Hardly a day goes by without an article appearing on my Facebook timeline, which reports about the way we destroy our planet and our own bodies with disposable items made of plastic like packaging or plastic bags and harmful ingredients in everything we use. There was a time when I was younger when I chose to turn a blind eye to those sort of news. In the back of my mind, I was aware of the problems, but I didn’t want to see them. After I had children this all changed – all of a sudden I wanted to preserve our environment, make sure my kids grow up healthy and stay healthy myself to see them grow up. So I started to look and it was and still is quite scary. Single-use plastic is everywhere and just walking through the aisles of a regular supermarket makes it seem absolutely impossible to lead a plastic-free life or even reduce our plastic consumption. In fact, it was totally overwhelming and I didn’t know where to start.
Instead of trying to turn my life upside down overnight and put myself under pressure by choosing the “cold turkey” method, I decided to take it in baby steps. After all, every little helps. Because of my personal circumstances, I decided to start our journey to a life without plastic in the bathroom. There are so many small changes that can be made in the bathroom, which will all make a huge difference to your health and the environment – the only thing you need to do is to start somewhere and take it step by step. Sometimes you cave in and fall back into old habits, that’s ok – it happens. But in my opinion it is important to keep going until one day, you will automatically turn to more eco-friendly and plastic free products when your shampoo is empty or you need a new toothbrush!
Why even bother? – The facts!
I get it, plastic items are convenient and if they were really as bad as “they” say, surely "they" wouldn’t be allowed to sell them. Yes, my thoughts exactly – a few years ago. Here is what made me change my mind:
- Approximately 275,000 tons of plastic is used in the UK every year. Most of it ends up in landfill as some plastic waste is not recyclable and even of the recyclable plastic only about half of it ends up in recycling centres.
- It is estimated that plastic items take about 500 years to decompose in landfill and even then it only breaks down into harmful toxins, leading to serious plastic pollution. A large amount of plastic doesn’t get recycled or goes to landfill, but ends up in our oceans, where it’s causing a huge problem for wildlife.
- An average woman puts up to 500 different chemicals on her body, before she leaves the house. This seems a lot and quite exaggerated, but stop and think for a moment. Do you really know how many different ingredients and chemicals are in your moisturiser, foundation, make-up, deodorant, toothpaste, blusher, mascara and other products? I wouldn’t have a clue and even if I had a look at the ingredients list I wouldn’t know what all those names, numbers and letter stand for. Not even to mention the amount of plastic packaging most health & beauty products come in.
There are many more reasons why it makes sense to reduce the amount of plastic waste we produce, but to be honest the thought of my empty shampoo bottle or any other plastic packaging still lying around somewhere after I and many generations after me are already gone, is enough for me to make an effort and try living without plastic or with as little plastic as possible!
To help you make a start and live without plastic, here is a list of items in your bathroom that can easily be replaced by an eco-friendly alternative. In fact, thanks to Baba Me, your plastic-free toiletries and bathroom products are just a few clicks away, making it easier than ever to make the switch to a more sustainable lifestyle!
Plastic Free Deodorant
Most of the conventional deodorants you’ll find in the supermarkets are packaged in plastic or spray cans and their ingredients can be very harmful to your body. In order to protect yourself and the environment, you don’t have to abstain from deodorant completely. There are many great alternatives out there, which are packaged almost plastic free and full of natural goodness. I have tried and tested many of them and have found the Warrior Botanical Deodorant Cream to be the best natural deodorant out there. It smells absolutely natural and is 100% reliable, even on tough and busy days. The deodorant cream is very gentle to your skin. I have atopic eczema and have had absolutely no problems. Plus, the coconut scented one is safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding! All Warrior Botanical products are handmade in Ireland with an effort to reduce plastic pollution by keeping the plastic in packaging at a minimum. If you prefer a simple roll on deodorant, the Eco by Sonya Coco Deodorant is the perfect choice for you, although it is packaged in plastic, you only need a small amount which means it will last longer and it is 100% free of any harmful ingredients!
If you are looking for more information on the transition to natural deodorant and an easy way to detox your armpits, have a look here!
Plastic Free Shampoo & Conditioner
This one was the hardest switch for me personally and I can’t even explain why. Since I was little my shampoo was liquid and came out of a plastic bottle, which was bought in the local supermarket. However, I wanted to change that and plastic free shampoo and conditioner bars seemed like the best alternative. They are gentle for the environment when produced and since they are solid, they can be sold loose or just wrapped in a bit of paper. The first time I used them felt very odd, as I was just not used to it, but I haven’t looked back since. The bars just stay on the soap shelf in my shower and there is no waste AT ALL, which feels better than good, to be honest. Also, after an initial transition period, my hair feels and looks fantastic! If you find your shampoo bar leaves residue in your hair, you can rinse with vinegar or tea. In between washes, the Warrior Botanical Powder Shampoo is an amazing natural alternative to your regular dry shampoo.
And while you are switching your shampoo and conditioner, it might also be worthwhile to invest in a wooden hairbrush. They are not only better for the environment, but just feel and look so much nicer. Wooden bristles distribute the natural oils in your hair more evenly and don’t create static, so your hair will look nicer just after brushing – also since bristles made from wood are a lot wider, they are able to massage your scalp with every brush to keep it healthy!
Non-Plastic Soap & Shower Gel
Of course, also my soap and shower gel was packaged in plastic before I started to approach things a little more eco-friendly. Now we wash our hands with soap bars, which works just as well, plus they seem to last a lot longer than a conventional dispenser bottle of hand soap. In the same way, we also use bars in the shower – simples!
Non-Plastic Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Your average plastic toothbrush is only used for a relatively short time before it wanders directly into landfill and just sits there for a number of centuries. It just makes sense to look for alternatives. My switch product is a non-plastic toothbrush made from bamboo. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial and grows really fast, which makes the toothbrush incredibly sustainable and hygienic. When it comes to bristles, I have to say the natural options, like pig bristles, don’t at all appeal to me, which is why the bristles on my toothbrush are made from plastic. But in terms of waste, the plastic bristles are considerably less than an entire toothbrush. The coolest thing about bamboo toothbrushes is, that once you are done with it, you can soak the head in water until the bristles can be removed and just compost it. Easy peasy and totally clean!
After making the switch to a non-plastic toothbrush a new and more eco-friendly toothpaste was just the logical next step. Again, there are a lot of options out there and it is down to your personal preference, which one you prefer. I have yet to come across an effective toothpaste, which is available in glass packaging, however, most of the environmentally friendly toothpaste is packaged in recyclable plastic or plastic alternatives. With everything that enters your body, a toothpaste alternative is not just about minimising waste, but also about minimising the chemicals that you are exposed to. Personally, I don’t buy toothpaste with fluoride anymore, and always take a look at the ingredients list to make sure it is as natural as possible!
Plastic Free Hair Removal
One thing I always hated was the amount of waste that was produced by throwing away shavers and blades. Not only does it cost a massive amount of money, but it also seems so pointless to buy something, use it for a while and throw it away. You can, of course, go down the wax route, which depending on the wax you are using is a lot more eco-friendly, but I am such a wimp and just can’t take the pain. However, after I tried sugaring with the Sugar StripEase Kit, I hardly ever shave anymore. Sugaring works pretty much like waxing, only difference: You could actually eat the hair removal paste and it isn't painful at all. The tub is plastic, but it lasts for quite some time and you can wash and reuse the strips - so still a lot less waste than single-use razors.
Plastic Free Make-Up and Feel Good Products
I hardly ever wear make-up, so I am yet to get my head around natural make-up and cosmetic products. However, I know from my friends that there are some lovely alternatives out there, that are made from natural ingredients and are mostly packaged without or just with very little plastic. So I know, I have options, if I ever needed them. I did, however, invest in some mineral foundation from PHB and have to say I absolutely love it: It is all-natural, cruelty-free, vegan and super easy to apply and makes me look and feel fabulous!
Same goes for what I call feel-good products. To me, these are bath products, face masks, moisturisers, facial mist, perfume and so on. Body lotions and moisturisers are thankfully widely available in almost plastic-free packaging. And the Warrior Botanical Nourishing Mist is great to refresh and hydrate the skin to give a nice glow to your complexion. According to Maebh, it is also very energising and apparently better than peppermint tea!! Now, these come in plastic bottles, but they are reusable, so you could use them around the house afterwards, to spray water on your plants or give to your kids for a water fight. In terms of perfume – I personally don’t use it very often, but when I do, it is good to know that they all come in glass bottles, with just very little plastic and with the Walden and Pacifica range Baba Me as lots of different scents available! One of my favourite brand in terms of health and beauty is Wild Olive! Their natural bath melts are just divine and if you buy them one by one the packaging is minimal – there is nothing better than an all-natural, handmade body product with hardly any packaging!
Non-Plastic Sanitary Products
This one is a tricky one, as our period and feminine care products are not something that is discussed openly – unfortunately! When I was in my teens I was introduced to disposable pads and tampons, which I used, because I was never told that there are other options out there. Only after I had my children and started using cloth nappies, I discovered that many women use reusable sanitary pads. After talking to a friend about it, I learned that there was also the option of using a menstrual cup, which at first sounded a bit scary, but after a while, I got my head around it and thought of it no different than a tampon – a tampon you could empty and reuse! So I took the plunge, got a cup and a couple of sanitary pads and haven’t used disposable products since. Besides the amount of waste this safes, it’s also a lot nicer feel ‘down there’ during my period - no irritation, a hugely reduced risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome as well as less pain, plus the duration of my period was reduced as well.
If the thought of all this just freaks you out, don’t worry, you can still make a small change and take it step by step – the organic sanitary protection range from Natracare is a very good way to start your eco-friendly journey on this end of the bathroom.
Curious about all the different options, what they look like and who they are for? Watch our detailed Reusabld Feminine Hygiene Vlog below.
Non-Plastic Toilet Paper
Toilet paper is another thing I would have never considered to be wasteful because it is just something that I used my entire life without ever questioning where it came from and what it was made of. But just think about, it is made from trees and in order to get it as white and clean looking as possible it is heavily bleached during production, it is wrapped in plastic and you only use it once – that’s it!
For me, it was just very sad to think a tree had to be cut in order for me to clean myself after using the toilet. So I first made the switch to toilet paper made from recycled paper. Once I had babies and used reusable nappies and cloth wipes, the step towards reusable toilet paper was very small and just seemed very natural to me. Now we have toilet paper wipes in the bathroom, that are tossed in a wet bag after they are used and washed with our cloth nappies – very easy and not at all messy! For emergencies and in our guest bathroom, we of course still have a normal roll of toilet paper available.
Your Plastic Free Bathroom
When you look at all these changes, they might seem daunting and quite big. However, the key is to pick one little thing and just do it. Living without plastic is something most of us can’t realise overnight, but making a start by just switching to a non-plastic toothbrush or sugaring your legs instead of using single-use razors is already making a difference.
Which steps have you already taken to reduce your plastic use in your bathroom? Do you have any other tips?