Several years ago some friends were visiting us and we were talking about waste, and one of them said that in some cases it was simply impossible to avoid problematic products, for example: toothbrushes. I ran to the cabinet, grabbed a box of bamboo toothbrushes and showed it to her. She was shocked and she had no idea they even existed as she used to get these products from the supermarkets/pharmacies.
This was maybe 4-5 years, slowly I have seen how some of these products are becoming more common, but still so many people don’t know there are alternatives that generate less waste and cause less harm to the environment.
As a continuation of my post about simplifying and reducing waste in the bathroom, today I am writing about five alternatives to replace some rudimentary objects we buy and use on regular basis in our bathroom. There are always opportunities to reduce waste around the house.
1. Shampoo Bars instead of regular liquid shampoo
As the name indicates, these products substitute liquid shampoo and they are shaped like the regular soap bar. The nice part is that you can buy them loose or with little packaging, so no plastic is required.
I wrote a full post abut shampoo bars a couple of months ago, but I had to include them in this list because everyone buys shampoo. Imagine if most people switched to shampoo bars….Wow, the waste reduction would be significant.
All the details about my experience switching to shampoo bar is in my previous post, so I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it.
I have been using shampoo bars for around 5 months now and I am happy with the result, they do the same job as conventional liquid shampoo; it is a matter of being willing to try something different and find a brand you like and works well for your type of hair.
2. Safety Razors instead of plastic razors
These metal razors are basically the reusable, plastic-free alternative to regular disposable plastic razors. The investment is higher at first, but it is so much cheaper in the long run and best of all no plastic waste.
If let’s say I pay $40 for a safety razor (there are cheaper and also more expensive ones), the only recurrent expense is the blade and it is usually inexpensive. A pack of 100 blades can cost something between $10- $20. My husband has been using his safety razor for maybe 3-4 years and he still has the same first pack of blades he bought at that time.
In my case, I am still using my old plastic razor, I have had it for maybe 13 years – it is one of those you only replace the blade (which last for several months). However, this year trying a safety razor is in my to-do list, my goal is to switch to this method too.
I haven’t tried before because I still had several boxes of spare blades for my razor and to be honest the waste generated is minimal compared to other changes I have been working in the past few years – remember the pareto principle?… I’ll write about my experience later in the year.
3. Bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic toothbrush
Most people change their toothbrushes every 3 months, that’s at least 4 a year, multiply that for millions of people using them and the numbers are staggering. Let’s remember conventional toothbrushes are made with synthetic materials like plastic, rubber and nylon.
Often these plastic toothbrushes end up in landfill polluting the environment for hundreds of years and some are even found in the oceans and waterways.
On the other hand, bamboo is considered a greener material. Researching I found few interesting facts to understand why:
- They grow fast “Bamboos include some of the fastest-growing plants in the world, due to a unique rhizome-dependent system” (source)
- “Can absorb as much as 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare per year” (source)
- “Produces more than 35% more oxygen than trees” (source)
- “Unlike hardwood trees, bamboo regrows after harvesting, just as grass regrows after cutting. After it is mature, bamboo can be harvested every single year for the life of the plant.” (source)
- “Plant bamboo on a steep slope or riverbank and it prevents mudslides and erosion” (source)
So given all these good aspects of bamboo, these days we can find many brands of toothbrushes made from this material.
Bamboo vs conventional toothbrushes
At the moment, majority of toothbrushes are not fully compostable or biodegradable (few brands are but they include animal products or the lifespan is really short), as they usually use nylon 6 for the bristles, so they are not “perfect”. However, they are way better than conventional plastic toothbrushes.
Note: if you are using plastic toothbrushes, check what recycling options are available in your country. Here in Australia Terracycle has the “Oral care recycling program“, all you have to do is drop them in any participating public locations near you (use the map in the website).
4. Dental Floss in glass/cardboard instead of plastic
Did you know you can get dental floss not packaged in plastic? for instance, in a glass tube dispenser you can reuse and only buy the refill? Of course, you won’t find these products in the supermarket, but many online and health shops sell them.
Some brands are made out of natural silk, while other versions are made with synthetic nylon or bioplastic (e.g. made from cornstarch). I personally don’t like silk because the way this material is made (you can learn about it here). I think it is a matter of making a decision based on what’s important to you, I am a firm believer that we should spend our money wisely, aligning our purchases with our values. So check what’s available in your country.
In any case, all of these options have plastic-free packaging, they aim to reduce waste and reuse materials which is brilliant.
5. Reusable face rounds instead of disposable cotton rounds
Disposable rounds are made from conventional cotton, which uses incredible amounts of water (and also fertilisers and pesticides). According to WWF:
“20,000 litres…The amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of cotton; equivalent to a single t-shirt and pair of jeans”
That incredible amount of water, for something that will be used once and disposed, to me it doesn’t make sense.
A couple of months ago, I bought some reusable face rounds for one of my friends. She looked surprised, she told me she had never seen those. I asked her later how she went with them and she told me she has been using them on regular basis and she really likes them.
Mine are made from hemp and organic cotton. I bought them on Etsy.com. If you are in Melbourne you can also find reusable face rounds in Here and There Makers or if you are crafty you can even make them yourself, this video show you how.
Reusable face rounds
It is a very simple concept and if you wear make-up on regular basis, these little rounds will save you money too!
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” – Theodore Roosevelt
That’s it for today, I hope you have learned a little something. Let me know in the comments below: Have you tried any of these options? any piece of advice you want to share? Please share with friends and family, we need more people to see that there are options to reduce waste and save money in the process.
I’ll catch up with you on social media