We are surrounded by plastic. Used for small things like food packaging and grocery bags and larger items like televisions and computers, it’s everywhere. This can be disheartening for those who want to reduce plastic use, knowing how devastating for our environment it can be. If we keep up our current rate of plastic consumption, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Some have tried a plastic fast.
But that’s not easy. Luckily, there is one room of the house where plastic can be almost completely eliminated – the bathroom! Check out our suggestions from simple swaps to advanced environmentalist to find your entry point to helping the planet!
Do you have a pump bottle next to the sink in the bathroom, while the soap dish sits empty? For some people this is about ease of use while others think sharing a bar of soap can pass germs from person to person. It doesn’t, so do switch to bar soap, which is mostly sold in cardboard boxes or paper wrappers.
Try Raven Hill Soaps, 5 for $20 from Etsy.
Shower gel has a different consistency than soap and doesn’t leave a residue, which is why people use it. Luckily there are places that sell bars of shower gel that have the same properties as the liquid kind, but come in plastic-free packaging. Given that Lush alone sells more than 5 million bottles of shower gel per year this is an important step toward reducing plastic use.
For years toothbrushes were made of various natural products including everything from wood to bone. In the late 1930s the first plastic toothbrushes with nylon bristles were introduced and America never looked back. A single toothbrush may not seem like a big deal, but there are 3.5 billion toothbrushes sold every year. That is a lot of plastic! Fortunately, there are companies that make ecologically friendly toothbrushes out of bamboo and other natural products, giving you an easy way to replace your plastic toothbrush with something sustainable. And, if you’re not sure what to do with your old plastic brushes–recycle them! Brands like Preserve and Colgate have programs to recycle your toothbrushes. You can also ask if your dentist’s office collects them for recycling.
Shampoo and conditioner are almost always in plastic containers. Head and Shoulders alone produces 29 million bottles per year, and that is just one brand! Both are sold in bar form, though, similar to a bar of soap but designed for your hair. A number of companies including Lush, Chagrin Valley, and Ethnique sell both products online and some smaller stores even have them on their shelves.
Razors are a special kind of problem. 2 billion disposable razors are tossed in the trash each year, creating tons of garbage that will never biodegrade. Switching to a cartridge razor can reduce plastic use by allowing you to keep the handle and just dispose of the cartridge itself. This still involves throwing away plastic, just in smaller amounts. A safety razor (which uses double edged metal blades with a protective guard) is the best way to completely remove plastic from your shaving routine, and best of all it is dirt cheap – once you’ve purchased the handle the actual razor blades only cost a few cents, which means you can reduce your annual shaving expenses to just a few dollars. Safety razors take some getting used to, but both the environmental and financial benefits of making this switch are significant.
Deodorant is a special situation. Many people have a favorite brand that they won’t deviate from, whether because of the specific scent or because it doesn’t irritate their skin. However, if you feel like this is an area where you can try something new, there are products out there that have completely done away with the plastic packaging. Both Primal Life Organics and Taylor’s offer deodorant in a cardboard tube, completely eliminating plastic from deodorant packaging.
Try Rainwater Botanicals All Natural Deodorant, $4 on Etsy.
Pads and tampons are a huge contributor to plastic waste. If the average woman uses 20 pads or tampons per menstrual cycle, then over the course of her life she will throw out more than 9,000 plastic wrappers and applicators. There are plastic-free alternatives, however. Companies like Natracare offer plastic-free disposable menstrual products while companies like Diva Cup offer a reusable alternative that is conveniently sold at big box stores around the country.