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Interestingly, bathrooms are often smaller than other rooms in the house, yet tend to produce a disproportionately high level of waste. For instance, in the USA alone a billion toothbrushes are thrown away annually. It’s also been revealed that ‘fatbergs’, the horrid build-up of detritus that blocks sewers, is 93% wet wipes. In addition to this, more than half of all Brits currently don't recycle bathroom products.
To minimize the damage caused by this environmental trouble-spot you can look to transition towards a zero waste bathroom. Find out how to do just that in the article below.
Making your bathroom zero waste doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive. In fact, if you approach it sensibly, you can find yourself saving money. For instance, a great way of reducing bathroom waste is by switching to reusable items. A combination of the increasing popularity of zero-waste and sustainable products along with their longevity means that making the move will be easier on your pockets as well. If you’re crafty, could even create your own items or simply use existing ones more sparingly.
The three steps below will help kick-start your journey to a zero waste bathroom.
Step 1: Look Around
Look all around your bathroom for anything plastic, disposable, and/or single-use. Each time you find something that falls into any of these categories, make a note of it.
Step 2: Get Rid Of The Things You Never Use
Next, clear out all the things you don’t need and won’t be replacing, making sure to recycle everything that can be recycled.
This may create more waste at first, but in decluttering our spaces we then generally endeavour to keep them clear. As such, we have more incentive not to buy further single-use or packaged items.
Step 3: Replace Single Use Items With Reusable, Zero Waste Options
Circling back round, you can return to the list you made in step one. Go through each item and ask yourself whether you really need it. If so, consider whether you can buy a sustainable, single-use, or unpackaged version.
Now it’s time to set up an organizational system that can help you maintain a zero waste bathroom. The cornerstone of this strategy is to have two different bins. One bin for recycling and another for composting.
In the recycling bin, place all products made out of plastic, glass, metal, paper, and cardboard. Make sure that you separate out all materials that might be joined together. For instance, some packaging consists of plastic and cardboard. Separating the materials before binning is the goal.
In the composting bin, you can add all organic material. This should include products made from wood, cotton, and bamboo. Place hair, nail clippings, used tissues and similar items in here as well. Many of these materials will take a while to decompose under home-composting conditions. But if there’s an industrial composting facility nearby, it’s advisable to make use of this.
There are many zero waste bathroom products available today in addition to practices you can adopt to reduce your bathroom waste output. The following section highlights some of these.
Pump tops and spray bottles that contain products like shampoo can often be tricky. They're made from a variety of materials, and so must be separated before being recycled.
Firstly, reuse these containers as long as you can. They’re sturdy and will remain functional for a long time. Rather than throwing them out, take them to a store that offers refills.
Once it’s time to recycle these containers, you’ll need to properly disassemble them. To accomplish this, first take out the central tube, and cut it at the top and in the middle with pliers. This will allow you to remove the spring and separate the different parts. Then just give them a rinse and they’re fine to place in the recycling bin.
When it comes to soap, you can buy it in liquid form and then refill the container. Alternatively, you can opt for sustainable bars without packaging. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even attempt to make some yourself. Bath salts can similarly be made at home. All it requires is some Epsom salts and essential oils.
There is a range of sustainable toothbrushes to choose from. Many of these are bamboo, which is a great option as everything but the bristles are recyclable. When it comes time to throw them away, first rip the bristles out with pliers then discard the handle in the recycling bin. If you ‘re not a fan of bamboo, there are also corn-starch based toothbrushes available.
Once you’ve finished using a toothbrush, don’t just throw it in the recycling immediately though. Use it for as long as possible by transitioning it to a general cleaning utensil, for example.
Toothpaste tubes can generally only be recycled through specific programmes, such as Teracycle. Before sending them to be recycled, make sure they’re entirely empty and clean.
You could also purchase alternative products or toothpaste with a different container. In terms of the former, toothpaste powder and tablets come in reusable glass or plastic jars. With regards to the latter, you can purchase toothpaste in a metal tube, which can then easily be recycled.
When buying dental floss, avoid buying the nylon version which cannot be recycled. There are now many sustainable versions to choose from. These include floss made from corn PLA which can be composted.
You can also now purchase reusable piksters. These are available with bamboo handles, allowing you to compost and recycle the whole item after separating the wire.
When purchasing mouthwash, try to purchase glass bottles. If this is too pricey for you, then get the largest plastic container available. This will help to reduce the volume of waste you’re producing. Once you’ve finished the mouthwash, you can then reuse the container in other areas of your household or recycle it.
Avoid using disposable razors, as these are the most environmentally damaging option. There are many razors available which are made out of natural products like wood and metal. Once you’ve finished with these, separate the different materials before recycling.
You can now purchase crystal stick deodorants, which are greener than spray-on products. Many of these also come in glass, metal, and cardboard containers now. If you still have aerosol deodorants to finish, empty them completely before recycling.
Keeping your hair on point can also now be done sustainably. If you prefer brushes, you can purchase the ones that are made out of bamboo and natural rubber. These items will last years, and are entirely compostable once you’re finished with them. For those who prefer combs, a stainless steel one will not only last many years but is also easy to recycle as well.
Hairsprays and gels are available in containers made from renewable materials. You can also make your own products using natural ingredients. There are many recipes that are freely available for this on the Internet.
Single-use q-tips are terrible for the environment. Additionally, they often end up polluting our oceans. The good news is that there are high-quality reusable alternatives. LastObject’s LastSwab, for example, can be reused over a thousand times, saving the world from a significant amount of waste.
You can purchase body lotion refills without having to buy packaged material. It’s also possible to make your own at home using natural ingredients.
Moisturizer can frequently be bought as a refill from bulk sellers. Many of these products can also come complete with packaging made from recyclable materials. Remember to reuse any containers for as long as you can before recycling. You can also make your own with ingredients such as essential oils and coconuts.
Many lip balm brands now offer their goods in reusable or compostable containers. You can also make your own lip balm with simple and natural ingredients such as beeswax. This is a great way to put some empty containers to good use.
A growing number of cosmetics brands are embracing the zero waste philosophy. Accordingly, it’s not difficult to find makeup in bamboo or glass packaging. What’s more, you can now even purchase makeup refills for good measure.
Avoid single-use cotton swabs, as these are often treated with environmentally harmful chemicals. Instead, opt for reusable items such as LastObject’s reusable cotton rounds. These quality products will last a very long time, saving the world from an enormous amount of single-use waste.
Choose make-up brushes that are made from recycled or natural products. There are many on the market that have bamboo or recycled metal handles, for instance. Once you’ve finished with them, remove the bristles and then compost the bamboo or recycle the metal.
Rather than buying single-use sheets of tissues or facial rounds, pick sustainable products. LastObject offers a range of reusable products to help here. Buying the LastRound - reusable cotton rounds or LastTissue - reusable tissue pack will significantly reduce your bathroom waste output.
There are now a range of excellent zero waste menstrual products on the market. Menstrual cups are often made from silicone, which isn’t recyclable or compostable. However, they aren’t toxic and won’t produce microplastics. As such, they are better than many other products when sent to landfills.
Washable pads also come in handy. They are reusable and will last you a long time.
Look for toilet paper that is made from recycled paper or bamboo. It’s also better when it comes in boxes or wrapped in paper. If need be, it’s also possible to make your own reusable toilet paper from cloth products.
The most sustainable way of getting toilet spray is making your own. Simply place 10-20 drops of a purifying essential oil in an empty spray bottle, and then fill it with water.
When you next need to purchase a toilet brush, look for one made from natural materials such as bamboo. You can then compost or recycle it once you’re done with it.
Many bulk shops offer refills for cleaning products. So keep your empty containers, refill them, and then reuse them. If you can't find shops that offer this, then you can create your own using household materials.
Once again, avoid single-use products in favour of reusable ones. LastObject’s LastTissue will save you from using and discarding up to 3,100 single-use tissues.
As can be seen, creating your very own version of a zero waste bathroom is relatively easy to achieve. By following the simple steps and suggestions in this post, you’ll quickly reduce your bathroom waste and be well on your way towards ensuring a better environment for all.