14 Insightful Zero Waste Bathroom Alternatives
Create a zero waste bathroom with these 14 game-changing zero waste products! From facial rounds to razors, toilet paper to skincare, we have it all.
Estimated Read Time: 12 minutes
What is lying under your bathroom vanity?
The average American bathroom is stacked full of single-use, disposable, and toxic items that are often used every day.
Imagine how much waste those daily Q-tips and monthly rolls of dental floss create. A zero waste bathroom is completely achievable yet when moving towards living a low-waste lifestyle, the bathroom is often the last room to get zero waste updates. Even despite being the second most wasteful part of the home!
The average American uses 10 cosmetic products per day, which also means they’re 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 skincare, 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 that 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! In addition to saving plastic from ending up in landfills, you’ll end up saving tons of money in the long term!
Some of Our Favorite Zero Waste Bathroom Alternatives Are:
Billions of disposable plastic toothbrushes are tossed out every year across the world. They either end up in the landfill or in the ocean where it will take them thousands of years to break down, causing major harm to wildlife in the process. Bamboo toothbrushes work just as great, the handles are compostable, and the bristles, the only part not compostable, are so tiny the waste is almost none. You can also repurpose the handles and the brushes!
One of our best-selling zero waste bathroom swaps, and my favorite! Traveling is so much easier with a shampoo bar, you know exactly what you are putting on your hair and scalp, they work better, they create an amazing foamy lather, leave absolutely no residue, work in 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! They are safe for all hair types: thin, thick, color-treated, straight, curly, dandruff-prone, sensitive scalps, dry or oily hair, dreadlocks, baby hair, and even bald heads! You can even use them on your body in a pinch.
Cotton balls and cotton rounds come packaged in plastic and most store-bought cotton balls have pesticides and herbicides in them. Additionally, they are single-use products that need to be replaced often; the cost adds up. Reusable facial rounds are wonderful alternatives because they last a long time, can be thrown into your washer, work just as great, will save you money, and are way healthier for the planet! 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!
Most people are nervous about switching to one of these bad boys because they sound (and look) intimidating. I am here to tell you, they are not! They give you the closest, cleanest shave with options for flexible heads that are very forgiving. They should last you a lifetime but if you ever need to replace one they are easily recyclable. If you’re nervous about how to use one, there are a plethora of step-by-step videos online that show you different strokes that work for different folks! They are great for both men and women. We love this one!
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 highly-treated crops in 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, not to mention the risk of TSS that comes with using tampons. 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’s 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! But the Menstrual cup is a true game-changer, for all you period-havers! They last a long time if taken care of, they’re made of silicone which is completely safe for your body (an extremely reduced risk of TSS), they’re so easy to use (once you get the hang of it), they’re 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!
Every body is a little different but rest assured knowing there are plenty of how-to videos available to help you find the best method. If you give it a try and still aren’t a fan, there are other sustainable menstrual options such as period panties and reusable cloth pads, also perfect for your nighttime period routine!
The absolutely easiest zero waste bathroom swap! You can go into almost any drugstore or grocery store and there’s a good chance 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 plastic packaging and Palm Oil, which is linked to deforestation and habitat destruction (yikes is right). There are many different kinds of soaps for different needs such as acne, dry skin, exfoliation, etc. We have amazing soap bars from Suds & Co that are shipped with minimal, eco-friendly packaging!
So. Many. Options. Which one will work best for you? First, let's talk about antiperspirants that rely on aluminum to work. Aluminum blocks your sweat glands so you don’t perspire at all. Sweating is a natural occurrence and releases bacteria and toxins from your body and blocking that natural occurrence is not good. Antiperspirant also contains parabens and synthetic fragrances, which can disrupt the endocrine system and irritate your skin. All-natural deodorant works to neutralize odor and get rid of the bacteria aka ‘the smell’ on your skin while being much better for your body (and the planet).
With natural deodorant, you know exactly what you’re putting on your skin and you will be left smelling fresh! Before switching, we recommend doing an underarm detox to help your pits make the switch. When you’re ready to go make the switch to a zero waste deodorant, we have plenty of options including refillable deodorants, deodorants in biodegradable tubes, deodorants in upcyclable (and recyclable) glass, and formulas made for sensitive skin.
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 forever to disappear (literally) potentially causing harm to wildlife and nature in the process. But never fear, we have a few eco-friendly, zero waste alternatives to plastic dental floss!
Silk dental floss is often used as an alternative to synthetic, but that derives from the mulberry worm which uses inhumane practices to make the silk. We prefer to use vegan dental floss made from sustainable bamboo! It’s just as smooth as silk floss, will completely break down within 60-90 days, and it cleans all your dental nooks and crannies perfectly!
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. Toothpaste tablets or an all-natural zero waste toothpaste are much better for your health! They only contain a few, important ingredients, and they actually work! To use a tablet you pop one in your mouth, chew until it spreads around and brush as usual.
The tablets contain a scrubbing agent that cleans and whitens your teeth, making your mouth feel minty fresh, and healthy!
Have you ever thought that running plastic or metal through your hair wasn’t good for it? You’d be correct! Not only is a bamboo hairbrush better for the planet, it’s better for your hair. Bamboo bristles don’t have those pesky pins that get stuck and tangle hair and the bamboo itself helps make your hair healthier, shinier, and reduces frizz. Now, 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 switching 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 well and are made out of sustainable bamboo 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 because it is made with 100% bamboo which is a fast-growing and more sustainable plant that makes an excellent alternative to wood. Sign up for a subscription service, save with each order, and never run out of TP again. Oh, and all with absolutely no plastic! It’s a win-win-win!
Who else loves skincare products? My two everyday must-haves are toner and a 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. It contains only a few gentle, nourishing ingredients that my skin absolutely loves. And it’s made by the wonderful Stevie. I put a little on in the morning after rinsing my face with cold water and again at night, after toner but before bed. It gets rid of redness, acne, and/or flakiness, and makes your face feel soft and hydrated.
Face toner can be added to your skincare routine after washing your face but before moisturizing. Toner is great for all skin types and removes dirt, bacteria, and impurities, boosts collagen production, reduces inflammation, and more! My favorites are this refillable toner from Activist Skincare and this toning mist from Linear Beauty.
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? In addition to heading to the landfill, the excess fibers 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 while holding onto dirt from previous washes. IDK about you but that gives me the ick! The best way to wash your body is to actually use your bare hands! But if you miss the exfoliation or simply don’t want to use your hands, you’ll want to grab a loofah sponge, made from a dried Loofah plant, or a great exfoliating soap bar. If you choose a loofah, be sure to give it plenty of room to dry off after your 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.
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 insert inside the ear canal”. Plus, if you haven’t seen the viral picture of a Seahorse holding onto a q-tip in the ocean, you must: (Check out the image by Justin Hofman on Instagram). 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. On top of the sheer amount of waste from this one-time-use product, Q-tips are yet another item made with unsustainable cotton that is treated with major amounts of Glyphosate (the main ingredient in Round-Up), herbicides, and pesticides. If you’re addicted at this point and can’t live without them, don’t sweat. To remove makeup, try switching to a reusable facial round. We also have Organic Cotton Buds from ZWS Essentials that are single-use but at least made from organic cotton. If you’re ready to try something new, give this reusable Q-tip from Last Swab a try!
I want to be totally honest, these are all items I strategically accumulated over time after I made the decision to live a more sustainable life. There are plenty of other ways you can work towards a zero waste bathroom, but these are all items I use in my daily routine and in my house! There’s no need to run outside right now and replace everything you have with more sustainable items. Use what you have, use it all up, and when you need a replacement, make a better choice. We’ll be right here.
Other Blogs You Might Find Helpful:
- 7 Zero Waste Toothpaste Brands To Help You EsCHEW Plastic For Good
- 5 Simple Reasons You Need to Ditch the Plastic & Switch to Shampoo Bars
- 11 Best Zero Waste Skincare Products of 2022 That Are Women Owned
- 5 Best Selling Zero Waste Products Straight From Our Community
- 3 Zero Waste Period Products to Save Money and the Planet