Now that we’ve got most aspects of the kitchen and grocery shop ‘zero wasted’ I have turned some attention to the bathroom AKA ‘stealth plastic land’. Seriously, this is a room that quietly accumulates plastic ‘containered’ (tubed, bottled, bagged) products, laden with unpronounceable (and often questionable) ingredients.
One of the simplest changes that we made a while back was going back in time to package free, bar soap. We buy our soap with literally zero packaging by finding the small scale sellers at markets and well, lots of places (they’re popping up everywhere – you’ll see them everywhere now that I’ve said that). The bars go straight into my shopping bag.
The old bars just get ‘smushed’ onto the next one so that they’re not wasted. Do you like our clam soap holder?
Another simple but significant change that we’ve made has been this guy here:
The safety razor.
We purchased this one from The Shaver Shop for roughly $30 (there are different types at different prices) although they can also be found second hand (no dramas with buying the razor used, it’s really only the blades that you wouldn’t want to share). The boxes of razor blades cost about $5 for 10 blades and I have read that if you are diligent about removing them and drying them off after use each blade can last a couple of months. Winning.
Compared to disposables this is definitely the better option for both the environment and your wallet. The most environmentally friendly option is the cut throat razor (as they don’t need replacing, just sharpening), but even the name of that gives me the heeby jeebies… If you’re skilful enough and brave enough (I’m not, my stomach is churning as I write this) they’re certainly out there and do an excellent job.
The safety razor takes a little getting used to for someone who is used to disposables. Slow and steady wins this race; but you’ll find that as you get used to it you gain a little more speed. I’m almost getting brave enough to do my knees now! Almost. I’m creeping up on them. (I only use the razor for my legs as I have an depilatory machine for underarms and other areas that might otherwise be waxed).
In terms of shaving foam/cream – the old fashioned bowl, soap bar and brush sets are definitely making a comeback!
Another change that I’ve made after some broad online reading in zero waste communities is toothpaste. I’ve stopped using it. Instead, I use this:
‘Toothpaste’ a combination of coconut oil, baking soda and stevia. I probably won’t bother with adding the stevia next time as I don’t think it’s necessary.
That’s a combination of coconut oil, baking soda and stevia (the natural stevia is what makes it green). Oh, and that’s a bamboo handled brush (I’ll still have to throw away the bristles, but the handle will be buried in the back garden when I’m done).
After using this for about a month my teeth feel fantastic. They’re possibly whiter than with regular toothpaste and they feel very clean. I’m going for my 6 monthly check up soon so after receiving confirmation from an expert that my teeth are still healthy I’m hoping to bring the rest of my household on board with this.
There are a number of recipes for zero waste toothpaste online. Some add a touch of peppermint oil (for if you love the minty sensation) or other ingredients, but so far I’m happy with this one.
I looked into quite a few options before making a decision about toilet paper. Factors in this included: packaging, percentage recycled paper used, availability.
I was close to buying a paper wrapped package of 6 rolls from the corner shop, but ended up opting for Who Gives a Crap* and their bulk buy home delivery. I like the fact that my purchase supports sanitation projects in developing countries, and, their subscription system is very convenient.
This will be a work in progress. So far:
- I had recently purchased a new face cream before committing to going zero waste, so I have until that plastic tube runs out to figure out a more sustainable alternative. Similar story with shampoo and conditioner. Throw your ideas at me on this one!
- I have had an attempt at making body cream using a recipe I found online (a combination of coconut oil, cocoa butter and olive oil) but I’m not shouting its successes from the rooftops. It is ok. It’s doing the job for the moment, but I need to work on this one (I got something wrong and the texture isn’t quite right). If anyone can suggest a way of buying shea butter from bulk in Melbourne I’d be able to try another recipe that I’ve been looking at. Let me know!
- Not being a big makeup wearer, I have a bit of time up my sleeve before I need to start making any real substitutions here. I’ve been doing some homework about the ingredients in cosmetic products though and may find myself simplifying my makeup bag further before actually needing to buy or make anything new.
Let’s face it, most of these changes are by no means ‘new’ or ‘modern’, rather they are a return (or thereabouts) to a former, simpler way of doing things. Much of this involves going back to the way things were done before we had the convenience of plastic packaging. So far, it’s been a lot easier and simpler than I would have expected.