An Eco-friendly and Minimalist Bathroom – Products
The bathroom has got to be the one room overflowing with plastic products, from containers of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand wash, toothpaste; to loofah, dental floss, cotton buds, toothbrushes, toothpicks, rubbish bin, and even toilet brush. The amount of plastic we use for hygiene is astounding. Even more so if you buy these items in sachets, as is popular in the Philippines.
Having been obsessed with living a plastic-free life the past years, I have come to experimenting on different ways. First, there was my commitment to buying items in bulk and refilling bottles. It was followed by experimenting with products that are multi-purpose, like the “New Wash“, that was supposed to simplify my shower routine by combining both shampoo and conditioner in one product and thus, just one plastic bottle. That did not go as planned as the product dried my hair out I had to cut off nearly all my hair after a year. I wrote about that experience here and never went back.
I have become more committed to making our bathroom as plastic free as possible.
TOOTH BITS instead of toothpaste in tube
A Zero Waste company based in UK has a shop called Plastic Phobia where I bought myself some toothpaste tablets, to use with bamboo toothbrushes I sourced in bulk on my last trip to the Philippines. I first encountered tooth bits as an alternative to toothpaste in tubes by way of BITE, a US-based company producing tooth bits and I had wanted them too. Shipping is only available to three countries: Australia, US, and Canada; and I believe global shipping leaves a lot of carbon footprint. I am glad I found Plastic Phobia but I am still trying to find a supplier based in Italy.
I store my tooth bits in a recycled Yankee Candle glass bottle in the bathroom while I keep the rest in a recycled plastic bottle for kid’s vitamins with a silica gel packet inside to keep it fresh. The plastic bottle is also what I bring when I have to stay somewhere else rather than our home.
My first bamboo toothbrushes were bought in early 2017 from Brush with Bamboo and I was happy enough. However, a set of 4 toothbrushes sets me back by $20 USD (€18 EUR) plus shipping, or more realistically, €30 EUR from Amazon Italy. When I went to the Philippines in November 2018, I managed to find a supplier who was fast and efficient with the delivery of the products. I ordered all my bamboo toothbrushes, shampoo bars, and conditioner bars from Yin’s Eco Bars.
I have been using Young Living’s Mouthwash for the meantime while I still have a supply. It comes in a plastic bottle and everything plastic must go. I am looking into changing into mouthwash tablets from an Italian shop called Friendly Shop when I am finished with this bottle.
BAKING SODA/SODIUM BICARBONATE
I am a huge fan of using baking soda on my teeth. People say I have white teeth and I like to think that is because I use baking soda every time I brush. I bought a big bottle from the supermarket but keep only a small amount in a recycled metal tin in the bathroom. It is also very useful for travel though I have to tape it to make sure the lid does not accidentally fall off and the contents spill.
I was hesitant at first to switch to body soap from body wash and was buying products in the biggest bottles available. Now I have committed to being as plastic-free as possible and have gone to purchasing soaps wrapped in paper. I bought these vegetable soaps from Ecco Verde but alas, they came in plastic packaging. I will not reorder.
My family loves bubble baths and until I find alternatives, these are what we are using.
I have always been bothered by the plastic in cotton buds and I am glad that I finally found them in bamboo sticks. These were bought from UK-based Plastic Phobia but I plan to purchase the next supply from Italy-based Friendly Shop. I store them in the bathroom and in the bedroom for the baby in Yankee Candle recycled glass containers.
We have been using hand wash from Young Living, which I store in the bathroom in a glass container with pump, but we are switching to using soaps instead. I appreciate a bathroom as decluttered as possible.
I struggled to get orders from Being Eco-Friendly Products, based in Baguio City, Philippines, messaging them as early as October 2018 but I came and I went without hearing from them. I was explicit about shipping the items instead of me traveling all the way to Baguio to their shop to get them. I was also aware they do weekend bazaars in Metro Manila and I could have gone to any of those. Sadly, I didn’t get to buy anything from their store.
Thankfully, I found Yin’s Eco Bars, based in Cavite City, Philippines, whose owner was quick and efficient in replying to messages and transactions. We made the swap quickly (and painlessly) without me even getting out of the car, in the heart of Bonifacio Global City.
The shampoo bars come in 85g sizes and completely plastic-free packaging, and at that time were available in Raspberry, Sunflower, Bentonite, and Lavender.
I also got my conditioner bars from Yin’s Eco Bars but unlike the soap bars, they come in 50g sizes. At that time, only “Sweet Delight” and “Oh So Minty” were available. They come double wrapped in wax paper and also completely plastic-free!
The small ones were freebies, shampoo rather than conditioner I believe (I have yet to confirm this!) and I plan to use them when we go to travel, which is soon, I think.
These are the products that were in our bathroom, waiting to be finished and replaced. I am too excited to finally see our bath area free of plastic containers and clutter.
I have labeled the bamboo dishes so family members will not be confused.
I still use a Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer on mine and my daughter’s hair after getting out of the shower and before blowdrying because I have many of them still in storage. I have not decided yet whether I will repurchase the same or similar products after we finish our stash.
After blowdrying with heated air and then a final cool air, I smooth in a few drops of Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil on our hair too to make sure they don’t dry out and also to prevent split ends from forming. A 100ml bottle lasts a long time.
I was a big fan of OGX Renewing+ Argan Oil of Morocco and used their shampoo and conditioner for years, along with the Penetrating Oil. When I run out of Bb. Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil, I think I will go back to that product. Or maybe I just keep using La Mer Renewal Oil (haha! Kidding!).
WOODEN SOAP DISHES
I purchased one soap dish from Ecco Verde, which came out at a different size than the bamboo soap dishes I bought from Plastic Phobia so I use it for the big shampoo bars. This dish sets it apart and no label is necessary.
These ones from Plastic Phobia I use for my face soap bar, body soap bar, and conditioner bar are a little bit more complicated as I have found. It can be a little difficult to dig out the bars unless you push from underneath first. I have to give instructions to the family how to use it.
I still haven’t gotten around to buying a body brush to replace the plastic pouf but will soon. I buy many products at the same time from a shop to both save on shipping and reduce carbon footprint. I plan to purchase this body brush from Friendly Shop though.
In the end, switching to an all-natural, plastic-free life is neither easy nor cheap. It takes a lot of effort and sadly, not as affordable to be more accessible to more people. Hopefully, with the cooperation of governments, producers/manufacturers/companies, and consumers, it will not be long until this kind of lifestyle is the norm and not the exception.
And we must always remember, “The people who make the biggest difference are the ones who do the little things consistently.”