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Sustainability seems expensive when you think about all the plastic-free products you’re told to buy, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways your bathroom can become more environmentally friendly and sustainable without costing big bucks.
One of the most inexpensive ideas is to collect your excess shower water in a bucket. The water, called “greywater,” comes from the final minutes of rinsing. It helps you see how much water you use during your bathing process, which might also help you further cut back on your waste. You can reuse this water for plants or boil it for cleaning and other tasks around the home.
Not ready to take the greywater plunge? That’s okay.
Being eco-friendly doesn’t require you to jump into a new way of life all at once. With these 11 inexpensive bathroom swaps, I’ll show you how to start a sustainable lifestyle in no time. These small tweaks are simple, and focusing on the bathroom first (the room often responsible for the most waste) is an excellent way to help mother nature.
What is Sustainable Living?
People often confuse eco-friendly, zero waste, and sustainability. The terms are used interchangeably, but it’s important to understand the difference.
A sustainable lifestyle is choosing to pay closer attention to how your choices in products, foods, transportation, and energy use affect the environment. It’s a lifelong commitment. By making small steps in each area of your life, you can start to reduce your environmental footprint.
Unlike being green, eco-friendly, or earth-friendly, sustainability is more about maintaining a lifestyle without causing harm to our natural resources. It’s a step further than simply making more eco-friendly choices.
Sustainable options are often more eco-friendly, but they are not always 100% unharmful to the environment either. Eco-friendly also is not always vegan or cruelty-free. No rules define what we call eco-friendly or green.
Zero-waste, on the other hand, is about making choices with the goal to produce absolutely no waste. Nothing heads to the landfill after you’re done with it. Most zero-wasters compost and find genius ways to reuse products you may not have thought had more life left in them, from clothing to groceries.
Sustainable choices reflect the environmental movement. However, the phrase is less vague and more clearly defined than what can be classified as “eco-friendly.” For something to be sustainable, it must meet the criteria of using a resource for a long time, or so that the resource does not deplete or become permanently damaged. The resource must replenish at the same rate of time it takes to harvest.
Bamboo, for example, grows faster than companies can cut it down. But if the company didn’t wait for the bamboo to regrow before cutting it again, it would no longer be a sustainable product.
Whatever you want to call your lifestyle, whichever stage you’re in, here are tips to make sure your bathroom is producing less harm.
11 Low-Cost Bathroom Swaps for a More Sustainable Lifestyle
Whether you’re just now moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle or are looking for new eco-friendly bathroom tips to cover all your bases, these swaps are inexpensive and quick. I’ll show you a few of the most important changes you can make in the bathroom and link to the brands I currently use.
Shampoo & Conditioner
Stop throwing away plastic bottles by switching to plastic-free options. While there are many companies that make shampoo bars today, Ethique is a zero-waste and cruelty-free brand. Their palm oil-free design also helps save the rainforest. Plus, the packaging is fully compostable.
I suggest trying out Ethique’s hair sampler to find the shampoo and conditioner you prefer. My favorite is the St. Clements shampoo bar for oily hair.
Face & Body Scrubs
The microbeads found in many store-bought face and body scrubs are horrible for the environment. Most of the world has banned microbeads for this and many other reasons. Sea salt and sugar scrubs are a natural alternative you can use to purify the skin.
My homemade scrubs use only natural ingredients, like sugar, sea salt, essential oils, and skin-loving carrier oils like jojoba, olive, or coconut oils. The coffee scrubs I make are also an excellent alternative for the exfoliating microbeads in many store-bought scrubs. They exfoliate and reduce inflammation.
Peppermint Coffee Sugar Scrub 20.00 Order Now
Face & Body Wash
Face and body wash is another huge source of single-use plastic. Cleansers and body wash often contain ingredients that don’t really clean, however. They sit on your skin and appear to moisturize, but tend to instead dry out your skin. Soap bars are cheaper and the packaging is much more eco-friendly.
When I switched from Dove’s body bars to Ethique, I noticed an immediate difference in my skin. I started with both the face and body sampler before falling in love with the lavender and peppermint body bar.
Makeup-Remover Wipes, Cotton Balls, & Q-Tips
Makeup removing wipes, cotton balls, and q-tips are bathroom items you use once and toss. Switching to a more eco-friendly option here can involve opting for something reusable or looking for product alternatives that compost or degrade naturally.
Why aren’t cotton balls eco-friendly? Well, each kilogram of cotton requires move than 20,000 liters of water to create, making them unsustainable for long-term production.
I use Greenzla’s washable cotton rounds made from organic bamboo cotton. They’re a sustainable alternative to make-up removing wipes, cotton balls, and q-tips. Use them to apply cosmetics or tone and clean your skin, then throw them in the washing machine with your bathroom towels.
Greenzla Reusable Makeup Remover Pads (20 Pack) With Washable Laundry Bag And Round Box for Storage | 100% Organic Bamboo Cotton Pads For All Skin Types | Eco-Friendly Reusable Cotton Rounds For Toner Buy on Amazon
Synthetic loofahs come from plastic netting, which is terrible for the environment upon their creation, when they’re in use, and after you’re done with them. Sustainable loofahs are organic and BPA-free. You could always use a cotton washcloth in the shower instead too.
Safix’s coconut foot and body scrub pad is a natural, renewable alternative using coconut coir. It exfoliates and cleans, cutting your need for other products like body scrubs, pumice stones, and loofahs. Or, a natural body sponge may better suit your preferences.
Toothpaste, Toothbrush, and Floss
Your toothpaste, toothbrush, and floss are all full of plastic. Many products even come packaged in more plastic.
I adore using Georganic’s natural toothpaste and floss, but many people enjoy Georganic’s tooth tablets better. A bamboo toothbrush is also the best plastic-free alternative. Plus, you can re-use the handles later as plant markers in your garden bed or soap caddies for the shower.
The starter pack I used comes from Greenzla on Amazon, including extra toothbrushes, a travel case, and floss. I like how the leaf imprints on the handle help us remember who’s toothbrush belongs to who.
Greenzla Bamboo Toothbrush (4 Pack) with Travel Toothbrush Case & Charcoal Dental Floss | Natural Eco Friendly Toothbrushes for Adults | BPA Free, Soft Bristles & Biodegradable Wooden Toothbrush Buy on Amazon
Tampons & Pads
Ladies, periods suck. But the time of the month doesn’t have to be so wasteful.
Tampons and pads create countless amounts of waste each month. This waste costs you thousands of dollars throughout your lifetime. Using menstrual cups or leak-proof undies is the better alternative.
Thinx is my favorite underwear for period time. They’re reusable, washable, and super protective. Try your first pair of Thinx period panties with my link.
Paper products are among the biggest waste creators on the planet. Toilet paper takes over 50 years to break down, and each person uses a few squares at least every time they head to the bathroom. Switch to 100% recycled and unbleached toilet paper or use a bidet attachment to cut back on paper waste.
I have the Luxe Bidet Neo, which self-cleans and uses freshwater. The bidet is easy to install and move to any toilet (we rent, so we needed a non-permanent solution). Plus, investing in a bidet is much more hygienic for your family. We also keep Seventh Generation recycled bath tissue on hand for emergencies.
Commercial razors are disposable, which means the handle and refills are often made with plastic that’s not easy to recycle. Many of these razors wind up in landfills. With a metal safety razor, you only change the blade to reuse it. Some recycling centers accept razor blades as well.
Switching to a safety razor is a bit of an adjustment because you don’t press so hard to shave. I chose The Eco Warrior’s rose gold safety razor. While I had to adjust to the weight of the metal handle and add shave cream into my routine, the shaving process was pretty much the same for me.
But the change is well worth the effort. My skin feels uncommonly silky smooth. You’ll even save money on razors (blades cost less, on average), get a closer shave, and never need to buy another handle again.
Most shower curtains sold today are made of plastic. Some shower curtains are completely made from cloth, but even those are paired with a clear plastic liner to keep them safe. Bamboo is a more eco-friendly, sustainable option. They’re widely available worldwide, and most options are not expensive. There are also cloth liners to keep your shower curtain safer longer.
Showers produce less water waste than baths, but the type of shower head you have may also contribute to the amount of water runoff each shower creates. Low-flow showerheads pump around 30% less water out, allowing you to only pay for what you need. All you need is a screwdriver.
What Other Swaps Have You Made?
Moving to a more eco-conscious lifestyle requires more than swapping out bathroom products. Think about the sustainability of everything you buy from now. Nonsensical purchases are wasteful, so you might need to put in a bit of research to find the best choices for you (and your environment).
What other changes have you made around your home? Have you already initiated all of these bathroom swaps? Share your experiences and favorites in the comments.