February 12, 2012

Zero Waste Bathroom. ~Bea Johnson

This is an original post from The Zero Waste Home.

The fastest way to get to Zero Waste here, is to find alternatives to your disposables: Remove your bathroom trash can…whatever lands on the floor is what calls for an ersatz. Here are the changes we’ve made.

Toilet paper: Yes, we still use it, at least until we get solar on the house and drying washlets on the toilet bowls. For now, it’s TP; 100%recycled and unbleached, individually wrapped in paper to bypass the common plastic wrapper on multiples, while we wait for better packaging options to come up on the market. Evergreen is packaged in cardboard but is only sold online.

Antiperspirant: Switch to a solution of baking soda/water/lavender essential oil in a stainless spray bottle or an alum stone (I bought mine in bulk in France, but you can find some here too). The latter lasts a year and also works on healing small razor cuts.

Razors: Lucky me, I got it all lazered off six years ago (well before we tried to reduce our waste), but my husband still grows facial hair. Scott has been using a double edge razor for a couple of years now. By drying the blade between uses, a pack of 10 blades should last 5 years. With solar, he’d probably go electric.

Shaving cream: Switch to a rich soap, shaving soap (wrapped in paper) or soap of Alep (I found mine in bulk in France, but middle eastern stores would carry it).

Shampoo and Conditioner: Switch to bulk, I refill liter size bottles. If your hair is short, you also have the “no-poo” option: rinse your hair, massage baking soda in, then rinse, with vinegar for shine. I gave up after a 6 months trial on my long hair… I now “poo”.

Body/face soap: Switch to bulk liquid castile soap or a package-free hard soap (best option since less packaging is involved in the making and selling)

Toothbrush: There are no right answers out there yet. The choice is yours. Recycline (made of yogurt cups, packaged in a travel case, recyclable #5, but plastic), Terradent (replaceable bristle pads on a plastic handle, over packaged), Radius (replaceable plastic head on a recycled handle, too much non-recyclable packaging), and Swissco (wooden and packaged in a travel case but not a US product).

Toothpaste tube: switch to a homemade tooth powder with baking soda and stevia (see recipes), in a glass parmesan dispenser.

Dental Floss: Switch to a brass gum stimulator with a rubber tip.

Cosmetics: Reduce. Cosmetics are my biggest Zero Waste issue, but I have reduced. T he only thing I now purchase in packaging is a glass bottle of SPF tinted moisturizer. The rest, I either make (mascara, kohl eyeliner) or have eliminated (powder, brown pencil). Read your labels, watch out for the dirty dozen, and check your cosmetics score on skin deep. If it’s good to you it’s good to the Earth too.

Nail Polish : Switch to a nail clipper, stainless file and balm. After 15 years of using nail polish, I’ve gone naked and noticed that the ridges on my nails have miraculously disappeared. A bonus, since I can now also forego the buffer. My homemade vitamin E balm makes my nails shiny on demand and works on eyes, lips and hair. Nail clippers and stainless files come package free at the beauty supply store.

Q-tips: Forget about them, they are not good for you anyways. Do your research.

Feminine products: Switch to the Diva Cup and Glad Rags (I made mine from an old flannel shirt): Do I see some frowning? These require an up-front investment and take a couple months getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you won’t go back to disposables.

Hairspray: Switch to lemon water in a spray bottle (see recipes). Amazingly simple and simply amazing.

Exfoliators: Switch to baking soda or oatmeal for the face and salt for the body, all found in bulk.

Mask: Switch to bulk clays (French, Kaolin, Bentonite, etc…), mixed with water or apple cider vinegar.

Contact lenses: My husband is still attached to his (laser can sadly not cure his condition), the packaging of the lenses and that of the cleaning solution are recyclable and by using them only on occasions, he doubles their wearability.

You can also…

  • Compost hair and nail clippings: My son believes that he is greener than the rest of us because he bites his nails and does not waste them. 🙂
  • Put a brick in your toilet tank, it will reduce the amount of water used every time you flush. You won’t notice a difference (until you see your water bill) and you’ll forget it’s in there.
  • Collect water in a bucket while your shower heats, water your plants with it.
  • Use zero waste cleaning: Microfiber cloths for mirrors, white vinegar for mold, baking soda as scrub, a mix of baking soda and vinegar as drain cleaner.

Your turn to Zero Waste your bathroom.

Ready, set, mellow! …if it’s yellow.

(prepared by Jill Barth)

Bea, of The Zero Waste Home, says “Refuse, Refuse, Refuse. Then reduce, reuse and recycle (and only in that order).”

Meet Bea and her family in this video: Second Act: The Johnson Family

Since embarking on the Zero Waste lifestyle a few years ago, Bea’s life and that of her family has completely changed… for the better. They now not only feel happier and eat healthier but also lead more meaningful lives, based on experiences instead of stuff, and action instead of inaction.

Today, Bea participates in media and speaking engagements to share her stories, tips and the benefits of Zero Waste living. She also provides home consulting services on decluttering, living simply and waste reduction.

Living simply and waste-free offer countless advantages. Are you ready for it?

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