Shampoo and Conditioner
Shampoo and conditioner bars are fantastic. They last longer than bottled products and can be bought naked or in paper or cardboard packaging. I love Lush; they do numerous ‘naked’ bars and try to be as green and zero waste as they can. Not all of their ingredients are 100 percent natural though. You can have a look at their policies here.
You can also try the ‘No-Poo Method.’ There’s loads of information online about this method. You can use water, apple cider vinegar or baking powder. As your hair adjusts it may get greasy, but this will pass!
BuyMeOnce Tip: Shampoo bars will last longer if you do not keep them in the shower.
Body Wash and Moisturizer
All you need is a bar of soap. Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve Company are a family run business making handmade soap using natural ingredients; they have ethical values and use minimal packaging with recyclable or recycled materials.
A lot of soaps naturally moisturize your skin, so you may not need to buy moisturizer (this will also reduce your waste!). But if you do, solid moisturizers are best as they can come naked. Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve have moisturizer bars, lotions and body butters in various packaging. I use a Lush serum bar for my face (you warm it up in your hands first) and use their massage bars for my body.
Always try and buy local if you can (this saves on transport and packaging). If you’re buying products online, ensure they are eco-friendly and come in plastic-free packaging. If you are unhappy with the packaging, let the company know.
Try some homemade recipes online using baking soda, coconut oil and essential oils, or Lush sell solid deodorant bars and powders with fantastic reviews. You need to experiment to find what works for you.
I struggled a bit with deodorant. My underarm skin reacted to baking soda, so I had to try other products. Organic Essence’s Relentless All Day Deodorant comes packaged in a paper tube which you can recycle or compost. It smells great and is gentle on the skin!
For your daily brushing, use bamboo. The toothbrush handle can be composted and the bristles can be removed and either composted (depends on the brand) or sent to landfill.
Dental floss is usually made from nylon or silk in plastic spools, but you can get nylon floss in cardboard packaging. I use Stim-u-dent – a wooden stick that you slide between your teeth. These dental sticks come in cardboard packaging, but they also come with a plastic hook. It’s still not the greatest option but the best I have found so far.
Natural toothpaste does take some time to adjust to because it’s very different from conventional toothpaste. It has a different texture, isn’t sweet and it can be clay-like. Initially I found it to be a difficult transition, but now I prefer them and find ‘normal’ toothpaste too sweet! Uncle Harry’s and Truthpaste make natural toothpaste containing antibacterial ingredients in reusable glass jars with a plastic lid. Lush makes toothy tabs (which foam like conventional toothpaste), which I really like but they are sold in recyclable plastic bottles. Aquarian Bath makes tooth powders in metal recyclable tins.
Coconut oil is a fabulous, all-natural makeup remover. Use it with reusable and washable pads that you can make yourself out of old fabric, or you can purchase premade ones.
It is almost impossible to get plastic-free toilet paper! However, Australian company WhoGivesACrap – who make their TP from bamboo and sugarcane – have a US site, and also donate 50 percent of their profits to help build toilets in developing countries.
Seventh Generation is recycled toilet paper wrapped in a recyclable packaging. You can also buy recycled toilet paper wrapped in polythene, which can be recycled in the carrier bag recycling bin at your local supermarket. And if you truly want to be waste-free, try washable cloth wipes.
Not something we really think about when talking about zero waste but it is important. No contraceptive is zero waste. IUDs and implants are the closest; they last for three to five years and only have the packaging and medical equipment required for insertion, but they are not suitable for everyone. Speak to your doctor about your options.
Hopefully this article has inspired you to make some small changes in your bathroom and reduce your waste production. Every little change helps! Next time, we will look at the eco-friendly home office.
Marja is a vet by day, plastic vigilante by night! She has travelled the world and met some amazing and inspirational people on the way, but she's also seen the impact that waste has on the environment and wildlife. Her passion for zero waste has led her to make simple changes in her own life that she is hoping to share with you in this Zero Waste Home series.