Zero waste progress: the bathroom

In my attempt to break with my consumerism habits, 2016 was focused on clothes: I simplified my wardrobe and learned mending skills. Now that I know where I am going on that front, I decided 2017 was going to focus on the bathroom.

Version 3

Like with my wardrobe, I started by an inventory to be able to monitor my progress. Not that it comes as a surprise, but getting all the content of my bathroom cupboards out on the table shows that I have way too many cosmetics compared to my needs.

Below are a few of the measures I have taken so far to get closer to a minimalist and zero waste bathroom:

1. Finishing up what I have

When I come across a piece of cloth I no longer want, it goes to the charity pile or to the sewing material pile if it is not in a good enough state. It is not that easy with cosmetics. In the long term, I hope to use only natural cosmetics with limited packaging, but I have set to finish every occurrence of a type of product before looking for sustainable and zero waste alternatives.

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By cutting our tubes of toothpaste open, we make them last at least one more week.

I used the inventory as an excuse to reorganise the different types of products together.  As I mentioned before, I am working on using all the samples and hotel toiletries I have accumulated. We finished most of the shower gels, but I find some shampoos really don’t agree with my hair. I started using those as shower gel after a friend gave me the idea.

There is still a long way to go. Between all my samples and the different types of hydration cream I own (do we really need a different product for hand, face, body … ?), I have 40 hydration cosmetics to finish!

 

2. Identifying the products I really use

I don’t have a complicated beauty routine and I would like my bathroom cabinet to reflect that. Beyond not having multiple versions of the same product, I would like to have fewer types of products in the future.

Once I finish what I already have, my plan is to find a good alternative for my everyday toiletries (any combination of DIY, organic, natural or package free):

  • 1 Soap for body, hand and face (this one ?)
  • 1 Shampoo
  • 1 Toothpaste
  • 1 Deodorant
  • 1 Hydration cream for body, hand and face
  • 1 Lip balm
  • 1 Sun screen
  •  + Conditioner if the water is too hard: I got used to hair conditioner in London, because the water was too agressive. I was planning to replace it with vinegar as I already did this successfully in Denmark, but it turns out I don’t need conditioner here.

And keep a bit of the fancy stuff for the special occasions:

  • Make up (1 mascara, a few eye shadows, a couple of lipsticks)
  • 1 Perfume
  • A couple of nail polishes

Considering how much of those I use, I probably don’t have to worry about renewing them for quite some time. Then the big question is what to do with what doesn’t fit in those two categories. I’ll let you know if I find a good answer.

3. Getting natural zero waste soap

Zero waste bathroom progress

I was happy to find some Alep soap without packaging at my organic shop. I haven’t really started to use it yet, but P., who got a bit tired of my shampoo hotel business, has been using it since Christmas and doesn’t seem to complain.

4. Changing my period management

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I use to not see the point to spend money for organic things that were not food until I heard a specialist explain on the radio that pesticides in tampons and pads were actually more dangerous than in food. They are in contact with mucous membranes and the chemical thus go directly into the bloodstream. So even if you don’t care about the plastic pollution, it is worth reconsidering the status quo.

I bought a menstrual cup before leaving London. It took a bit of time to get used to it (3-4 cycles), but now I definitely find it to be the most comfortable way to deal with my periods. I still use a pad in addition for the first days. At the moment I am finishing a box of organic ones, but I am planning to switch to reusable pads ASAP. I made an attempt at sewing some, but I was not super successful, so I am going to buy some.

5. Installing a compost bin …

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… and removing the ‘traditional’ bin.

I use the glass pot on the picture above to put my hair and nails until I take them to the compost. For the rest, we need to walk to our balcony trash centre. As explained above, I am on my way to zero waste periods and I already stopped using other disposable items. I no longer use Q-tips because they are bad for the ears and since I don’t make up often, I simply wash my face with soap instead of using cotton pads and make-up remover. However if you need cotton pads, it is easy to make or buy reusable ones. Aren’t those and those cute? I have to resist not to make some for myself.

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9 thoughts on “Zero waste progress: the bathroom”

  1. Wow! Kindred spirit here! I am also attempting to minimize my clothing and hygiene (and just about everything), but these were my first two major zones that I addressed. It is amazing how focusing on what we use frequently can bring into sharp focus what is excessive for us.

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  2. Sometimes watching people who have really minimized their waste is like (for me) trying to exercise to a dvd where some skinny young thing is dancing about! LOL. I grew up with t.v. dinners and all sorts of disposables, and i’m coming from quite a typical American household. Now that i have started simplifying, i can see I’m not going to quit plastics cold turkey, and this really is an ongoing lifestyle change that might take me years. That’s why i particularly like your article – it speaks to where i am at right now: using up what i have, trying to restrict myself to just buying what need, and even experimenting a bit with making some things – i bought a few items to try making toothpaste, but i haven’t tried it yet. I liked your suggestion of a small compost cup in the bathroom. I’m going to try that!

    It’s sort of an exploration for us, isn’t it?

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    1. Hi Holly, I like the exercise DVD comparison 🙂 It is totally an exploration. As I cannot make zero waste my priority, it is probably going to take me several years to get where I want to be (if I ever get there). I use the blog as a diary to keep myself motivated and I hope I can show a few people that they don’t need to fit one year of trash in a jar to look into waste reduction and sustainable living. Good luck with the toothpaste !!

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      1. I’ve made up a tiny batch of tooth powder… not tried it as a paste yet. I wanted to make the tooth powder/ toothpaste partly for my tooth and gum health, so i’m trying a recipe that includes calcium carbonate and bentonite clay, along with baking soda, stevia, and flavoring (i’m doing mint and lime). It’s not bad! It’s a little saltyish, but too much. I could definitely get used to this. There are ways to turn powder into a paste, using coconut oil and i think water, but i’m not sure how long then it will keep. It cost a little to get the food grade bentonite clay and the calcium carbonate, but if I keep making it, my supply will last me many years and eventually save money, too. You shouldn’t be afraid to try this… it’s really not too weird! 🙂

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      2. Thanks for sharing Holly ! I’m glad you managed to make ZW toothpaste. I must confess I am sort of keeping toothpaste (and sunscreen) for the end as I am a bit scared of the consequences on my health, but I definitely want to try it out at some point.

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