One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to focus on reducing plastic waste in the bathroom.
Last year I decided to kick off my low waste journey by focusing on the kitchen, and it worked pretty well for me. We all have different styles when it comes to changing our habits. Lindsay (my very cool co-founder) is awesome at going all-in and diligently adopting new lifestyle changes as soon as she sets her mind to it. I’m a big fan of incrementalism because I like feeling like I’ve really conquered something before I move onto the next.
For example, figuring out how to shop in the bulk section took me some time to master, and had I not focused on just that for a while, I might not have stuck with it. There are so many factors at play: each grocery store carries different options at different price points, some with more organic options, some with better tasting options, then learning the whole tare process and how to make certain things at home... it’s kind of a lot when you’re starting fresh.
Focusing on one thing at a time helps keep me from getting overwhelmed, which is really important to enjoying and getting the most out of the process. For anyone else looking for ways to cut down on bathroom waste, whether it’s a transformation that takes a weekend or a year, here’s a plan that you can follow:
STEP 1: Purge the bathroom of anything unnecessary.
- Q-tips -- I’ve never been a big Q-tip person, and I honestly don’t even know where the giant box in our cabinet came from, so this one isn’t too hard.
- Vitamins/supplements -- I take magnesium, vitamin D, and B complex sometimes, but luckily those are all nutrients that can be found in good ol’ fashioned fruits and veggies!
- Miscellaneous -- Anyone else have a box of random travel size toiletries and old prescriptions under their sink? You can find a Terracycle recycling spot to turn in all those cosmetic containers and random toothpaste tubes.
STEP 2: Replace disposables with reusable alternatives.
- Plastic bath sponges -- I haven’t had a plastic one in a while anyway because I kept getting natural loofahs as holiday gifts, but moving forward I will only use those or washcloths.
- Razors -- I just purchased a safety razor with replacement blades, a stand, and a cover for travel.
- Toothbrushes -- I’ve dabbled in recycled plastic and bamboo toothbrushes before, but it's time to go full-on bamboo!
- Hair bands -- Out with clear elastic bands for my pigtails and in with more cloth elastic bands. Luckily, we have these organic cotton ones!
- Floss -- I will probably put this off until the last minute because my husband and I hate using regular floss and strongly prefer the picks (ouch, amiright??), but I know it’s so wasteful so I definitely need to figure that one out.
- Shower cap -- I normally just get a cheap plastic one from a hotel and reuse it until it’s gross, but there are some really cute ones that last a lot longer.
- Other -- Here are some other swaps that I’ve either already made or just don’t need:
- Period products -- You can swap tampons and pads for menstrual cups, Thinx underwear, and/or reusable pads and pantyliners.
- Cotton balls and rounds -- You can buy or make your own reusable cotton rounds. I just use rags from old t-shirts for removing nail polish.
- Brushes/combs -- There are great bamboo alternatives for all types of hair, including for pets!
STEP 3: Cleaning products
- DIY more -- I’ve already started DIYing an all-purpose cleaner made from water, white vinegar, and a few drops of essential oils, but when I run out of toilet cleaner, I’d like to DIY that. I’d also like to play around with a more abrasive bathroom cleaner for the shower, etc.
- Containers -- Switch from plastic to glass.
- Brushes -- Replace any plastic brushes with bamboo ones.
STEP 4: Acquire plastic-free alternatives to other bathroom items
- Shower curtain and liner
- Toilet brush
- Plastic-free containers for DIY personal care, including travel sizes.
STEP 5: Only buy 1 new personal care item per month, and DIY the rest.
I’ve tried some DIY skin and hair masks here and there and use oils sometimes for makeup remover, acne scars, and moisturizer, but I want to force myself to experiment and rely on DIY more. Toner and toothpaste are at the top of my list of things to try next!
STEP 6: De-plasticize (yes, I made that up) my beauty routine.
Honestly, one of the reasons I decided to start with the kitchen instead of the bathroom last year is because personal care is a total weakness of mine. I love trying new products. To be clear, I have been buying exclusively “clean beauty” products for the last few years now, but a lot of them still come in plastic containers, so this is a huge area of opportunity.
- Soap -- There are plenty of bar soaps without any packaging, so it’s an easy swap for body wash. I’ve been doing this already except for my little Dr. Bronner’s bottle for traveling. I’m going to get a metal travel soap case and call it a day.
- Makeup & skincare -- Only buy makeup & skincare in non-plastic containers. This will be hard, but it's definitely not impossible. Once you start looking, there are some great options out there, and using your dollars toward these products will help grow the market for them.
- Haircare -- This is probably the most challenging because you may have noticed that hair care almost never comes in anything but plastic. I inquired about this to my latest favorite hair care line who told me it was because it’s dangerous if glass breaks in the shower. However, shampoo and conditioner bars are totally a thing! I have pretty difficult 3b curly hair, and finding hair products that work well is no easy feat, so I’m apprehensive about DIYing this or finding reasonable package-free alternatives. But, you never know until you try!
Wish me luck, and sign up for our newsletter to follow along! Also, feel free to share your successes and challenges with us if you’re working on this too, or if you’ve already conquered it!