How to Have a Zero Waste Bathroom

How to Have a Zero Waste Bathroom
I think we could all agree: The bathroom is a super wasteful place. Between all the water waste and the amount of single use items in there, it’s a nightmare. But does it have to be? The quick and sweet answer is no. You can totally have a zero waste bathroom. You just have to think outside the box a little, get creative and make a few zero waste swaps. Here are some of my favorite zero waste bathroom swaps. Some of them you can DIY, while others you’ll have to buy. I’m going to tackle each part of the bathroom individually so you can break it down easier. 
Generally speaking, I recommend waiting until all the products you have in your bathroom right now are used up before swapping them out. For example, if you have a whole tube of toothpaste, don’t toss it out just because you want to go plastic free. Use it up and then find some zero waste alternatives to replace it with. Here are some zero waste bathroom essentials you’ll absolutely love.
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Why is Having a Zero Waste Bathroom Important?

First and foremost, the bathroom is a huge area of waste. Think about all the products we use when we go in there: Toilet paper, skin care, hair care, etc.

Not to mention water waste…and I’m not just talking about the water that goes down the drain. It takes a lot of water to actually make all the products you have in your bathroom. For example, did you know making just one roll of toilet paper requires 37 gallons of water? That’s insane!

Plus, there’s all that plastic packaging. From plastic shampoo bottles to plastic mouthwash bottles, it’s excessive. With only 9% of plastic actually getting recycled, we truly need to cut our plastic consumption down to a minimum.

How to Have a Zero Waste Bathroom

How to Create a Zero Waste Bathroom

Here’s a look at each area of the bathroom and ways we can make it as low waste as possible.

  Make your toilet more eco friendly

One of the first things that come to mind when I think of the bathroom…is the toilet.

Lets face it – we use the toilet bowl the most in the bathroom. So how can we make it more eco friendly?

For starters, we can get a bidet. Bidets basically use water (from the wall source, NOT the toilet bowl itself) to help you clean your nether regions. It’s super hygienic and washes things away rather than just rubbing bacteria into your skin. It’s also fantastic for people who menstruate…if you catch my drift?

Bidets are also amazing because they help reduce the amount of toilet paper you’ll need to use. In fact, they’ll cut your toilet paper usage by 80 percent! Remember how I said just one toilet paper roll requires 37 gallons of water to make? Think of all the water a bidet will save you! Not to mention the money (toilet paper adds up!).

Specifically, the Tushy bidet is great because it easily clips onto your toilet. So there’s no need for fancy installments. Also, it’s easy to detach if you move. Perfect for apartment living, honestly.

Another thing you can do to make your toilet more eco-friendly? Get some low-waste toilet paper. Who Gives a Crap toilet paper is a great start – they don’t make toilet paper from trees, but bamboo. Bamboo is a renewable resource that grows back very quickly once cut, so it’s easily replenished. Who Gives a Crap also packages their toilet paper without plastic.

Here are some more eco-friendly toilet paper companies worth looking into:

  • Reel – Bamboo toilet paper that gets delivered to your door, plastic-free. Comes in a cardboard box with 24 rolls of toilet paper.
  • Seventh Generation – Toilet paper made from recycled paper, wrapped in paper, not plastic.
  • Pure Planet – Plastic-free, bamboo and sugarcane toilet paper that comes in a cardboard box. 36 rolls per box. 100% tree free.
  • Bim Bam Boo – 100% bamboo toilet paper, each roll is wrapped individually in compostable tissue paper. Comes in a recycled cardboard box, 24 rolls per box.
  • Forestar – Bamboo toilet paper that’s unbleached and has a natural bamboo pulp color. Cute fruit-inspired wrappers. Box of 12 rolls.

Aside from toilet paper, I also recommend replacing your plastic toilet brush with a compostable, all wood one. Tiny Yellow Bungalow sells a really cool plastic free wooden toilet brush that’s handmade from unbleached coconut fiber. It’s completely vegan, biodegradable and fair trade.

Life With Plastic also sells a wooden toilet brush with a wooden stand. I love how it has a little terra cotta dish underneath it to catch any water that may drip off after using it. No plastic what so ever!

Cleaning the toilet doesn’t have to be wasteful either. Here’s my favorite zero waste toilet cleaner: Citrus toilet fizzies. These are fun to make, smell amazing and make cleaning your toilet bowl a breeze.

Also, if you’re a menstrating human, I would definitely recommend investing in reusable period products. There are several to choose from, like reusable cloth pads, period underwear, and menstrual cups.

I personally love SheThinx: they sell amazing period underwear that’s so comfy you might forget you even have your period. I recommend getting at least two Super Hiphuggers from them (best for heaviest days) and at least one Cotton Brief for medium to light days.

Also, I heard bidets are really great people who menstruate. If you lean forward, it can clean your front parts too, especially handy for that time of the month if you catch my drift. Just another reason to get one.

Bottom line (quick recap):

zero waste bathroom

 Take a look at your sink and medicine cabinet

The sink is where you wash your hands and brush your teeth. It’s also likely close to a mirror and/or medicine cabinet where you store some pretty important things.

Not sure about you, but I do a lot of things at my bathroom sink – like apply and remove makeup, brush my teeth, apply deodorant, etc. All those things can involve creating waste…but they don’t have to.

First, lets start with zero waste oral care:

  • Invest in a bamboo toothbrush. I recommend Brush with Bamboo. By far, they’re the best bamboo toothbrush because they use 100% certified organic bamboo in their handle. Plus, their bristles are soft on the teeth and gums and completely plant based.
  • Make your own zero waste toothpaste using baking soda, coconut oil and peppermint oil. It’s the easiest thing ever and cleans your teeth way better than conventional toothpaste that comes in plastic tubes. If you don’t like to make your own, Eco Roots sells David’s Toothpaste which comes in a cool metal tube that’s completely recyclable. Or, if you prefer your toothpaste in reusable glass jars, try this vegan zero waste toothpaste from Tiny Yellow Bungalow.
  • DIY your mouthwash using distilled water, peppermint essential oil and baking soda. So simple, yet so refreshingly efficient.
  • Get some zero waste dental floss. I personally love Dental Lace: It comes in a small cardboard box and inside is a glass filled with silk, compostable floss. The top is stainless steel, so no plastic what so ever. If you’re vegan, Tiny Yellow Bungalow sells vegan dental floss that’s plastic free too.

I’m no dentist, so bare in mind what your teeth need may be different from mine. Definitely make sure you stay on top of them and hit up the dentist every 6 months for checkups! So far, my dentists absolutely has no qualms with my dental routine. In fact, my mother’s a dental assistant and she even approves of it. Plus, I haven’t had one cavity yet!

Next up, lets briefly assess the bathroom sink:

  • We wash our hands at the bathroom sink. Please don’t use hand soap that comes in plastic packaging and is loaded with questionable ingredients. The ingredients in these hand soaps wash down the drain and pollute waterways! Instead, make your own hand soap by re-purposing a foam pump and filling it with a little castile soap and water. So simple!
  • If you don’t like foam soap, or simply prefer purchasing over DIYs, Plaine Products sells some zero waste hand soap you can refill.
  • If your bathroom sink is in need of a good cleaning, use my zero waste tub + sink cleaner to make it shine again.
  • Don’t use paper towels – opt for organic cotton hand towels instead. In the US, we generate 13 billions pounds of paper waste a year just from paper towels alone.

With that covered, lets move on to looking at the medicine cabinet, where the mirror likely is and where we are most likely to apply makeup and body products.

Lets look at the products we apply at the mirror/medicine cabinet:

  • Invest in some zero waste makeup brands you can wholeheartedly back. I personally adore Kjaer Weis. They’re my favorite organic makeup brand and I cannot recommend their foundation enough (I have it in the shade Like Porcelian – it blends so well into my skin). Their mascara, lipstick, lip gloss and eye shadow are phenomenal as well. Plus, it’s all refillable, so nothing goes to waste! Give them a try.
  • To apply makeup, choose vegan, cruelty free brushes made with bamboo handles. I personally love Eco Tools. The packaging could be better (it does come in plastic), but the pay off is that I won’t be purchasing any new ones for a very long time. Whichever brushes you have/get, store them in a re-purposed glass jar!
  • To remove makeup, consider investing in some reusable facial rounds made from cloth or cotton. Eco Roots sells some reusable organic cotton facial rounds worth looking into. The fabric is completely compostable at the end of its life, but you won’t have to compost it for a long time – they are reusable, after all. You just have to remember to wash them and they’ll serve you quite well! Pair it with some zero waste makeup remover and you’re set. You can make your own zero waste makeup remover fairly easily too.
  • For your skin care routine, consider simplifying as much as possible. Personally, I just wash my face with water, use the DIY makeup remover I mentioned above, and apply Yay For Earth Sensitive Skin Face Lotion. This stuff is amazing and I cannot recommend it enough! Truly, it’s transformed my skin and saved it from drying out during the winter, along with making a great primer for makeup! I’ve also noticed a significant reduction in acne simply from using this morning and night! Do yourself a favor, try it.
  • Seriously, make your own DIY deodorant. Not only will it be more cost efficient for you, but you’ll also be amazed at how easy it is to do. And it works, I promise! If you really aren’t into DIYs, here are 6 zero waste deodorant brands I recommend. I just recently bought Meow Meow Tweet’s deodorant in lavender and I’ve been loving it! Great for sensitive skin, it has no baking soda in it at all.

I’m sure there’s probably other stuff in your medicine cabinet too (maybe some important facial creams, body lotions, etc.). If that’s the case, try to use up whatever you have and then switch to more plastic-free alternatives. For example, you could try shopping at Lush more (lots of their stuff is package free), or you could even DIY your own zero waste body lotion like I did.

It’s okay if your entire medicine cabinet cannot be plastic free right away. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Just use up what you have and replace it with better alternatives afterwards.

Bottom line (quick recap):

 Shower without the waste

Likely, your shower has lots of plastic in it. From the actual shower curtain itself to the products inside of it, there’s a lot of room for improvement. It doesn’t all have to happen overnight though, so take it one step at a time!

First, I recommend looking at what shampoo and conditioner you’re using. Likely, those will come in plastic bottles. Once you’re done using up what you have, I seriously recommend investing in zero waste shampoo, like Plaine Products.

Plaine Products creates shampoo and conditioner that come in refillable aluminum bottles. Once you purchase from them, they send you the bottles with the pumps. When they’re empty, you ship the bottles back and hold onto the pumps. They give you your new bottles and you just place the pumps in there. They give you a pre-paid shipping label to use with your order too! I just use the same box the refills come in to ship my empties back.

If you prefer shampoo and conditioner bars, Eco Roots sells some great, all-natural, package free ones worth looking into. I have their Forest Mist shampoo and conditioner bar, along with their Moroccan shampoo and Moroccan conditioner bar. I just got them so I didn’t get a chance to try them yet, but they smell divine! Maybe I’ll update this post with the results at some point.

You can even use apple cider vinegar as a conditioner, if you wanted to. Combine it with a few drops of tea tree oil. It’ll help soften the hair, remove residue, and help reduce dandruff which is pretty handy.

I also recommend switching to bar soap for your body. Most body washes come packaged in plastic, which is wasteful in and of itself – minus the plastic loofah you use to apply it. Just use bar soap instead. If you really love loofahs, you can always get a natural loofah that’s completely compostable.

Personally, I love Sappo Hills bar soap which I get from my local health food store. They sell the soap completely package free there. Eco Roots also sells this cool vegan body wash that’s basically a soap bar. It’s made from organic ingredients and is package free of course.

However, if you prefer liquid body wash, Plaine Products also sells refillable liquid body wash worth checking out.

I also recommend investing in a safety razor. Did you know the EPA estimates 2 billion disposable razors are thrown away each year? That’s a ridiculously high statistic, wouldn’t you agree?

My safety razor is from The Tiny Yellow Bungalow, but Eco Roots also sells a beautiful rose gold safety razor. You’ll need to replace the blades when they get dull, but that’s it. They’re completely recyclable too, which is fantastic.

Both Tiny Yellow Bungalow and Eco Roots sells shaving soap too. Personally, I shave in the shower just because it’s easier for me, which is why I’m talking about this here. To cut back on water waste, I recommend shaving frequently so you don’t have to waste as much time (thus wasting less water).

Speaking of water waste, if you’re going to shower, consider putting a bucket in the shower to catch any excess water as you wait for the water to warm. You can use this excess water to wash your delicates by hand, or your reusable feminine hygiene products.

As a general rule, try to keep your showers as short as you can make them, ideally under 10 minutes. And, every once and a while, it’s okay to spoil yourself with a bath. Just don’t make it a habit and you’ll be fine.

As far as your shower curtain goes, opt for a reusable hemp or cotton shower curtain. Here’s what me and my folks do: We have 3 cotton shower curtains – one that functions as the outer, one that’s the inner, and one we can use as a spare while washing the other two. We make sure to rotate these and wash them frequently to prevent mold or icky smells. Works great and is plastic free!

Most shower curtains are made from plastic…don’t be fooled! Make sure to read the label – if it says “fabric”, be sure to check – if you see it’s made from polyester (which, likely it will be) that’s just a fancy word for plastic. Opt for cotton or hemp whenever possible. Life Without Plastic sells a nice hemp shower curtain I’ve been eyeing for a while.

Bottom line (quick recap):

  • Switch to zero waste shampoo and conditioner. I personally love Plaine Products because they come in aluminum bottles that are refillable. The ingredients are all organic and it does wonders for my hair. However, you can also switch to shampoo bars. Eco Roots sells some shampoo and conditioner bars. I have their Forest Mist shampoo and conditioner bar, along with their Moroccan shampoo and Moroccan conditioner bar. They smell amazing!
  • Start using bar soap, instead of body wash packaged in plastic. Eco Roots sells this cool, package-free vegan body wash that’s basically a soap bar. However, if you prefer liquid body wash, Plaine Products also sells refillable liquid body wash.
  • Invest in a safety razor. Also, don’t forget the package-free shaving soap!
  • Try to keep your showers under 10 minutes. Also, catch any excess water in a bin while you’re waiting for the water to heat up. Use the water to wash delicates or feminine hygiene products.
  • Opt for a cotton or hemp shower curtain that you can wash and reuse over and over again.

 Use natural cleaning products

I really recommend using natural cleaning products everywhere in the home, not just the bathroom. But, seeing as this is a post that hones in on the bathroom, we may as well focus on cleaning products designed for that!

For the toilet, I briefly mentioned earlier I use homemade citrus toilet fizzies to clean it. They’re fun to whip up, and I really love using them: I just plop one or two into the toilet, watch it fizzle for about 5 minutes, and then scrub the toilet clean. So simple.

If you like to use disinfectant wipes in the bathroom, I suggest making your own. Disposable wipes are incredibly wasteful and often come in extra plastic packaging.

You can make your own by soaking some rags or cut up cloth in 2 cups distilled water,  25 drops of lemon essential oil, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil. You can leave them in a glass jar until the cloths are completely soaked. Use them, then wash the used cloths and re-apply the ingredients. Super eco-friendly and reusable.

Personally, I just like using orange peel vinegar spray to clean an area. That, or my lavender vinegar cleaner. It depends on what I have, but I love both scents equally. These all-purpose sprays really do a great job of cleaning surfaces nicely, including the tops of toilet bowls, glass shower doors, and counters.

If you would like to give the sink and tub a good scrubbing, I recommend my sink + tub cleaner. It’s basically an orange scented soft scrub, but completely all natural. Super simple to make, and truly a favorite in my family.

My mom loves using this stuff for everything – not just the bathroom. She uses it to clean the kitchen sink too, and it truly makes it sparkle. I’ve even used it to clean tea stains from my favorite mug – works like a charm.

In the bathroom, you can use my orange soft scrub to scrub the grime away from tubs and bathroom sinks. You can even use it to clean tiled walls.

Also, you can use my zero waste floor cleaner in the bathroom too. It’s intended for wooden floors, but it can also be used on tile, so you’d be in the clear.

Last but not least, if you’re in need of cleaning tools, I recommend using this plastic free wooden toilet brush, and this wooden scrubbing brush that’ll make cleaning any surface easy. Rags are also handy cleaning tools which can be made from old shirts – or any textile waste honestly.

Bottom line (quick recap):

Woo! Okay, that was a seriously long post, but I hope you got a lot from it. If you read all the way to the bottom of this then…you deserve a cookie. Seriously, go check out my zero waste chocolate chip cookie recipe. 😉 You’ve earned it.

But in all seriousness – don’t feel pressured to make all these changes at once. Let this post serve as a guide. Reference it and take baby steps to completing it.

Also, remember to be kind to yourself and know that what my zero waste journey looks like, won’t be how yours looks. And that’s okay. Baby steps, my friends. You’ll create a zero waste bathroom you’re proud of over time – I know you will!

We’re all unique, and we don’t need a select few people doing zero waste perfectly. We need a bunch of people doing it imperfectly.

How to Have a Zero Waste Bathroom

Did this zero waste bathroom guide help you? 

For more zero waste bathroom tips and tricks, check out my 10 zero waste bathroom swaps and my guide to zero waste shaving.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to share it! If you like my content, sign up for my newsletter to get notified every time I write a new blog post. To support me even further, please consider buying me a cup of tea to help support my blog.

By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.


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