Plastic Free July is here once again! This annual celebration of all things reusable is the perfect time to make a few swaps to reduce your plastic use, and without a doubt the easiest place to start with this is in your bathroom.
Bathrooms have traditionally been filled with plastic bottles, single use plastic items and plastic bags galore, but thanks to a revolution in reusable products, these days it’s easy and affordable to go plastic free in your bathroom. Of course, there’s no need to throw anything away just yet - the most sustainable thing you can do is use what you already have - but when you come to replace each item, why not consider switching to some of these plastic free options?
1. Safety razor
A safety razor is a traditional metal razor that takes simple double head razor blades. The handle itself will last decades, while the replacement razor blades come wrapped in paper and are easily recycled (just drop them in a clean tin can, push down the top so they can’t escape, and put in normal recycling). Not only that, but razor blades are much cheaper than the plastic razor heads you can buy, and a safety razor gives a closer, cleaner shave than even the fanciest plastic razors!
2. Solid shampoo
Shampoo used to be quite a difficult thing to swap, but thankfully lots of brands are getting on board with the plastic free revolution, and there are products to suit so many different hair types now. While a shampoo bar may be more expensive than a plastic bottle of shampoo, they tend to last an incredibly long time, and often don’t need to be used as regularly as normal shampoo. An added bonus is that you won’t have any trouble taking solid shampoo through airport security!
3. Toothpaste tablets
These might seem a slightly strange concept, but toothpaste tablets are being increasingly popular thanks to efforts to reduce plastic. Simply pop a tablet into your mouth, chew to make a paste, then use that paste as you would toothpaste. Most brands supply a glass jar to begin with, then provide refill packs to save on waste. Toothpaste tablets often aren’t quite as minty as normal toothpaste, but there are options that contain fluoride to keep your teeth healthy.
4. Bamboo toothbrushes
Dentists recommend changing your toothbrush at least every 3 months, so if you’re switching to a new plastic toothbrush each time, the waste will add up! Instead, try using bamboo toothbrushes, which are biodegradable. Not only that, but they look much prettier in your bathroom! At the end of their life, simply pull off the bristles and either use the handle around the house (for example, as a plant label) or dispose of in compost or garden waste. Bamboo toothbrushes are available in a variety of different kinds, including kids’ sizes.
5. Bar soap
If you’ve been using liquid soap and want an easy plastic free swap for your bathroom, this is the place to start! Bar soap is a simple and obvious plastic free swap that’s been in use for hundreds of years. Simple, natural soaps are gentle on the skin and are often entirely zero waste since they arrive package free. And if you like soap that smells as good as it looks then you’ll be pleased to know that there are just as many beautiful scents available in bar form!
6. Plastic free deodorant
Natural, plastic free deodorants have a bit of a reputation for not being quite as effective as their plastic counterparts. But thanks to an influx of new brands it’s now possible to find plastic free deodorants that are long lasting and effective. Often packaged in recyclable cardboard tubing or reusable tins, these deodorants can be pricey but will last much longer than the average plastic-wrapped deodorant. If you tend to have sensitive skin, try to find a brand that doesn’t use sodium bicarbonate, since it can be irritating to delicate underarm skin.
7. Reusable make up pads
Reusable make up pads are one of the easiest swaps to make, since they’re much more effective than disposable cotton pads. Where you might have used 4 or 5 cotton pads, you’ll find one good quality reusable pad will take your make up off in no time. Reusable pads are available in all sort of fabrics and textures, including muslin for soft exfoliation, and bamboo terry for use on delicate areas of the face. You can even use reusable wipes or very easily make your own by cutting up and hemming old towels or muslins.
8. Cloth period pads or a menstrual cup
If you haven’t yet made the switch to plastic free periods, then Plastic Free July is the time to make the change! Plastic free period pads tend to be much more comfortable than disposable ones, being made of soft cotton, bamboo and fleece, while menstrual cups are much safer than tampons since they don’t cause Toxic Shock Syndrome. Plastic free period products tend to have a little bit of a learning curve, but once you’ve got the hang of them they’re very easy to use and will save you running out of tampons or pads when your period comes round!
9. Bamboo plasters
Many people forget that plasters come with a considerable amount of plastic. Not only will the plasters themselves be made of plastic, they also come wrapped in plastic wrappers that aren’t recyclable. Thankfully, there are a few brands now producing plastic-free plasters, so you can cut out the additional waste when your little ones graze their knees.
10. Bidet and reusable wipes
This is probably the swap that will seem hard for lots of people, but it’s worth a mention since it can dramatically reduce your bathroom waste! Why not consider switching up your toilet paper for a bidet and reusable wipes? Bidets are now very accessible - you can even buy a kind that simply attaches to your toilet so you don’t need to touch any plumbing. Not only is the whole process cleaner, you’ll be cutting down on plastic-wrapped toilet paper and saving yourself money in the long run.