The ultimate guide on switching to a plastic free bathroom
Over the past several decades of using plastic, the waste we have created has accumulated in landfills and the ocean. Plastic pollution is a serious environmental threat that we shouldn’t treat lightly – because plastic never really goes away, only falling apart into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic. A toothbrush someone has used 50 years ago is still laying in a landfill and will stay there for centuries before it transforms into microscopic plastic pollution.
That’s why figuring out how to go plastic free in the bathroom and making your home more eco-friendly is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got just the plastic free bathroom guide for you.
Follow these tips and pick up one habit at a time, to make sure you stick with it. Once you’re confident in the switch you have made, it’s time to add another new habit. This way, you’ll build a plastic free bathroom that works best for you without feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
1. Use what you have
When you’re figuring out how to go plastic free in the bathroom, you may be tempted to throw away all the plastic products you already own. You may just want to make the shift straight away and not think about the plastic sitting all-around your home.
The only thing more wasteful than a plastic item is throwing it away before it’s been used to the fullest. Keep the plastic items you already own and maintain them to extend their lifespan as much as possible.
2. Soap and shampoo bars
One of the easiest plastic free bathroom switches is opting to use solid soap and shampoo bars. Natural soap bars come in all kinds of scents and varieties, without any of the nasty chemicals added. Our current favourites are soap on a rope or the oatmeal soap bar. Natural soaps come packaged in cardboard, without any plastic, and are scented with essential oils. That way, they’re good for both the planet and your skin. Simple natural soap bars have many benefits which certainly make the switch worth it.
While solid soap is probably nothing new to you, plastic free shampoo bars are another great addition to a plastic free bathroom – they work just like soap bars, but for your hair. Options like the coconut milk shampoo bar are a great plastic free bathroom staple, or you could try a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner bars and other more specific alternatives. If you’re on the go, you could pack both shampoo and soap in one small cube by using the shampoo and body wash Beauty Kubes.
We recommend that you try a couple of different brands and varieties before you settle on what to continue using – we don’t always find exactly what we’re looking for on the first try, so don’t get discouraged if the first option you try isn’t quite right for you. If you’re not quite sure about this switch yet, read more about the benefits of natural shampoo and conditioner bars.
If you’re learning to use a shampoo bar for the first time, you may also want to combine it with an apple cider vinegar rinse. This is as simple as adding a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into the water you rinse your hair with and letting it sit for a few minutes before rinsing. No, it will not make your hair smell like vinegar – it’s a method many zero waste hair care enthusiasts swear by!
3. Try refillable products
Perhaps solid soap and shampoo bars are not the thing for you – in that case, try refillable products. You’ll likely find toiletry refills at your local zero waste shops if you have one local to you. You simply bring your old bottle to refill it with new product, to avoid packaging.
Increasingly, you can also find these refills online, usually packaged in compostable bioplastic pouches or similar materials. While these are not as zero waste as refills from your local store, they’re a wonderful option for those who do not have access to a zero waste shop. No zero waste store close by? Check out these eco friendly hand wash refills and plastic free shower gel refills, both made from natural ingredients and comes in compostable paper packaging. Don’t forget the refillable soap dispensers for these!
4. Use multi-purpose, plastic-free options
If you’re serious about learning how to go plastic free in the bathroom, you will need a few stables which can be used for a variety of purposes.
Coconut oil (found at nearly every supermarket), argan oil or cocoa butter are great examples of simple 1-ingredient basics (sometimes also enriched with an addition of vitamins) with a wide variety of uses – to nourish your hair, moisturise skin, calm irritations, hydrate dry areas, and much more.
These options make going plastic-free much easier and also help you save a lot of money since you’ll avoid having to buy specialised products.
5. Plastic-free dental care
Perhaps the absolute simplest way how to go plastic free in the bathroom is swapping a plastic toothbrush for an eco friendly toothbrush made from super sustainable bamboo. It may not seem like a toothbrush would make such a large difference, but it’s an item all of us use every day – the plastic adds up.
Once you’ve swapped your toothbrush, you may also want to try some natural toothpaste or toothpaste tablets and to continue to reduce your impact. These have all that you teeth need to stay healthy, without unnecessary plastic packaging.
It’s also important not to forget to floss – and there’s a plastic-free option you can use for that as well. While most conventional floss is made from – you guessed it – plastic, choose eco-friendly floss which is compostable and made from natural plant-based fibres. Alternatively, if you prefer interdental brushes over floss, there are plastic-free alternatives as well: bamboo interdental brushes.
Lastly, are you using mouthwash? If so, you’ll have two plastic-free options – sustainable mouthwash which comes in a metal bottle, or mouthwash tablets. We particularly enjoy the tablets, since they significantly reduce the amount of packaging you need and they’re also great for travelling.
6. Shave with a safety razor
Plastic razors and their cartridges can add up over time, contributing a lot to your environmental footprint. What’s more – they don’t even shave that well!
A good old-fashioned, plastic free safety razor is zero waste and provides a much closer shave. You may be feeling a little intimidated by using it, as it’s something many of us have never used before, but remember that it’s called a ‘safety razor’ – it’s made in a way to prevent any cuts! If you’re using a safety razor for the first time, don’t forget to check out our in-depth guide on how to use a safety razor which has all the tips you’ll need to get started.
To go with your razor, try a shaving soap bar instead of regular shaving foam to keep reducing your environmental impact. You could also try using coconut oil or other natural oils, an option which some people prefer over shaving soap. If you already have some coconut oil on hand, it’s worth giving it a try!
7. Plastic-free periods
Periods can be very wasteful, so if you’re looking for ways on how to go plastic free in the bathroom, then you might want to ditch the single-use period products. Not only are regular commercial tampons and pads packaged in a ton of plastic, but they’re also often treated with bleach and other chemicals which can cause irritation and dryness.
Plastic-free and zero waste period products are the way to go both for your intimate health and the planet.
Soft menstrual cups have been massively rising in popularity, especially with tampon users – you only need one for years to come, which also saves you a ton of money! According to anecdotal evidence from users, they also help reduce pain – although there have been no studies testing this claim. Another benefit you’ll surely appreciate is that they can stay inserted for up to 12 hours at a time, which makes that time of the month much less stressful!
Your next option, great for pad users, is period underwear. It comes in a variety of styles accounting for different body types and flows so that you can really choose what works best for you. You could also try reusable pads, which are another great alternative to single-use pads.
If you’re not ready to switch to reusable products, a good compromise between commercial single-use period products and zero waste alternatives are biodegradable sanitary pads or organic eco friendly tampons. These aren’t just more eco-friendly than conventional tampons and pads – they’re also better for your health since they aren’t treated with all the toxic chemicals.
8. Plastic-free makeup
If you’re someone who enjoys makeup, you don’t have to give it up just because you’re going plastic-free. While most mainstream makeup is still packaged in plastic, there are more alternatives becoming available every day.
You may want to start with something as simple as looking for products from brands which you already use, in glass or metal packaging. However, some brands are dedicated specifically to creating zero waste and plastic-free makeup, so we recommend that you explore what they have to offer. Refills have also been becoming increasingly popular with makeup brands, from lipsticks to eyeshadow palettes.
To remove your makeup, you’ll want to find more eco-friendly alternatives than single-use cotton rounds or makeup wipes – these add up to a lot of waste in the long term. An eco-friendly makeup remover makes the switch as easy as it can be – we recommend that you pair it with reusable cotton rounds or a muslin cloth, which you can wash and use time and time again.
There are also other options, such as using an oil to melt away your makeup and then using a face wash to clean your face. This takes a little more time than an eco-friendly makeup remover, but it’s certainly worth a try!
9. Sustainable skincare routine
When we’re asked how to go plastic free in the bathroom, we always suggest taking a look at your range of skincare. No matter what your skincare routine is, you can reduce its environmental impact by choosing alternative plastic-free products. We’ll share some of the most commonly used products and alternatives, but if we miss a skincare step that’s in your routine, we encourage you to search for what eco-friendly options there are (or let us know in the comments under this article and we’ll share our tips).
If you enjoy a good facemask, you may already know that these are an easy swap. You can either choose a pre-made eco-friendly face mask or make your own at home! There are many different recipes online that you can take inspiration from to choose the best ingredients for your skin type.
Eco-friendly facial cleansers come in many forms – the two main options are a liquid cleanser in more eco-friendly packaging and a face cleaner bar. We particularly enjoy the latter, since they come with little packaging and you can take them with you no matter where you go.
Lastly, it’s important to nourish your skin with a serum or oil that’s best for your skin type. Eco-friendly serums and oils usually come packaged in glass to reduce the environmental impact, but you can also sometimes find them in solid form.
10. Clean naturally
Lastly, it’s important to clean your bathroom without plastic too! One of the best ways to do so is just with two simple ingredients – baking soda and vinegar – along with a natural fibre cloth (avoid synthetic fabrics, they’re made from plastic too).
You’ll be surprised at how effective these are at dealing with any cleaning needs you may have in your plastic free bathroom.
A simple mixture of water and vinegar (perhaps along with some essential oils) in a spray bottle works as a multi-purpose cleaner, while baking soda can help you get rid of tougher stains. If you’re looking for more details on how you can clean your bathroom with natural, zero waste ingredients, we’ve got a guide coming soon to our blog.
Now you know how to go plastic free in the bathroom. As we mentioned in the beginning, it’s important to take it one simple swap at a time, and you’ll soon have that zero waste, plastic free bathroom you’ve been working towards.
Don’t forget to share these tips with your friends and family, so that they can adopt more sustainable habits for a plastic free bathroom as well.