If you’re just getting into sustainable living, it’s easier to start with just one aspect (or one room in this case) to begin making changes. As one of the smallest rooms in a home (and with one with the most product turnover), here are sustainable bathroom swaps – both products and practices!
It’s been 3 years since we really started paying attention to sustainable living. I remember getting overwhelmed just trying to learn about how to wash cloth diapers. Then I started learning more and just seeing how everything in our lives seemed un-sustainable.
Then I came to my senses, realizing that the most sustainable products are the ones we already own, and that I could happily just take it one step at a time. It was my introduction to sustainability guilt!
Our bathroom became my first focus. One of the easy first steps to living sustainably (besides cutting back on buying new and avoiding food waste) is to use products that are sustainably packaged and/or are clean (better for your health and to wash down the sink). I will tell you, sustainable packaging is a much harder thing to find!
Rather than just giving you a bunch of new stuff to buy, the list of sustainable bathroom swaps below is a combination of areas in which you can replace with different brands along with practices to cut back on the waste in your home. You can start making your home more sustainable!
Sustainable Bathroom Swaps
These items are in no particular order of importance. Add a practice or replace a product as soon as it works for you.
When it comes to buying more sustainable items, I like to do it when the old item has run out or is no longer usable, so there’s no rush. But I do like know what to buy when the time comes!
- Toilet Paper
Cotton toilet paper is what we’re all used to, but the process of cotton production is water intensive and full of pesticides. The fluffier, the more difficult it is for drains and sewer lines. And don’t get me started on the (non-reusable) plastic wrapping. Where’s my eye roll emoji?
Enter recycled paper and bamboo options. We love Who Gives A Crap? They offer recycled and bamboo options – we use the bamboo, but I have many friends who use the recycled option (more sustainable and less expensive).
Rolls are individually wrapped in paper (as required by US law), but there’s no plastic and the company is a B Corp!
Read my full sustainable toilet paper review here.
- Recycle Dental Products Properly
There are a slew of sustainable dental care options. From bamboo toothbrushes to silk floss, it’s becoming easier to replace dental products with something more sustainable that suits you!
Toothpastes also come in a slew of options. I have used the toothpaste tabs, which can be a plastic free option. While I have no problem with crunching the tabs and using it as a toothpaste, I haven’t found a tab option with fluoride, which my family uses (to each their own). You can read my natural toothpastes review for all my thoughts on brands (all available at Target even) and formulas.
Regardless what brand or type of brush, flosser, and paste you use, however, is the option to recycle all that packaging!! There is a free recycling program sponsored by Tom’s of Maine and hello brand toothpaste (our preferred brand of them all) for ALL dental product packaging.
Sign up for a free Terracycle account and join the Tom’s of Maine recycling program here! They’ll send you a prepaid shipping label and you can periodically send off a small package of dental packaging waste to be recycled (even better if you team up with friends/family to recycle more per shipment)!
If you live in the Sacramento area, Refill Madness in Midtown also has a bucket for this program, saving you the hassle of sending it back yourself!
- Shampoo & Conditioner – Sustainable Swaps
This may not be surprising, but my hair is my favorite feature of myself. My not so naturally blonde hair is something I take pride in, so when I talk about sustainable options, please understand that I’m only recommending items and practices I’ve tried that haven’t been detrimental to my hair in ANY way.
The most sustainable option for shampoo and conditioner are shampoo and conditioner bars. They look just like the bar soap you’re used to, but they’re formulated for hair. Read my full post on how to use shampoo and conditioner bars, so you can make sure you’re using them correctly.
I’ve done one of each at a time and used two bars in tandem. If you’re new to hair care bars, I’d recommend starting with a shampoo bar while using your normal conditioner. I find the shampoo bars are pretty foolproof while the conditioner bars take a little (and I mean just a little) getting used to).
If you aren’t ready for bars, find clean hair care first and foremost and then research packaging. Innersense is my go to hair product line for almost all my hair needs. Their plastic containers are actually made from recycled plastic AND they’re recyclable (not the pumps). They even have a purple toning shampoo for blondies like me! Use code luci15 for 15% off your first purchase
Alternatively, look into local refill stores where you can use your own containers and cut back on packaging overall – great with these DIY beauty labels!
- Bar Soaps over Body Wash
This one doesn’t require much explanation – bar soaps are more sustainable. They tend to be cleaner, don’t take up space or water weight in any part of transportation, and help in limiting unnecessary product being washed down the drain.
- Safety Razor over Disposable Razor
Ahh, yes, the reusable (“safety”) razor. In lieu of plastic heads that are thrown away, safety razors are a much more sustainable option. I had to try two before finding the one I liked (I was ready to go back to disposable until this one).
See the best way to use a safety razor (as well as my recommendation for the best style of safety razor). Use code LUCI10 for 10% off WLDHO razors and accessories.
- Clean Hand Soap
This one is the easiest sustainable bathroom swaps – it’s actually a house-wide change you can make with almost no effort. When you’re getting hand soap (especially if you aren’t doing the bar route). Check out the ingredients. Washing chemicals (yes, there are chemicals in many hand soaps) down the drain isn’t good for your healthy, the water supply, or your food supply.
- Reusable Sundries
I’m not sure what to call the category of items including cottons ball, cottons pads, and qtips, but that one!! Each of these items has reusable replacements.Reusable cotton pads (replacing the balls and pads) are great for removing makeup, applying toner, or whatever other needs you might have. Just launder with towels!
We’ve even used these reusable Q tips – the “original” is the best option here. I don’t find the beauty ones to be great for removing makeup imperfections. WHile I don’t think these reusable Q tips are saving the world, i do enjoy that they’re reusable and that they take up almost no space as compared to that big box of Q Tips we used to have! We each have a different color, so we know whose is whose.
- No More Plastic Loofahs
I used to love a good plastic loofah, but let’s be real – they’re plastic, non-recyclable, and that dye can’t be natural. Instead opt for bar soaps OR use washcloths or even natural loofahs (far more exfoliating) instead.
Check out these tips for towel storage in small spaces!
This one is wildly specific, but do you know that deodorant originally came in cardboard packaging? Now some companies are making the switch back to the cardboard packaging.
- Skin Care & Products – Recycle Properly
Just like dental care, the packaging around skin care, hair care, and makeup is one of the biggest offenders in the house.
Some packaging can easily be recycled or even reused (see how to wash and clean containers for reuse).
But there are more than a few that are hard to tell. Some companies are starting to put recycling/disposal information on packaging and on their website (it’s one of the things I LOOOOOVE about BeautyCounter – each product page has recycling info)!
For all those impossible to recycle items however (e.g. pumps, plastic tubes, etc.), check out these makeup recycling programs!
Since clean beauty is an important part of sustainable living (what we wash down the drain matters as much as what we put on our skin), be sure to check out these other clean beauty roundups:
Common questions include do shampoo bars really work and how do you use them? What natural deodorant actually works? What’s the best safety razor for women (and how to use them properly). And the best makeup brush cleaner (on the cheap and easy)!
There are also great clean skin & hair care products for men!