8 Ecofrugal and zero-waste swaps and suggestions for your bathroom

Most bathrooms are a surprising and often staggering combination of perfumes, additives, dyes and many chemicals. The complex mixtures found in our soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, conditioners, makeup removers and more. Women, with out higher beauty expectation, put on 168 different chemicals on our faces every day, on average!

That’s a bit mad, to be honest. But surely there’s something we can do to reduce that number and save some money at the same time, right?

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1. Reduce and simplify

If you have a bathroom sink overflowing with bottles and jars, do you need all of them? I’d venture to say that the most ecofrugal thing we can do is if we don’t need to replace a thing at all, but rather stop using it, use it until it is empty and then don’t replace it, or in some other way minimize the number of “must haves” in our lives. I’m not saying you should never treat yourself to a luxurious face mask if that is your thing, but nevertheless – is there a way to minimize and reduce what you need to restock and replenish?

2. Look for shorter ingredient list

There are a lot of beauty products you can make yourself with a couple of fats, essential oils and other ingredients. But if that is not your jam, there is usually a small business or two trying to make ends meet in your city or one close to you by making it for you. Alternatively, you can always look to Etsy for gorgeous handmade goods if nothing is available close to you.

But this is not just to simplify in order to simplify. The beauty of products made with natural ingredients such as beeswax, shea butter and olive oil, is that nature recognizes it and knows how to break it down. When you wash your hands and some of your moisturizer gets washed off in the process, you have the choice between chemicals that can harm what’s at the end of your drain, and products that might even nurture and take care of them!

I’m not the best person to look to for makeup advice. The two products I use is my shea butter and olive oil whipped hand cream (and anywhere else that needs it!) and my jojoba oil with a drop or two of essential oil for a touch of luxury (usually juniper or pine, I love smelling like a forest creature), and that’s it!

3. Try bar soap

If you want to try your hands at making your own soap, we have a simple DIY to get you started. But even if you don’t – give bar soap a try! With liquid soap in plastic bottles, a lot of what gets shipped around the world is just water to dissolve all the ingredients in. Bar soap is denser (and thus more efficient to ship), easier to transport, and can be wrapped in paper as long as it stays dry. With a cute little soap tin you don’t need to worry about a bottle of soap bursting or leaking all over your luggage when you travel either!

4. Hair care

Hair care is a strange chapter in and of itself, worth more words than we are giving it here. But it does appear strange how we first strip the natural oils in our hair with shampoo before replacing it with oil man-made mix of oils provided by the conditioner. Surely there must be a better way!

When it comes to hair care, there are a lot of different advice out there. Most of it has to do with how people have different types of hair, so there is not a one size fits all. A little experimentation takes you a long way in figuring out what works for you and your hair.

Some people swear by solid shampoo and conditioner bars, which is an easy mental swap. Just change the liquid you use for a solid, easy!

Other people prefer the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method (AKA no poo method), which personally, I tried but it didn’t work for my hair. Maybe it will for yours, or maybe I just need to give it another go?

Another extension of that again is to forego the products altogether and simply wash your hair with… just water. A consequence of this is that your hair will have an adjustment period of usually 6-8 weeks where the intense oil production continues (because of our ritual stripping the oils with shampoo), making the hair feel more greasy before it evens out. Some hair types might benefit from a little coconut oil or similar combed through afterward (less is more), but other than that, that’s it!

My biggest takeaway from years of hair-care experimentation is that it differs for everyone, so don’t give up if the first thing you try doesn’t work for you!

5. Bodily functions

I have already declared my enthusiasm for the book The Humanure Handbook, and my intentions to build such a system when we get a homestead. But that’s exactly it – it’s future thinking. And a lot of us are in the same boat. We can’t go full compost toilet yet, but what can we do?

For renters, we can’t just up and install a bidet if that violates the rental contract (although there are handheld bottles serving the same function if you want to give it a try).

For residents of the US, UK and EU, there is the pretty famous plastic-free brand Who Gives a Crap. They are loved by many but I can’t speak to them from personal experience. What we try to do instead is to use as little toilet paper as possible, and to buy larger packages so that there’s as little plastic per roll as possible. Using recycled paper if your system can handle it is a good thing too. I would love to go the cloth route here as well, inspired by Angela. Babysteps.

6. Shower head

This is probably one most of us have heard already, but changing a regular shower head for a low flow one can save you a lot of water and electricity for heating said water. It doesn’t make that big a difference if I am honest, but if you really like a high flow shower once in a while, there are adjustable heads that let you swap between high and low flow depending on your preference. If you’re a little handy this is even available to renters, since you can change the showerhead while you live there and then replace it with the old one when you move.

7. Female hygiene products

If you are a human of the menstruating variety, there are so many products on the market that is not tampons and plastic pads. Personally I use a Mooncup and have for years, and I am super-thrilled with it. No leaks, no smells, no discomfort and no running out in the middle of nowhere!

Other great alternatives are cute reusable cloth pads and period underwear. Personally I have never tried the latter, but I hear good things about them. As with hair care, our bodies are different and we all have different preferences, so don’t feel discouraged if you need to try a few different things before you find the solution that works for you.

8. Cloth

I don’t know about you, but my bathroom is filled with reusable, washable towels and washcloths. I don’t use small single-use cotton pads to remove any makeup or to wash my face, I just grab one of my soft washcloths. Yes, it does take a while and a bit of money to get to a stage where you have enough washcloths to last you between laundry, but I think it is so, so worth it. Never having to run to the store to grab a bag of tissues? Sign me right up!

But if you really like those small makeup pads, have no fear! There are really cute, reusable alternatives there too!

Have more suggestions for us or want to mention something you do that others could benefit from? Let us know in the comments down below!

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6 thoughts on “8 Ecofrugal and zero-waste swaps and suggestions for your bathroom

  1. Deodorant! There are lots of options for plastic free deodorant, compostable packaging, etc. I’ve found them quite effective.
    Compostable toothbrushes!
    I agree with all your suggestions 🙂 I used to love my menstrual cup, but my doctor told me not to use it now that I have an IUD 🙁

  2. During the pandemic I started using organic extra virgin olive oil for “cleaning” my face before bed, as body moisturizer, and for oil pulling. My skin is the softest it has ever been. I get a huge bottle at Costco for $16 for both kitchen and bath, decanting into smaller glass bottles. Not too happy about the large plastic bottle it comes in but I figure I am using less plastic overall by reducing the smaller personal care containers.

  3. I used apple cider vinegar for my hair and it worked perfecly, even ebtter than I expected. I avoid solid shampoos and other costly products to live a sustainable life. Hope this works for others as well.

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