8 zero waste swaps for the bathroom

The zero waste movement is picking up momentum and that’s understandable when you consider the current single-use plastic problem, our culture of disposables, and the shocking volume of general waste that gets sent to landfill daily, where it will never decompose. All of this can be avoided by simple changes, and these can start at home.

The bathroom is a very wasteful room in the house, thanks to the existence of all manner of toiletries and cleaning products. Follow the ideas below for 8 simple swaps to make and you’ll have a much less wasteful bathroom, which is heading towards zero waste.

1.    Razor

Buy a stainless steel safety razor with a packet of replacement blades and ditch the plastic disposable razors for good. A safety razor will last you a lifetime, is safe and easy to use, and most people feel it provides a closer shave than the plastic versions do, too. Dry your blade after every use and each will last you a very long time.

2.    Toothbrush

Zero Waste bamboo toothbrush

Most toothbrushes feature a plastic handle and plastic bristles, are hard to recycle, and many don’t even get recycled — meaning they end up in landfill. However, there are other options — choose from wooden and bamboo toothbrushes which come with either nylon bristles or natural boar bristles. Aside from the nylon bristles, which you can snip off, these brushes are fully compostable.

3.    Feminine hygiene

Feminine hygiene products such as sanitary towels and tampons are highly wasteful, and also bleached which is probably bad for your health. Instead, try a menstrual cup or cloth pads, both of which are reusable and will last you many years. While this swap may seem expensive initially, these products will soon pay for themselves.

4.    Handwash

washing hands with bar soap

Supermarket-bought handwash always comes in a plastic dispenser. Avoid this by either switching to a bar of soap, or sourcing a local handwash refill — a place where you can take your handwash bottle for a refill when it’s empty. If you choose the latter option, replace the plastic bottle with a glass or stainless steel version when it comes to the end of its life.

5.    Make-up remover

For ease of use, nothing beats facial wipes when it comes to removing make-up. However, these wipes are also the worst option for the environment. Others use a liquid makeup remover with disposable cotton pads. These pads are compostable but are sold in a plastic bag and you be soaking them with chemicals. Swap these and disposable wipes out for reusable cotton pads and you’ll instantly stop producing that waste daily — or you could use an old-fashioned flannel.

6.    Hairbrush

zero waste swap wooden comb plastic hairbrush

When your old plastic hairbrush or comb breaks, it is time to swap over to a more sustainable alternative in the form of a wooden or bamboo brush or comb. Not only will this be better for the planet but the alternatives will be much stronger, and the wood is better than plastic at transferring oil from the roots to the rest of your hair, which could result in less washes.

7.    Cotton buds

This is a really simple swap. If you currently use cotton buds with a plastic middle section, stop buying those and instead buy the cotton buds that are made with a wooden or paper middle section. These versions are 100% compostable.

8.    Shampoo & conditioner

Hair being shampooed

Many shampoos and conditioners are sold in plastic bottles but there are some zero waste alternatives that are just as good, if not better — for example, they often contain less chemicals. Look out for bar shampoo and conditioner (in Lush or health food shops), or find a local outlet for refilling a glass or stainless steel bottle with liquids instead.

For more zero waste ideas, take a look at our How to Pack a Zero Waste Lunch blog post.