7 Changes to Make in the Bathroom to be More Sustainable

Robyn McAvoy

(Inside bathroom. Photograph: Steven Ungermann via Unsplash)

The bathroom is arguably one of the least environmentally friendly rooms in a household. It is a room where the most water is typically consumed, a lot of plastic waste comes from and the least recycling is done. 

Below is a list of some changes that can be made in the bathroom to help you become more sustainable at home.

(Bars of soap. Photograph: Aurelia Dubois via Unsplash)
  1. Ditch the bottles of shower gel and foam soap and switch to a bar of soap. 

Bars of soap use less packaging than bottles of shower gel or foam soap do. Overall the bathroom in a UK household produces up to 63.7% of plastic waste, with the plastic bottles holding shower gel accounting for 61,639 kg of this plastic waste, according to a study carried out by Bower Collective. You could even implement this practice into your hair care routine by trying shampoo and conditioner bars!

It is important when buying these soap bars (or shampoo/conditioner bars) that you make sure they are sustainably and ethically produced, and do not contain ingredients like palm oil which has previously been linked to mass deforestation and erasing of endangered animal habitats. You can buy these bars from sustainably-focussed companies such as the Little Soap Company and their Eco Warrior range or at zero-waste shops such as Locavore.

(Plastic containers commonly found in bathrooms.
Photograph: Taylor Beach via Unsplash)
  1. Make sure you recycle in the bathroom too.

Most people are efficient at recycling in their kitchen, but often forget to recycle in the bathroom where plastic is used for many products. If you are unable to find bars of soap, shampoo or conditioner make sure the liquid ones you are buying have recyclable packaging. 

Make sure any of the products in your bathroom like aerosol cans, cleaning products and toothpaste have recyclable packaging and ensure you are disposing of them correctly, by rinsing them out and recycling appropriately. 

(Eco friendly bamboo toothbrushes. Photograph: Federica Abbinante via Unsplash)
  1. Try using a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one.

A single toothbrush can take up to 400 years or more to decompose according to the British Dental Association. With the recommended time being 3 months to switch out your toothbrush, and the British population being just over 68 million people, this means that every year in the UK an estimated 273 million plastic toothbrushes could end up in landfills or the oceans.

So your toothbrush could still be on the planet when your great-great-grandchildren are living! Bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable and using one will help reduce the single-use plastic waste being produced by households.

(Photograph: Monstera via Pexels)
  1. Leave the wet wipes behind.

Most people are aware of the fact that wet wipes can’t be flushed down the toilet, but did you know that even biodegradable wet wipes can’t be flushed and aren’t much better for the environment than normal wipes?

In fact, biodegradable wet wipes don’t actually fall apart, so when flushed they won’t disintegrate and can still cause blockages and end up in the oceans. Wipes being biodegradable only means that the materials used will break up easier than in normal wipes, but some still contain plastic which will continue to pollute the planet and ocean if flushed. The best way to avoid this is to leave the wet wipes behind all together, unless absolutely necessary and absolutely do not flush them!

(Reusable cotton pads. Photograph: EcoPanda via Unsplash)
  1. It’s also time to leave single use cotton pads and cotton balls behind.

Single-use cotton pads, cotton balls and cotton buds have a huge impact on the environment. The production of just 1kg of cotton can take between 10-20,000 litres of water. This can have a huge impact on the surrounding habitats and nature. 

Some cotton pads and cotton balls also contain plastic in them, and this along with the chemicals used to produce them means they are not biodegradable and are left in a landfill when thrown out after use. 

With plenty of reusable cotton pads and washcloths on the market now, it is easier than ever to update your skincare routine with these products and ditch the single-use cotton pads. To clean them, simply rinse them in the sink or throw them in the wash along with your clothes. You can find some sustainable options here.

(Running water from a shower. Photograph: Carson Masterson via Unsplash)
  1. You can take shorter showers.

The bathroom is where people use the most water in their home, with bathing using around 34% of water in the average household. A bath uses an average of 80 litres of water per bath. Having a quick shower is the more eco-friendly option, with the shower using on average between 5 to 13 litres of water per minute depending on the type of shower.

However, taking long showers is not good for the environment with a water intensive power shower unleashing over 13 litres water per minute, and the standard electric shower unleashing 5 litres of water per minute, meaning a thirty minute long shower consumes between one hundred and fifty to three hundred and ninety litres of water.

The answer to reducing water consumption in the bathroom and becoming more eco-friendly is taking shorter showers and changing your shower head to a low flow shower head if applicable, which will not only help save water but also money! 

(A safety razor made of metal. Photograph: Helen Barth via Unsplash)
  1. Replace your disposable plastic razors with a metal safety razor. 

Disposable plastic razors have the same impact on the environment as plastic bottles of shower gel and shampoo. As with much of the plastic today, they are still not recyclable, contributing to plastic pollution and landfill. 

Therefore, why not try the eco-friendly alternative of a safety razor? While they are more expensive than a disposable razor initially, you will save money in the long run as you won’t have to replace your razor every couple of weeks. Only the actual razor blade needs to be changed in a safety razor, and these are recyclable! 

As with all waste, it is important to recycle these blades properly and carefully. You can do so by taking your blades to your local recycling centre or by visiting TerraCycle who have teamed up with Gillette to offer a free recycling envelope scheme.

These are small and easy steps that people can take towards a more sustainable household. All it takes is switching out a few products and practices and you can make a difference to the planet. Every little step helps, and it’s as easy as switching your soap.

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