I’ve covered eco-friendly changes you can make in your kitchen. And your laundry room. And I’ve been putting off the next one because . . . it’s the dreaded bathroom.
I have nothing against the place. A lot of good business gets done in there. But it’s been a hard place for me to make “green” changes that I’m willing to recommend to the world, because, well, not everything I’ve tried has worked.
I think that’s because I tend to lump beauty supplies in with the bathroom, and I’ve tried lots of personal care products that have been total busts. (Maybe that’s another blog post in itself.) And also, a two-minute shower in cold water isn’t an appealing change to me. Sorry.
Meanwhile, I’m happy to chat about a few restroom changes that have worked for us.
I’ve always been a fan of the nice, plush, quilted toilet paper because, be honest, who doesn’t like to be comfortable? But not only is it made from trees, too much of it clogs up our pipes. So I decided to try recycled paper. It was a bit thin and rough for my taste, so we then tried bamboo toilet paper. I like this one better; it’s never going to be plush and quilty, but it is softer and stands up a bit better under duress. Many services are offering toilet paper subscriptions now, including my choice, Who Gives a Crap. It was really nice to have the rolling order in place in the early days of the COVID pandemic, let me tell you.
Why else is bamboo a good choice? First off, you don’t have to cut down hundred-year-old trees to make it. Bamboo is basically a tall grass. It grows quickly and is easily renewable. It can grow up to one and a half inches per hour! It also breaks up well in water, so, fewer plumbing clogs.
There is also bamboo facial tissue available, in case you were wondering!
After extolling the virtues of bamboo paper, it would be wrong not to mention bamboo toothbrushes. We’ve already discussed the renewable-ness of bamboo. So swapping out non-biodegradable plastic toothbrushes for the bamboo type is a no-brainer. Just tell your dentist you have a stash of brushes at home and you don’t need a new one. They also come in packs of multiple brushes for relatively cheap.
The only thing to watch for here is that sometimes the bristles are still made of plastic and are not biodegradable or compostable. Be sure to check this before buying. If you plan to compost the brush at the end of its life, you may need to cut the bristle end off first. Some styles of brushes come with a head that screws off, to make this process easier for you. And still others use products like castor bean oil to make non-plastic bristles. Shop around!
I’m a little more leery about “natural” toothpastes, as many of them leave out fluoride, and I’m not quite ready to give that up yet. But there are plenty of options on the market if you prefer to reduce unpronounceable chemicals in your hygiene routine. More and more companies (including Lush and etee) are developing toothpaste chew tabs to use in place of paste in a plastic tube—kind of like swapping out liquid detergent for pods in the laundry room.
Switch to bar soaps instead of liquid gels—preferably bars that are wrapped in paper, not plastic. Or use refillable pumps at the sink.
There are plenty of natural sponges on the market as well, in place of plastic poufs—sea sponges, natural loofahs, and even handmade cotton bath poufs. Or just use a good, old-fashioned washcloth.
I had to drop this one in here, as it’s one of my new picks. The Leaf razor is all metal, 100 percent plastic-free, and has three blades for a close shave. It comes with a starter pack of 10 replaceable blades (recyclable). This is a step toward reducing the (literally) billions of disposable plastic razors that end up in landfills each year. And it’s a step up from conventional safety razors that nick you all the time because it has a pivoting head. A full starter kit is pricey (about $113) but guess what—it will last you for years, instead of paying $7 to $10 for replacement razors multiple times a year.
Other tips I’ve found to be handy:
Get rid of single use Dixie cups in the bathroom; grab some old mugs or glasses from the kitchen and use them instead.
If you’re like me and hoard shampoo and body wash samples from hotels, clear your space by donating these to women’s centers or homeless shelters. They are always in need of hygiene products and your sample collection might as well go to good use.
Keep a separate bin stashed under the bathroom sink to throw recyclable or compostable trash in. Since bathrooms (especially upstairs bathrooms) tend to be farther away from household recycling bins, it can be easy to forget to sort out recyclable bathroom trash correctly. Having a quick and simple method to sort it goes a long way.
For cleaning tips, check out my Greening Your Kitchen post for some tips on cutting out harsh chemical cleaners. They can be used in the bathroom, too!