Many of us are making an effort to make a smaller footprint, waste less and save money As you’re making your way journey through the low impact lifestyle, switching from plastic and disposable items to sustainable alternatives can be a challenge.
I took every bottle, jug, container, and personal care item out of my bathroom and put it on the kitchen table. I disposed of anything I hadn’t used in 6 months or more or was outdated, or leaky. Then I took stock of what I had left. Anything that was perfectly good I kept. While I wanted to minimize, I did not want to waste. I had heaps of perfectly good bottles of lotion I didn’t care for, so I took them to the bathroom at my church and work.
As I made my way through the items left, I began to look for more environmentally friendly replacements. Here is what I found.
For the Hair:
Shampoo and Conditioner. I have an autoimmune disease that was making my hair fall out. After I switched to baking soda and vinegar, it stopped. It made me wonder what the heck was in shampoos. I have tried dozens and dozens over the years. I know that baking soda and vinegar can be a little harsh for some and cause your hair to dry out. I do deep condition once a week with a great conditioner from Lush. If baking soda and vinegar aren’t your bag, try something like the Ethique Eco-Friendly Solid Shampoo Bar, Damage Control. And if you still aren’t comfortable with that, find a bulk store that sells shampoo and conditioners and refill your own glass bottles.
Hairbrush: Switch to a sustainable brush like the one wooden ones. They are gentler on the scalp and distribute the natural oils better.
For the Face:
Moisturizing (anti-aging) cream. You can go to your bulk store and refill your own containers or make your own face cream. I use straight up coconut oil. Your skin is your largest organ, if you can’t eat what you put on it, don’t use it. Who wants to absorb all of those toxic chemicals into your skin. Coconut absorbs pretty quickly and leaves your skin soft and supple.
Toothpaste and mouth-wash. I have tried all kinds of toothpastes and mouthwashes. Frau Fowler Best Organic Tooth Powder is pretty darn good, and it comes in different flavors like Mouth Medic and Citrus Mint. For mouthwash, I use filtered water, 2 teaspoons of baking soda and a few drops of peppermint or tea tree oil.
Q-tips. There are great sustainable brands out there like Oriculi. Just be careful not to jab your eardrum! I know we aren’t supposed to stick things in our ears bigger than our thumbs, but if you are me, you just gotta get in there.
Sustainable toothbrush. My favorite is the Biodegradable Eco-Friendly Natural Bamboo Charcoal Toothbrush.
Deodorant. Okay, I have to be honest here. I have tried every homemade deodorant under the sun — all with varying degrees of dissatisfaction. My daughter and I have switched over to Primal Pit Paste and love it. It comes in a glass jar and has a BPA-free plastic cap. While our deodorants aren’t zero waste, they are low impact.
Face Cleaning Pads. We use reusable face pads from Etsy.
For The Body:
Soap: I found great, non-packaged bar soaps at my grocery store, (believe it or not!) But I’ll bet there is a local shop near you that sells unpackages bars of soap. But one of the best things we do is scrub ourselves down with a natural brush. We use the brush more with a minimal amount of soap. I want to be clean, but soap tends to strip away our natural oils, so we let the brush do the “heavy lifting”.
Body Scrub: Using sugar, coffee, or salt it’s cheap and easy to use. My mom makes her facial scrub using olive oil and sugar. It works great as a body scrub too.
Moisturizer: Again we use coconut oil. The trick is to warm it between your hands and apply it to the skin quickly when it is still warm. The friction and the warmth help it absorb quickly. Use a little and apply more as needed, rather than over lathering and feeling greasy.
Menstruation: My daughter and I use the cup. I can’t believe how much we have saved on tampons! Since I am a heavy bleeder, on my heavy days I also use menstrual underwear from Thinx. My daughter uses reusable menstrual pads we bought of off Etsy.
Razor: The struggle was real for me on this one. My daughter had no problem adapting to a safety razor. She mows her legs hairs down like a champ. I, on the other hand, look like I just had a spa day at a butcher shop. For a year I tried to make it work but shaving around my knobby knees, and bony ankles just wouldn’t cooperate. I had to switch back to a plastic razor. But instead of buying disposable razors, I invested in a good razor with replaceable heads. It’s not perfect, but it’s a compromise.
Switching over to lower impact products will always be plighted imperfections. Some people will reach the pinnacle of zero waste, while the rest of us just strive to lower our impact and decrease our footprint. In my book, any step in the right direction is a win.
Cleaning Your Bathroom
Reducing your waste in your bathroom reaches beyond caring for your body. You can also reduce waste by making your own cleaning products.
1 1/2 cups warm water (distilled for longer-term)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons castile soap (like Dr Bronner’s tea tree oil or Peppermint, both are antibacterial)
20 drops essential oils (like tea tree oil or peppermint)
In a spray bottle add the baking soda and warm water until dissolved. Add the vinegar, castile soap, and essential oils to the bottle. Use as a general bathroom cleaner.
To clean mirrors: use rubbing alcohol.
To clean grout:use a 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Again you can use Dr Bronners.If you really want to cut out your cleaning products, consider a Nano Towel. These towels are specially designed to give optimum cleaning with nothing but water and are so easy to use. You can use it to clean and dry virtually any surface without paper towels and without toxic chemicals. When it becomes dirty, you just wash it and use it again. I haven’t transitioned to these yet, but that is my goal. Right now I am caught up in the OCD need for that clean smell found in products, but I am hoping to wean off of all of them.
Tell me about your zero-waste or low-impact journey in the comments below. I would love to hear about it! What do you use?