[AD – Contains gifted items]
Following on from my first blog in this series featuring the best in zero waste basics I thought I’d continue by featuring one of the rooms in the home that we fill with the most pointless plastic items – the bathroom! Most of our bathrooms are full of products we’ve collected over a period of time, whether thats buying our faves in bulk when they’re on offer or mostly just the added bits and pieces from the yearly Christmas gift sets. The idea of going zero waste isn’t to simply throw all these things away and replace with more eco-friendly options – that makes no sense, and I myself am still using up a massive bottle of Tresemmé conditioner that seems to be lasting forever – the idea is that each time you need to replace something, just think a little more mindfully about your purchase. Hopefully that will lead you to making plastic free choices as lots of these zero waste swaps are not only better for the environment but better for you, do the job better and last longer. So it’s a win win on both sides! A little investment can save a lot of money in the long run. The single-use plastic industry heavily relies on us buying into the false economy of disposables but it is just that, a false economy. Lot’s of these swaps will have you saving money but also the quality of products you’ll be using will by far improve. Plus, there’s always the feel good factor you get from knowing you’re doing your bit to help the planet! So, without further ado, here are my top bathroom recommendations:
1 – Bamboo Toothbrush
You’ve probably been seeing bamboo toothbrushes all over Instagram this last year and this dental ‘detox’ set from The White Teeth Box is a really good start for any bathroom! It’s £15 with free delivery and comes well packed in a plastic free box, completely planet friendly, vegan and cruelty free. No more plastic toothbrushes going to landfill, and no more toothpaste tubes or those disposable plastic floss picks my dentist is always banging on about either. These alternatives are 100% bio-degradable and use naturally antibacterial materials as well. The toothpaste-alternative of activated charcoal powder (well known for its teeth whitening properties!) comes in a little glass jar that you simply dip your wetted brush in to use, the powder will coat the brush and then you can brush as normal. It’s very strange the first time, looking into the mirror with a jet black smile like an extra from Breaking Bad but charcoal has loads of benefits and although a little messy, is completely ingestible (have you ever accidentally swallowed toothpaste or mouthwash before? I can tell you it’s not great.) The kit also includes a tongue scraper and if you read up on the amount of bacteria just a few simple scrapes in the morning will get rid of, you will want to start scraping immediately! The floss picks are made from bamboo fibre instead of nylon because, whilst nylon is great for getting in between your teeth, you’ll probably notice it’s really quite harsh on our poor gums. These are a much more gentle product and because they are infused with activated charcoal they help to actually clean in between the teeth as well as just picking out your leftovers, so don’t go hacking away at your teeth with them as they’re likely to snap. They have also added floss to their product line which they also gifted me to try out and it’s super refreshing and doesn’t feel as spindly and gross as normal cheap floss, so you can choose between that or the picks when you order.
2 – Cotton Buds
Cotton buds are one of the things I see changing for the better a lot quicker – lots of the bigger companies are already switching to paper sticks instead of plastic which is great. However, they are usually still packaged in plastic so you can go one better with these Hydrophil swabs. A completely water neutral company, packaging their products in these lovely little cardboard boxes. They’re not based in the UK, but you can find their products on loads of UK websites like Eco Green Revolution. My favourite thing of theirs is the cutest little toothbrush holder that I use to keep a selection of cotton buds in reach and then refill as necessary but they also sell travel toothbrush cases that should stop your toothbrush being covered in hair by the time you pull it out of your overnight bag. The case even has air-holes so that your toothbrush can breathe – so thoughtful! Keep your eyes peeled, I wouldn’t be surprised if products like this start making their way into our super markets this year but until then, online shopping is definitely your friend.
3 – Toilet Roll
Toilet roll is one of the many frustrating products that, although seemingly eco-friendly and completely recyclable it’s always totally wrapped in a mass of unnecessary plastic. Greencane kindly gifted me a box of their super soft ‘naked’ toilet roll which is completely unwrapped just in the box it’s delivered in – there’s 48 rolls in the box so it’s going to last us forever. Their packaging with other products has always been recyclable and biodegradeable but this product has their least packaging ever! Plus, it’s made primarily from recycled sugarcane and fast-renewable bamboo which saves a lot of trees. Did you know it takes twenty years to grow a tree but only one year for bamboo?! That’s just insane and there’s absolutely no plausible reason why we should be using up valuable timber for such a low value, disposable product. The roll itself is also free from plastics as well as being free from inks, perfumes, GMOs and BPA. It’s septic safe and because it’s plant based it biodegrades quickly which means it’s better for our sewerage systems and less likely to cause any blockages in the home. My favourite thing about Greencane is that you can set up a subscription-like-order (cancel any time) so the toilet roll is just delivered to your house every few months (you choose how often depending on your household need) so you’ll never be without again, having to march off down the shops to lug one of those massive packs home. Of course, you can always just place a one-off order and check out their stockists too as they may be available somewhere local. With delivery, a box of 48 rolls comes in at under £30 and they’ve also given me a code to get my followers 10% off their order which brings the cost down a little more as well. The code is valid until 1st March: GE10
4 – Reusable Safety Razor
This has to be one of my very top zero waste swaps I’ve made, even though I’ve not regularly bought plastic razors, whenever I did it used to really grate on me. They’re rubbish and they’re expensive (especially the ‘womens’ version) so a reusable razor is an must-have item in my opinion! There’s absolutely no sense in shredding your skin up with crappy plastic ones before binning them and repeating, over and over. I was gifted an Edwin Jagger set to try out from The English Shaving Company and, although I was nervous at first (razor blades are typically kinda scary if you’ve never handled them!) I was actually surprised at just how easy it was to set up without losing my hands. The razor itself comes apart so the blade is just sandwiched between two pieces of the puzzle and then screwed together from the handle to close it all up. It’s also SO much easier to keep clean than disposables – they get so full of gunk and there’s no way to get it out! Whereas these, you can clean them down quick and easy or you can fully take them apart to give it a proper once over before reassembling. The safety razor itself is currently only £23.80 and I have no doubt that this will last forever if you take care of it. This price is for the one I have with a slightly longer handle (better if you’re intending on shaving your legs etc) but there are lots of cheaper options, and lot’s on fancier options too! You can feel the quality when you use it and the weighted aspect of using a metal razor means you no longer have to push and drag it against your skin because the weight and super sharp blade do all the work for you. Once you’re ready to change blades (I eek mine out as long as poss!) you can get little tins to dispose of the blades safely. This one takes up to 100 blades and then you can take it for recycling so it can be melted down for reuse. However, some of the blades come in a packet that can be reused for this purpose anyway but it would be more eco-friendly to buy one tin and then the blades in bulk.
5 – Solid Soap Bars
Primal Suds are my new fave brand! I recently wrote a whole feature on them and I can’t rave about them enough. The soap lathers up beautifully and they’re a small, local brand in Southampton where I live which just makes them an even better choice to support. They kindly gifted me a few products at the end of last year when I visited them to see how everything’s made, which was really interesting to learn a bit more about. I just love that they’re such an open and honest company that truthfully use all natural ingredients – no parabens, no harsh synthetics like SLS, no palm oil and it’s all vegan so not only is it great for you and your skin but it also means you’re not washing a load of harsh chemicals down the drain. Lots of companies insinuate that their products are natural but very few actually ARE. These products are all completely plastic free, zero waste and vegan with everything coming packed neatly in biodegradable boxes or paper bags. Since they are made using entirely natural products and no artificial colourings, you won’t find any neon, sparkling soaps here but with names like ‘Dirty Basterd‘ and ‘No Fux Given‘ they definitely have some personality to the brand that goes far beyond fashionable colour palettes. The soaps pictured are £5 each, with mammoth options for £7 and sample wedgies for only £2.
6 – Shampoo & Conditioner
These shampoo bars from Lush are £7.50 and are said to last for 80 washes – that’s the same as three bottles of shampoo! I’m still using mine and can’t say I’ve been counting but it doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller. If you’re not into the usual sweetness of Lush then this could be a nice spicy option for you! Peppermint and cinnamon in the bar helps to boost blood flow to stimulate hair follicles, promoting healthy hair and you can also buy these super cute cork pots to keep your bar from losing any of the goodness inbetween uses. If you’re not quite ready to make the switch to naked products like this one, then they also have plenty of potted shampoos you can use and return the tub to close the loop. As for conditioner, I have found this much harder to replace like-for-like but I’m currently using Sugar Daddy-O from Lush which is meant to be perfect for anyone trying to enhance highlights (natural or not) as the purple bar keeps brassy tones away. You just rub the bar between your hands like you would with soap and smooth onto wet hair. It doesn’t lather up much (almost nothing at all for me) so it’s a bit weird to get used to as it feels like you’re not really doing anything, especially when solid soap and shampoo lathers up so quickly. However, it leaves my hair smelling and feeling squeaky clean so it must be working and you just really don’t need much.
7 – Shower Puff
These are absolutely beautiful – so cute, and SO soft! Handmade by crochet-queen Zoe at Hookaway4Crochet alongside a couple extra products in a range of colours and sizes. These last absolutely ages and are much nicer than those plastic mits and puffs you get in the shops, handmade with love and designed with quality in mind – these won’t unravel into something reminiscent of a saggy old hairnet after a couple uses! Plus, once they do eventually come to their end of their life (and that’s gonna be a long life!) you can just cut them up and compost them as they’re completely biodegradable. Zoe makes these all herself from scratch and her shop is currently closed but keep your eyes peeled on her Instagram if you’d like to pick up one of these in the future. I also got a really awesome sponge for Christmas from The Body Shop that’s made from recycled milk cartons! One milk carton makes five of these exfoliating sponges, so much better than going to waste and perfect if you feel like you need a bit more of a scrub.
8 – Silvertech Towel
One thing most households are great at reusing is towels! We reuse towels for years, between us and think nothing of it…Yet when it comes to many other reusable items, they are looked at as weird or extreme. It’s so funny how simply what you’re used to can change you perception on things like this. However, in the same way as clothing, we can improve on this even further by looking out for what materials we are buying and what companies we are giving our money to – plus the affects that they might have on the environment in the making of your product and how you use it. This super soft towel is from Organic Basics (they gave me a giftcard to use towards this, I paid a little extra on top myself) and made from 100% cotton which is then treated with recycled silver so that the towel will last longer between washes, keeping itself fresh and far from that dreaded damp towel smell. Preventing the need for such frequent washing reduces the environmental impact this kind of item could have by saving on your water and energy bills as well as your own precious time. As a company, Organic Basics put sustainability at the very core of everything they do and are always looking for ways to improve and educate, there’s loads of information on the site including a really great guide to washing smarter!