A plastic-free bathroom can have a lot more benefits than just being environmentally conscious. You can save space, lots of space! If that hasn’t convinced you then how about this; you can also save money! No leaky bottles in the suitcase is just another additional bonus.
The Netflix-show Tidying up with Marie Kondo has taken the western world with storm. She talks about decluttering and surrounding yourself with things that spark joy. I have to say, cutting plastic out of my bathroom has certainly decluttered my bathroom and made me happier.
My shelves, sink and bathroom surfaces are clean and only a few selected products are visible and put to good use daily. I have a much greater appreciation for the things I buy for my bathroom now and cleaning up doesn’t take long.
On a recent stay at a friend's house I was confronted with a sea of plastic bottles for different types of products that are essentially just to clean and moisturize the body. There were shelves crammed full of bottles; different types of shampoo, hair conditioner, body lotion, face cream, foot lotion... the bottles went on and on. When grabbing one of them, another five would tumble and fall around me.
That’s when I decided to look closer at all the benefits from having a plastic-free zone at home, starting in the bathroom. I sat down and wrote a list of the essential items you actually need both at home and while travelling and in this article, you’ll find plastic-free options to the following:
You could go to the supermarket or the drug store, these items are all on sale but they come in large plastic bottles and smaller, dinky little plastic bottles for travelling. They’re cheap and easy to come by.
But, plastic free shops are popping up all over now (a quick search online will help you identify your local supplier), if you can't get to a local shop because you are constantly on the move, lots of the larger suppliers of bathroom products are now switching to plastic free.
Lush is one of my personal favourites with shops all over the world. When you buy products there, you can always ask the people working if you can have a sample. It’s a great way to test products at home to see if they are a good fit for your hair and skin.
Ethique is another plastic free company that offers a range of plastic-free shampoo bars, hair conditioners and moisturizers. Their stockists are mainly based in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Ethique also offers a cute sample pack made up of beauty products that are ideal for holidays.
Lush, like most other providers have struggled a bit with hair conditioner bars. They're difficult to get the hang of and a bit like marmite, you either love them or hate them. For those that hate them, you can always opt for refills at one of the plastic free zone shops that are springing up around the world.
Personally, I couldn't get on with the conditioner bar. But, a woman in the Lush store did give me the tip of rinsing the bar under hot water for a short time, then rubbing it between my hands and rubbing my hands in my hair. Though you can’t see the conditioner in your hair, it’s there. I usually do a quick 2-second rinse to let the conditioner melt further in my hair. Then, I wait a few minutes and rinse out normally.
If you can’t get a hang of it, you’re not the only one. There are more options out there, like refilling glass- or aluminum bottles in a plastic free shop.
For all those plastic-free loving men out there, Anything but Plastic offers a range of plastic-free alternatives of shaving soap bars, shampoo bars, toothpaste tablets, bamboo toothbrushes and deodorant.
Currently this UK based business only ships to UK households but if you are travelling to the UK in the coming year, why not check with your hotel to see if they would be willing to receive a package for you...
Lush has a wide range of shampoo bars in their product list but I prefer their amazing shampoo bar Jason and the Argan Oil. It smells divine and lasts forever. One bar would usually last me three months, when my boyfriend isn’t using it behind my back that is!
I’m not willing to compromise on my smooth and hairless legs for the summer season. I did try an electrical razor, but found that most of them didn’t quite shave close enough. I looked at several options before I gathered up enough courage to try a safety razor.
I admit that bleeding to death from a million small cuts is a fearsome thought. I’m not going to lie, I have cut myself on a few off occasions since I got my safety razor, but actually nowhere near as often as I did with my normal plastic razors. The best part is that my legs and armpits are smoother than ever!
Safety razors work just as well for men as women, just remember to lather up properly if you have very coarse hair or beard.
Another option, if money isn’t an objection is to do laser hair removal. It’s something I’ve been looking at myself. If you’re in the UK, then Groupon has some very good deals on this in London. Do keep in mind that it takes a few months from start to finish and everyone experiences different results.
Also check out my blog post on how to shave waste-free.
The good news are that there are a lot of options out there in the deodorant jungle. Everything from home-made deos to bar-shaped, glass-bottled and even crystal deodorants.
The bad news are that you will have to go through a trial and error process to find the one that fits you the best. If you have sensitive skin, I highly recommend you to stay away from baking soda based deodorants since they can irritate the skin.
I’ve found that crystal deodorants work very well for me, but others have mixed feelings. The crystal deodorant is made up of mineral salt and no harmful chemicals. It’s cheap and it lasts for what feels like forever.
Be careful so you don’t drop it, they are fragile! A broken deo can be very sharp, so if you find cracks in your crystal, it might be time to switch it out.
Georganics is a great place to start. Geoganics provide a wide range of natural toothpastes packaged in glass jars or other sustainable material, bamboo toothbrushes and natural dental floss. They even do a kids selection to help encourage children from a young age to look after their teeth plastic free.
I’ve been waiting for their tooth soap to get stocked again so that I can give it a try. It’s received great reviews and if it’s something we go through like butter in our household, it’s tooth paste!
Back to nature and bare necessities. There are a lot of plants and plant-based products that can help you out in the bathroom.
Coconut oil is as amazing in the kitchen as it is in the bathroom. It can be used for shaving, as a moisturizer and even for dry lips. It works just as well as a make-up remover, but do be careful since it can cause break outs. You’ll find 29 uses of coconut oil here.
Jojoba oil is yet another one of those all-in-one oils. It is one of the key ingredients in many shampoos and conditioners, but that isn’t why I love jojoba oil.
I’m very prone to acne and jojoba oil can actually help your skin heal from spots, sunburn and even chapped skin. It works both for greasy and dry skin, but a word of caution: don’t over use it since a few drops will be enough for most purposes! You can read more about how amazing jojoba oil is here.
Aloe vera is one of my favourite plants. This sturdly little guy helps to heal cuts, sunburn, eczema, irritated skin and much more. If you want to think about your beauty from the inside, then aloe vera is also great for stomach problems.
There’s a range of potted plants you can keep in your home that can help with skin issues, many of them also make a great addition to DIY bathroom products. Lovely Greens has a great description of the best plants for your beauty and skincare.
Or, you can always make your own bathroom products. Yes, you can!
By purchasing just a few basic household ingredients you can make pretty much anything yourself, and this of course is how our grandmothers used to do it. Did you know for instance that soap is just caustic soda, and oil?
Obviously care has to be taken when working with these products but there are plenty of YouTube videos showing you how it's done safely.
Toothpaste can be homemade from coconut oil and baking soda, with a few drops of peppermint essential oil to make it more appealing. Beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter will provide you with a supply of deodorant and moisturizer.
These days we all want to know what is in the products we put on our skin and in our body. By taking a little time out to source our own ingredients and make our own bathroom products, we can hope together to find a renewed respect for our environment, and gain a sense of achievement that we made this ourselves with love, care and respect for our planet.
And the best bit about being able to make these products yourself is that you can produce smaller quantities, especially for travel purposes.
Trying to find a holiday resort that meets all the requirements of an ethical, plastic-free traveler is a pretty mean feat. It takes a lot of research to achieve the desired result that meets all requirements and works for your pocket.
However, you can achieve at least some of these results yourself by avoiding the use of single use plastics that some hotels provide in their complimentary hospitality bathroom products. Samples and freebies tend to not get used up at home and eventually end up in the bin.
Stop this bad habit by turning down products you know wouldn’t be used!
Some hotels now supply guests with shower gel dispensers which offers some respite from the small throwaway tubes and bottles, but by far the best plastic free solution would be to ignore all the freebies and take your own plastic free alternatives.
So, take your plastic free bathroom kit with you on your trip, since you’ve narrowed your products, it should be light and take up very little space in your packing.