Here are some of our favourite zero waste simple swaps for your bathroom! The bathroom can seem like a difficult place to get started, but it's actually quite easy. These swaps are usually cheaper in the long run, last a lot longer, and are definitely better for the environment. You're in the bathroom every day - why not invest?
1. Disposable Pads & Tampons → Reusable Pads & Cups
This one may sound difficult to adapt to, but we promise it's not! While there is an adjustment period, it doesn't take long for you to figure out the process of using and cleaning reusable period products. While it does take a little bit more time, you'll see that it makes sense from an economic, ecological perspective, and it's just better for your body.
The average person who menstruates spends $65.82 a year on their pads and tampons every year, before taxes. A Diva cup (one of many reusable alternatives to tampons) costs $40 and can last up to 10 years. Cloth pads cost between $24 - $30.50 for two, and can last up to 5 years. Not only do they make financial sense, but they're much better for the environment, and your body.
Disposable pads and tampons are both made mostly from plastic. Although the plastic applicators in tampons can technically be recycled, due to sanitary reasons they are not accepted and have to go to landfills. If the average person uses 25 pads or tampons per cycle, that's about 12,000 plastic products thrown into the trash in one lifetime, per person. This could drastically be reduced with reusable products! Not only are the products made of plastic, but they also come in individually wrapped plastic packaging, that's even more single-use plastic being disposed of in a matter of seconds.
Finally, this simple swap is great because it's better for your body. Tampons and disposable pads can give you Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) because of the way they absorb blood. Diva cups are not at risk of this because they collect blood, not absorb it. Reusable pads do not offer any additional risk of TSS either. Disposable pads also use harsh chemicals that disrupt hormones.
Reusable pads are often made from materials such as cotton or hemp, and so they don't have harsh chemicals, and are much more comfortable to wear. Reusable period products are better for your body. Not everyone around the world uses disposable period products! Before this industry was created, people everywhere used reusable cloths, because it worked. Give this swap a try!
2. Plastic Comb → Wooden Comb
Obviously don't throw away a working comb to buy a wooden one. But, if you're in the market to buy a new comb, or want to replace a broken one, this simple swap is for you. This is an easy way to remove more plastic from your life. Combs last a long time, and wooden combs last even longer, so it's worth the investment! Their brittles are often made from higher quality ingredients that are better your your scalp and hair. If the brittles are also made from wood, it helps spread your natural hair oils throughout your hair for healthier, shiner hair. It also encourages bloodflow in your scalp, it's better for you in so many ways.
To keep your wooden comb clean just remove the stuck hair, and keep it stored in a place that isn't as humid (so maybe not right in the bathroom). Once in a while you can also rub coconut oil into it and let it rest, then take a soft cloth and remove the oil from the comb.
3. Liquid Body Wash (in a plastic container) → Bar Soap
Bar soap is old school cool, and it's a great simple swap for your showers. Liquid body wash is fine if you can get it from a refillery. However, this isn't an option for everyone. Bar soap can always be found, and it's much better because it comes in paper packaging instead of a single-use plastic bottle. Moreover, liquid soap is mostly water and it takes a lot of energy (and a lot of carbon emissions) to transport it. Bar soap is the pure, concentrated, good stuff!
Many local businesses, artisans' markets and farms sell homemade soap bars - that would be a great way to get it package-free! This isn't a difficult swap, it may take some time for you to adjust to using bar soap instead of liquid but we promise it'll be worth it!
4. Disposable Razor → Stainless Steel Razor
Disposable razors are often used if you're in a pinch, or maybe a new location. However, they're not great for the environment since they're mostly made of plastic and are designed to be disposed of after a few uses. They're difficult and often impossible to recycle because they're usually made of several materials such as different types of plastic, rubber, metal. They're also usually not disposed of properly, and because of their sharp blades they're a hazard to workers at waste disposal plants. They also usually come in single-use plastic packaging!
Reusable stainless steel razors are a great replacement and they're far cheaper over time. The base of the razor can last a lifetime if taken properly, you can likely even buy a base from your local vintage shop! They're meant to last, so the only disposable part of them are the actual stainless steel razors. However, even these can be recycled. If you buy a blade bank, you can put all your razors in there and then put it in your recycling bin. This simple swap is especially good for people who shave multiple times a week - it'll definitely save you money!
5. Moisturizer → Oil
The problem with moisturizers and creams is their plastic packaging. They often come in smaller packages with more plastic than product! While this isn't always the case, the plastic is guaranteed, and getting package-less moisturizer isn't available to everyone.
If you can, use coconut, olive oil or jojoba oil, which are all great moisturizers for different types of skin. While this may not be perfect for everyone, there's usually some type of oil that works for each person. If you're not comfortable using it on your face, you can use it as body moisturizer. These natural oils have several benefits - if used properly they can be used as an anti-inflammatory, they contain skin boosting anti-oxidants, and healthy fatty acids that treat and create healthy skin. Try out this simple swap!
6. Plastic Toothbrush → Bamboo Toothbrush
You're supposed to change your toothbrush every 3-4 months. In one lifetime that's about 300 toothbrushes, per person. Consider that that's one small item per person, and there are so many other items that we throw out without a second thought.
Plastic toothbrushes are not recyclable, they go straight into the trash. Just in North America over 1 billion toothbrushes end up in the landfill every year. Making these small changes as a consumer makes a difference over time because companies will realize that people want more environmentally friendly products, and they'll produce those instead. Plastics last hundreds of years until they decompose, and they can release toxins and chemicals into the air, further polluting the environment.
Bamboo toothbrushes are a great replacement because bamboo decomposes much faster in comparison and doesn't release toxic chemicals into the environment as plastic toothbrushes do. . They feel great and are more sturdy. While they're usually a bit more expensive than plastic toothbrushes, you can feel better about the environmental impact of your purchase!
7. Toothpaste → Tooth Tabs
Toothpaste! This simple swap may be harder for some people because we've grown up using toothpaste and are given toothpaste and a plastic toothbrush every time we visit the dentist. Recycling toothpaste tubes is impossible because of the small size and flexibility and the fact that there's always leftover toothpaste inside. It also comes in extra paper packaging on top of the plastic.
Tooth tabs are a fascinating new invention! You simply take one, pop it in your mouth, chew for a few seconds and let it mix with your saliva. Then, brush your teeth like normal and voilà! They usually come in glass bottles that you can reuse, and you may be able to find refillable tooth tabs so that way you don't have to buy a new bottle every time.
Similar to toothbrushes, you may end up paying a little more, but the environmental impact of tooth tabs is far less compared to toothpaste tubes. They're also perfect when you're on the go. Whether you're at a hotel, going camping or having a sleepover, they're easy to pack and use!
8. Facial Pads → Fabric Facial Pads
Facial pads are great for removing makeup, applying certain types of toners, and whatever else you can think of! They're usually made out of cotton, which takes a lot of resources to create for something to end up in the landfill after a single use. If you're using 2 pads a day that's 730 pads a year.
Fabric facial pads are the same product you love, but better quality and they'll last for years! They're made from great ingredients such as bamboo or hemp, so they'll be softer on your skin. You can replace at least 730 pads from going to the landfill, and continue to use your favourite product! You can usually put the fabric facial pads straight into the laundry, or hand wash them, it's up to you. This is a very easy swap that makes a big impact.
We hope these easy simple swaps help your bathroom go zero waste. If you know any more awesome swaps that we missed, please leave a comment or get in touch!