What is a Zero Waste Bathroom?

Terra & Co's Sustainable Toiletries

There are few more popular buzzwords right now than “zero waste”—and for good reason! The zero waste movement is all about making simple changes to reduce the amount of waste in our lives. It’s a key part of learning how to practice individual sustainability. And a zero waste bathroom is a great place to start. This blog will help you turn one of your most utilized rooms into a sustainable sanctuary. 

The “Zero Waste” Movement

Let’s start at the beginning: what is zero waste? 

Before you get turned away at the thought of “zero waste,” recognize that this movement isn’t about cutting your trash to nothing. Living a completely waste-free life is near impossible. Even those credited with founding the zero waste movement, like Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home, aren’t perfect in their efforts to reduce all waste.

She developed five principles for zero waste living (also considered the “5 Rs”:

  • Refuse what you don’t need
  • Reduce what you do use
  • Reuse whenever possible
  • Recycle what can’t be refused or reduced
  • Rot (compost) what’s left over

  • While we can’t be perfect, all of us can take steps to reduce the amount of material we send to landfills every year. Sustainable living is all about collective, incremental changes, right? Our actions can reduce our personal plastic footprint while also creating positive waves in the consumer world! Here are a few things to keep in mind when beginning a zero waste journey:

    • Refusing to buy products with wasteful packaging will reduce demand for them—and companies will have to make changes in response.
    • Refusing single-use products and packaging will help to address the massive problem of plastic pollution. And it will reduce your exposure to toxins. 
    • Conscious consumerism and buying less overall can help you live more.  

    Our Bathrooms Can Be Better

    We should all be wondering how to have a zero waste bathroom. Why? 

    Well, our daily habits end up sending a lot of waste to the landfill. Brushing, washing, flossing, and pampering is responsible for A LOT of plastic waste. Unconsciously running the tap or lingering in the shower can waste a lot of water, too. As reported by Sustainable Jungle, using virgin toilet paper means that each of us will be responsible for cutting down 384 trees over our lifetime.

    All of the actions that take place in the bathroom are responsible for waste. But they don’t have to be! Thanks to zero waste bathroom products and practices, the bathroom is one of best places to make improvements. 

    Let’s explore how. 

    8 Tips for a Zero Waste Bathroom 

    1. Be conscious with water

    While it may not seem like it, potable (drinkable) water is a finite resource. Tooth be told, we’re extremely fortunate to have safe water come out in nearly limitless amounts from the taps in our homes. 

    But just because we can let it run abundantly, doesn’t mean that we should. 

    So, be sure to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and washing your face. You can also consider cutting down the length of your shower (a timer might come in handy!). Baths are generally considered more water intensive, so avoid those unless a little self-care is necessary. 

    If you feel really committed to a zero waste lifestyle (and live with people who won’t be offended), you can even put this common motto into practice to save water used by the toilet: “if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.”

    2. Switch to solid shampoo and conditioner bars

    Now for a slightly more glamorous tip. Of all the waste free toiletries, solid shampoo and conditioner bars have received most of the attention recently. They’re packed with hair-supporting ingredients and are formulated just like conventional products to support different hair care needs. 

    But they don’t come in plastic! 

    Most conventional shampoo products will have water listed as their first ingredient. Not only is this silly since you’ll add the water yourself in the shower, but it also requires the sometimes-difficult-to-recycle plastic packaging. 

    The solid versions are a far better option. Be sure to give them an adjustment period of at least a few weeks. 

    PRO-TIP: If you feel like you notice residue, you can consider using apple cider vinegar as a rinse. You can often get this from a bulk store, to make it a zero waste hair care essential! 

    3. Use recycled or bamboo toilet paper

    There’s really no reason we should be using virgin paper to clean our bums—especially when recycled paper or more sustainable bamboo can serve the same purpose! As an added bonus, these TP alternatives often come wrapped in compostable paper, instead of single use plastic. 

    4. Start using a safety razor

    Disposable razors are often cheaply made and more likely to result in knicks and irritation. Beyond that, they’re pretty awful for our planet! The average shaver can end up going through 4 to 12 plastic razors every year. 

    If we consider even half of that amount of waste the entire adult population, that’s a lot of waste!

    Stainless steel safety razors ensure a closer, more comfortable shave. These reusable bathroom products are also better for our planet. Durably designed, you could expect just a single razor to last a lifetime. In addition to preventing plastic from ending up in landfills (or our oceans), this will also save you money. 

    5. Make the switch to reusable menstrual products

    For menstruators, reusable menstrual cups and washable pads are another one-two punch to save money and the environment. They may come with a higher upfront cost, but over time they’re a far more affordable option. As an added bonus, they protect our most sensitive parts from the harsh chemicals usually found in conventional pads and tampons. 

    6. Return to a good ol’ bar of soap

    Lather up with something your grandparents would have used. 

    Like shampoo, body wash is often made with mostly (unnecessary) water. It’s also heavier to transport (more carbon emissions) and can come in a bottle with a non-recyclable pump—making bars of soap the greener choice.

    Traditional soap is more likely to contain natural ingredients, too. The bars tend to be far cheaper and often come in cardboard packaging, which is recyclable and/or compostable. 

    PRO-TIP: For totally zero waste washing, use a compostable (and anti-bacterial) natural sea sponge instead of a plastic loofah. Your skin will thank you! 

    7. Look for eco-conscious beauty products

    The zero waste movement has also taken the personal care and beauty product world by storm. Now, it isn’t that difficult to find cosmetics and other beauty products in reusable, refillable, or compostable containers. 

    8. Go green with your oral care routine

    As the 8th tip for how to have a zero waste bathroom (and the most important, if you ask us), you can also clean up the way you clean your teeth. Done the conventional way, every step of caring for our pearly whites is associated with plastic waste. The toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash are all associated with single-use waste.

    But with Terra & Co., it doesn’t have to be.  

    A Zero Waste Oral Care Routine for a Zero Waste Bathroom

    Every one of the sustainable oral care essentials from Terra & Co. has been consciously designed with you and the planet in mind. We’re committed to being tough on bacteria and plaque, but gentle on the environment. So, stock up on a box of Gentle Green Toothbrushes and celebrate this significant step towards your zero waste bathroom.

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