Bathrooms are literally flooded with plastics. But attaining a plastic-free bathroom space is easier than you think. Find out affordable product swaps and easy habits that will reduce the plastic footprint of your bathroom.
Think of your favourite personal care products stored in your bathroom’s vanity. Is it the scented shower gel? Or the silky shampoo + conditioner combo for your hair care? Is it your peppermint flavoured toothpaste? Now think of what do all these products have in common? Yep, all of them come in plastic packaging.
Over 552 million shampoo bottles are predicted to wind up in landfills each year, which is enough to fill 1,164 football fields. These bottles take an average of 450 years to disintegrate in landfills. With additional 552 million shampoo bottles produced each year, our globe faces an ever-increasing challenge.
Think about how many plastic bottles enter your bathroom in a year? The number may be small but multiple it with the number of households in your colony. Plus, more family members means frequent use of plastic bottled products. Now the number doesn’t look too small, does it?
But aren’t theses bottles recyclable? Yes, they are. But the real question is, are you always sending them for recycling?
Also, recycling is not the perfect solution. Every time you recycle plastic, it downgrades in quality. Thus, this recycled plastic may not be as durable and long-lasting as the original product. It isn’t just plastic bottles that are a problem. Several bathroom products like loofahs also release Microplastics into the water increasing your plastic footprint.
The answer to this problem may come in the form of easy, eye-catching and useful plastic-free product alternatives.
5 Easy Plastic-Free Bathroom Swaps
Before we share our list, a little note.
Do not throw what you already own
If you are just starting out, you will have products that are plastic. It is imperative that you finish the products that you already own and figure out ways to upcycle or recycle the leftover plastic waste. For example, you can use your old shampoo bottles for keeping sanitisers or any other DIY product.
So now you know that Step 1 is to fully use what you have. Move to these plastic-free swaps with your next purchase. We have boiled our list down to three levels depending on where you are in your plastic-free journey.
Plastic-Free Alternatives for Beginner’s
1. Plastic-free Dental Care
Every toothbrush and toothpaste tube that you have ever used is still on earth and will be for many many years even after you are gone. Phew, got too dark too soon?
Bamboo brushes are such a better alternative to plastic brushes as they are compostable. Toothpaste jars sold by homegrown brands act as a great alternative to toothpaste tubes as they come in really cute glass jars. Although they may be a little expensive initially, they are absolutely worth it. Look at them as an investment. While plastic tubes are cheap, the environmental and waste management costs are high which we pay indirectly in terms of taxes.
Read our guide on How to have a Green Dental Regime to find product recommendations you can shop for.
2. Soap, Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
Tackle the plastic bottle situation in the bathroom by switching to bars. Replace shower gel bottle with a soap bar, shampoo bottles with shampoo bars and conditioner plastic bottles with a conditioner bar. Yep, shampoo and conditioners now come as bars.
They are made from all-natural materials and are plastic-free. They may seem expensive, but one bar is equivalent to 2 or 3 bottle counterparts. So, guess who is saving in the long run. Plus, your money usually goes to a small local business. #VocalForLocal
Switch to soap bars right now with our shopping recommendations.
3. Bamboo Earbuds
There are two images most often used to depict plastics in the ocean. A turtle swimming with a plastic bag or a sea horse holding onto a plastic cotton swab or Q-tip. These two images are not just clear evidence of how big the plastic waste problem is and its impact on the planet, but also depicts the two kinds of plastic items creating the most havoc.
Plastic Earbuds may be effective in reaching and cleaning certain body parts. But they are very dirty for the environment. These items are single-use in nature and take a long time to decompose. Since earbuds are so small in size, they often are ingested by animals and fishes causing further harm.
The solution- either use a cotton cloth piece to clean out your ears when wet after a shower or switch to cotton swabs with a bamboo stick. Some product alternatives you can choose from:
Bamboo Cotton Swabs | Set of 2
(Set of 2 contains 160 swabs)
Bamboo Cotton Earbuds, Set of 2
by The Enable Nature
(One pack contains 80 buds)
Bamboo Ear Buds
by Bhu EcoStore
(one box contains 50 buds, can also choose box of 100 buds)
Plastic-Free Bathroom Swaps for the Intermediate
1. Shaving Razors
Shaving razor is a daily use item for many men but also used by women often. The plastic handle and the fact that many cheap razors do not offer the option to change blades, make shaving razors a plastic pollutant.
Opt for a steel shaving razor that has the option to replace the blade when required. This way you reduce the amount of waste generated and have a plastic-free alternative.
Read our informative guide on steel razors to find answers to all your doubts about making this switch.
Deodorants, roll-on sprays or even talcum powders- all of these may make you smell good but their plastic packaging stinks for the environment. Plus they usually contain harmful, allergic ingredients that are doing you no good.
Replace deodorant bottles with deodorant balms. Easy to apply, long-lasting and made with natural ingredients, deodorant balms are the new way to smell awesome. Some of our product recommendations include:
Natural Deodorant Stick
Rs. 420 for 33 grams
Unscented, Baking Soda free Deodorant Balm
by Kuva Tropical Botanicals
Rs. 350 for 100 grams
(Also available in a 10 grams sample size)
Vegan Odour Neutra Stick (Lavender & Geranium)
by Sintra Naturals
Rs. 299 for 35 grams
(Also available in 70 grams)
3. Wet Wipes & Make-up Pads
Another source of single-use, throw-away items that are commonly found in the bathroom. Wet wipes use non-biodegradable plastic resins such as polyester and polypropylene. This effectively turns these wipes into single-use plastic. Wet wipes end up in sewers, damaging land, rivers, and oceans, or in landfills for up to 100 years.
So, replace this single-use plastic item with reusable cloth pads that can be washed or make your own at home using an old cotton towel. If you are looking to buy cloth pads and supporting local brands then here are our top suggestions:
Hemp cotton Makeup remover pads (Set of 2)
Reusable Make-up Wipes
(Pack of 6)
by The Happy Turtle
(Made by women from SHGs using cotton scarp fabrics)
Bamboo Reusable Makeup Removing Wipes
by My OnEarth
(10 wipes in a box)
4. Plastic-free Periods
An exclusive plastic-free swap for all our menstruators is product recommendations to have a planet-friendly period. 90 per cent of disposable sanitary napkins are made of plastic. Even the top layer, which is generally referred to as the “fabric” layer of sanitary pads, is a woven plastic sheet.
When extra elements like packaging, plastic wings, adhesives, and ultra-absorbent gels (plastic) are taken into account, each pad includes the equivalent of four plastic bags (about 2 grammes of non-biodegradable plastic).
Each sanitary pad takes 500-800 years to degrade. A woman can use up to 10,000 sanitary pads from menarche to menopause on average. That is a lot of plastic waste generated by one human. Reduce the plastic load and switch to plastic-free period products.
Reusable Menstrual SafePad
(Starter Kit of 2 pads)
Menstrual Cup (Yellow)
by Boondh Cups
Leakproof Sanitary Panties
(Available in 3XS- 2XL sizes)
DIY Route for The Pros
If the above-listed swaps are something you have already adopted and are comfortable with, then you are an Advanced league member of the plastic-free bathroom squad.
There are plenty of bathroom products that you can D.I.Y. at home including bathroom cleaners, shampoo, toothpaste, talcum powder and so much more. The internet is filled with a plethora of resources and step-by-step guides to making your own personal care products.
Find a recipe that suits you and ingredients that are fairly easy to source. Experiment with different scents and ingredients. You can get a friend or family member involved and make a fun day out of it. Making your own products has its own joys and you can share them with others around you. Since you are a pro at his plastic-free game, it is also your duty to advocate and spread the plastic-free movement.
So make your own products and share or sell them. After all, that is how some of the brands featured on our list started out!
The transition to a plastic-free bathroom is a journey, so learn to enjoy every step of it. Hopefully, with these easy product swaps, you can reduce the amount of plastic that enters and exits your bathroom space. In case we forgot any swap, tell us in the comments section and we can add it to our list. Until then, happy #PlasticFreeJuly.
Riya is a teacher for India Fellow. She likes to read and cycle and is on a journey to reduce what she puts out into the world and is working actively towards it. Riya shares her zero waste journey on her Instagram blog called Dare not Dump. She has created content on lines of sustainability for Instagram accounts of Let me Breathe and Enactus Deshbandhu along with managing her page.
Sanjoli is currently working as a Content Strategist and has a Master’s degree in Fashion Journalism. She has contributed to publications like MensXP, Mindless Mag and Sustain: The Mag in the past. Conscious Charcha is her way of learning more about sustainability and spreading the word about a sustainable lifestyle.