15+ Swaps for a Plastic-Free Bathroom

15+ Swaps for a Plastic-Free Bathroom

The two areas of the home where we tend to use the most single-use plastic and other packaging are the kitchen, and the bathroom. The good news is, both have plenty of opportunity for doing things differently!

In many ways, the bathroom is easier to tackle. We don’t need to replace the items as often or as quickly (toothpaste doesn’t go bad like milk or cauliflower does), and there are less products to switch. (Surely no-one’s bathroom cupboard has more products than the pantry, fridge and freezer combined?)

Plus even if you’re not feeling drawn to DIY, guaranteed someone in your town does! There is so much opportunity to support local businesses when it comes to making bathroom swaps.

I thought I’d run through all of the swaps I’ve made to give you some ideas that might work for you. There are plenty of awesome brands making thoughtful products, and I can’t list them all (I don’t know about them all!).

So I’ve shared the ones that work for me – and part of that means being available in the physical zero waste stores in my neighbourhood. I prefer to buy local where I can, and support independent businesses trying to create positive change.

If that’s not possible, there are heaps of great online independent small businesses that you can support.

Plastic-Free / Zero Waste Swaps – Hair Care

Shampoo soap: I washed my hair with bicarb and vinegar for about 3 years, but a two month trial with just water left my hair really dry, and I decided to switch to a shampoo bar to fix it. I really like the Source Foods shampoo bar, which I buy from my local Source store in Victoria Park.

There are heaps of brands making solid shampoo soap and most people find it takes a while to find one that works with their hair. (I’ve only tried two, the Source one is great, the other was not great at all.) If you don’t love the first bar you try, keep going. Some companies also make samples so you can test without committing to a huge block you don’t end up using.

Conditioner (white vinegar rinse): I still use white vinegar to rinse my hair (instructions here). I don’t use any other styling products. In fact, I still cringe at how much I used to spend on conditioner and frizz-ease hair serums when actually, white vinegar does a much better job for a fraction of the cost and with no plastic waste.

White vinegar is pretty easy to find at most bulk stores (I refill an old wine bottle), or even at the grocery store in glass. You can use apple cider vinegar as an alternative.

Plastic-Free / Zero Waste Swaps – Dental Care

Toothbrush: you’ll probably notice that my toothbrush appears to be plastic. That’s because it is plastic. But it’s not single-use: it has a replaceable head. Back in 2012 when I went plastic-free, bamboo toothbrushes were far less common and I just couldn’t get on with the two brands that were available to me. So I switched in 2014, and for the last 5 years I’ve kept the handle and replaced the heads.

The brand I have is SilverCare: it’s made in Italy (I purchased from Manna Whole Foods in South Fremantle). There’s a small amount of plastic with the packaging. Annoyingly, Silvercare changed the shape of the head recently, meaning it is harder to find the heads that fit my brush.

I’ve since found another brand Lamazuna, made in France, that uses 70% bioplastic (plastic made from plants, not fossil fuels) in the handle, and also uses no plastic packaging. I’m wondering if the Lamazuna heads fit in the Silvercare brush handle.

The heads can be recycled via Terracycle.

Toothpaste: I make my own using equal (ish) parts glycerine and sodium bicarbonate (also called baking soda, bicarb or bicarb soda) mixed together to form a paste, and I add a couple of drops of peppermint oil. I look for plant-based glycerine, and food grade bicarb.

Dental Floss: I purchase a brand called Dental Lace, who make floss from mulberry silk that is coated in a plant-based Candelilla wax. The floss comes in a refillable glass container with a metal lid, along with refillable packets of floss in certified compostable packaging. I purchase it from Urban Revolution in Victoria Park.

Plastic-Free / Zero Waste Swaps – Skincare

Bar soap: Bar soap has replaced all of the liquid products I used to use: face wash, hand wash, shower gel and body wash. After being terrified of making soap for far too long, I finally gave it a crack at the end of last year and am pleased to say it is not as hard or dangerous as I thought. I made soap with coconut oil, olive oil and rice bran oil, and I’m still working through that first batch.

Should soap-making not be your thing (yet), look for a good quality soap made from vegetable oils.

Almond oil: I use almond oil as a light moisturiser in summer, applying straight after a shower whilst my skin is still damp to help keep my skin hydrated. A few bulk stores sell almond oil, otherwise olive oil is just as good and even more widely available.

Oil is also an excellent make-up remover, and doesn’t sting like chemical versions do.

Cold cream: I make a cold cream for winter, which I use as moisturizer but can also be used as a cleanser. It’s a blend of beeswax, oil (rosehip if I have it, almond if I don’t, or olive oil) and water. I use a version of Galen’s cold cream (you can find my cold cream recipe here).

Deodorant: I’ve made by own deodorant since 2012. It’s a 1 minute job, literally stirring tapioca flour, bicarb and coconut oil together in a jar. Best and most important thing: it actually works! If you’re sensitive to bicarb I also have a bicarb-free deodorant DIY recipe that uses clay instead – you can find both DIY deodorant recipes here.

Sunscreen: I make my own sunscreen too, using zinc oxide powder, which is a physical barrier against UVA and UVB rays. I tend to make one batch that lasts all summer. Here’s my DIY sunscreen recipe (and more information about these products).

Make-up: I wear very little make-up. The product I use most is blusher and it is simply pink clay. There are some great small businesses out there making plastic-free and zero waste make-up and I’ve tried and would recommend both Dirty Hippie Cosmetics (Australian-based) and Clean-Faced Cosmetics (US-based).

Plastic-Free / Zero Waste Swaps – Other Bits + Pieces

Toilet paper: I’ve used Who Gives a Crap toilet paper since it launched in 2013. The boxes are delivered plastic-free to my doorstep. I use the wrappers for various things including picking up dog poo and gift wrapping (different pieces for each activity, clearly).

There’s another brand I’ve also tried which I liked called Pure Planet, as an alternative option.

Make-Up Rounds: The reusable make-up rounds I use are made of organic cotton (I’ve seen others made of bamboo but I prefer 100% cotton), and the fabric is offcuts from other products. The ones I have were a gift from my friend Jeanne who owns a small ethical underwear business called Pygoscelis but there are plenty of other brands, or you could even sew your own.

Cotton buds: These may be single-use, but they are also non-negotiable for me. I simply cannot stand having water in my ears! (Yes, I also know that you are not meant to put them in your eyes. What can I say? I’m livin’ on the edge.) I use 100% biodegradable ones made by Go Bamboo with a bamboo stick and cotton tip that can be composted. These are another purchase from Urban Revolution in Victoria Park.

Soap Saver: I have a little bag made of flannel for putting in scraps of soap to use rather than them going down the drain. I love this and it’s saved me so much soap and so many blocked drains! I purchased this at a market, but they are easy enough to make or track down.

These swaps might work for you, you might find something different or better, or you may not see the need for some of the things I use. There’s never a perfect way to reduce your waste, only a ‘better’ version that works for you.

All you need to do is look at the products you’re currently buying and using, and ask yourself – could I switch this out for something better?

That’s how we reduce our plastic consumption and our waste: one simple swap at a time.

Now I’d love to hear from you! What low waste/plastic-free bathroom swaps have you made? What are you still struggling with? Any products you’d recommend – or recommend steering clear of? Anything else to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

15+ Swaps for a Plastic Free Bathroom from Treading My Own Path | Zero Waste + Plastic-Free Living | Less waste, less stuff, sustainable living. Reducing plastic in the bathroom, low waste bathroom swaps, how to make the bathroom zero waste, choose reusables, bamboo toothbrush, zero waste dental care, reduce plastic waste, war on plastic, Plastic Free July, living with less plastic, turn the tide on plastic. More at https://treadingmyownpath.com

32 Responses to 15+ Swaps for a Plastic-Free Bathroom

    • I switched to reusables (aka cut up knit shirts) for the straightforward situations about a year ago and it’s been perfectly fine. A jar of cleans, a jar of used, toss in the wash :-). That said, I haven’t gotten the whole family on board yet . . . .

        • For me, I prefer an option that works for my whole house and also visitors and that means toilet paper – but I’ve read of plenty of people who choose reusables for number 1, and less often the whole lot. I’ve even seen reusables made up with poppers/snaps to attach each piece and then wound around a toilet roll holder like paper towel would be! If you want to do a search for it, it is often called ‘family cloth’. Good luck with the research!

      • Yes. That is what I do. Also use for skin care purposes. Especially one french terry t-shirt as it has a more scrubby side. In addition to purchasing toilet paper from recycled paper. Trader Joes, Safeway & Sprouts grocery have store brands.

    • Hey Tammar . I started using reusable toilet paper when I switched my babies to reusable wipes, because I figured if theyre doing it then why not me too! I use little bamboo wipes. It took me a few days to get my head around it, but now I wouldnt do anything else. Very simple switch.

  1. What if you want to use an electronic toothbrush? I think its better and have been recommended using them by my dentist. I don’t think a non-plastic version exists sadly

    • Natasha as long as you’re gentle with an electronic toothbrush (so the bristles don’t squash) it will last for ages. I just sterilise/clean the head periodically in a glass of white vinegar and bicarb. There’s no reason it shouldn’t last for ages – it’s only the manufacturers that encourage changing every 3 months…

    • I’m not sure it does either Natasha, but you can still look after the heads to make sure they last, and then recycle them through Terracycle. Even with an electric toothbrush, there are still at least 14 other swaps to consider ;) Don’t let one thing put you off!

  2. Also old fashioned soap shakers for washing dishes.
    I am about to purchase one – seems like I have to get it from NZ!!!!

  3. Thanks for the info about the eco-friendly dental floss. I’ve been searching for good options. Quick question: how does the DIY deodorant feel on the underarms? Do you find that it gets sticky in high humidity?

  4. i agree—the bathroom is one of the easier places to go plastic-free, and it is very rewarding to do! natural hair care has been game-changing for me, 100% win. shampoo bars work ok for me, but are tricky for those who have hard water. the vinegar as conditioner i have found to be brilliant. i make our toothpaste/powder, mouthwash, face scrub, and facial serum; all way cheaper and better than anything i ever bought. i use bamboo toothbrushes, but hubby won’t. we use bar soap (bulk bars of castile or locally made goat milk), and plain coconut oil to remove makeup or for body moisturiser. i use tiny amounts of weleda baby cream or dr. hauschka rose cream as a face moisturiser, and one small metal tube lasts me 6 months. for deodorant i use plain milk of magnesia, and/or incense powders i get in wee glass jars which get re-used for homemade cosmetic stuff or travel.my daughter uses (and i used until menopause) menstrual cups very happily. i also have the silk floss in glass, with its refills, and really prefer it. the makeup i use comes from an eco-friendly small businessperson working from her home. we do the homemade soap saver trick too. we have loofahs instead of those plastic scrubby things. we get the recycled paper loo rolls and non-plastic cotton swabs that are the old style with the cardboard middle. i even found it’s possible–and quicker—to scrape off nail polish after a bath with the side of a nail file rather than using the polish removers, so i don’t buy that anymore for my pedicures. i make my own glitter polish with biodegradable glitters now.i hope to try your clay-based deodorant recipe too, so i’m headed to that link next! the bathroom cabinets are less cluttered, and i really love everything we use so much more than i ever did the bought products. the waste stream from the bath is hugely curtailed. we save money, too. it’s all winning!

  5. I make my own deodorant from your recipe Lindsey and wouldn’t go back to shop bought one’s. It works a treat and lasts all day.
    Swapped most of my bathroom items now but just need to replace my razors.

    • I love it when simple things just work, Eve! Glad to hear it’s working for you :) I still have my extremely old and barely working plastic razor, it’s on its last legs now for sure so that will be replaced soon… But I’m just squeezing the last drop of life from the plastic one first…

  6. My daughter has switched to a wooden-handled razor with replaceable blades, following father’s footsteps! They share a batch of blades which come in cardboard packaging and lasts them ages.

  7. As a guy I have been using an electric razor for 95% of my shaves instead of disposable razors or razors with disposable blades. I also keep my soap shards but place them into my linen drawers to keep them smelling fresh and discourage wrigglies

  8. Really liked the concept of toothbrush with replaceable heads. Would definitely give it a try. I personally don’t like bamboo toothbrushes and glad to found this alternative. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I have just come across this item – Natural Bamboo Compostable Bandages, providing us with an alternative to the traditional plastic strips which are contributing to plastic pollution. These can be composted after use. Here is a link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffzViHoHi9A
    and read more about this product here – https://patchstrips.com/

    “PATCH is crafted with 100% organic bamboo fibre with the added natural goodness of activated charcoal, aloe vera and coconut oil.”

  10. I collect the soap “ends” in a lidded jam jar. when half full I pour on boiling water and shake until soap melted. dilute 200% and use in washing machine instead of powder. ideal for delicates/woollens.
    Barbara UK
    I purchased a cube mineral (looks like a large icecube) in a market in Italy. you just wet the end and use as a deodorant. wonderful even in our recent heatwave!!
    Barbara UK
    I use a bar soap named after a fruit for hair washing. just one lathering and a rinse and really clean. about an 1\8 of the price of shampoo bars!
    Barbara UK

  11. I found a great company here in Germany called Bambusliebe from whom I get dental floss in tiny glass tube with metal top; makeup remover pads out of cotton, washable; paper towels reusable and washable…also got a wash ball (I have to say it does look like plastic but it does seem to work well…you put in the sun after using…saves money and all those cleaning chemicals); just trying interdental brushes; toothpaste from Humble (co. in Stockholm). Looking now for a deodorant. Thank all of you for your thoughtful ideas and suggestions–I have so much to learn and far to go til I am where you all seem to be. I am about to take up your suggestion to cut up a knit shirt and use for toilet paper thingies. Oh and Bambusliebe–they send you things in light cardboard…very environmentally friendly.

    Jean Kroeber
    Germany

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