Hey guys, achieving zero waste is not easy, so don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. It is, however, super easy to make small changes that can significantly reduce your use of plastic and reduce the total amount of waste you produce.
In this article we look at five simple zero waste bathroom swaps, because the bathroom is one of the easiest places to reduce your environmental impact.
None on the suggestions we are about to give require you to make anything. Neither do you have to throw anything away. If you have something you are using already, simply replace the item with the zero-waste option once it run out or needs to be replaced.
Believe it or not, we can make a positive impact by changing everything, right down to our loo paper.
Loo paper is made from virgin wood fibres or in some cases, from a combination of recycled paper pulp mixed in water with chemical sulphates which help it break it down, starches that create wet strength and chemicals to make it white. Virgin fibre loo rolls are made from softwood and hardwood trees.
Not only are we cutting the tree down, wiping our bottoms and flushing them down the loo, but we’re consuming lots of energy and water along the way.
Going treeless in the bathroom
Going treeless in the bathroom has never been easier with companies like who gives a crap (genius name!), who believe that trees should be for hugging, not wiping! The team at Who Gives A Crap make loo paper using bamboo or 100% recycled paper. They donate 50% of their profits to fund the building of toilets in underdeveloped countries and to date they have donated over $2.6 million dollars to charity, and saved a lot of trees, water and energy.
Another brand to check out is the The Cheeky Panda, who offer a range of boxed tissues, loo paper, baby wipes and kitchen towels all made from bamboo.
Both brands deliver your loo paper completely plastic free too.
Bamboo is a grass and does not require replanting after it's been harvested. A bamboo forest can produce up to 30 times more oxygen and absorb over 35 times more carbon than a hardwood forest. Bamboo tissue paper is 100% biodegradable too, so it causes less problems than wood pulp loo paper when it gets to the treatment plant.
It's a quick-growing, versatile product. In fact, the world record for the fastest growing plant belongs to certain species of bamboo, which has been found to grow at up to 91 cm in a single day.
The natural property of bamboo produces strong loo paper, and it's incredibly soft and cool to touch too, making it the perfect tissue to have in the bathroom. Combining strength, softness and coolness results in loo paper that surpasses any others available.
Razors with disposable heads and fully disposable plastic razors are a blight on our environment. According to a report in 2018 by Statista, 163 million consumers in the U.S. used disposable razors, and they are inherently difficult to recycle. Many are made with mixed materials, such as rubber on the handle and since all of them contain plastic, this means continued use of fossil fuels for a product that will end up in a landfill.
It's not just convenience that makes us buy disposable razors, it's the marketing too. We are led to believe that a razor with 4 blades is better than 3, and WOW what a revolution when a razor was made with 5 blades! The reality is that all these blades mean more irritation to your skin.
Shave like your grandpa
As with many waste free solutions, we must look back in history to see how our ancestors did things. Before the industrial revolution and the creation of plastic, men would use a straight razor or safety razor. This is why the safety razor is having a revival, it worked then, and it still works now.
It's better for your skin
According to West Coast Shaving, shaving with a safety razor reduces skin irritation, shave bumps, and ingrown hairs that are common with cartridge or electric razors. The main reason for this, is that with a safety razor you only have one blade against your skin at any time. The less times that you rake your face with a blade, the happier it is going to be.
Shaving with a safety razor does require a slightly different technique and there are lots of tutorials on the internet if you are not accustomed to using this style of razor.
Did we forget to mention that, using a safety razor gives you a much closer save and is significantly cheaper than using disposables.
Shampoo soaps have been a popular choice for women for years, and brands like Lush, have been making plastic free, handmade soaps for more than 20 years. Today, Lush are just one of many brands making shampoo and conditioner bars for both men and women.
How To Use A Shampoo Bar
There are only two ways to use a shampoo bar. Lather the bar in your hands and then work the lather into your hair. You can add more as needed. Alternatively, you can rub the bar directly on your hair. After your hair is covered well, leave the shampoo in for a minute or two and then rinse thoroughly. Voila!
Did you know that every plastic toothbrush you have ever used still exists on the planet somewhere? Plastic toothbrushes take hundreds of years to break down. Swapping to a bamboo toothbrush is one of the easiest swaps to make.
Where to buy a bamboo toothbrush
You will not find bamboo brushes on every supermarket shelf, so you need to be slightly more organised when you are nearing the end of the life of your brush. However, bamboo brushes are easily purchased in multi packs from brands such as Bamwoo where you can buy up to a year's supply at one time. Plus, the team at Bamwoo will plant 1 tree for every brush they sell.
A bamboo toothbrush will work in the same way as a plastic toothbrush and the bristles will still wear down over time. The major different, is that Bamboo toothbrushes are compostable, 100% vegan and the handles are naturally antibacterial.
Disposing of your bamboo toothbrush
The whole idea of using a bamboo toothbrush is to reduce your environmental impact so it's important to dispose of it properly, to ensure as much of the brush breaks down as possible. The bare toothbrush handle can be disposed of in a commercial composting bin and will safely return to the soil within 6 months. Or you can compost it in your own home. Disposing of your brush is a quick and easy process.
Find a clear space in the bathroom or kitchen and lay out a kitchen towel. Using a pair or tweezers or pliers, pull out the bristles in small clumps. One you have them all out, you can compost or recycled your handle.
The bristles should go into a plastic recycling bin but not in the mixed recyclables. The bristles are too small for mixed recyclable bins and they will probably not get recycled. Instead, put them inside a plastic bottle. This could be stored for as long as possible until you are ready to dispose of it properly.
There is more to owning a bamboo or wooden brush or comb than just reducing waste. The natural wooden bristles help to naturally condition your hair, and evenly distribute your hair’s natural oils down each hair. The bristles don't produce any static either, and they are gentle on your scalp and durable.
Wooden bristles give the feeling of massaging fingers on your scalp which can increase circulation on your scalp, bringing nutrients to your follicles.
Many wooden hairbrushes and combs are crafted from bamboo too which is a super sustainable material.
Going waste free has another benefit too. Less clutter in the bathroom and in the cupboards, results in less time cleaning and a minimalist bathroom can be relaxing space to be in.
Zero waste maybe tough to achieve in every aspect our lives but being low waste is infinitely easier. We promise you, that once you realise how easy it is, you might be encouraged to make zero waste swaps elsewhere too.
Reducing waste is a priority for us here at Watson & Wolfe too. Our materials are all produced on rolls, which means we can cut our patterns incredibly efficiently. All the remnants are sent to a textile recycling plant where they are reused or re-purposed.
Recycling plastic bottles is a big part of what we do too, which means we can make big savings on water consumption, energy and CO2 output. Remember, every little thing we do both personally and through the course of our business all adds up to make a difference on a global scale.