Zero waste bathroom: 21 essential swaps for a sustainable toilet

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The average American produces 4.9 pounds of waste per day. The findings by EPA reveal that over 290 million tonnes of municipal solid waste are produced annually in the U.S. The study revealed that much of the waste ends up in landfills, with only 32% being recycled and composted.

This shows that the problem is the amount of waste produced and how little of it is recycled.

Choosing to go zero waste is a perfect way to minimize this problem. So, you are on the right track.

When trying to live an eco-friendly life, no room is too small to make an impact. The bathroom is a great place to start your zero waste journey.

While it may sound a little intimidating, transitioning to a zero waste bathroom is possible, and quite fun for that matter.

Studies reveal that only 1 out of 5 people in the U.S recycle bathroom products. According to Johnson and Johnson consumer health, if we could focus on recycling in the bathroom alone, we could significantly reduce the amount of landfill waste.

Creating a zero waste bathroom is one step in ensuring sustainable living.

What is a Zero waste bathroom?

A zero waste bathroom aims to use and reuse bathroom essentials so that very little or no trash ends up in landfills or the ocean, polluting the environment.

It involves finding zero waste bathroom essentials and incorporating them into your daily routine, making your daily bathroom visits more sustainable.

Why does a zero waste bathroom matter?

white ceramic sink

After the kitchen, the bathroom is the most wasteful room in your house.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at your bathroom waste kit now. You will find empty toothpaste bottles, shampoo and conditioner bottles, cotton balls, used tampons, disposable razors, oh the list is endless.

The bathroom generates so much waste since many essential products are used and get replenished quickly. These products include toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and many more that we discuss in this article. Most of these products come in plastic bottles or are wrapped in plastic packaging.

Do you want to find out which shampoo is the best for your hairtype? This article will help.

As mentioned above, much of this waste ends up in landfills or incinerators. Plastic waste takes hundreds of years to decompose. This poses a great threat to our health and the environment due to the emission of greenhouse gases.  

By choosing to go zero waste, you will be helping save the planet by reducing the amount of waste in landfills and the plastics that end up in the oceans.

Transitioning to a zero waste bathroom can be quite intimidating, from the thought of having to carry your own bottles to changing some of your habits.

In this article, you will discover 21 zero waste swaps for your bathroom that will make your toilet more

sustainable.

I also wrote an article about the benefits of zero waste and why it matters even more in 2022 which you can find here.

Zero waste bathroom swaps

Toilet essentials;

1. Zero waste Toilet paperToilet paper

Toilet paper is a necessary evil and probably the most unsustainable item in your bathroom. Think about the harvesting of trees, the use of water, electricity and the chemicals used in its manufacturing process. And not to mention the plastic wrapping that ends up in your litter bin.

The good news is, that you have several zero waste alternatives for toilet paper;

You can opt for eco-friendly recycled toilet paper made of bamboo or recycled paper. The roll and the wrapper are made of compostable material which can go into compost. There are several zero waste brands that make these tissues.

Reusable wiping cloths are also a good alternative to traditional toilet paper (though not the easiest to adapt to). You can buy reusable toilet paper or otherwise make your own using old fabrics that you no longer wear.

Bidets are another great option. You are assured of 100% zero waste, like literally. Most brands have bidets that are attached to the toilet and also perfect ones for travel. Whisper makes some great bidets and you get a deal when you buy it here.

Whisper Bidet – A Premium Bidet Toilet Attachment To Keep Your Hiney Clean. Free Shipping On All Domestic Orders!

2. Zero waste toilet spray

You already know toilet spray comes in plastic bottles.

Guess what, you do not need to buy toilet spray when you can make your own so easily. Get a spray bottle, an essential oil (I like tea tree mixed with a purifying one like lavender or lemon), and water. Add 10-20 drops of the essential oil to your spray bottle, and fill it with water. Tada, you’ve got your toilet spray.

Cleaning products

Everyone likes a clean bathroom or clean spaces for that matter. But most cleaning products come packaged in plastic bottles, which is not good for the environment.

Green cleaning is the way to go.

3. Zero waste cleaning supplies:

Would you like to learn how to clean with white wine vinegar? This article will turn you into a green cleaning professional in no time.

You can alternatively choose to buy refillable ones at your local bulk store or if you want to save some money check out the Beepod from Etee. They cover all your cleaning needs and more.

4. Zero waste toilet bowl cleaner:

Heard of fizzy toilet bombs? They are more like a bath bomb, but for the toilet. They contain ingredients that remove stains, neutralize odor and disinfect your toilet bowl, leaving it clean and fresh. Fizzy toilet bombs are so easy to make by the way.

Alternatively, swap the toxic toilet bowl cleaner with an eco-friendly one made of natural ingredients and in a reusable glass jar.

Also, when replacing your current toilet brush, consider getting a biodegradable one. There are a bunch that are made of beechwood and plant fiber bristles. This is a beautiful toilet brush if you ask me. Weird thing to say I know.

5. Zero Waste cleaning cloths:

Swap disposable toilet paper or wipes with cloths or rags for cleaning bathroom surfaces. There are also biodegradable sponges and brushes which work awesome.

You can get the Hope Cloth from Earth Breeze for $13 and provide 10 meals to those in need at the same time. Pretty great ?!?

Or for more persistent stains check out the Loofie Scrubbers from Etee made of cotton and wood cellulose.

Zero waste tooth products

6. Zero waste toothbrushes

Bamboo toothbrush

Did you know that all the plastic toothbrushes that you have used since childhood are still somewhere in the landfills? Yeah, I know you had not thought about that.

So, first and foremost, ditch plastic toothbrushes.  Corn starch-based and bamboo toothbrushes are readily available nowadays. Just ensure you cut off the plastic bristles when composting as they are not 100% biodegradable. Also, aluminum handled brushes and electric brushes with refillable bristles are a great alternatives.

Tip: Before your throw away your old plastic toothbrushes, remember to reuse them. You can use them for several cleaning tasks, garden markers and even scratching your back. (Cool, yeah)

7. Zero Waste Toothpaste

Bamboo toothbrush, dentifrice tooth powder on white marble background. Biodegradable natural bamboo toothbrush. Eco friendly, Zero waste, Dental care Plastic free concept

A typical household throws away one or more empty packaging tubes every month.

Choosing to make your own toothpaste (which is so simple by the way) or finding sustainably packaged toothpaste is a perfect way to reduce the waste that goes to the landfills, as well as save on the energy and water used to manufacture the tubes.

Other perfect alternatives to removing this waste stream are toothpaste powder and tablets. They mostly come in glass jars with metal lids.

8. Dental floss

Electric water floss

Zero waste flossing? Yup, it’s a thing too! Regular floss is not only plastic but also toxic. The floss is coated with PFC, a chemical found in Teflon, to make it glide better.

Thankfully, plastic and PFC-free floss options are available. You can find floss made of natural ingredients, which are compostable and whose package is reusable.

Electronic water floss which uses a powerful jet stream is another alternative. It works amazing even with any dental hardware.

You can still floss using strings from an old piece of silk. It works pretty well too.

9. Zero waste mouthwash

Mouth washing is an essential part of your dental care routine. Besides leaving an amazing fresh breath, it kills germs and reduces the amount of plaques you may have, thus improving your overall oral health.

When it comes to zero waste mouth wash, find brands that package in glass bottles. You can reuse or recycle the bottles later.

Aloe vera and baking soda are also perfect alternatives that you can easily make at home. Both have benefits to your dental health too.

Personal Care Products

10. Zero waste Deodorants and perfumes

Recycling companies find conventional deodorant plastic tubes difficult to recycle due to the combination of different types of plastics in a single container. While manufacturers state that they are recyclable, your bet is as good as mine, they end up in the landfills.

However, there are perfect alternatives for you. Deodorants packaged in glass jars with metal lids are available. Crystal sticks packaged in cardboards are perfect too.

For perfumes, refilling is the most suitable option.

Making your own deodorants and perfumes isn’t hard. There are a handful of recipes you can find to make deodorants, solid perfume bars, body sprays and body oils.

Want to minimize dependence on deodorants, armpit detox is your friend.

11. Zero waste Shaving products- razors, shaving cream and aftershave

Not so long ago, shaving was zero waste thanks to the safety razor. Then came the beautiful brightly colored plastic razors.

A zero waste safety razor is not only environmentally friendly but also a smart investment. There are several options you can find in the market including bamboo, gold and brass razors.

Shaving soap bars are a perfect zero waste alternative to shaving cream. They are packaged in storage tins which can be refilled or packaged with cardboard.

Aftershave oils, aftershave solid bars and pre-electric shave lotion work perfectly.

12. Zero waste waxing

If you like to wax at home, there are many great zero waste waxing options at home.

There are washable and reusable wax strips packed in a glass jar available in local health stores. The wax is organic and food-grade, so no toxins.

Sugaring, which only requires two ingredients, is a perfect swap.

13. Zero waste Q-tips

bamboo Q-tips

Regular cotton buds are made of plastic stems. An alternative to this is the bamboo stems which are now readily available in most organic stores and even supermarkets.

Reusable ear cleaners are a perfect alternative. They are completely plastic free, made of biodegradable materials (wood and wire) and are zero waste.

 Skincare products and cosmetics

Make-up and skincare contribute largely to your bathroom waste. Single-use wipes, cotton balls, product packaging, etc

Discover how you can get glam while going zero waste.

14. Zero waste skincare products and moisturizers

Instead of body lotion in plastic bottles, go for lotion bars or refill at your local store. You can otherwise make yourself zero waste lotion with just coconut and essential oils.

Dry skin? Fret not. There are a bunch of eco-friendly moisturizers on the market. You are looking for brands that are vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic and compostable packaging.

15. Zero waste Make up

With make-up, it is almost impossible to get to 100% zero waste. Low waste is a better term when it comes to the beauty industry. The industry is just far from clean.

Luckily, there is a rise in green beauty brands. They not only focus on safe ingredients but also thoughtful and sustainable packaging.

For make-up brushes, choose ones with recyclable or natural handles. As we did with the toothbrushes, remember to remove the plastic bristles when disposing of.

When removing makeup, replace the cotton wool balls and cotton pads with washable makeup remover pads. Another really simple solution to use at home is coconut oil and an old cloth. It works great and leaves your skin moisturized.  

Shower products

16. Zero waste Soaps

Swap shower gel (that comes in plastic bottles) with bar soap.

Bar soaps are always wrapped in soft plastics. A great place to start going zero waste is choosing an unwrapped bar soap or one that is wrapped in bio-degradable cardboard that is completely compostable.

If you want to know the best zero waste shampoo and conditioer for your hair jump over to this post.

Local health stores are good places you can find package-free soaps.

Homemade bar soaps are a great alternative too.

When purchasing soaps, find ones that are multipurpose. For example, a soap that would be suitable for your body and face is a better alternative. This helps maintain the number of products you need at a minimum.

Exfoliation? DIY sugar scrub is so easy to make.

Haircare products

17. Zero waste Shampoo and conditioner

Shampoos and conditioners are the most widely available refillable products.

If refilling doesn’t work for you, there are other options. Shampoo and conditioner bars that come in reusable containers or with no packaging at all are perfect. Shampoo and conditioner bars are not only zero waste, but they are also perfect for traveling, are long-lasting and super compact.

Shampoo bars are becoming very popular, which makes it easy to find the perfect ones for your hair type, beard and even pets. That’s a bomb!

An alternative to conditioner is an Apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse which works perfectly fine for most people.

18. Zero waste Hairbrushesbamboo hairbrush

When replacing your combs, go for the bamboo ones whose brushes are made of naturally composting rubber. Stainless steel combs are also a perfect alternative, that you are sure will last for years, if not forever.

Pro tip: Bamboo products are prone to mold, and you don’t want this on your brushes. To avoid this, ensure you shake excess water off and store it in a dry place.

Menstrual products

The monthly periods can be not only messy but can also be wasteful. Regular pads and tampons are non-biodegradable.

Research shows that an average woman will use around 16000 or more pads or tampons in her lifetime translating to more than 7 billion in landfills, which take hundreds of years to decompose.

The good news is, that transitioning to zero waste period products is not as hard as you thought. Here are a few alternatives to pads and tampons;

19. Menstrual cups

Menstrual cup

Menstrual cups are made of flexible, medical-grade silicone. They are such a smart investment as one cup can be used for up to 10years.

The benefits of the menstrual cups are endless. No leaks, no smell, you can comfortably do sports, swim, and go to the gym. The cup can be worn for up to 12 hours without leaks.

Get yourself a menstrual cup today if you don’t already own one. You will be doing the environment the much-needed justice.

20. Reusable cloth pads and liners

Washable menstrual pads

Reusable cloth pads are a cheaper alternative to the menstrual cup.

Did I mention how easy they are to clean? You just need to soak in water (preferably warm) for an hour, wash with mild soap (no fabric softener) and rinse thoroughly or add to the machine with your regular wash.

Trash bin

21. Compost bin

Recycling and composting isn’t just for the kitchen.

Have a small compost bin in the bathroom beside your old trash bin for the compostable waste from the many items we’ve mentioned above.

Also, find reusable trash cans or biodegradable trash bags for your bathroom wastes.

For more great content about composting and what and what not to do read here.

What else can you do;

To achieve a zero waste bathroom, there is more you still need to do other than swapping your bathroom essentials with the above recommendations.

Going zero waste involves a mindset shift. You evaluate your choice of products, with an understanding of their effects on the environment.

Here is what you can do;

  • Recycle more– It is easy to throw away recyclable bathroom products since most homes only have a central recycling bin in the kitchen. Have a routine of collecting the bathroom recycling when taking out the recycle bin.
  • Buy differently– instead of buying products in small containers, choose to buy in bulk so they can last longer. Larger containers are more recyclable than smaller ones. Bulk purchases save money too!
  • DIY– You may have noticed that we recommended a lot of DIYs that you may find a little messy and time-consuming. But it is always so fulfilling to achieve the results, and you get to save some coins.
  • Be conscious about your purchases– It happens many times that you find yourself with a bunch of products that you never use and you end up trashing them. In your efforts to achieve a zero waste bathroom, you will need to cut off consumerism. Only buy what you need.

Final thoughts

So, there you have it.

Having a zero waste bathroom does not happen overnight. It begins with small steps, a change in daily habits which eventually becomes a lifestyle.

I understand that some of the products you have cannot be replaced immediately. Continue using them up as you replace them with zero waste alternatives when needed.

I hope this article inspires you to create a zero waste bathroom and a more sustainable life.

Any zero waste swaps we may have left out? We’d like to hear from you.

Photo of author

Hendrik Kaiser

Is the guy behind Zerowasteman. He is a YouTuber and ocean lover just trying to leave this place less messy than before he got here. Follow him and subscribe for more fun enviro goodies.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS; PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

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