Why is it important to reduce plastic waste? Plastic takes forever to degrade, and most of them are not biodegradable (for a breakdown of what those terms mean, check out our glossary of sustainable and circular terminologies, and an overview of circular economy). Plastic also releases toxins when they do finally degrade. Most plastic is not recyclable, and the ones that are, are not always recycled, and so plastic just stays around for a really long time. Many of our oceans and lakes are filled with micro plastics, which our marine life then ingests. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, at the rate that plastic is accumulating in our oceans, it will exceed the mass of the fish that live there by 2050!
While we can’t completely avoid plastic, we can easily reduce our plastic consumption in our home, especially the bathroom, which is one of the areas of the house where we tend to accumulate the most plastic waste.
These small steps are enough to drastically reduce your plastic pollution in the bathroom.
- Use a bar of soap.
Liquid soap or shower gel comes in plastic bottles and pumps that are rarely recyclable. Even better if you can buy soap wrapped in paper rather than plastic.
- Use shampoo bars instead of liquid shampoo in bottles.
Shampoo bars do exist and they work really well. Also, try to avoid the mini travel shampoo bottles. They are cute but create so much plastic waste.
- Ditch the loofah and DIY body scrub.
You can create a natural and effective body scrub by mixing coarse brown sugar, lemon juice, and honey. You can skip the honey if it’s too sticky.
- Use toothpaste tablets.
Toothpaste tubes are difficult to recycle, as most are made of plastic. Toothpaste tablets are an eco-friendly alternative.
- Replace your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo one.
Plastic toothbrushes are not usually recyclable, and will stay around for a long time. Bamboo toothbrushes are much less harmful.
- Remove your make-up with resuable washable wipes or ‘discs’.
Avoid using those disposable pads that contain microplastics. Instead, use the washable ones.
- Check the labels of personal care products.
A lot of facial scrubs and similar skin care products contain tiny plastic beads, listed as “polyethylene”. Check the labels carefully before buying.
- Switch to reusable razors or electric razors.
Disposable razors are convenient but incredibly wasteful, and more expensive than using a reusable or electric one in the long run.
- Switch your dental floss.
Most dental flosses come in a plastic package, and many are made of plastic sticks. The floss itself is made of nylon, which also takes a really long time to biodegrade. Dental floss is not recyclable either, but there are many sustainable alternatives for keeping your teeth healthy.
- DIY mouthwash.
To reduce plastic waste from mouthwash bottles, you can try to make your own: combine 2 oz. (59ml) of water with 1/4 teaspoon (1.2ml) of baking soda, 1 drop of pure peppermint oil, and 1 drop of tea tree oil in a reusable container.
- Avoid cotton swabs or Q-tips.
Cotton swabs are usually not recommended by doctors because of the risks of not using them gently enough and pushing them inside the ear. However, if you do need to have them at home, opt for the ones made from paper rather than plastic.
- Buy toilet paper wrapped in paper.
Most toilet paper comes wrapped in plastic, but you can find those that are wrapped in paper. Even better if you purchase recycled toilet paper that is tree-free.
- Get a biodegradable comb.
Toss the plastic comb and get yourself a chic wooden one, made usually of bamboo. They are plastic-free and biodegradable.
- Ditch your deodorant for an eco-friendly one.
Deodorant sticks and roll-ons usually come in a plastic package that is not recyclable. A more sustainable option is to buy a natural, vegan deodorant that comes in a biodegradable paper tube.
- For the ladies: use a menstrual cup or menstrual underwear.
Tampons are not sustainable, even the ones that are wrapped in paper rather than plastic. A menstrual cup or menstrual underwear is more eco-friendly, cost-effective, safe, and easy to use.