Taking steps to a greener lifestyle means swapping out some of your familiar products with new ones. It is not always easy. The bathroom is a big source of waste. There are a lot of disposable products, single-use plastic packaging, less-than eco-friendly products for our skin, impulse buys, and so many products we never use.
Before you rush to make eco-friendly swaps in your bathroom, start by reducing bathroom waste with these three tips:
- Tackle one drawer at a time.
Start with cleaning the bathroom; decide what you want to keep, what you do not use, and what is expired. You can donate unopened personal care products to organizations or shelters. You can empty and clean up containers/packaging then repurpose, refill, or recycle them.
- Start with what you have.
Your first sustainable action is to start where you are and with what you have. Do not throw everything away and immediately buy sustainable alternatives. When you run low on something, or if one of your items is old or empty, decide to swap at that time.
- Start small to make sure your changes stick.
The best way to switch to a more sustainable option is to choose one swap at a time. Give it a try for a couple of weeks or even a month and then make your next swap.
Here are 12 eco-friendly bathroom swaps to consider in your home:
- Add a recycling bin. Keep doing the good work of recycling what you can, including in the bathroom.
- Refill your soaps, shampoo, and lotion. Prevent millions of shampoo bottles from ending up in landfills each year by refilling your bottles instead of throwing them away and buying new ones.
- Use soaps and shampoo bars. They last longer than the liquid versions.
- Switch to bamboo toothbrushes. They are 100% biodegradable.
- Try toothpaste tablets. Save an average of 12 non-recyclable plastic tubes every year.
- Switch to washable facial cotton cloths. They are gentle on your skin and more efficient than disposable ones.
- Use a stainless-steel safety razor and shave soap bar. We throw away about 100 disposable razors per year. A single-blade safety razor causes less skin irritation and helps prevent razor burn and ingrown hairs. Safety razor blades are also stainless steel, so they are 100% recyclable.
- Make your own deodorant or use deodorant paste. Deodorant packaging is usually made of disposable plastic or aerosol cans, and the packaging will likely not be recycled. To make your own deodorant, you just need coconut oil, baking soda, and tea tree oil.
- Install a low-flow showerhead. You will save water every time you take a shower.
- Support eco-friendly brands and look for recyclable packaging. Read the list of ingredients and go with natural and cruelty-free products.
- Replace toilet paper with a recycled product. Recycled toilet paper also comes in paper wrapping instead of plastic packaging.
- Use a natural loofah sponge instead of plastic shower body scrub. Natural loofah sponges are 100% compostable and gently exfoliate your skin.
Refillable product bottles
Soap and shampoo bars
Washable cotton face wipes
Our Bathroom Swaps Wins and Challenges
My first swap was replacing single-use facial cotton rounds with washable ones. They are easy to wash in the washing machine. We also replaced our showerhead with a low-flow one and timed our showers to save water and money.
Next, we swapped liquid body wash for soap bars. We also started to refill our shampoo and conditioner bottles. My family decided to support green companies that offer natural cruelty-free ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. I simplified my make-up drawer and bought only plant-based make-up.
We replaced toilet paper wrapped in plastic packaging with recycled toilet paper. We tried deodorant paste, and toothpaste and mouthwash tablets. Finally, we decided to go with chemical-free bathroom cleaning products.
All of this did not happen overnight. My kids are still attached to their liquid shampoos and their favorite toothpaste. It took a few months for them to switch to body soap bars, and my husband is not a big fan of deodorant paste quite yet.
I am not quite ready to “make the swap” on everything. I love the facial moisturizing cream I’ve used for years, and it’s hard for me to find a “green” brand alternative I like. I am also very attached to my electric toothbrush; it is very efficient, and I’m not ready to use a bamboo brush.
Our next steps are to get stainless steel safety razors and wooden hairbrushes and invest in a dual flush toilet system. Once again, living a greener lifestyle is not about perfection; it’s about moving forward one step at a time to greener solutions.
Swap Your Facial Cleanser
Try this DIY facial cleanser recipe for an eco-friendly swap in your skincare routine. I’ve used it over the past year and I love it!
- ½ cup castile soap
- ¼ cup distilled water
- juice from half a lemon
Aline Bloch is the owner of Aline’s Cardboard and Out of the Box Eco-Store and a Central Park resident.