Simple Swaps for a Zero Waste Bathroom
Living a more sustainable life is a journey that looks different for everyone. I want to start this blog post by recognizing that I am in a privileged position to be able to make certain plastic-free swaps, and it is not a position that everyone has. With this, it is important not to compare yourself to others and remember that even small changes made collectively can have a big impact.
A great way to begin tackling sustainability on a personal level is to think about the areas of your life where you produce the most waste and start there. When I did this exercise myself, the bathroom immediately came to mind. In this blog post, I am going to share with you the first plastic-free swaps I made to make my bathroom more sustainable!
Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
To be honest, this is probably one of the swaps I was most skeptical to make. I ordered my shampoo and conditioner bars from Pure Anada, a family-run Canadian business based out of Manitoba. The products are ethically produced with clean formulas and are cruelty-free. I was truly impressed with the outcome of using the bars and did not feel that the health of my hair was compromised in any way. You can check out my YouTube video here where I dive deeper into my first impressions and experience using the shampoo and conditioner bars. Not only did my partner and I feel that the switch was cleaner for our bodies, lacking chemicals and other unnecessary ingredients, we also found it cut down on our bathroom plastics significantly with two bars replacing 4 plastic bottles (we used very different shampoos and conditioners for each of our hair prior to making the switch)!
Soap (Body & Hand)
Another replacement for commonly found plastic bottles in the bathroom is the soap bar. Something we might traditionally associate with hotel rooms or what we washed our hands with at Grandma’s house, soap bars have come a long way! I used to think of soap bars as drying and dull, but with so many great artisan options out there with moisturizing oils and a variety of delicious scents, I’m a total convert. I like to order my soap bars in bulk from local shops like this one on etsy.ca.
Reusable Makeup Remover Cloth(s)
This was one of the first major plastic-free swaps I made, cutting out the need for plastic bottle makeup removers, disposable cotton pads, and any single-use makeup remover cloths. My favourite reusable makeup remover cloth I have used is the Makeup Eraser. I picked mine up from Sephora but the Makeup Eraser website has a lot more options for sizing and patterns. The cloth works to remove makeup using just water. It’s soft on the skin, antibacterial, machine washable, and contains no chemicals. Plus, it will actually save you money in the long run! If you’re curious about the number of material options out there, check out my YouTube video reviewing Bamboo vs. Polyester vs. Cotton Reusable Makeup Remover Cloths here.
I love my safety razor. In fact, it has to be one of my favourite plastic-free swaps. While safety razors have a higher startup cost and might seem a little intimidating at the start, this is another plastic-free swap that will save you money in the long run. Safety razors are built to last and are made to be repaired should any piece break at any point. They are comprised of three separate parts and operate using a single stainless steel blade, giving you a very close shave. Blades are replaceable simply by deconstructing the razor head and replacing the blade. I purchased my safety razor and sleeve of razor blades from Ottawa-based company Kent of Inglewood.
To check out my YouTube video using a safety razor for the first time, click here.
Pro Tip: Be sure to keep your used blades in a "blade bank" for proper disposal. To DIY your own blade bank, simply take a steel can and cut a slit in the top, big enough for a blade to fit through. Drain the can, rinse it, and let it dry. As you finish with your blades, slip them into the can through the slit, like you would a penny into a piggy bank. Once your can is filled with old blades, place a piece of tape over the incision of the can and take it to a proper metal recycling facility. The majority of recycling plants these days still have people sorting pieces by hand, so by using a blade bank we help to keep people safe. 😊
Natural Deodorant in a Tin
I realize this won’t be for everyone. Most standard deodorants contain aluminum which has been linked to potential health issues when absorbed into the body in large amounts. Please note, I am not a health professional in any way. However, I did decide to personally make the swap to natural deodorant earlier this year. Natural deodorants do not contain the chemicals that general antiperspirants do and bodies will respond differently to all of them. I went through a number of natural deodorants before I found one I truly liked and felt worked. The deodorant is called “No Pong” and comes in a small tin container. I love that the product is Canadian-made, plastic-free, and is a very convenient size for travel. The tin container can easily be reused and recycled.
Note: I have friends that swear by DIY deodorant which would be another great alternative, however, I have yet to experiment with this myself. If you've found a great recipe that works for you, feel free to share!
Menstrual Cup / Period Panties
Another favourite swap of mine that I’ll happily speak about with anyone who will listen is plastic/waste-free period products! I first switched from tampons to the Diva Cup several years ago, ridding me of the dreaded monthly stock-up of boxed tampons. Bleached products with plastic applicators that alter your pH levels and the health of your vagina? No thanks. I purchased my Diva Cup at Shoppers Drugmart (a Canadian drugstore) and swore I would never go back. I love the reliability of the cup and not having to change a tampon every 4-6 hours. Menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours and can hold approximately 20-32ml (depending on the size you get). It might take a bit to get used to the insertion but trust me, it’s worth it. Just be sure to boil your cup for about 10 mins or so between cycles to keep it sterilized.
Another plastic-free game-changer for that time of the month? Period panties! There are several brands out there but my go-to fave is the *Knix Leakproof Underwear. Super absorbent, machine washable, and comfortable, they’ve become a holy grail sustainable product for me. And you know what? I don’t just wear them for my period. They’re so comfortable, I wear them most days, finding them totally perfect for hot and sweaty weather or working out at the gym. The standard Leakproof pairs hold between 1-3tsp of liquid (depending on the style) and the Super Leakproof hold up to 8tsp. I know what you might be thinking and no, they do not make you feel like you’re wearing a diaper 😉.
Oh yeah, and these options will both save you money long-term too. So say goodbye to single-use period products… you don’t need them, trust me!
The bathroom can be filled with a lot of other products for things like skincare, makeup, and hair. As a general rule, try to opt for products that come in post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials or glass bottles instead of plastic ones! And always try to reuse and repurpose empty containers when you can. For an in-depth breakdown of glass vs. plastic, I recommend checking out Kathryn Kellogg’s article on goingzerowaste.com, “Which is Better For The Environment? Glass or Plastic?”.
And there you have it, Sustainable Bathroom Swaps 101. I hope you found this blog post informative and helpful in your journey to living a more sustainable life. Thanks for being here, for showing interest in learning about ways we can take better care of our planet, and for taking initiative. Have any favourite zero-waste or plastic-free swaps for the bathroom?
Until next time,
*As a Knix partner, please do note that I receive a small commission for purchases made through my referral link. As always, thank you so much for your continued support.