This autumn the UK got a brand new budget to cover the next few years and sadly the environment was not mentioned at all. Specifically single-use plastic will not be taxed, so for now it remains up to us as consumers to wage our own personal wars on plastics. One area in your home that is ripe to be pillaged and plundered of plastic is the bathroom. Nearly every kind of goo you use comes in a single-use plastic container, and you definitely shouldn’t just throw all them out straight away. But as you use them up consider replacing them with non-plastic alternatives to make your bathing, primping, and relaxing much more sustainable!
Nota bene: this article is not intended to shame anyone into spending more money than they can on the alternatives suggested. Sustainable alternatives are not expensive, but they’re also not the cheapest. If you cannot afford these products just remember that corporations contribute to pollution far more than individual people and they have all the resources available to stop their polluting habits.
Less / Fewer
One way to make your bathroom more sustainable that doesn’t cost anything is to simply reduce the amount of products you use. Do you need more than one type of soap for your body? Sure, maybe something creamier during the winter months, but truthfully you don’t need more than one at a time. The same goes for your shampoo and conditioners.
However, the biggest waste of money and resources is probably all the different tonics and serums on the market that promise you flawless skin. Eye creams are completely unnecessary and the best products for healthy and clear skin are a good quality SPF (every day) and a retinoid at night. Face goop might be fun but it does nothing for your skin and just creates more plastic waste.
Another cost-free sustainable measure is to be mindful of your water usage. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Wash your face in the sink instead of the shower (this is also better for your skin as you’re likely to use lukewarm water rather than the hot water you shower in). Shave in the sink or use the tap in the bathtub if you have one. And wash your hair less often – dry shampoo is the holy grail!
When it comes to soaps and creams, practical necessities, most just seem to need plastic housing. They’re liquids after all. But hand soap, body cleanser, facial cleanser, deodorant, and body moisturiser are all readily available as solids and often come in recyclable packaging. And, yes, even your shampoo and conditioner. While it might feel strange to consider using a bar of soap on your hair there are many different options out there for different budgets and hair types. If you are uncomfortable with using solid forms of some of those items, like moisturiser or deodorant, simply look an alternative in non-plastic packaging.
To reduce the amount of products and plastic you use look for multipurpose items. A creamy moisturiser can also serve as a shaving cream. And coconut oil is good for literally everything in the bathroom, and it comes in a glass jar. Use it as a body moisturiser, to relieve dry cuticles, as a hair serum, as a makeup remover. Bonus sustainability points if you remove your makeup without using a disposable cotton round!
Other single-use plastic items with easy alternatives:
- Cotton rounds: use a washcloth or washable rounds.
- Cotton buds: if you’re only finding ones with plastic look in the baby section of the drug store for a cardboard option.
- Facial cleansing brush: use a washcloth!
- Shaving: don’t! Or use a safety razor (not as scary as they sound).
- Oral hygiene: bamboo toothbrush, toothpaste or tooth powder in a glass jar, and natural fibre floss.
- Menstruation: menstrual cups, period panties, or reusable pads.
Moving on in the standard getting-ready routine we arrive at hair and makeup, but finding sustainable alternatives to your preferred cosmetics and the various gels and sprays you need for your hair is much harder than swapping out the soap you use to clean yourself. This is another area that would benefit from a reduction in the number of products you use, especially if you’re unable to find what you need in non-plastic packaging. There is one company that makes good quality makeup that is either sans packaging or recyclable packaging and that is Lush.
Lush is in no way sponsoring this post, they are just one of the best companies when it comes to sustainable bath produces. Many of their items, including foundation and highlighter, come without any packaging at all, and what does come in plastic has been recycled (by them) and will be recycled again. The classic black Lush tub has a number on the bottom that tells you how many times it has been reused and if you bring in five empty tubs (including mascara tubes) you get a free face mask.
As mentioned before it really ought to be the responsibility of companies to handle their own plastic waste, as Lush does. But until they come to this realisation we, the humble individual consumers, can do our part to help our shared environment. Lucky for those of us who are ethically-minded sustainability is trending and making your bathroom more sustainable has never been easier!