From bamboo toothbrushes to tube-free toothpastes and biodegradable face wipes, here’s how to make your bathroom a much greener space
It may have been David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg who initially turned us on to the how imperative it is to reduce plastic waste but we're all taking on the responsibility now - consumer research by the Soil Association revealed that 64 per cent of consumers are now looking for products with recyclable packaging and 55 per cent of people wanting more product refill points in store.
However, while a growing number of households are becoming more environmentally aware, stats show that we’re more likely to be greener in certain rooms. Findings from Recycle Now , reveal that while 90 per cent of packaging is recycled in our kitchens, it’s down to only 50 per cent in our bathrooms.
Convenience plays a role as does having products that carry hardier eco-friendly credentials. Encouragingly though, brands are making a concerted effort to reduce the amount of plastic in their products , with some forgoing packaging altogether.
“This is not just a trend, it is a movement,” says Andrew McDougall, Associate Director of Mintel Beauty & Personal Care. As reported in the market research company’s Sub-Zero Waste report , Unilever and L’Oréal have both pledged to use 100 per cent recyclable, reusable, and compostable plastic by 2025; while The Procter & Gamble Company committed to introducing 25 per cent recycled plastic across 500 million haircare bottles in 2018.
Compared to a few years ago, there’s now a range of options to help significantly reduce the levels of plastic pollution in your bathroom. Whether you’re looking to reduce, recycle or go completely plastic-free, making just a few of these swaps could make a world of difference.
Swap your bin for...a split waste one
If you can’t be bothered to deal with the faff of separating your rubbish (lovely job) before pick-up day, a split waste bin could be just what you’ve been looking for. We love this stylish yet practical number from Joseph Joseph , £35, which contains compartments for your recyclable and non-recyclable goods, and a removable inner bucket for easy emptying too.
Swap tubes of toothpaste for...tooth powders and tablets
Out of all of the swaps, this is probably one of the hardest to make in our experience. There’s a surprising breadth of options on offer to try though. Take for instance Denttabs Toothpaste Tablets , £3.75 for 62 tablets, which arrive in a large thick paper bag or refillable aluminium bottle. Free of binders and preservatives, they contain fluoride to leave your mouth feeling extra fresh. Simply chew one of them until it crumbles and then brush with a wet toothbrush as usual. Again to reiterate, this takes some time to get used to!
In a similar vein are The Humble Co's Natural Toothpaste Tablets , £6 for 60. They come in eco-friendly packaging, helping to reduce plastic consumption and for extra feel-good points, every purchase from the brand helps to fund the Humble Smile Foundation which provides sustainable healthcare projects around the world.
Lush’s range of vegan Toothy Tabs , £6.75 for 50g, work in much the same way but use a mixture of essential oils and spices to add some sparkle to your smile. They come in 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles that can be reused or recycled at home. The brand also does refreshing Mouthwash Tabs , £6.50 for 50g, for afterwards. Pop one in your mouth and take a sip of water to start the fizz.
Alternatively, you could try a tooth powder instead. Georganics does a great one for £6.90 (for 60ml), which contains activated charcoal powder and peppermint to gently buff plaque away. The brand also does a Toothsoap too, £8.90 for 60ml, which looks not dissimilar to a roll-on deodorant. Both are plastic-free, 100 per cent vegan and surprisingly easy to use - just dip a wet toothbrush into one of them, brush for two minutes and then rinse. We know, the prospect of repeat dipping is a little stomach-churning, which makes the tablets a better option in our opinion.
Swap face wipes for...biodegradable or reusable cloths, flannels and mitts
Traditional single-use face wipes have received a particularly bad rap in recent times, and rightly so. They’re especially detrimental to the environment, with some taking up to 100 years to break down. Thankfully though, there’s now a variety of biodegradable versions to choose from such as Yes To’s , £3.99, which are made of compostable natural cloth. Oil-free, their Cucumbers option contains aloe vera and green tea to stop skin from feeling too stripped.
If you’re looking for a deeper clean though, try Face Halo , £18 for three. There’s a reason why they scored a starring role in Jess Glynne’s Brits performance. Not only are they dual-sided and reusable, but they’re super soft and only require water to get rid of makeup and end-of-day dirt.
For the neck down, try Utopia Towels’ Organic Bamboo Baby Washcloths , £9.99 for 10, a favourite of our Editorial Director, Victoria Woodhall’s. Durable but eco-friendly, they’re noticeably less scratchy than other towels on the market.
Swap plastic bottles of shower gel for...soaps
From packaging to formula, today’s soaps are better than ever. For instance, take new Parisian cosmetics brand, Cosmydor, that has a strict no plastics policy. Its range of organic cold-processed soaps , from £11, rich in essential oils, vegetable oils and glycerin, and housed in cardboard boxes, provide a much more caring cleanse than soaps of old did.
Aveda has also just launched their new Rosemary Mint Bath Bar , £14, which is enclosed in 100 per cent post-consumer recycled packaging. The same goes for its Rosemary Mint collection in general, in case you’re not quite ready to make the leap from bottle to paper.
Swap plastic bottles of shampoo for...shampoo bars
Much like tooth powders, it takes a little time to get used to using a shampoo bar - it feels a bit like you’re hitting your head with a soapy brick at first. To keep in-shower struggles to a minimum, rub it in between your hands to create a lather and distribute through lengths to avoid product build-up. Personal favourites include Faith In Nature's Coconut and Shea Butter Shampoo Bar , £5.79, as well as Christophe Robin’s Hydrating SLS-free option which contains aloe vera, glycerin and castor oil, £18, and comes in a cardboard box.
If you find it hard to get to grips with a shampoo bar, why not try Hairstory ? The brand has eliminated plastic bottles, instead storing product in pouches that contain 63 per cent less plastic than the bottles. By June 2020 the brand intends to be entirely recyclable and hopes to be fully refillable by 2021.
Swap plastic-stemmed cotton buds for...cardboard or bamboo sticked versions
They may seem too small to cause much damage, but the effect of plastic stems on the environment is huge. Because of their size, they often pass through filters and into the sea, where they accumulate and can easily be eaten by birds and marine life.
Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, the Co-Op and Tesco have all committed to using biodegradable cardboard for their own-brand cotton buds, while niche brands also offer more environmentally-friendly versions too. We especially rate Hydro Phil Cotton Swabs , £9 for 100, which are made from bamboo and cotton.
Swap dental floss for... a Waterpik Waterflosser
Most dental flosses out there come packaged in hard plastic and are made of nylon (which doesn’t break down very easily) so the Waterpik Water Flosser , £54.99 is quite the revelation. It shoots out jets of water to clean deep between teeth and below the gumline meaning you eliminate the daily waste of flossing plus get a deeper clean than with traditional flossing.
Swap your disposable razor for...a metal one
If you’re looking for a more environmentally-friendly daily shave, it could be worth investing in a metal razor.
For a complete plastic-free shaving kit, try Naked Necessities Naked Shave Razor Kit , £25, which includes a palm oil-free shaving soap and five-pack of blades too. Molton Brown also does a great shaving soap too for £10.
Swap your toothbrush...for a bamboo one
It’s estimated that 3.6 billion toothbrushes are used every year, with roughly 80 per cent of them ending up in the sea. What’s more, each toothbrush can take up to a thousand years to decompose, so upgrading your tooth-buffing tool of choice to a biodegradable version could be a worthwhile swap. There may be a trade-off in quality if you opt for one with biodegradable bristles though due to the fact that many are made from animal hair which can be a breeding ground for bacteria. So a good compromise is to use one with a bamboo handle such as the Humble Brush Bamboo Toothbrush , £4, or one with a bamboo handle and recyclable nylon bristles (which can be pulled out) such as the Fete Bamboo Toothbrush , £3.99.
Swap single-use tampon applicators for...reusable alternatives
In the past, sanitary products that were practical but planet-friendly were few and far between. However brands such as Dame, Ohne and Intimina are changing the game.
If you’re looking for a menstrual cup, try Intimina’s Lily Cup One , £16, a great starter option made of BPA-free silicone.
If you prefer going down the tampon route though, you’ll love Dame’s reusable D applicator , £24.99, which is made of medical grade mediprene with active microbial tech to keep things hygienic. Use with the brand’s organic cotton tampons , £3.49 for 14, or Ohne’s Naked Tampons , £5.80 for 16, for added eco-friendly kudos. Ohne has also partnered with School Club Zambia, so that for every box of Ohne tampons that you buy, you're helping to build brand new toilet blocks in rural Zambian schools and provide schoolgirls with menstrual education.
Swap your plastic mouthwash bottle for... metal mouthwash
Mouthwash gives us the freshest, tingliest of clean feelings but there's no denying that the plastic bottles and caps leave a bad taste in our mouths. Enter Waken , a mouthwash housed in recyclable aluminium bottles that look beaut in your bathroom and are kinder to the environment. You can also buy a reusable stainless steel mouthwash cup to use it with.