases, I found that I didn’t really need the item in the first place. Below is a list of items I went through and the waste-free alternative I made or sourced if it was necessary to me.
Just the Basics:
Homemade toothpaste recipe here.
Homemade deodorant recipe here.
We are still making our way through our existing floss supply. YES, one year later! This is one item I deem necessary. I do not plan to sacrifice dental hygiene in the name of Zero Waste. However, there are less wasteful alternatives out there: Check out: Radius and Eco-Dent.
Shampoo and conditioner
Refillable at The Soap Exchange.
I use shampoo or bar soap. So many locally made and wonderful smelling bar soaps can be found all around town, at local farmers markets, artisan shops, and even grocery stores. I buy mine at The Soap Exchange.
We refill a mason jar with hand soap from The Soap Exchange, and I have purchased a handy dandy mason jar pump attachment from The Good Planet, we also use simple bar soap.
I use natural oils that are refilled at Nezza Naturals.
I decided I don’t need it.
I decided I don’t need it.
Menstrual Pads and Tampons
Cups and reusable pads are awesome. Purchasing and using the Diva Cup has been one of my best investments of the year. I cannot believe how much better this is that using tampons. I will sing praise to the menstrual goddesses who invented this device as it is truly a godsend. There are many brands: Fleurcup, DivaCup, and Lunette to name a few.
Cotton balls and cotton pads
I decided I don’t need these – a simple face cloth or soapy fingertips will do.
I decided I don’t need it.
We have a fabulous homemade recipe that is at least SPF 30 here.
I am still using up my old makeup, but plan only to replace what I deem to be my essentials. We also launched a Zero Waste Beauty blog.
The Soap Exchange sells Cascades’ North River toilet paper. It is made with 100 percent recycled fiber that is comprised of a minimum 60 percent post consumer waste. It also comes wrapped in paper, not plastic. So far on our journey to Zero Waste, this is the only alternative that is more expensive than the product I used to buy.
Nail brush and shower body scrub brush
I have been using the same hair brush for almost 10 years but when I do replace it, I will do so with an all natural wood option that can be found at a multitude of retailers.
Straight razor and safety razor – basic old school shaving techniques. In Victoria, check out, The Copper Hat or online at Our Store. Another option is laser hair removal. This procedure is a permanent solution to hair removal and one that is becoming more affordable.
Toilet bowl brush
Opt for a bamboo or wood brush option when replacing your toilet bowl brush.
Most of us have WAY too many towels. If paring down is really your objective then reducing your laundry will inevitably be on the list. Two towels per person is the maximum you need. We change our towels twice a week (about every 4-5 days). We have six to eight towels in weekly rotation. I have set aside beach towels in a “beach bin” with sunscreen and bug spray, and stored our second set of towels to bring out once our current ones are “done”. We have a few nicer towels for guests and one for the dog. All other towels have been added to the donate pile.
Sit Back and Enjoy the Results!
Initially, this may seem like a lot of work, especially if you have multiple bathrooms in your home, but the key is to start small and go at your own pace. Start in one area or with one product family: makeup, cleaning products, hair care, toiletries, linens… Once you are finished, move on to the next. You will be amazed at how quickly it can go and how much you will enjoy the process. Big changes start with small choices. Pare down. Carve something beautiful for yourself. Good luck. Let us know how it goes!
“We never noticed the beauty because we were too busy trying to create it.” – Unknown