Wheither you are months deep into a #zerowaste challenge or just trying to make your home a little more eco-friendly, there is always room for improvement and the bathroom is no exception! Between beauty products, moisturizers, and all things self-care, most bathrooms are full of plastic bottles, single-use items, and unnecessary waste. Here are a few tips to make your bathroom more eco-friendly that everyone can use, even renters, ordered by how much they impact your everyday life.
#1 LED Lights
The lighting in your bathroom is very important, but you can make it more eco-friendly in less than 10 minutes by swapping out your regular, old lightbulbs for more energy-efficient LED lights. It's super easy, and it will brighten up your morning/evening routine!
#2 DIY Low Water-Use Toilet
Looking for a quick fix you'll forget you even did? Then this simple hack to make your toilet more water efficient is for you. Simply take a mostly full water bottle and put it into the tank. This will take up space normally occupied by water, making it so less water goes down the drain each time you flush. Why a water bottle? A. It is safer for your toilet than bricks since those can erode and cause havoc on your tank and B. it helps you recycle one more bottle yourself.
#3 Change Your Shower Curtain
A lot of shower curtains contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which is not good for you. These curtains release toxic compounds into the air in your home that can harm you. Plus, there is no way to get rid of them safely. Shower curtains can't be recycled and the PVC in them leaks out, putting ground water at risk. To avoid all this completely, consider buying a re-usable or washable shower curtain. I had a washable curtain at my last apartment and loved it! I threw it into the laundry when I washed my sheets and towels and then let it dry over night. It was really easy and always felt clean afterwards. You just have to plan your shower time around laundry day.
Another easy way to make your bathroom greener is to swap your soap. Instead of using hand soap or body lotion that comes in a plastic bottle, use bar soap that you can buy either without packaging or in a paper bag. This small switch will barely change your day-to-day, but will cut down on multiple plastic bottles a year.
Another big reason to switch to bar soap: anti-bacterial soap is not good for you! Using it everyday can lead to "super germs" that are resistant to antibiotics, which can make you really sick. Plus, once the anti-bacterial soap suds go down the drain, they kill off good bacteria in your septic or in the wild waters your sewer eventually runs into, causing a lot of environmental harm.
#5 Toilet Paper
No one really thinks about their toilet paper, but it has a big impact on the environment, which is why there are so many brands trying to be the number 1 eco-friendly TP. You can go a lot of ways with this one, so it should have a minimal impact on your everyday life.
Easiest option is to buy rolls without the cardboard tube. Saves paper and you from having to recycle that!
Next up, you can buy TP made of bamboo or recycled paper. These are easy to find online, but harder to find in stores, so if you have a standing Amazon order for toilet paper, consider switching it to a more eco-friendly brand. If you currently go to the store to buy it, I would suggest buying a greener version from the store you normally shop at. The Sierra Club recommends using CVS pharmacies’ Earth Essentials, Seventh Generation, Green Forest, Marcal, Trader Joe’s, and 365 from Whole Foods. If that's not where you normally shop, look for Scott Naturals or Soft ’N Gentle since these are also pretty decent brand. However, the Sierra Club warn against using Quilted Northern, Charmin, and the house brands of Safeway, Target, and Walmart as these brands are pretty bad for the environment.
Hopefully you brush your teeth twice a day, and each time you do, you use a toothbrush. Traditional plastic toothbrushes generate a lot of waste, from the packaging to the brush itself, which is why there's a big market for environmentally-friendly toothbrushes. I've used ones made of recycled plastic (they were great) and ones made of bamboo (also great). They are more expensive than regular toothbrushes, but (and don't tell my dentist this) I really only use a couple of toothbrushes a year so I'm willing to pay the extra couple of bucks to make them a bit better for the planet.
You probably have enough sheets and towels right now, but when these wear out and you're thinking of buying new ones, consider buying some that are better for the environment. Organic cotton is a huge trend right now and for good reason! Traditional cotton is terrible for the environment because it uses a lot of pesticides and a ton of water, but organic cotton gets rid of those chemicals and uses significantly less water, making it a much more sustainable alternative. That being said, throwing away good towels to buy more goes against the very foundation of environmentalism, so please wait until you current linens are worn and you actually need new ones.
#7 Shorten Your Shower Time
We're moving into changes that will have an affect on your day-to-day life, but don't worry, they are all totally possible!
Shortening your shower time saves water and energy since something has to heat the water up. Start by simply timing yourself when you're in the shower. Knowing you're being timed will shave a couple of minutes off your shower time. Looking to get even quicker, don't doddle! Make good use of each minute you're in there. You can save your shower time epiphanies for when you're combing your hair afterwards.
More of a bath fan? Unless you take really long showers, baths use a lot more water and require a lot more heat than showers. Switching from taking frequent baths to showers will not only save you money, it will also help the environment!
#8 Use Clean Cleaners!
Indoor air pollution is rampant in the Western world, and a big part of this comes from dirty cleaning products! The chemicals you use to disinfect your bathroom linger in the air, putting your health (and the planet’s) in danger! So skip the sprays and switch to natural alternatives. These can be from green companies like Seventh Generation or Method or from DIY alternatives (expect to see some more of these soon)!
#9 Shampoo and Conditioner
We're moving into some more difficult changes now. Using a shampoo or conditioner bar instead of bottled will affect your day to day until you find the right bar that works for your. This means you might have to buy a couple of bars, which can seem daunting since shampoo bars can be more expensive than the bottle and last a lot longer. However, it is worth it, I promise! I've been using a shampoo bar for a little while now, and at first, it really dried out my hair, but now that it's gotten used to it and I have a conditioner I like, it's all good (and green)!
Some quick tips for shampoo bars:
Be sure to stand your bar on its side to dry, never lie it flat in a container, because it will stick to the bottom on the container leaving you with a big shampoo glob instead of a bar.
If your hair is drying out too quick and the conditioner bar isn't doing enough, consider adding oil to your hair yourself. All you need is a shower cap and about a cup of oil! Put the cap on, then peel back the front and slowly pour on the oil, making sure to message around to get all your hair. Leave this on for about an hour then wash it off in the shower using shampoo. It will feel amazing and is a plastic-free, cheap alternative to buying hair masks.
#10 Natural Deodorant
Even harder than changing your shampoo is changing your deodorant. First there is the fear and stigma around body odor, then you have to wade through a sea of products that frankly, don't really work, and on top of that, there's the issue that the natural deodorant that works for your friend might not work that great for you! It's a lot of headache, but once you do find one you like, you will never go back (except for really hot days or important events)!
I tried Tom's natural deodorant (in lavender) and found that it came in a plastic bottle, defeating my #wasteless plans; it smelled a lot like hops, which I wasn't really a fan of; and it was really greasy so I worried it would make its own pit stain on my shirts. So next, I tried a different type from Lush (Amomaco, I think) and couldn't really tell if it was don't anything. I didn't see anything on my armpit and I didn't really feel any different, so it wasn't for me. Instead I started using the T'Eo bar from them and I really like it. It is very crumbly, so I can tell that its on, which is both a good and a bad thing. It gets a lot of white dust on my shirts, but I brush it off. I've been using it for over 2 years without major issues, however, it does not help prevent sweating and will fail you if you get really hot or do a tough work out. I've accepted I will smell after a hot yoga class, but if I want to go to a club and am worried about it, I'll wear my back-up normal deodorant. Green is the goal, but you also have to make it livable!