Looking to reduce your household waste and save a little money? Here’s some tricks for my low waste bathroom I’ve picked up!
Reducing the amount of plastics and papers we throw in the garbage is a household goal we work towards. I tend to tackle it room by room. This gives me a chance to see the amount of waste produced in each. I have realized that, besides the kitchen, a low waste bathroom should be of higher priority in my goals.
Our process is imperfect and sometimes slow. It does take some privileged time and money to search for alternatives and risk trying the options. Sometimes the “better” options cost more than the regular store brands. However, I occasionally find much cheaper substitutes that make me so excited to share.
These are the tricks that are working in our bathroom and personal hygiene routines. Again, it’s not perfect and has room for improvement. But I hope my real-world filter-free examples can show it doesn’t have to be perfect!
* Quick note: In a few cases of this article I will be referring to the general term “women/woman”. Please understand that when I write this I include non-binary, femme and transwomen in that “women” umbrella term.
My Shaving Routine: The First Swap In My Low Waste Bathroom
So like most American *women, I learned how to shave with a plastic razor and foaming creams. Like most women that may be reading this, you may have had a moment like I had where your dull blade nicks you and it’s time to toss it in the garbage. It feels… wasteful. There must be a better way!
There are plastic razors meant to have a much longer life with replaceable blades. The replacement piece is composed of a plastic end piece which contains the blades. This integrates with the razor’s handle. You’d buy the small end piece in order to not have to replace the entire plastic razor with another plastic razor.
Basically, you’re using less plastic by keeping half of it then replacing the other half after use. It’s an arguably better than nothing option.
And then there’s shaving creams in tall cans no one recycle I’m not sure if you can recycle them. Take a step back and you’ll see this whole system we’re taught doesn’t make much sense. It’s wasteful, traps you in a lifetime consumerist cycle and is financially pricey when compared to my new routine.
It took me a long time to warm up to the idea of a safety razor. They looked scary and like what proud barbers use on large, gruff men with their necks rough from their blue collar jobs… (My initial mental image of all this did not make sense)
But I eventually bought my safety razor. It came in the mail and I set it on the table… and let it sit there for almost a week. I mentioned my new purchase to my mother who commented, “You didn’t get a safety razor did you? Those things cut you up. Remember the old shows where the teenage boys cut up their faces?” A mental flashbacks to a wholesome Brady Bunch episode came to mind. I debated returning it without trying it.
I watched a youtube video of a woman using it and felt more reassured by her calming tutorial. So I decided, I’ll try it once. And if it’s a total disaster, I’ll find a way to refund or resale it. Even getting the thin blades into the razor was a novel, careful procedure.
I decided to use shaving cream to set myself up for success and give it a true test. Safety razors are heavier than plastic sticks so you need not to apply any pressure. You feel like you’re barely touching skin. It was going well- even shaving my knees was uneventful. I dared try to tend my garden- just a little landscaping! It is shocking how, with only one blade, how much easier it is. Hairs didn’t tangle and cause complications. I swear the shave is smoother- I got a closer cut than the shaves I was used to do. It was absurdly easy.
Still, with my last bit of doubt, I shaved my underarms.
So easy. Done.
Now I’m a believer. I love this thing. I love that I haven’t had to buy more razors to throw away. I love that replacement blades are so freaking cheap. I love saving money, what can I say. What’s better than that!?
I did run into with one roadblock. I used up the rest of my shaving cream and moved to regular soap bars. I didn’t cut myself but it irritated my skin. Kind of an obvious “duh” moment. I decided to try “shaving soap.” I was very skeptical- what would be so different about shaving soap that was missing in my soap?
I’m still not sure, but again I‘d found another amazing zero waste solution. I love these bars of soap! They’re not super cute or anything. They’re practical- and I imagine, frugal- since bars of soaps last longer than cans of shaving cream.
I’m heavy-handed with shaving foam and creams; I’d go through tubes faster than my sisters. I feel like I use exactly what I need with a bar of soap and it lasts a long time. A LONG time. I love my new shaving routine. I haven’t noticed any differences with my skin. I personally haven’t accidently cut myself any more than I did before with generic razors.
Here’s a fun tip!
And once you get down to the small chunks of your soaps, save them in a cotton mesh bag as an exfoliant scrubber. You can buy a soap saver bag off Amazon Prime for $8.
Here’s My “Not Ideal” Deodorant
So I think I have the sensitive of sensitive pits ever. From my very first roll of deodorant, I started a journey of trying all the deodorant. I went back and forth on how I felt about aluminum because I nervous sweat a lot but also… stuffing your pores with aluminum isn’t exactly the most natural, safe thing to do.
There’s mixed studies on aluminum in deodorant and I wouldn’t dare comment on whether it’s safe or not. I decided to avoid it for myself. So I needed something that would be vegan, cruelty-free, as low waste possible and also not break my skin into a rash.
It’s not super cool to have giant red rashes under your arms.
After many trials and errors over a few years, I found a good product with Tom’s Maines. It checked my low-waste bathroom and personal boxes: vegan, cruelty-free, “ethical company,” and recyclable. It’s not perfect, but this is best I can make work right now. I wanted to stick with it until something remarkably better comes along.
I thought it did with Myro.
I still am excited for this brand and concept. It works by sending you a one time container (you pick the color!) and then you can subscribe to various scented deodorants that fit into the case. This system keeps plastic at a minimum- though not altogether removed. But the scented deodorant, minimally packaged with plastic, pops easily into your container.
It is really neat and I wanted to try it as soon as it came in the mail. (Though, I do wonder about the sustainability of subscription models like this. My favorite shaving soaps included. This may warrant more research and a post!) It seemed to check all my boxes even better than Tom’s Maines and it looks so cute in my bathroom. It matches!
Then I had rashes appeared again. I was more disappointed about this than all the other failed brands I’ve tried over the years.
However, Myro has said they are working on a sensitive skin formula! I’m saving my container for when that day comes. I am totally down to give Myro another chance.
You can find Tom’s Maines in most grocery stores near you. If you want to try a Myro starter kit for 50% off, click here!
(Then tell me what color and scents you picked!)
Soaps and Cleaners- Essential!
Every bathroom should be a haven for soap. If I had the money I wish I had, I would collect the beautifully crafted soaps I see on Etsy. They’re so fun and unlike anything in the stores.
Until then, I’ve been searching for a solid hand washing soap for my bathroom (and house). The obvious choice was to get regular soaps (that are vegan and cruelty free), then wash out the bottle once empty and recycle the plastic container. It’s extra work a “lazy millennial” like me doesn’t want to do, to be honest. (For the record, I’m busy. Not lazy.)
I looked further. I could find bars of soaps but realized most were wrapped in plastic or weren’t checking off my vegan list. I opted for premium soaps, wrapped in kraft paper and…. realized they’re expensive. It wasn’t long before my husband complained missing liquid soap. Some first world problems here. I was ready to let him suffer our new way of life until I found this company.
Blueland sells kits that includes “forever bottles” and tablets. All you have to do is fill your bottles with water and drop a tablet in. No shaking or stirring needed. It’s ready to go.
The tablets are bathroom cleaner, window/glass cleaner, countertop cleaner, and foam hand soap.
I don’t have to tell you I’m in love with this company and products right? They actually work and are effective. They smell nice. And we only pay for tablets for our basic cleaners and soaps.
This is such an easy system- barely any maintenance at all or throwing stuff away or work to recycle. Perfect for a low waste bathroom!
Oatmeal Bath DIY. A Family Favorite.
I think I’ve said 5 times now how I have sensitive skin. Both me and my dad are prone to random itchiness. Could be our laundry detergent, something seasonal, etc. But we get itchy sometimes and sometimes to where I can’t relax enough to sleep. My mom always kept a bag of colloidal oatmeal for this. After a bath with it, my skin feels soothed.
But you should all know, if it’s not too much work, I will probably make it myself to save a little money.
What’s in colloidal oatmeal? Literally it’s oatmeal ground finely to a powder. Oatmeal is so cheap and with an extra coffee bean grinder, well, why not make it myself! No products to recommend here. Just a DIY I use and swear by.
Also you can gift-wrap this in a cute mason jar as a handmade gift. I may need to add this colloidal oatmeal bath soak in my list of handmade gift ideas.
Replace Your Cotton Balls!
You know what’s wasteful? Plastic packaging. And cotton balls that come in them. Why? Cotton is considered the world’s dirtiest crop. Just read Forget Organic, Retailers Increasingly Are Turning to Sustainable Cotton in Bloomberg.
We spend a lot of time making sure our makeup is safe, vegan, and cruelty-free. We need to examine our applicants too. Switch to cotton rounds- they’re washable and reusable rounds or squares fabric pads. They are as effective as cotton balls in removing and applying makeup or skincare tinctures. They’re easy to travel with and most sets come with a mesh laundry bag so they aren’t scattered in your laundry.
They are definitely worth the investment! Check out Eco Local’s All Things Grow collection of cotton rounds.
My Next Low Waste Bathroom Goals
You probably noticed my list isn’t perfect. It’s far from perfect, in fact. My home and routines are a continual work-in-progress. While I may feel disappointed by this, I must remember that there’s no perfect vegan or zero waster. As I saw quoted (I don’t know who to credit it to, if anyone knows, let me know!):
“We may never reach the zero in zero waste but that’s no reason to take zero action.”
If you can’t go vegan without cheese, be vegan except for cheese. If you can’t compost, maybe find some ways to reduce your home’s food waste. We all can do something to help.
Here are my goals to work on next:
- Finding innovatively-packaged vegan and cruelty-free toothpaste with fluoride that’s also accessible to me.
- Try out shampoo and conditioner bars once I finish my current bottles
- Research and decide if my electric toothbrush I got for a gift is the best thing. It’s seriously improved my dental health and seems to need minimal upkeep for new toothbrush heads. It’s something I need to figure out for myself.
- Find an actually effective toilet cleaner that checks off my list. We’ll see!
- A bidet.
I think it’s easier to make a lifestyle change by breaking it down to small steps. For me, this has meant tackling each room in our house one by one. Since the bathroom is so easy to forget, I took that room on first. It’s surprising how much waste is produced from the bathroom. After all, people don’t keep a recycling bin in the bathroom.
My best swaps this year has been cotton rounds, Blueland soap and cleaners, my new shaving routine, my handy oatmeal recipe and the “best” deodorant I can find (for now).
What are the low waste bathroom hacks you’ve found for yourself? Do you have suggestions for my goals list?
TO COME LATER: Recycled Silk Headband