How to have a plastic free and zero waste bathroom?
If you have been thinking "how can I be more sustainable during this Plastic Free July?", your bathroom is the easiest and most enjoyable place where to start.
If you have decided to join the challenge, more on this on the blog Plastic Free July - Join the Challenge!, and make changes in your lifestyle that help take care of the planet and the people, here you will find some sustainable alternatives to take care of you while enjoying plastic free and zero waste hygiene!
Plastic problem and bathroom waste
During our lifetimes we create on average up to 512 kg of bathroom waste. Most of this waste comes from hygiene products that not only are often not natural but come packaged in useless and harmful plastic.
Most of the plastic waste we generate in the bathroom ends up in landfills polluting our oceans and environments.
You may be thinking..
"Why my plastic goes to the landfill, if I recycle?"
Well, the answer is uncomfortable and complex but to keep it short there are two main reasons:
- Less than 50% of all plastic that we put in the recycling bin is actually recycled. For example, in Spain, although it has the obligation to recycle and prepare for re-use at least 50% of all waste, in line with European guidelines and the Spanish Waste Law from 2011, a recent study found that the estimate is 35% recycled in 2018, far from the goal. Now, the Spanish Government is being taken to EU courts to respond for their inactivity.
- Most of the products in your bathroom are either non-recyclable like toothpaste tubes and sanitary pads or they are difficult to recycle like plastic bottles. Because people forget to clean the products before recycling them or because they are made with a mix of materials that can not be separated we find ourselves full of waste without a sustainable way to dispose of it.
How long do Everyday Bathroom Plastics take to decompose?
So now you now that the bathroom waste that we generate and all that plastic is most of the time not recycled and ends up in nature. But do you know how long it takes for it to decompose once in nature?
- The cotton pads that we use to remove our make up or to apply cosmetics to our skin can take 4-5 months to decompose. Use Reusable Cotton Rounds that will save all that waste as well as saving you money!
- Wet Wipes, the versatile wipes that we use to clean our faces, remove makeup, clean the bums of the little ones or clean our menstrual cups can take up to 100 years to decompose! They are mostly done with plastic and are also non recyclable. Choose Compostable Wet Wipes made from wood pulp and perfect for delicate skin.
- Those shower gel bottles that we use and discard almost every month will take 450 years to decompose. Not so fun our showers anymore right? But we can use plastic free solid shower gel that is natural, vegan, zero waste and on top of all that feels absolutely amazing on the skin!
- Tampons and sanitary pads that help us get through our periods will be in nature for at least 500 years before they decompose. Made with combinations of cotton and plastic they are not recyclable, not compostable and definitely not good for the environment. If disposable works best for you we recommend you to use plastic free ones like these. If you feel like completely changing how you experience and start having worry free periods we recommend you to check the Organicup Menstrual Cup.
- Since most of the toothpaste tubes are not recycled and end up in nature, these will take more than 500 years before they disappear. A little bit too long to only clean our teeth don't you think? Luckily there are awesome plastic free toothpastes and alternatives that take good care of your oral hygiene while taking care of the planet. Have a look at this range of oral products free of plastic and sustainable.
How to tackle Bathroom Plastic Waste?
You have now seen the roots of the problem with plastic waste and inefficiencies in the recycling process. Now you know that all that plastic we generate in the bathroom may be around for longer than the children of your grandchildren. This is not fun at all but there are many things you can do to make your bathroom a sustainable and joyful sanctuary!
- Think Solid. Start thinking of using solid soap bars for your hair, body and face. You will save hundreds of plastic bottles and they are a whole fun experience. Also they produce less CO2 to transport and last much longer, also saving you money.
- Think Sustainable Packaging. For those products that is difficult to find without packaging try to look for packagings that are either compostable like Denttabs or from materials highly recyclable and plastic free like these from Ben&Anna.
- Whenever possible and whenever you feel ready, swap single-use products in your bathroom for sustainable reusable alternatives. For example your period tampons and pads can be swapped by a reusable menstrual cup. Or the disposable and non-recyclable razors can be substituted by a Reusable Safety Razor.
- Use recycled toilet paper that comes in recyclable and recycled paper packaging. We recommend you this fun and gentle on your bum sustainable toilet paper. For those of you most adventurous and ready to choose the most sustainable alternative we recommend you to look into Tushy Bidet easy to install in your toilet. Say goodbye to toilet paper altogether.
Essentials for a Plastic Free Bathroom
We have put together a list of super awesome essentials to help you transform your bathroom and to start this Plastic Free July with plastic free and zero waste hygiene.
- Solid Natural Shower Gel from Shower Blocks
- Solid Shampoo from Inuit
- Mineral Sunscreen from Suntribe
- Menstrual Cup from Organicup
- Reusable Period Pads
- Luffa Sponge
- Bamboo Toothbrush
- Plastic Free Tootpaste from Ben&Anna
- Sustainable and Fairtrade Condoms from Einhorn
Now you have the knowledge, the solutions and the power to go and transform your daily hygiene into a sustainable and joyful ritual. Make sure to teach and share what you learn along the way, because together we are the solution!