A few years ago, I started making my own body products. I wasn’t being cool and zero waste, I was being cheap. But when I started to learn about the zero waste movement, my efforts ended up melding into a general combined push to not produce as much garbage in my home. This is a long process and I am certainly not anywhere near being truly zero waste, but I have definitely made progress. That’s all that counts.
The awesome thing about zero waste is that it usually goes hand-in-hand with using more simple, healthy ingredients and less chemicals. So it’s a win-win for you and the environment!
Here are some products that I now use in my becoming-zero-waste bathroom. Some of them are homemade, some of them are store-bought.
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This is definitely not a groundbreaking idea. In fact, it’s just one of those old-school things that shouldn’t have faded. It works just as well as liquid soap, if not better. I make my own, using this recipe from The Prairie Homestead. It’s so simple and you never have to worry about your dispenser breaking. The kids also love feeling the slick bar as they roll it around in their hands!
When I heard about shampoo bars, I thought it was such a weird idea because I had used liquid shampoo all my life. But they are actually pretty awesome and perform as well or better than liquid shampoo. It takes a little while to learn how to use them, but once you learn, they are wonderful. I make them myself, using Wellness Mama’s recipe. They are a pretty awesome alternative to bottled shampoo. It’s not totally zero waste since the soapmaking ingredients come in plastic, but it’s a fraction of the plastic use compared to store-bought shampoos. The bars have a great lather and I make it from my homemade tallow. (Same process as lard!) There are several companies that make good shampoo soaps if you’re not into making your own soap.
I was newly interested in a no-chemical life when I went to my first Norwex party and their rags totally dazzled me. They are made of mircrofiber, which grabs bacteria off your surface. Basically these rags mitigate a need for most cleaning products because all you need for cleaning is your Norwex rag and water. The EnviroCloth is their main workhorse cleaning rag, and I have really enjoyed using mine. I wash all my bathroom surfaces with the EnviroCloth and I love the way it leaves the surfaces shiny and clean. I use it with a Window Cloth to clean my bathroom mirror and it leaves it spotless. (At least until a greasy little hand comes along!)
Norwex’s Body Cloth
The Body Cloth is similar to the EnviroCloth, except it is smaller and thinner. I have loved mine. It is really good at removing dead skin and excess oil from the skin. Soaping your entire body every day disrupts the micro-biome (beneficial bacteria) that colonize your skin and protect you from disease. It also strips the oils from your skin, which can lead to overly dry or oily skin. Because of this rag, I’m able to get my skin clean without using soap. It makes my face feel so clean. It also helps me get a better shave on my legs.
Toothpaste almost always comes in a plastic container. Even the “natural” ones have stuff in them that I don’t want in my mouth. We have tried many different toothpastes: Coconut oil and baking soda, just coconut oil, herbal tooth powder, and Bentonite clay powder. But whatever weird new DIY toothpaste I am trying at the moment, I always house them in the same cute little jar. We also whittle chopsticks flat on the end and scrape our teeth. This works great for a once-a-week deep clean.
I make my own deodorant and I swear by it. I mix 2 parts coconut oil with 1 part baking soda and about 10-20 drops of anti-fungal essential oil (I usually use tea tree or lavender). It is the most effective deodorant I have tried. This is also the most zero waste too, since I reuse the same little glass jar over and over. It’s a little more messy than stick deodorant because you have to apply with your fingertips, but man, does this stuff block odor. I can even spread it on after I stink and it kills the smell.
The best zero waste conditioner option I have used is a apple cider vinegar rinse. I am beyond pleased with this method and it’s so simple. Add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water. Many people apply it with a spray bottle, which worked for me until the vinegar “mother” that formed in the bottle clogged my sprayer. So… now I just unscrew the lid and dump it on my hair! I would recommend storing it in an upcycled bottle, such as a kombucha bottle or a castille soap bottle. After I pour the conditioner on my hair, I let it sit for a minute and then I rinse. It leaves my hair tangle-free and super soft. I feel the main drawback is how difficult it is to apply. It’s hard to get the right amount on my hair, not get it in my eyes, and deal with the fact that it feels really cold in the winter! But for me, it’s worth it. (Do you know of a better way to apply it? I’d love to hear in the comments below!)
I’m not a fancy person and my skincare routine is very simple. Once I get out of the shower, I rub coconut oil on my face, legs, and arms and call it good. It makes my skin glow. I love how simple it is and that I don’t have to make another body product.
Yeah, I’m one of those people that uses a menstrual cup. I’m also one of those people who loves my menstrual cup. It feels great to not clog up the garbage can with disposable pads once a month. For leaks or light days, I have some awesome cloth pantyliners. Most disposable pads are not only super wasteful, they also have questionable ingredients, which makes me glad to wave bye-bye to Disposable-Pad-Land forever.
I have used this hairbrush for about a year now and I love it. It’s made from bamboo and boar’s hair. It is so soft and goes a good job distributing the oils in my hair and fluffing it up. The kids love using it too and they fight over it when it’s time to brush their hair. Bonus! I doubles as a back scratcher! (Or at least that’s what Elsa thinks!)
We have totally switched from tissues to hankies. I don’t see tissues as being a horrible product since they and their packaging are compostable, but they are still technically making waste. Hankies are definitely more of a hassle (just like any other washable multi-use item) but their pros far outweigh their cons. I love that they are super big and thick, so they can take on even the worst runny nose. I made some smaller ones for the kids from cute flannel fabric and they love them. They are also awesome to have in your pocket for any amount of unforeseen events (as long as they are freshly washed and not soiled yet!): Bandaging wounds, holding berries, washing faces, making a tourniquet, holding a poultice in place, a doll’s blanket… the uses are endless. I keep them in a drawer that the kids can reach.
Ways I want to improve:
- We are still using plastic toothbrushes and I want to buy wooden toothbrushes next time we get new brushes.
- I use a plastic brush to clean my toilet. When it gets worn out, I want to replace it with this.
- We still use normal floss and little plastic flossers. I’d like to switch to these.
Zero waste is always a good goal. I know it can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to change everything in one day. I want to encourage you to think about small steps you can make in your life to move towards zero waste.
What zero waste practices do you use in your bathroom? Share in the comments below!
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