Ooooh! The mysterious side of low waste that nobody talks about. Well, that’s not true, but substantially fewer people post on blogs or Instagram about a low waste bathroom; it’s not exactly aesthetically pleasing!
Finding ways to make my bathroom zero waste was actually one of the areas I was most intimidated about swapping my lifestyle in. I’d been mindlessly using tampons and pads for 10 years, using normal toilet paper, buying new shampoo bottles every time I needed it, spraying dry shampoo into my hair, and cleaning myself with plastic loofahs.
A friend of mine once said, since I surround myself with equally blunt people, “girl my menstrual cup is a game changer”. I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to stick a cup up my vagina, but she pointed out I’d been sticking cotton up there, so why not swap to something more waste-free? I could, and might, write an entirely separate blog post on menstrual cups, but they’re one of the easiest swaps you can make. I think about 10 years of pads/tampons, usually 12 periods a year, average of 5 days of menstrual product use, usually at least 3 products a day… that’s around 1800 disposables! From me alone! Since getting my menstrual cup I’ve used one product. ONE. The one I personally use is the Flexcup with the pull string. It was an easier switch from tampons and felt more natural. Other friends of mine swear by Saalt and Hello cup.
Alternatives to menstrual cups, if it’s not your thing for one reason or another, include underwear brands designed to work with a woman’s period. I won’t name them, because in the words of Charles Barkley, “no free pub” (it’s Knix… I like my Knix underwear). The underwear essentially absorbs the period like a pad would! My roommate also has washable pads. I have the underwear, but I don’t tend to use them since my cup is so reliable and I can go 12 hours at a time without changing it.
ZERO WASTE TOILET PAPER
This is free pub, sorry Charles, but I LOVE Who Gives a Crap. It’s a bamboo toilet paper, and they aim to create almost zero waste, including in their shipping process. When I’m done with a roll, all I’m left with is a recyclable tube, and a recyclable paper wrapper. Bamboo is also more renewable than regular paper because (spoiler alert) trees grow slowly, and almost 270,000 of them are cut down every day just to make toilet paper. No thanks!
There are similar brands if Who Gives a Crap isn’t your thing, but I love that every purchase through them goes toward building toilets in communities that need them. They send you fun emails with updates on their zero waste progress, plus the packaging is totally aesthetically pleasing, so you can leave extra rolls out for panicked, half-naked guests. Word from the wise: get their 3-ply. My dad had STRONG opinions about the fragility of the 2-ply when my mum bought it.
Buying from brands like Who Gives A Crap, Reel, or Bippy reduces the paper impact of cutting down trees, decreases the wasteful preparation process of normal toilet paper, and supports a brand that ships more thoughtfully than that shitty plastic that goes nowhere.
Obviously bar soap is a quick win in this area. If you’re like me, though, you don’t want to rub a bar of soap in your hair, no matter how sustainable it is. Sorry earth, but I do not want to feel like I’m in prison. If that’s zero waste, I’m going low waste for the time being.
I did switch to bar soap for my hands, since I can buy it completely plastic free from some of the local soap companies in Madison. For my sustainable shampoo and body soap, though, I refill large bottles at my local bulk store/co-op. I highly recommend trying both and seeing which you prefer! I like that refilling my shampoo in bulk saves waste, supports a local co-op, and feels like less of a compromise.
ZERO WASTE MAKEUP WIPES
I was so appalled when Neutrogena released their single use, single wrapped face wipes LAST YEAR that I emailed them and said it was horrendous that they’d do that at a time where our planet is dying.
In protest, I looked for sustainable makeup wipe options. I found Erase Your Face, a reusable makeup wipe, and I’m never going back. I own three. You just get the cloth wet, and wipe off your makeup. I always wash my face after, too, but as someone who suffered from adult acne, it’s great to not be filling my face with oils and smearing dirt around on a pre-soaked wipe. This was a quick win and an easy one! I got mine at DSW, but it’s sold all over the place.
OTHER SUSTAINABLE BATHROOM IDEAS
There are tons of other wins and quick swaps, like bamboo toothbrushes, powder dry shampoo or deodorant, and lace dental floss. The biggest thing I’ll say, though, is to USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE. It’s significantly more wasteful to buy a safety razor and throw out 4 Venus razor heads you didn’t get to use yet than it is to use the plastic razor you own until it dies, then replace it with a more sustainable alternative.
Here’s an idea for the most simple starting point: put all your lotions, shampoos, etc, into one drawer. Don’t buy anything new (including sustainable alternatives) until you’ve used up all of its equivalents in the drawer.
As always, good luck, and ask questions! Tag me in your zero-waste bathrooms on instagram @LowWasteLottie