A zero waste bathroom is an excellent way for people to live waste free lives as the bathroom is a colossal source of waste. From pouring harmful chemicals down the sink and buying extra containers to using stacks of toilet paper (wrapped in plastic, of course!) and buying dozens of plastic razors, it has become common for many people to create an abundance of rubbish from using their bathroom.
The statistics emphasise the extent of the problem across the world. A recent report reveals that 64% of all the single-use plastics generated by British households is bathroom waste. According to this study, an average bathroom in the UK sees over 850 single-use plastic items come and go each year. Another study estimated that over the lifetime an average Brit uses at least 52,000 of single-use bathroom products in their lives which translates into approximately 512 kg of landfill waste. Much of this waste includes women’s health and beauty products.
The problem is not only in the amount of waste we generate in our bathrooms, but the fact that only a small part of it is being recycled. For instance, in the United States, only 1 in 5 people consistently recycle bathroom products. The Huffington Post reports that around 30,000 tonnes of recyclable bathroom waste unnecessary ends up in landfill every year.
However, it is certainly possible to create a ‘zero waste bathroom’. We recently wrote about how to create a zero waste kitchen, and this idea is very much similar. You can achieve a waste free life for your bathroom by ensuring you use and reuse zero waste bathroom products as much as you possibly can.
What is a Zero Waste Bathroom?
A zero waste bathroom is a bathroom that strives towards the goal of using and reusing bathroom products so that zero waste enters into landfills, the ocean and other parts of the natural environment.
It means using eco-friendly bathroom products (as opposed to traditional, plastic goods) as part of your everyday life, transforming your daily trips to the bathroom into a green & clean routine!
How to Create a Zero Waste Bathroom in 7 Simple Steps
Below, we’ll outline 7 simple zero waste bathroom tips which can help transform your bathroom into an eco-haven, contributing to an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
1. Use a reusable safety razor instead of disposable razors
You’d never know that innocently shaving with a common plastic disposable razor could do substantial harm to the environment. These products are completely made out of virgin plastic, hence why they are completely unhealthy for our natural ecosystems. And in fact, billions of those little razors are thrown into landfills every single year. In the United States alone, 2 billion razors and refill blades are simply thrown away annually. This number dates back quite a number of years, so the number has likely risen quite substantially.
This is hugely significant, simply because of the sheer number of people that use disposable razors across the world. In 2020, 158.10 million Americans used disposable shavers. And by 2027, the international market for disposable razor blades is expected to escalate to USD 4.31 billion (it already stood at USD 3.39 billion in 2019).
Large razor companies are starting to take notice. Gillette, in particular, is aiming to achieve a zero-waste-to-landfill status by 2030 and reduce its use of virgin plastics by 50% by then.
However, reusable safety razors are excellent and plastic-free reusable bathroom products. Shaving is much easier, as it uses a double-edge blade. You can therefore use it on both sides. They often offer a closer shave than their disposable counterparts. They’re also much cheaper in the long run, as they will last you a lifetime. The only thing you need to dispose of is the blade.
2. Shampoo & conditioners bars to replace plastic bottles
Shampoo and conditioner plastic bottles are another plastic products that can potentially harm the environment. Johnson & Johnson state that, in the U.S. alone, over 552 million shampoo bottles could be ending up in landfills each year.
Shampoo bars, however, are much more beneficial for the environment. These products look virtually the same as a bar of soap, and are jam packed with natural ingredients ranging from oils and butters to other plant-based materials. All you have to do is dampen the bar with water, massage your scalp in a circle, lather out your hair and rinse it as normal.
They’re excellent zero waste bathroom essentials simply because no plastic packaging will ever be wasted. They also reduce clutter in your bathroom, are much more travel friendly and don’t spill everywhere. They use less water throughout their manufacturing process, and even last more washes than they liquid shampoo does. They’re generally not tested on animals, so it’s a win-win all around.
If you’re using dry shampoo, consider switching to DIY dry shampoo - they are super easy to make and work great. Try out our favourite DIY dry shampoo recipe:
· 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder or cornstarch
· 2 tablespoons of bentonite clay
· 6 drops of tea tree or peppermint essential oil
Store in an airtight container.
3. Plastic-free bath poufs, belts, brushes and mitts to replace bath & shower plastic loofahs
Plastic bath & shower loofahs are not actually loofahs. They are cheap, plastic mimics that are infamous spreaders of harmful microplastics, making their way down our drains and into the oceans. According to Healthline, they’re also a “bacterial paradise”, especially if they are left unused for days or even hours without a replacement or a thorough rinse.
The good news is that there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives to work towards your zero waste bathrooms. These include cloths, body and nail brushes, bath mitts, pumice stones, shower sponges and exfoliating gloves – all crafted from environmentally friendly materials.
None of these products have any trace of plastic. Products like the stylish Egyptian loofah are crafted from naturally sourced dried Egyptian gourd. While an Evolatree loofah sponge is manufactured from sustainable cotton and jute plant fibres.
4. Soap bars instead of shower gels in plastic bottles
Shower gels in plastic bottles are another example of plastic waste that is very commonly disposed in the bathroom. Since the gels come in plastic packaging, which as we know are thrown away on a daily basis, they contribute once again to the problem of unnecessary waste ending up in landfill. In fact, each year, over 1 billion plastic bottles of body wash are emptied and enter into our recycling stream. In the UK alone, shower gel or body wash contribute to at least 61,000kg of waste per year.
Soap bars are an easy natural alternative to bottled shower gels. Bar soap tends to be sold packaged in a recyclable cardboard box or even “naked”. Some body washes, furthermore, contain microbeads that bar soaps do not have. Healthline advises that it’s better to use bar soap than body wash when you are concerned about the environment.
5. Plastic-free or DIY deodorants instead of plastic-packaged deodorants
Plastic-packaged deodorants are another example of bathroom plastics we use regularly. Many deodorant brands aren’t good for our health as they often contain toxic ingredients and contribute to numerous health problems. Environment doesn’t benefit from the amount of plastic-packaged deodorants either.
Packaged in virgin plastic, roll-on deodorants never fully degrade in landfills and sometimes end up in a broader environment including oceans and waterways. Aerosol cans come in tin are very hard to recycle.
Great eco-alternative are deodorants in cardboard tubes. Procter & Gamble is now offering deodorants in recyclable paper tube packaging, crafted from 90% recycled paperboard. It features a “push-pop” design and can simply be placed in a recyclable bin once it reaches its end. The company aims to reach 100% reusable or recyclable packaging by 2030.
Some companies are also offering refillable deodorants. Dove, for example, is now offering a refillable and reusable deodorant. It also comes in a stainless steel reusable case. The company states that plastic is still used in the product, but they say use 54% less plastic compared with their regular Dove 0% stick pack.
You are also able to make natural deodorant at home using this recipe, requiring natural ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter and various essential oils.
6. Reusable makeup rounds to replace single-use cotton rounds
Single-use makeup cotton pads is another thing you might want to replace with a reusable alternative. One of the reasons why you would want to ditch them is that cotton is considered to be the most pesticide-doused crop on the planet. Pesticides pose various health risks as they are extremely toxic and long-lasting, too. When in contact with skin, pesticides residues can get into your body - something to think about when using cotton rounds, pads or balls on a daily basis.
Apart from the health risks, regular cotton is harming our planet, too - in a number of ways. Firstly, production of cotton requires a lot of water that can’t be reused afterwards due to either high contamination level or evaporation - yielding 1 kg of cotton would waste whopping 20,000 Liters of water. According to some experts, cotton is the largest user of water among all agricultural commodities.
In addition to wasting water, cotton causes irreversible soil erosion and degradation. When soil quality no longer permits cotton cultivation, cotton growers move to new areas where they continue with the destruction of habitat and soil exhaustion.
Pesticides and fertilizers used during production of cotton are harming not only human’s health, but also the environment. Runoff of fertilizers and pesticides negatively affect soil quality and water by contaminating rivers, lakes, underground aquifers, and wetlands. Such contamination threaten biodiversity directly by immediate toxicity or indirectly via long-term accumulation.
Finally, single-use makeup rounds come in some form of plastic packaging that is an additional reason of why you should switch to a reusable alternative.
When choosing a reusable makeup pads or rounds, make sure that they are made with certified organic material such as GOTS - for the reasons mentioned earlier.
7. Reusable trash bags to replace single-use garbage bags
Countries around the world are banning single-use plastic shopping bags as they know they’re bad for the planet, emit carbon emissions and exacerbate climate change. At the same time single-use garbage bags made out of the same virgin plastic as shopping bags are getting largely ignored.
If you are still using single-use plastic trash bags to line your bathroom bins, it’s time to ditch this unnecessary single-use plastic and switch to a reusable alternative. Here at TOMbag we currently offer reusable bin liners of 2 different sizes - one for your kitchen garbage bin and one for smaller bins such as your bathroom bin. TOMbag reusable garbage bags are made out of post-consumer waste using certified recycled plastic and can be upcycled at the end of their life meaning that truly nothing goes to waste. They are made to last (years!), are 100% waterproof and easily washable (just pop them into your washing machine for a quick 15 min cold washing cycle). For every bag sold, we also plant a tree in Australia via our partnership with One Tree Planted.