Over the course of our lifetime, the average Brit produces 512 kilos of bathroom waste, of which around half is destined for landfill. That’s a half a tonne of rubbish per person, which is, well, a tonne! I maintain that the only route to solving our waste and plastic problem is through policy and law – and that the bulk of this needs to be aimed at big corporations. But that doesn’t mean that, where budget allows, we should be taking individual responsibility too. With that in mind, I’m bringing you five steps you can take to start your transition to a low waste bathroom!
1. Use up what you have
When you decide you want to move towards a low waste bathroom at home, it can be tempting to replace all your ‘unsustainable’ products with zero waste and sustainable alternatives. But waste isn’t just about packaging, and by replacing something before you’ve fully used it up, you’re just condemning additional weight to landfill. So if it’s already there, use it up, and when it comes to the point where you need to repurchase, go with a more sustainable option!
2. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
Another step you can take that costs nothing – in fact, this can even save you money! Subscriptions can be a great way to manage your essentials (more on that later), but a lot of subs, to beauty boxes especially, aren’t particularly good value for money. You receive a bunch of items you don’t really need or want, and they collect dust until you eventually bin them. Full disclaimer: I subscribe to my TVK Beauty Box* and I love it. I almost always use every single product, and many of them are sustainable options anyway. But if you’re paying out for a box full of perfume samples and odd sachets of anti-aging cream that you can’t get a good trial out of, it’s time to ditch it.
3. Swap out your toothbrush
Toothbrushes are one of our most-used (I hope!!!) and most-replaced items. Sustainable alternatives also aren’t wildly expensive, making them an ideal starting point for anyone moving towards a low waste bathroom. There are lots of brands out there and you can even buy them in most supermarkets with your weekly shop now. My personal favourite is the HumbleBrush*, mainly because it comes in different colours so you can buy them for the whole family and still tell them apart!
4. Get recycling
It’s a much-quoted fact that bathroom waste is one of the least-recycled. Least-recycled, but not least-recyclable! In fact, you’d probably struggle to find everyday items that don’t come in recyclable packaging. But because many people only have a small bin in their bathrooms, everything goes in there and then straight to landfill. You can get a small segmented bin if you want to make separating your waste straightforward. Or you can use the Patented Moving Scouse Low Waste Bathroom Recycling Method. This involves rinsing out your recyclables and then unceremoniously chucking them down the stairs, ready to be moved into the main recycling bin when you can be bothered. However you do it, the absolute minimum we should expect from ourselves is to recycle the things that are easily recyclable.
5. Look for alternative packaging
If you like liquid bath and shower products, then buying all the plastic bottles isn’t the only option you have. Aluminium is a super-lightweight and super-recyclable packaging material, so it has many of the benefits of plastic without being, well, plastic. Ksoni [previously gifted product] make a number of hair and body products packaged in tins and cans. If you have a shop that offers refills near you (lots of whole foods stores do), you can also give Faith in Nature* a try. They make a big range of shampoos, conditioners, and body wash refillable, as well as their range of solid soaps.
It doesn’t matter how you arrived at the decision to start reducing your bathroom waste. It doesn’t matter how long it took you, or how many mistakes you think you made. A low waste bathroom, and any type of low waste living, is not about perfection. The important thing is that as many people as possible try their best. This is also why I prefer the term low waste over zero waste – living a true zero waste lifestyle just isn’t feasible for most of us, especially not in the long term. Instead, we’ve just got to try to make the best choices available to us in our circumstances while also pushing for meaningful change in law and policy.
If you’ve made any of the changes mentioned in this article, please do leave me a comment and let me know how you got on!