by Emma Overholt
In 2019, the Green Voices blog is excited to announce a new series called Zero Waste Swaps. Within several different segments, we are providing alternatives to products you use every day in order to transition to a zero waste lifestyle. To start, we are tackling the bathroom, a space in your home that probably has an excessive amount of plastic bottles and products.
Shampoo & Conditioner
These two products are essential in every shower, and many are hesitant to ditch their favorite hair products. However, there is a multitude of options to try out and find what works for you.
Bar Shampoo & Conditioner: This is by far my preferred method, due to its ease and access. Many popular bands like LUSH and Tom’s make a wide variety of shampoo and conditioner bars for different hair types and different scents. Find your perfect fit at a health food store, Amazon, or a retailer like LUSH.
Refillable bottle services: A relatively new product to hit the shelves is Plaine Products’ Refillable Vegan Shampoo and Conditioner set. The product is packaged in a 16oz reusable aluminum bottle and is organic, hypoallergenic, color safe, baby safe, biodegradable, and cruelty-free, with no animal testing. After you finish your bottles, the company sends you a shipping label to mail to bottles back and receive a refill.
Make your own: Many organic, vegan, and natural recipes are available if you want to make your own shampoo. Try my favorite recipe from No Harm, No Waste found here. Also, try making your recipe in bulk and storing it in your favorite glass or amber bottle.
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Toothbrush: After it made its rounds on the internet, the bamboo toothbrush has found its home in many bathrooms. The bamboo toothbrush is compostable and a perfect alternative for the normal plastic toothbrushes. They clean your teeth just as well and have a much simpler design than the neon colors of traditional toothbrushes. Additionally, bamboo grows very quickly and requires less energy to make into a toothbrush than plastic.
Toothpaste: For me, it was very hard to give up my favorite Crest whitening toothpaste. Not only is the packaging not sustainable, the company (and most major toothpaste brands) test on animals. The recipe I use now can be accessed here. Whip up this easy recipe and seal it in a reusable, airtight container, and you are good to go!
One of the first single-use products I eliminated from my bathroom was cotton rounds. Even though I barely used them, I insisted on buying a huge case from Costco. Now, there are so many wonderful alternatives with a simple search of “reusable cotton rounds,” however, I opted to make my own. I bought a remnant of terrycloth from Hobby Lobby, trimmed the piece into 2×2 squares, and used a serger to finish the edges. (Note: I found that squares were a lot easier to finish than circles). My small remnant made about 70 cotton rounds, and the whole process took about an hour. Throw these guys into your delicates bag in the washer, and they are as good as new. They have been lifesavers for moving nail polish, cleaning hard to get to areas, and applying facial products.
I don’t want to sound too dramatic, but the stainless steel razor is the best thing that has ever happened to me. First of all, I absolutely hate shaving and women’s razors are extremely expensive (especially for something you throw away so quickly!). When I first heard about the Merkur Long Handled 23C razor, I was on vacation with my family across the country, and I immediately went online to purchase one and had it shipped to my house for when I got back home. I purchased my razor here. This razor specifically has a long handle which I find very helpful for shaving my legs and it is very easy disassemble and replace the blade. It has been such a great investment and has worked better than any cheap plastic razor from the drugstore. Additionally, I bought a pack of 100 Astra refillable blades that will (most likely) last me forever.
If we are being completely honest, I hate brushing my hair in the morning, so when I finally trashed my last plastic hairbrush, I opted for a bamboo comb. Bamboo combs get the job done just as well as my paddle brush did and do a great job at detangling as well.
Hand Soap: While buying all the new scents at Bath & Body Works was once one of my favorite holiday activities, I have switched over to making my own soap at home. Using a reusable soap mold, glycerin, and fragrance oil, a zero waste soap can be yours in about 30 minutes. Visit our informational tutorial from last fall here!
Body Soap: My favorite alternative to shower gel/bar soap is bar soap from your local health foods store or sustainable online store. Whole Foods carries a great line of bar soap that is package free and very affordable. Additionally, Bestowed Essentials’ Coffee Soap smells absolutely amazing (it’s also vegan, cruelty-free, and made of all natural ingredients)
For many, including myself, finding a deodorant that works for you isn’t very easy. I have made many zero waste recipes myself, but none seemed to work for my skin. I recommend trying out a few (especially from Trash is for Tossers, Litterless, and GoingZeroWaste). The deodorant I finally found that works for me is from an online shop, packaged in a glass jar, and is vegan!
We hope you enjoy this blog series and encourage you to try any of these alternatives! Make sure to leave a comment about changes you hope to make in your bathroom or recommendations for other readers.