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A House full of Waste: The Bathroom

A House Full Of Waste: The Bathroom

Last month I discussed how you could reduce waste in the kitchen, if you want to read that article follow this link. This month it’s time for a new room: the bathroom. This may not be the most obvious room in terms of waste, but think about what you use. Pelacase made an estimation about how much you waste per person per year in the bathroom:

  • 10 shampoo bottles
  • 5 conditioner bottles
  • 7 disposable razors
  • 8 loofahs
  • 4 tubes of toothpaste
  • 100 meters of dental floss
  • 3 sticks of deodorant

That’s quite a lot right? Almost every item has plastic packaging and with that plastic packaging there are also usually microplastics. But luckily, there is a plastic-free solution for nearly every product! So, read on if you’re curious as to what these solutions are.

The toilet

The first thing many people, including myself, do in the morning is going to the toilet. You probably have a big plastic bag with toilet paper rolls in it, right? What if I told you that there are actually brands that don’t sell their toilet paper in plastic bags. Think about brands like The Good Roll.

Sometimes there are nasty smells at the toilet and you may tend to use air freshener sprays. Try to avoid those sprays. They release propellants that contribute to the smog and are also bad for your health. Instead you could make your own air freshener! Mix crystal soda (or baking soda) with a few drops of a nice smelling essential oil and place the mixture and a bowl in the bathroom. If you gently shake the bowl every now and then, the nice smells will be released. Or try some other DIY air freshener here.

If you experience periods and have used pads or tampons, you may have noticed how much waste you generate per period. Luckily, there are also sustainable options for getting your period. You could for example use menstrual cups. You just have to clean them after use, and they become reusable! Besides menstrual cups, you could also invest in period underwear. This is underwear that collects your period blood without needing pads or tampons. It is a bit more expensive, but perhaps worth the investment? 

The shower 

After you’ve released your human biological waste in the toilet, it’s time for a shower. So you step into the shower and take a look at your collection of plastic bottles with shampoo, conditioner and body soap. What if I told you that there are plastic-free alternatives for all three of those things; they are called soap bars.

You can use the bars either directly onto your body or hair, or you could soap your hands and then use your hands to wash your body or hair. The great thing is that there is also no residue left once you finish your bar. With bottles, there is always something that gets left behind in the bottle. Another nice thing is that soap bars are products that have been gaining a lot of attention lately, so that also means that there are a lot of companies selling them. Think about Happy Soaps, Beesha, Lush, BlokZeep etc. Most of these brands also sell smaller tester bars that you can buy to see if you’re happy with the product.

If you want to stick to liquid soap, The Body Shop now offers refillable bottles. Once your bottle is empty you could bring it to the store and they fill it up for you. Check the locations of refill-stations of the Body Shop here.

Some people also shave in the shower. Like shampoo bars, there are also shaving bars that you could use instead of a can of shaving cream. Usually, the brands that sell shampoo bars also sell shaving bars, so check the brands linked above! Also think about replacing your discardable razors. It may cost a bit more money than the discardable ones, but they are a lot more sustainable.

The sink

The sink is the place where you brush your teeth, although you could also do this in the shower. There are also some alternatives to the standard toothpaste in a tube. There are Smint-like tabs that you bite on to generate the toothpaste and then just brush your teeth. Brands that sell them are, for example, Smyle.

Besides swapping your toothpaste, have you thought about replacing your toothbrush? There are now plastic free alternatives for both a manual and electric toothbrush. Isn’t that great!

The sink is also usually the place where you clean your face, whether that is to remove make-up or just to clean off the dirt from the day. Often, cotton pads are used for this. If you would do this every day, you would use 365 cotton pads per year. That equals to four or five rolls each year depending on the size of the package. There are now cloth pads available that you could wash and reuse every time. The same goes for cotton swabs by the way.

Nowhere in particular

Everyone uses deodorant, at least I hope so. The typical spray-deodorant has propellants, which contribute to the formation of smog and can also cause respiratory problems (Milieucentraal). Luckily you can replace spray-deodorants with a plastic-free or gas-free alternative. Wild sells aluminum cases that you can fill with deodorant bars. When you run out of deodorant, you simply place a new refill in the aluminum case. Bonus point, they smell great! The Lekker Company sells deodorant cream that comes in a carton packaging. You just apply a small amount on your armpits and you’re good to go. Like these, there are many other brands that have such deodorants like Biork, Nuud or Marcel’s Green Soap.


This does not necessarily have much to do with the bathroom, but it’s the same kind of product: sunscreen. Especially with the nice weather coming up it’s important to protect yourself against the UV rays of the sun. By using sunscreen you do not only protect yourself from skin cancer, but you also prevent yourself from getting wrinkles. But sunscreen is often packaged in plastic bottles or sprays and sometimes also harmful for the environment. So how can you protect yourself and the environment at the same time?

There are two types of sunscreen: the ones with chemical filters and the ones with mineral filters. Chemical filters (e.g. octocrylene, octinoxate and oxybenzone) protect your skin by absorbing the sun rays. The molecules in these sunscreens are small enough to be able to diffuse through the skin. Mineral filters (e.g. titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) block or reflect the sunrays. Mineral filters could contain nano-particles; nano-particles prevent the white look of sunscreen. However, the nano-particles can be taken up by corals and this harms them, so try to steer clear of this (VanafHier). 

Regarding the packaging, there are now different ways of packaging sunscreen like using carton (e.g. Sol de Ibiza or The Lekker Company), sugarcane (e.g. Naïf or Biosolis) or tin cans (e.g. Sol de Ibiza or BlokZeep)

I hope this article has inspired you to make at least some changes in the bathroom. Of course you do not have to implement all the tips, every little change counts! But please finish the plastic items that you already have first before you switch to more sustainable solutions. It makes no sense to just throw those old ones out if they are still fine to use. And stay tuned for the next article in this series.

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