Looking around any bathroom, you will see such a vast range of cosmetics, jars, tubs, smelly products, plastic, wrappers…
and do we really need all of them?
Do they all need to come in our favoured plastic tubs and tubes?
Well, truth is they are mostly available as zero waste / plastic free alternatives, and the swaps are really quite simple to make.
Here’s a very brief overview of some of the most effective swaps that we can make within our bathroom, and very quickly, you will find that your most reached for toiletries will contain little, if any, plastic.
This is pretty much what I use every day, and as you can see, most of the plastic toiletries have been replaced with a better, more environmental substitute with fewer chemicals.
My first swap was to look at my shampoo.
I used to use a Lush shampoo bar years ago when I was swimming competitively, and at the pool most days – it was handy, compact, came in its own little snazzy tin (PRO TIP – pop a ribbon in the tin before you put a wet shampoo bar in or it will never come back out again!).
I made this swap in December when I overpowered by the unmistakable smell of Lush wafting down the street. And it was a great swap! I bought a few to start with and so far, my hair (short and fair) is in much better condition that when using conventional shampoo. It can take time to adapt and many suggest an apple cider vinegar rinse to help with this.
I did also buy a conditioner bar but find it is leaving my hair greasy so skipping that one for now. Unfortunately, no shampoo bars are available locally so it’s an online shop. There are lots of options out there and I have many stock piled for when I am done with this one (since Christmas).
I replaced some of the liquid soap dispensers in our house with good old-fashioned bar soap which smells simply divine. It is a tad tricky for the 5 year old not to send it flying across the floor but he is working on those skills. You can melt down these bars with boiling water to make liquid soap, so this will be my next make once my dispensers are down to their last drops.
Another Lush swap to start with, and I got some of the naked shower gels (are you asking what a naked shower gel is? Well, simply, a fancy bar of soap shaped like a bottle of shower gel!). It works well, smells nice and keeps me nice and fresh and plastic free. Again, I have several of those stockpiled to use when this first one is done.
This was actually my second swap bought before 2018 rang in – a handmade 100% cotton crochet shower puff! My plastic puff had managed to unwind itself that morning and aware of the #plasticfreepledge2018 I was intending on making, I sought out this alternative.
It is pretty immense. It doesn’t lather my naked shower gels up in the same way, but it is a piece of work. And it’s plastic free so win win?
This again for me was an easy swap and one that I am really delighted with. I actually got a set of the brushes as part of my Christmas present and at first, it was a little odd. Now, I feel like I have always used them!
Be careful which you go for, some use non- nylon bristles (if you are a vegetarian – avoid!) – for ones that use nylon, break off the top and bin while the rest can be composted. There are several brands available around the Island in the various health food shops. I have a selection to try and work out which one works best for me. Kiddo ones will be next, once they have finished with their current stash!
This was a little daunting to be honest. How would I give up something that I use twice daily and rely on for the protection of my teeth? I bought two different types in glass jars but honestly, felt like I was prolonging squeezing the very last drops out of my regular plastic tube. I did eventually brave it one evening and it was actually ok!
I decided to go with the clay based one to start with (the coconut oil one awaits!). It is a bit grainy but once you get over that, it is fine. And it is fresh. It is fluoride free (could be controversial!) but I am really happy so far. I find my teeth are nice and clean and it seems to be doing the same as my plastic-coated tube.
My charcoal dental floss complements my clay toothpaste and it’s another easy / realistic swap. It comes in a lovely little glass tube, it is actually really pretty.
This was one I was really excited to try. I was really looking forward to moving away from my then current plastic tube. Even with using a glass roll on (never a spray!) there is still the plastic rolling ball on the top. So, I went for a citrus deodorant – wasn’t sure how mint would work, and I really like it.
The particular brand I went for came in a little tin and you need to rub your fingers across the top and then apply. This might put some people off but once you get used to it, it becomes second nature! I have made my own too and it works well also.
Now this one is tricky. While I have some Neals Yard Remedies lotions (it’s still one of the top, most ethical companies. The plastic blue bottles that they use to sell many of these lotions are made from recycled plastic and can be recycled as they are no.1 plastic) but it’s still plastic. And bottom line is that I want to replace them.
So, I actually bartered some of my homemade beeswax wraps for my first moisture bar! It’s a mix of oils and is very nice. It can be a bit greasy, but if you apply at night, it gives a really good treat for your skin. I have bought a few of these bars which I have yet to try and I have actually made my own (mix of coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax) just because I wanted to!
Owing to the lotion bar being a little more greasy than I had hoped, I decided to look for another alternative. I now have a beauty balm made using soap nuts and oils, comes in a little glass jar, it’s nice and smelly but again, I think it is a little oilier than I would normally expect but we will see how I stick this one out.
So I decided for the kiddos, I would try and reduce the amount of bubble bath we use, and so started to make our own bathbombs. These are a bit of a work in progress, and some are better than others, but I am chuffed with doing these. They work! They bubble, they provide entertainment for several seconds for the kiddos and they come out of the bath nicely oiled!!
Remember those lethal weapons that were best avoided when you were kids, well, they are back in fashion again! This is definitely a swap working for both boys and girls right now (if you are into shaving – not casting aspersions on anyone!!).
This is a swap that could last a lifetime (and beyond). This will be my next substitute, I have a few disposable razors left (and not wanting to waste them either) but I will make the switch. It’s not a cheap switch, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive razor out there, but make the choice that’s right for you (length, type of blades, brand etc).
Many of our cotton buds are made with plastic stalks, but there are better choices that can be made. There are some made with bamboo or paper and if you need to use them, you could make a better choice. Seen the photo of the seahorse swimming along with the plastic cotton bud?
Finally – toilet rolls!
This year, we decided we would try recycled toilet paper. Now it’s not actually recycled in itself, it is made with recycled paper (phew!!)
There are a few brands that do these and although it is a better swap because it is re-purposed recycled pulp, it definitely isn’t as nice as Andrex! But, I think you can get over that quickly and get on with it.
There is another alternative, but this might be a step too far for many people though! There are things called family clothes which is in essence is, reusable toilet paper. Don’t wrinkle your nose just yet – it isn’t for everyone, and people will have their own ideas.
This was definitely the last step I ever thought I would make. Definitely was never, ever in a million years going to do that. And yet, when I tried it (for wees only for me!!!), it was that nice, that I went and ordered more of it!
It is much nicer than using toilet roll and not much different to using reusable bum wipes for kiddos. Little miss 2yo also loves using it and I think it is much nicer for her wee bum. She even has her own wee stash. As a result of this reusable cloth, we aren’t using anywhere near as much toilet roll as we would have before.
Not all of these have to be done at once. We made a progressive switch, and once that switch is established, it is easy to look to the next one. I have always said that I will make a better choice than my old one. And then once that change is established, if I can improve on it, I will do so.
The down side to many of these switches is that they are not available locally and need to be purchased online. That isn’t the best option, but that’s the only option we have for many of them.