bathroom

After the kitchen, the second biggest source of trash for us was the bathroom. Plastic wrapped tp, tissues, toothbrushes, floss, personal care products, razors- the little wastebasket I had in there was always overflowing. It’s also one of my favorite transitions for the way it helped me simplify and assess what I truly needed. The easiest thing to do here is examine the contents of your bathroom wastebasket, and replace disposables with reusables or recyclables.  I also simplified a lot, no need to have 10 products when just one does the trick.

the swaps

toilet paper: simply switch to buying toilet paper that is individually wrapped in paper. It comes packed in a cardboard box with no plastic at all. Consider purchasing a bidet attachment to your toilet. It’s inexpensive, makes sense, and is more hygienic- if you had poop on any other part of your body would you just wipe it off and call it good? Nope, didn’t think so.

toothbrush + floss: switch to a bamboo toothbrush + compostable floss.

toothpaste: coconut oil + baking soda works a treat- I’ve been using it for over 6 years now and my dentist approves. There’s also toothpaste tablets, toothpaste in recyclable metal tubes, toothpaste

shampoo + conditioner: there’s solid shampoo + conditioner bars, products that come packaged in refillable metal, washing hair with rye flour, water only, or simply buying the largest container you can find/buying in bulk.

razor + blades: switch to a safety razor. They seem intimidating but really, they’re not (and I’m an impatient/clumsy shaver) and they blades shave way closer and better than regular store ones. This saves a ton of money- the blades last a long time and are inexpensive. You can send them in for recycling via Albatross Shaving Co if they aren’t accepted for recycling in your municipal district. Or try switching to sugaring- an ancient method of waxing- to remove hair naturally and easily, throwing the using wax in the compost.

tampons: switch to a menstrual cup such as the Diva Cup or Lunette. I’ve been using one for over 6 years now and it’s so effective, doesn’t leak, and keeps you more in touch with your body.

pads: switch to reusable cotton pads or period underwear such as SheThinx.

hand + body soap: I simply use olive oil based bar soap, one for at the sink, one for in the shower. I find olive oil soaps to be moisturizing and gentle. If you need a richer one, try one that includes shea butter in the formulation.

deodorant: an alum or salt deodorant stone works for many people- it used to for me, but over time my body got used to it and it became ineffective. Meow Meow Tweet Tweet sells a deodorant in a compostable paper tube, and many companies sell in glass jars. The only deodorant I’ve found to be effective that’s also non toxic and baking soda free (can irritate sensitive skin because of its exfoliating properties) is the Crane + Carbon brand, which unfortunately does come in plastic. However, I know that deodorant is highly subjective based on your personal body chemistry- so don’t let me discourage you for trying out a low waste option. This is one of those places where I’m willing to sacrifice the plastic for the sake of feeling comfortable. I always keep playing around with DIY formulations, though. If you’re transitioning from chemical deodorants to natural ones, please keep in mind that store bought anti-perspirants actually plug up your pores so that sweat can’t come through- the aluminum in them is toxic and makes your pores shut down- that’s why people can get things like armpit cysts from the traditional stuff. Sweating is a very important bodily process. It can help to exfoliate the skin there gently and use a clay mask on it to pull out any residuals. It will take a little time for your skin there to detox from the conventional deodorant so don’t give up.

lotion: I use pure raw cocoa or shea butter. You can also use oils or DIY a whipped body butter

q tips: Q tips, I’ve been told by many doctors, are not good for your ears. I use my pinky in a very thin, wet washcloth to wipe out the ear while I’m in the shower.

actionable steps

This week,

  • take inventory of the products you have in the bathroom and write down in your journal which ones that you’d like to go about switching. It could be as little or as much as you’d like to change. For example, you could commit to switching out your plastic wrapped toilet paper for paper wrapped ones. Or commit to trying out a period alternative to your usual tampons or pads in your next moon cycle.

  • check and see which products your’ll need to replace soon so that you are prepared and have a plan in place to make a seamless transition. Is your shampoo almost out? It would be prudent to find a better alternative before you run out. Are you wanting to switch to a compostable floss? Order one now so that you’ll be ready to go.

  • try DIY: make one of the recipes below, if you feel up to it.

the recipes

coconut peppermint toothpaste

  • a small jar

  • coconut oil

  • baking soda (aluminum free)

  • peppermint essential oil

  • optional: stevia to sweeten

If you coconut oil is hard, bring a small pot with a few inches of water to a boil, and fill the jar about 1/2 way with coconut oil. Place the jar in the water and turn off the heat. Let it set until the coconut oil is liquid. Carefully remove jar from the pot and add in baking soda, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the consistency you desire. Add in the essential oil and stevia to taste- I usually add about 20 drops of the oil. Start with 5 drops stevia and add more from there, if you’re using it- you can also use xylitol powder if you prefer. I don’t use the sweetener because I’m used to the taste- it’s salty. My grandparents always used baking soda toothpaste, so I was already used to the flavor. You can also add half baking soda and half bentonite clay for a mineral dense paste- just make sure that when you stir, you use a wooden utensil, such as a chopstick, to stir- metal can deactivate the charge of the clay rendering it less effective.

whipped body butter

  • 1/2 cup raw shea butter

  • 1/2 cup raw cocoa butter

  • 1/2 cup grapeseed, camellia, apricot kernel, or rosehip seed oil

In a large glass bowl, add in equal parts. Set a small pot of water with a few inches water in it to boil and melt the ingredients together fully, stirring occasionally. Remove bowl from boiler and transfer to the fridge, allowing it to cool and become solid, about 1 hour. Remove from fridge and whip with a hand mixer until fluffy and stands up on its own, 5-10 minutes, stopping periodically and scraping down the sides of the bowl with as spatula to ensure everything gets whipped. Transfer to a glass storage jar. You can also mix in a tablespoon or so arrowroot starch if you prefer a drier finish on the skin.

sea salt mouth rinse

Saltwater has been used to heal since ancient times. This sea salt rinse is perfect for soothing inflamed gums, healing any wounds or canker sores you may have in your mouth, after dental work. It promotes healing and is gentle- it doesn’t irritate mucous membranes like traditonal mouthwashes do. Plus, it’s cheap and easy. Be sure to use an unrefined sea salt which is natural and additive free. I alternate between this rinse and the yarrow one below.

  • pint sized glass jar

  • 5 tsp sea salt

  • hot water

In the glass jar, pour in the salt, and then pour the hot water to almost fill the bottle. Stir or screw lid on and shake until salt is completely dissolved.

yarrow mouth rinse

Yarrow is an incredible herbal ally with so many different healing properties- it can be used to repel insects, heal a cold, stop bleeding, pain relief, and prevent infection. It also grows readily throughout temperate zones in the world (so you may even be able to forage or grow your own depending on where you live).

  • pint sized glass jar

  • 2 tbsp dried yarrow

  • boiling water

Place the yarrow in the jar and pour the boiling water over it, leaving an inch of space to the top. Screw on the lid and let infuse at least 4 hours. Strain the liquid. Alternatively, you can create a yarrow tincture by steeping whole plant material-the top 1/3 of the plant, including flowers, buds, leaves, stalks, seeds-for at least 6 weeks in 100 proof vodka. Add 1 tsp tincture to a glass with 1/3 cup water, swish a few minutes, and spit. You can keep your tincture in a spray bottle for insect repellent too- or take 10-20 drops daily to stop a cold from coming on (much more effective than vitamin C, echinacea, and the like in my experience). Of course if you don’t have access to fresh yarrow, you can purchase a ready made yarrow tincture at a health food store.

disclaimer: not intended to be substituted for medical advice. As with all things, please consult a doctor or licensed medical professional before making changes to your routine.