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How to Have A Zero Waste Bathroom

Simple Ways to Make the Switch from a Wasteful Bathroom to an Environmentally Friendly One

When you really think about it, the bathroom can be really wasteful. When you count all of the plastic bottles from your shampoo and body wash, the plastic razors, and your toothbrushes,--that’s a lot of plastic. Worst of all, those aren’t the only wasteful items on the list. There are so many items we buy that are harmful to the environment, but we can change our ways to help to reduce the waste. 

So how does plastic harm the environment? Well, they never actually disintegrate, they just stay in the environment forever. You might wonder why that is bad, but it highly affects the wildlife when it sits there forever. It is intruding their homes and they mistake it for food. A high percentage of animals are dying from eating plastic and getting entangled in it. Also, plastic can release harmful chemicals that aren’t good for us to take in. Looking for natural made products that are packed in sustainable ways is a great way to reduce the amount of harmful plastic in the environment. 

If you don’t know where to start, this is the place for you! We’ll be talking about some alternatives you can use to help create a sustainable bathroom. 

  1. Swap your toothbrush. Think about all of the toothbrushes you’ve had throughout your life. If you listen to your dentist, you swap your toothbrush out every three to four months. That means you use three or four toothbrushes a year, and if you’re 20 years old, that means you’ve gone through about 60 or 80 toothbrushes. All of those toothbrushes you’ve disposed of didn’t just disappear. They just sat in the environment. The one thing you can do to reduce your waste is switch from plastic toothbrushes to bamboo. These toothbrushes are compostable, so they won’t take 1000 years to break up and disintegrate.
Use shampoo bars to avoid adding waste to the environment.
Reduce the amount of plastic you use by switching your shampoo bottles to bars. Image courtesy of Bustle
  1. Swap your bottles to bars. You can reduce the amount of plastic you use by switching from plastic bottles to bars of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Don’t worry, you can still buy some great smelling scents if you make the switch. And there are some great benefits from making this switch. Bars of shampoo and conditioners last for about 50 washes, and they are safe to use on any kind of hair. They also don’t leave residue. 
  1. Get rid of your cotton balls and pads. These items are packed in plastic, and cotton balls often have pesticides, which aren’t good for the environment. You can help to reduce this waste by buying reusable pads to use to clean your face. They are made from materials such as bamboo or organic cotton and last for quite some time. They are also easy to wash. Another perk of these reusable pads is that they can save you quite a bit of money. You won’t need to buy more cotton balls every few months if you get these pads. 
Sustainable bathroom products for you to try
There is quite the variety of sustainable bathroom products available at stores and online for you to try to reduce the amount of plastic you have in your home. Image courtesy of Earth911
  1. Swap your hairbrush. You might get plenty of use out of a plastic hairbrush, but think about what you do with it once you realize it’s not in good shape anymore. You probably throw it in the trash, right? Well, next time you go out to buy a hairbrush, buy a wooden one that contains no plastic. These are compostable, so when you’re done, you won’t need to feel guilty about getting rid of it. We’re not saying you need to ditch your plastic brush right now, but when it’s time, buy a wooden brush instead. Get as much use as you can from that plastic brush before you get rid of it, then make the switch. 
  1. Swap out your Q-tips. You have probably caught onto the trend by now, but if it’s plastic, try to replace it with a sustainable product. You can buy q-tips that are made from wood and they will break down a lot easier than plastic q-tips. Another thing to consider is how many q-tips you actually use. If you find yourself rarely using a q-tip, don’t buy them. If you feel like you might need one or two, you can just buy a smaller pack. It saves you money and it saves the environment. 
  2. Get rid of your toothpaste and replace it with tooth powder. Did you know that your toothpaste is filled with all kinds of chemicals that go down your drain and harm bodies of water? Some toothpastes contain artificial coloring, pesticides, and even little microbeads that are supposed to help clean your teeth better. Once you’re done cleaning your teeth, all of those items you spit out go down your drain and into the water. These contents are harmful to the ocean. What you can do to prevent this from happening is make the switch to tooth powder! It’s better for you and contains better ingredients. It has all of the benefits toothpaste is supposed to have as well. So you can whiten your teeth, freshen your breath, and get rid of the plaque on your teeth, all while saving the ocean.
  1. Swap to biodegradable dental floss. You obviously need to floss, but is there a better alternative for plastic single use dental floss? Of course there is! Instead of buying the floss made from plastic, buy floss made from silk or bamboo. This floss won’t just sit in the environment for years and years, but it will break down after 60-90 days. 
  2. Buy sustainable facial cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. Sometimes, going to the store for these products can be overwhelming because there are just so many items to choose from, but you can easily eliminate 75% of the options. If the product comes in plastic containers, you don’t want it. Look for products that come in glass jars and are made with sustainable ingredients. If you can’t find any in the store, look online and there will be plenty of options. When you are done with the product, you can get rid of the container and it won’t add to the amount of plastic sitting in the environment. 
  3. Swap from tampons and pads to reusable menstrual cups. So this one might not be a great option for some, and we totally understand that menstrual cups aren’t for everyone. However, if you’re up for making the switch, try a menstrual cup. Pads and tampons can create so much waste because of the plastic applicators and wraps. You can use menstrual cups over and over and they’ll last for so long if you take care of it properly. 

Think about it. You use so many pads and tampons throughout your life, and all of what you use ends up in the environment. If you switch from these products to a cup, you are preventing hundreds, if not thousands, of these products from entering the environment. 

Toilet paper made from recycled material and sustainable resources.
Swap out regular toilet paper for toilet paper made from recyclable material. Image courtesy of The Sun.
  1. Buy toilet paper made from recycled materials. A lot of regular toilet paper is made with all sorts of chemicals that are bad for the environment, and if you think about it, they are probably bad for you too. Next time you are shopping, look for toilet paper that is made from bamboo or 100% recycled paper. Sure, these products are probably more money, but the money is worth saving the environment. 
  2. Swap your plastic shaver for a stainless steel one. You might very well have a pack of plastic razors in your bathroom as you are reading this, so think about what you are going to do with those razors after you’re done with them. You’ll probably throw them in the trash and they’ll be there with all of the other plastic harming the earth. If you make the switch to a stainless steel razor, you’ll begin to see the perks from the switch. They last a lot longer than plastic, and they are easy to recycle. So, when you buy a stainless steel razor, you are doing the environment a big favor. 

If it’s possible to avoid buying plastic products, you should highly consider doing so. We aren’t telling you to throw your plastic products out right after you read this. Get your use out of them first, but once you need to go buy shampoo, consider getting a bar instead of a bottle. It will reduce the amount of harmful products going into the environment. Also, a lot of times the sustainable products are better for you anyways, so you’re helping the environment and yourself.

You also don’t have to swap out all of these products at once. You can start small and make a goal. For example, you can make a plan to have a zero-waste bathroom in 6 months. Then, one room at a time you can become a sustainable household. 

Hopefully this article helped you to figure out how you can have a zero waste bathroom. We hope you enjoy starting to make the swaps

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Gabby Haduch

Gabrielle Haduch is a senior double majoring in marketing and accounting at the University of Pittsburgh. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.
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