Plastic is everywhere; it is virtually unavoidable in most situations and it is easy to find all of your favorite products safely packaged in a plastic container if you so choose. However, all plastic ever manufactured since it was invented in 1907, is still on our planet.
Whether it is buried in landfills, polluting our waterways and oceans, or still in use – it is all still here, with the exceptions of compostable plastics and any waste that has been incinerated. Scientists have estimated that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by the year 2050, which is as far in the future as 1990 is in the past.
While manufacturers must stop plastic production to make a global impact, it takes the actions of consumers to influence companies to make such changes.
As a 2020 resolution, going plastic-free can start… in your bathroom! The majority of products typically used in bathrooms are now available in a plastic-free form.
Shampoo and Conditioner
Shampoo and conditioner in bar form (like a bar of soap) seems to be all the rage right now. There are several companies that sell bars for all types of hair, some even come with no packaging at all. If you need a very specific shampoo and it only comes in a plastic bottle, opt for the largest bottle you can find so that you’ll only end up recycling one bottle and one pump.
Body Wash and Loofahs
Body wash, soap, face wash, and exfoliating scrubs are also widely available in bar form. Local soap makers usually use environmentally-friendly ingredients and provide packaging-free options.
If you are using plastic mesh loofah, you can switch to natural loofahs or soap pouches in which you can directly put a soap bar! Reusable makeup removal wipes and body washing cloths are also a great alternatives to consider.
Plastic toothbrushes are an ongoing source of plastic waste because dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every 3 months. You can reduce this waste by switching to a bamboo toothbrush. Toothpaste tubes are also made of plastic that cannot be recycled. While some companies that make tubes of toothpaste are experimenting with alternative packaging and eliminating the use of the outer cardboard box to reduce their waste, the true zero-waste alternative are toothpaste tablets. You just crush between your teeth before brushing instead of smearing on the bristles!
When it comes to disposable paper products, your opportunity to reduce plastic is the packaging. Looking for toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels made with recycled content AND products that come in paper (or no) packaging are your best options.
There are many other ways to go plastic-free and be sustainable in the bathroom –
using metal safety razors for shaving reduces usage of the disposable plastic ones, washable silicone “cotton” swabs, refillable dental floss containers, lotion bars, and more. Keep in mind that it is not critical to implement all of these changes at once. Incorporating changes step by step or opting for a more sustainable choice with less packaging the next time you run out of something is a great way to get started. Get creative, too! You can reduce waste by finding innovative ways to reuse items from around the house. Then, consider how you can reduce your plastic waste in other rooms of your house next!
Suggestions to get started:
This article was written by Alicia Hubert, WUSM Sustainability Coordinator.