Welcome to our Zero Waste Household Guide – Today’s subject: The Bathroom
These are the solutions we’ve come up with for our own families over the past few years. We’re working our way around a typical house, room-by-room. You can see our list of basic first steps towards a zero waste home here. If you’re just starting the shift towards zero waste living, we recommend picking just one step. Make one change, and make it your own. Once that has become second nature, move on to a second step. Move at a pace that works for you, grant yourself amnesty for the times when you fall short of your own goals, and remember that your own goals are the ones that matter – Leave the judging and competitive eco-sainthood race behind. Make one change that brings you more joy with less waste, and we promise you’ll be motivated to try another, and another…
Without further ado, here are our bathroom tips – Please share your own solutions in the comments below so we can grow this resource for everyone.
Zero Waste Bathroom Solutions
- Make your own zero waste toothpaste with this simple recipe. For an annual whitening boost, brush with a fresh seasonal strawberry smashed into a paste. Leave the tasty paste on your teeth for 5 minutes, then brush off well. According to Prevention magazine, you can do this safely up to once every 3-4 months, which pretty much means once a year if you’re eating locally. The malic acid in the strawberry will whiten your teeth, while the seeds act as a mild abrasive. If you’re doing this right before bed, be sure to follow up with your regular zero waste paste to remove the berry’s acids from your teeth.
- Consider a new type of toothbrush: We did our research and came up with toothbrushes that can be composted or recycled, as well as a number of great reuses to keep your existing plastic toothbrushes out of the landfill. Read all about it and get inspired.
- Feminine Hygiene: Consider a biodegradable alternative to tampons with plastic applicators. We’ve got a list of zero waste options for you here at Trash Backwards, ranging from organic, biodegradable tampons to DIY reusable cloth pads to reusable cups.
- Zero Waste Shaving: Consider the time-honored metal safety razor or straight razor. Yes, they’re both still around, and they still works. For a woman’s perspective on plastic-free shaving with a metal safety razor, see Beth Terry’s posts at My Plastic-Free Life; for a man’s perspective, see this article from The Art of Manliness. You can track down what you’ll need locally: Check your local grocery store for a rich bar of soap without plastic packaging, check estate sales and thrift shops for a vintage razor, and get yourself some new blades in paper packaging from your local hardware store. You can also find all of these items online in a variety of places such as Classic Shaving (specify that you’d like your order packaged plastic-free to keep this transaction as close to zero waste as possible).
- Replace synthetic floss with wooden plaque removers: Rock Farmer has all the details in this post.
- Make your own lip balm using a recipe such as one of these from Mountain Rose Herbs, and store it in reused tins, tubes, or jars.
- Make your own zero waste deodorant. For a quick and easy deodorant see this post for a simple and effective DIY baking soda recipe in a jar. If you’d like something fancier, check out these recipes at The Greenest Dollar.
- Go easy on sunscreen in plastic packaging – Wear a hat and protective layers in the sun to increase your protection. If you’re up for a challenge and are comfortable with the concept, make your own sunscreen with a recipe such as this one.
- Use bar shampoo instead of the plastic-bottled varieties. You’ll skip the plastic packaging and still get amazing lather and lovely clean hair.
- Skip liquid soap and its plastic packaging – Fill your jars with soap flakes for clean hands with no goo, or go with a classic bar of soap.
- Sort your bathroom wastebasket waste: Most people just throw their bathroom waste into the garbage can, but if you take the time to sort it, you’ll likely find that much of it is recyclable or even compostable. Wooden plaque remover picks, hair, tissues, worn out cotton wash cloths and clothing, and nail clippings can all be composted.
- Reuse and recycle every bit of bathroom waste possible: Toilet paper rolls can be used in an amazing number of ways – Seed starting planters, heart stamps, and many more. Shampoo, conditioner, and lotion bottles can be refilled at some stores and co-ops who offer bulk personal care items. If you can’t refill them, reuse them as purses, a charging case for your cell phone, bathtub boats, and more (we’re not so sure about the dog toy idea here but the others in this list look great).
- Dispose of your prescription drugs responsibly:The US has a ways to go towards a national network of safe disposal of prescription medicines. Until there’s a standard system, you’ll need to do a bit of research specific to your own neighborhood or city. You can search the Dispose My Meds site for local pharmacies participating in their program, the National Take-back Initiative of the US Dept of Justice and DEA for sites that participate in their annual collection drives, and the SMARxT Disposal site for a variety of resources. If none of those have information that applies to you, call your local pharmacy, police department, and doctor for hyper-local advice. Just don’t flush your meds or toss them into the trash, please.
- Still interested in more Zero Waste Bathroom tips? Please visit our Trash Backwards app where we have hundreds of ideas to help you reduce the waste going into your bathroom trash bin and green up your habits:
Have a zero waste bathroom solution of your own? Please let us know in the comments below!