Hi all and welcome to my new website! In time for my 2 year blogiversary (!) I’ve been busy updating my blog. I noticed that I was lacking some very basic blog posts about simple waste free alternatives. Seeing as it’s Plastic Free July and I have a bathroom essential giveaway lined up, what better time than to write about my zero waste bathroom.
I live in a shared flat and am very fortunate that my partner and I have our own bathroom. As such my bathroom is an area that I have full control over the products used. When I first made the zero waste switch I immediately noticed how much excess plastic quickly entered the bathroom. It’s taken me a while to get my bathroom waste free as I used up everything I already had. I still have a few products that are packaged, and a first aid kit. I actually had a big declutter of my bathroom and personal products as I had accumulated so many that I didn’t need; shampoos, lotions etc. I gave away a large bag of half used and unopened products and cosmetics on Freecycle, and had quite a few interested people!
Vinegar & Baking Soda: This is my most used cleaning combination as it’s so simple. I use this for my sinks, shower and toilet.
Homemade Scrub: For a more thorough shower clean I use a homemade paste and cloth. This replaces Jiff and that hot pink cleaning cream I used to use for cleaning my shower sink.
Extra Duty Homemade Bench Spray: My partner concocted this himself sans recipe. He mixes together water, vinegar, citric acid and some of his homemade vodka, the ‘heads’ which can’t be consumed.
Cleaning Utensils: I use old toothbrushes for scrubbing. I have a really old plastic toothbrush that does the job well, I find the bamboo ones aren’t great for heavy duty scrubbing. Old cotton rags are used for wiping surfaces. I’m currently still using a plastic toilet brush, but you can buy bamboo/wooden ones. Mine doesn’t need replacing so I may as well use it, I just make sure to clean it and usually have some cleaning product in the container it lives in. Our flat has a conventional sponge mop, I plan on making my own reusable mop heads in the near future.
Laundry Washing Powder: I dabbled in making my own washing powder, it worked fine. I mainly buy Eco Store washing powder to save time. It has a small plastic scoop which is made from recycled plastic, otherwise the rest of the packaging is cardboard.
Toilet Paper: This one comes up a lot, as it is surprisingly hard to find plastic free toilet paper and something I struggled a lot with in the past. I buy either Greencane which comes in fully compostable packaging, I have successfully composted it at home.
Smartass is another toilet paper that I have used, it can only be purchased in a large box and the rolls are individually wrapped. This box lasted us about 8 months! The wrappers can be composted, I actually reuse them for crafts and even giving cheeky presents in.
Shampoo: I wash my hair once or twice a week and alternate between homemade avocado seed shampoo (which I add a bit of tea tree shampoo to, I’ve had a small bottle of it for about 3 years now!) and rye flour. The rye flour is surprisingly effective, you just use a small amount of flour and mix with warm water to make a paste. Make sure you buy rye flour not rye meal and rinse thoroughly! I haven’t used conditioner for 6 years now, which has made my hair way less oily. For a rinse I use a rosemary tea (rosemary is very easy to forage) and add some homemade apple cider or kombucha vinegar, it leaves my hair super soft. If you prefer to buy shampoo instead of making your own, I have heard amazing things about Ethique’s shampoo bars. I have used shampoo bars in the past and they are very handy for traveling and last ages.
Soap: I buy loose bar soap usually the Eco Store or Trade Aid soap. I’ve noticed most soap has palm oil in it, however Trade Aid & Eco Store assure it’s sustainably farmed palm oil. For hand soap I use a homemade liquid soap, there’s heaps of ‘recipes’ online, I use the one from ‘Wendly’s Recipes For A Cleaner Life’ book. I use Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap, it comes in a plastic bottle but a little bit goes a long way. I use it in my liquid soap and also take it traveling to clean myself and my clothes. Unfortunately it’s quite pricey in NZ, the bottle I have was purchased in the USA about 3 years ago.
Deodorant: I make my own and have a blog post about it here.
Menstrual products: I use a menstrual cup, which is the greatest thing ever and is super convenient for traveling and tramping. I also have reusable cloth pads. I actually went to a workshop and made my own cloth pad from fabrics I already had!
Skincare: I don’t really use anything fancy for skincare. I wash my face with water and a flannel and occasionally do a scrub using baking soda. I moisturize my face with a combination of rose hip oil and almond oil. If I wear make-up I’ll use a dark coloured flannel and oil to remove it. I scrub my body with old coffee grinds. I don’t need to moisturize as often as I used to as I don’t shower daily. I can assure you I’m not smelly, I work a normal job and go out in public. Have a read of this article.
I’m not a frequent makeup wearer. I occasionally wear mascara, which I have yet to replace with a waste free alternative. I have a decent stash of lipstick so have yet to replace any. I’ve made my own lipbalm and re-used lipstick and old lipbalm tubes, as well as adding some lipstick to give it a tint. I have also made my own facepowder, using items from my pantry! I made it with friends, so you can see the slight colour differences. I’ve since pressed it into an old powder compact. For more makeup ideas have a read of my FAQ page.
Haircare: I have a very old wooden hairbrush that I have been using for as long as I can remember. I don’t really do anything else to my hair other than washing & brushing and occasionally tying it up. As I mentioned before, I only wash my hair once or twice a week. I used to have to wash every second day as it was super oily. Brushing daily and not using hair products and conventional shampoo conditioner have solved that issue. In between washes I use a homemade dry shampoo, it;s just arrowroot powder with some cocoa powder to make it brown.
Hair Removal: I personally do not bother with hair removal often, so I’ve kept my old plastic razor for when I feel like shaving. I also borrow my Mum’s epilator for my legs or wax them. If I was a regular shaver then I would purchase a safety razor, such as this one.
Cotton Buds: I have bamboo cotton buds, I don’t really use them very often though as they are bad for ear drums and I don’t wear make-up often.
I wrote a blog post about dental care here. My partner and I have tried about 4 bamboo toothbrush brands now, the latest one is The Eco Brush. The Eco Brush has a nice wide head and stiff bristles, it’s quickly become my partner’s favorite (he’s really fussy with bamboo toothbrushes). Unlike most bamboo toothbrushes, The Eco Brush are upfront about their bristles being nylon. All bamboo toothbrushes have nylon bristles but many don’t say to remove them before composting! I re-use my brush handles as labels for pot plants. My tip for using any bamboo toothbrush is not to brush too hard or bite the bristles, as some brands or brushes have a tendency to lose bristles.
I’ve teamed up with The Eco Brush to giveaway 3 brushes to 3 lucky friends! I’ll be launching the competition on my Facebook page this weekend, so please head over & like/follow to see when it goes live!
This is my current bathroom cupboard situation:
On the left I have cleaning products which are in re-used plastic spray bottles, and a large plastic bottle I’ve been reusing for vinegar for the last 2 years. I keep baking soda in a jar with a lid with gaps for easy sprinkling (and have a separate stash for baking). In the middle down the back is an old ice cream container stashed full of essential oils and things I use to make my own products. My partner calls this my “witchy box.” The old plastic red container stores our loose soap. The jar on top is grated soap for making liquid soap. Also on top of the red box is my menstrual cup. To the far right is my old shampoo and a travel sized bottle of avocado seed shampoo. The jar in front is used and dried coffee grinds, I use these for a skin scrub. At the very front middle is my tramping boot polish (it should really be with the rest of tramping gear), cotton buds, Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap and rye flour for my hair. What’s not included in the photo is my copious blocks of sunblock (am still using plastic bottles as I live in New Zealand), old medicine, first aid kit, old waxing kits, some lotions I’m still using up and my partner’s shaving brush and razor.
Our toothbrushes, toothpowder, deodorant and comb live on the window sill above the sink. I also have a small jar full of hair clips. The reed diffuser is an old one that i’ve put a homemade mix in. The large jar is full of homemade mouthwash.
I like to keep my beauty care routine simple, I don’t have any fancy gadgets or products and I only wear make-up very occasionally. This works for me and gives me way more time to sleep in as well. I understand though not everyone can get away with or wants to have such a laid back grooming routine! Let me know in the comments what your simple grooming tricks are, and if you have any amazing DIY recipes to share.