What is lying under your bathroom vanity? The average Americans bathroom is stacked full with single-use, disposable, toxic items that are often used every day. Imagine how much waste those daily Q-tips and monthly rolls of dental floss creates. When moving towards living a low waste lifestyle, the bathroom is normally the last place people turn too, but the second most wasteful part of the home.
The average American uses 10 cosmetic products per day, which also means being exposed to hundreds of different chemicals on a daily basis. What most people don’t realize is that the products marketers make you think you need, are not strictly regulated. Manufacturers can add pretty much whatever they want into your skin care, personal hygiene, and hair care products. Shocking, right?
In reality, there are so many zero waste, healthy alternatives to every single product that goes under your bathroom vanity, in your shower, and on your skin (and work better too!) Your body will fall in love with products that nourish and hydrate your skin, brighten your teeth, make your hair feel super soft, and your personal hygiene routine will be on another level! You will also save tons of money long-term.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE ZERO WASTE BATHROOM ALTERNATIVES ARE:
1. BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH
Billions of disposable plastic toothbrushes are tossed out every year across the world. They either end up in the landfill or the ocean where it will take them thousands of years to break up, and can cause major harm to wildlife. Bamboo toothbrushes work just as great, the handles are compostable, and the bristles are so tiny, the waste is almost none. You can also repurpose the handles as garden markers!
2. SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER BARS
One of my favorite zero waste swaps! Traveling is so much easier, you know exactly what you are putting on your hair and scalp, they work better, create an amazing foamy lather, leave no residue, work for both hard and soft water, save tons of disposable plastic bottles from littering the earth, and your hair is left soft, healthy, and clean! One shampoo bar lasts over 50 washes, replacing around 2 medium sized shampoo bottles! Checkout our shampoo bars here. They are safe for all hair types: thin, thick, color treated, straight, curly, those that have dandruff, sensitive scalps, dry or oily hair, dreadlocks, babies hair, and even bald heads! You can also use them on your body.
3. REUSABLE FACIAL ROUNDS
Cotton balls and cotton rounds come packaged in plastic, they are only used once, most store-bought cotton balls have pesticides and herbicides in them, they are unsustainable, and the cost adds up. Reusable facial rounds are great because they last a long time, can be thrown into your washer, work just as great, will save you money, and are way more sustainable! You can purchase them in many materials such as bamboo and sustainably sourced organic cotton, or you can make your own with an old flannel material!
4. STAINLESS STELL RAZOR
Most people are nervous about switching to one of these bad boys because they sound intimidating. I am here to tell you, they are not! They give you the cleanest shave and some of the newer models are very forgiving. They are easily recyclable (but should last you a lifetime) and there are a bunch of step-by-step videos online on how to properly use them! They are great for both men and women. We love this one.
5. MENSTRUAL CUP
If you’re like me, you probably haven’t spent much time thinking about what’s actually in tampons. Tampons are made of cotton, which is one of the most treated crops across the world. That means that all of that glyphosate, herbicides, and pesticides sprayed onto the non-organic cotton in the fields is getting absorbed into your body, once the tampon is inserted. This can contribute to so many developmental, reproductive, neurological, and/or immunological problems as a woman gets older. Glyphosate has also been ruled as “probably carcinogenic”. If it wasn’t already bad enough, manufacturers are not required to issue a full disclosure of what is in their menstrual products!
I don’t know about you, but I definitely do not want that crap inside of me. The average woman uses 11,000 disposable, toxic period products throughout her life…that’s a whole lot of waste! The Menstrual cup is a true game changer, ladies! They last a long time if taken care of, are made of silicone, which is completely safe for your body, are easy to use (once you get the hang of it), are WAY better for the environment, will save you money, and you can go up to 12 hours without emptying it! The most stressful part is choosing which cup is right for you. There are lots of how-to videos to show you the different inserting methods and help you choose which cups will work best. If you’re not a fan, many companies make period panties and reusable cloth pads, also perfect for your nighttime period routine! I use this one.
6. SOAP BAR/ SHAVE BAR
The easiest swap! You can go into almost any drug store or grocery store, and good chances you’ll find a soap bar. Not sure what quality it will be, but you get the point! Soap bars are the same as bottled soap, but with no bottle (obviously). Make sure to watch out for Palm Oil in your soap bar, because it is very unsustainable. There are many different kinds of soaps for different wants, like acne, dry skin, exfoliation, etc. We have a few amazing soap bars that come shipped with as minimal, eco friendly packaging as possible!
So many options. Which one will work best for you? First let's talk about antiperspirant. It relies on aluminum to work, which blocks your sweat glands so you don’t perspire at all. Sweating is a natural occurrence, though, so it should not be blocked. Sweating releases bacteria and toxins from your body, which is why deodorant made with all natural ingredients is the way to go. Antiperspirant also contains parabens and synthetic fragrance, which can disrupt the endocrine system in your body and irritate your skin. All natural deodorant works just as well, as their goal is to neutralize odor and get rid of the bacteria aka smell on your skin.
You will know exactly what you’re putting on your skin and you will be left smelling fresh! Before switching though, we recommend doing an underarm detox. We recommend this perfect detox soap and our amazing zero waste deodorants made with all natural ingredients. We have a few that come in biodegradable tubes and also sensitive skin deodorant that comes in a glass jar that you can up-cycle!
8. BIODEGRADABLE DENTAL FLOSS
Flossing is necessary if you like having healthy teeth and gums, but what about all that single-use plastic waste? Each time you pull from a roll of dental floss, it is only used for about a minute before being thrown out; where it will take a forever to disappear (literally). There are a few eco-friendly, zero waste alternatives to plastic dental floss. Many people use silk dental floss that derives from the mulberry worm. We prefer to use vegan dental floss made from sustainable bamboo! Our favorite is this one. It will completely break down within 60-90 days, and it works just as well!
9. TOOTH POWDER OR DIY TOOTHPASTE
Most store-bought toothpaste contains many unnecessary, toxic ingredients. Some of the chemicals that have been found in popular toothpaste brands are SLS, pesticides, artificial colors and sweeteners, and more. Some brands also contain Microbeads for extra “scrubbing power” which are actually tiny pieces of plastic that go down your drain and straight into the ocean, harming our marine ecosystem and wildlife. Toothpowder or DIY toothpaste is much better for you, only containing a few, important ingredients, and actually work! Our favorite Toothpowder is this one or this one. You simply wet your toothbrush bristles and dip them into the jar of powder!
The powder works as a scrubbing agent and whitens your teeth, makes your mouth feel minty fresh, removes plague and more! A great zero waste toothpaste recipe is found here.
10. WOODEN HAIRBRUSH AND COMB
Don’t jump up and throw your plastic hairbrush out as soon as you’re finished reading this. Transition slowly, by using everything that you have left, and switch one thing at a time. Wait until those plastic bristles no longer work, then go out and buy yourself a sustainable, plastic free hairbrush! They work just as good, and are made out of wood instead of plastic.
11. TOILET PAPER
Many toilet paper brands are full of chemicals and toxins such as bleach, dioxin, and other pollutants. We love this toilet paper brand. It is made with 100% recycled paper or bamboo which is very sustainable and fast growing. You can sign up for a subscription service and it will get delivered right to your door with no plastic packaging! It is also affordable. It’s a win-win!
12. FACE TONER AND MOISTURIZER
Who else loves skin care products? My two everyday must-haves are toner and facial moisturizer. If you go to a drug store or makeup store, there are aisles filled with endless options, packaged in plastic, and containing so many ingredients (who knows if they are safe for your skin). My everyday face lotion will forever be this one. Yay For Earth Sensitive Skin Face Lotion only contains a few gentle, nourishing ingredients that my skin loves. and is made by the wonderful Stevie. I put a little on in the morning after rinsing my face with cold water and again at night before bed. It gets rid of redness, acne, and makes your face feel soft and hydrated.
Plus, it is made with completely sustainable ingredients (not vegan) and comes in a cute glass jar you can up-cycle! Face toner can be added into your skin care routine after washing your face but before moisturizing. Toner is great for all skin types. It removes dirt, bacteria, and impurities, boosts collagen production, reduces inflammation, and more! My favorites are here and here. If your local zero waste store offers witch hazel in bulk, you can go that route also!
13. LOOFAH OR WASHCLOTH
When washing your body with a plastic bath loofah, plastic pouf, or washcloth made with synthetic fibers, where do the loose fibers that fall off go? They go down your drain and straight into the ocean. The number one type of micro-plastic found in most waterways is synthetic fibers, whether it is from clothing or a bath loofah. Plastic bath loofahs and washcloths also house all kinds of bacteria and fungi and hold dirt from previous washes. The best way to wash your body is actually using your bare hands. You can use a real loofah for some exfoliation, if desired, or just get a great exfoliating soap bar. You can also use a washcloth made out of natural material, such as bamboo. Make sure you take the loofah or washcloth out of the shower so it doesn’t sit and grow bacteria.
Loofahs grow from a plant and are completely compostable when they are worn out! They also work great for scrubbing sinks, bathtubs, and more. Our zero waste, sustainable, loofah can be found here.
They are so wasteful (and so bizarre)! First of all, it is a myth that Q-tips should be used to clean the insides of your ear. When doing so, you are actually pushing the earwax deeper into the ear, which can cause all kinds of problems. On every box of q-tips, it actually says, “Do not inset inside the ear canal”. If you normally use q-tips to remove makeup, try using our reusable facial rounds. Plus, if you haven’t seen the viral picture of a Seahorse holding onto a q-tip in the ocean, you must: Seahorse holding disposable Q-tip by Justin Hofman. If you are an avid q-tip user, just imagine how many billions of those swabs end up in the landfill or ocean each year.
One major brand manufactures 25.5 billion per year. That is way too much. On top of all that nonsense, they are another item made with unsustainable cotton that is treated with major amounts of Glyphosate (the main ingredient in Round-Up), herbicides, and pesticides. After reading all of this, if you still must have them, you can find ones made from bamboo and organic cotton here.