Last week I showed you the beginner steps that you can take for a plastic-free life. This week, we are taking a closer look at how to make your bathroom more sustainable.
We use many plastics in our everyday life, sometimes without even noticing it. Take the bathroom, for example. Shower gel, body lotion, cotton pads, and toothbrushes are just some of the products that become plastic waste after we don’t use them anymore, and as a woman, I can tell you, we are forced to use much more plastic-wrapped products, then men. The pressure from society and beauty standards kind of forces us to buy that conditioner for a shinier hair, that mascara for longer lashes, or that concealer for flawless skin. So let’s see some plastic-free alternatives you can use in your bathroom!
1. Sanitary products
As a woman, I’ve been struggling with the waste I produce only by being on my period every fourth week. During an average period, I use about 10 tampons, 8 panty liners, and 5 sanitary pads – if my calculations are correct. That means about 130 tampons, 104 panty liners, and 65 sanitary pads yearly. THAT’S. A. LOT. OF. WASTE. Another downside of these products is that they are full of chemicals and are made of synthetic materials which often make them uncomfortable and irritating. Fortunately, there are many reusable options out there. Reusable sanitary pads’ and panty liners’ top layer is made of organic materials like cotton, so it does not irritate your skin. Sometimes, depending on the type, they use some kind of absorbing fabric. The bottom layer is a material called PUL or PES, which lets your skin breathe but prevents leaking.
Another option is the period panty. These underwears have a layer combination of special fabric designed to pull liquid away from the body and trap it inside the underwear. A Hungarian product, this is Redy is a perfect option for those who want to try period panties. The panties are made of sustainable, eco-friendly materials, and a big plus- they use body positive models. Last, but not least: the menstrual cups, my all-time favourites! When I use one, sometimes I forget I am on my period. It’s not that easy to find the perfect one for your body, but if you do, believe me, it’s a life-changer. If you are willing to try it, but don’t know how to choose the right type, here’s a short quiz for you in English and an article in Hungarian. And a hint for DIY lovers: a Lazy Women washable pad-making workshop is coming soon!
2. Soap and shampoo bar
Instead of shower gel and liquid shampoo, you can use soap bars and shampoo bars. Most of the soap bars only contain organic ingredients, so it’s not only a treat for the planet as you don’t use plastic containers, but also a treat for your skin. Chemicals might cause dry skin, or even irritation, clog pores or acne if you have sensitive skin. If you want to make a change, you can find soap bars in almost every store, but if you are not sure, which one to buy, here are my suggestions for Hungary-based people: try this, this or this.
What about shampoo bars? There are two types of it. The ones that roughly have the same ingredients as the liquid shampoos work the same way as a regular shampoo. Why roughly? Companies that pay attention to not pollute the planet with plastics more or less also pay attention to use more organic ingredients. Lush for example makes many kinds of these types of shampoo bars, and they are lovely! These bars work the same way, as a liquid shampoo, but if you’re unsure, how to use them, check out this video. Lush also makes conditioner bars, so you can make your whole hair care routine plastic-free!
The other type of shampoo bars is more like soap bars. Most of them are super organic, but you have to be careful! It is suggested to do an acidic rinse after washing out the shampoo. You can make it with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. If you want to try this option, check out this and this manufacturer’s products.
3. Dental hygiene
When it comes to dental hygiene, we use a lot of plastic. Toothpaste comes in plastic packaging, often put into a paper box too. Nonsense, right? Toothbrushes are kind of the same. The toothbrush itself is made of plastic, and its packaging also contains plastic. So what can we do? In case of toothbrushes, bamboo brushes are a good alternative. I tried Hydrophil’s toothbrush. Although I liked it, I’m about to try some other bamboo brushes too. As it’s important for me to have an option with soft brushes, I’m going to try this one, and this, as I’m a fan of Coconut Oil Cosmetics’ products. As for toothpaste, I highly recommend this product. You can choose between two tastes: mint and cinnamon (which might sound strange, but I liked it a lot). After you run out of it, you can send back the container to the manufacturer and they will reuse it. The other toothpaste that I’m planning to try is this one. Although in this case, you can’t send back the containers, they are made of sustainable materials such as metal and glass, so you can reuse or recycle it.
4. Cotton pads and cotton buds
I’ve been using washable cotton pads for one and a half years and I adore them. You can choose from a wide variety of products, some are crochet, others are sewn from different materials. I’ve been using Emilla’s cotton pads, they are really soft and gentle to the skin. If you prefer crochet pads, I recommend you to try this product. It is made of organic cotton dyed with natural dye. Now let’s skip to cotton buds. Luckily more and more companies started to produce cotton swabs that are made of paper or bamboo, but you have to be careful which one you buy as still there are many plastic ones on the market too. A good bamboo option is Hydrophil’s product, and if you prefer paper, try this one. These two options are 100% biodegradable and are made of organic materials.
5. Laundry detergent
Most of the laundry detergents contain many chemicals, which are harmful to the environment and might also irritate your skin. Besides this, these detergents come in plastic packaging – a big downside. A good replacement you can use is Ecoegg (here’s a link for Hungary based people), a low waste chemical-free option. For my fellow DIY people, you can easily make your own liquid detergent at home! You can find the recipe I tried many times here, which is in Hungarian (but you can find our English translation at the bottom of the article). When using this homemade option, I always add some essential oils to it, but it is not as effective as laundry perfumes. Also if you’re not into DIY and don’t want to try Ecoeggs, here’s good news! Many bulk shops sell harmless liquid detergents, which you can buy in your own container. Here’s a tip for Budapest-based people, if you guys want to bulk shop laundry detergent!
That’s all for this week, but don’t forget to keep an eye on our platform, as there’s more to come! And don’t forget, you don’t have to live a perfectly zero waste, environmentally friendly life to make a change, just don’t give up on fighting against climate change, because every tiny act matters!
+1 Homemade laundry detergent recipe
- 200g washing soda / sodium carbonate
- 150g baking soda
- 8 liters of water
- 1 laundry soap bar, 150g
- On low heat start heating up 4 liters of water in a pot
- Grate the laundry soap bar, and mix it into the water
- Whisk the mixture until it is homogeneous
- Once you see no bits in the water, mix in the washing soda and the baking soda (make sure that the water is not boiling, it should still be on low heat). This will change the consistency quite a bit and make it more dense.
- Mix it again until it is homogeneous, but you might need a different utensil as the liquid is more dense, try a ladle instead of the whisk
- Once the previous step is done, add 4 more liters of water and mix until homogeneous. You might want to use a blender if you have one.
- And you’re done! Wait until the liquid cools down a bit and transfer it to the bottles you want to keep it in.