When confronted with the list of should do’s…must do’s to help lessen our footprint on this earth, it can all become grey and murky – our initial motivation giving way to despair and inaction. The antidote to this despondency is to find real, actionable (and easy) changes and the bathroom can be a great place to start. With many of the changes either direct swaps or simple mindset shifts, they are small enough to implement today and are far more likely to stick tomorrow, and for the coming years. They also have the happy side effect of snowballing where one change inspires another, and another, and another…
Here are some things you can do to create a greener bathroom, one small change at a time:
- Shift from plastic packaged body washes to the humble cake of soap. Body washes are more often than not, a chemical cocktail in soap’s clothing. Parabens, sulphates, micro plastics to name a few all swirled together in a plastic container can be easily replaced with a simple bar of soap. Find one that comes in recyclable cardboard, or better yet, package free and invest in a small soap dish or rack to ensure your soap can drain. The same swap can be made for hand soap too.
- Turn off the tap. Often a throw back to our childhoods there is no reason to leave the water flowing as we brush our teeth or wash our hands.
- Invest in a reusable razor. This one took a little bit of getting used to but once I’d conquered the fear of shredding my legs and underarms to bits, and learned to slow down a little (now that can’t be a bad thing when having a bath!), I use one effortlessly. We have a beautiful hand carved wooden one and one that belonged to my husband’s Grandad.
- Buy only ‘recycled paper’ toilet paper. With the exception of the convalescing or post partum Mums, using extra soft tp is simply not necessary. Quite frankly, we’ve become too precious about our bums what with all the bleached whites, highly fragranced, super embossed and sloganed offerings. And when we equate virgin paper pulp (yes, that means trees) and multiple flushings a day, there really shouldn’t be any argument.
- Set a timer for you shower. Shorter showers mean less water and less energy to heat said water. Choose a favourite song and see if you can wash from head to toe before the fading of the melody.
- Place a bucket (ideally with a pourer) underneath the shower head to catch the run off. It’s amazing to see how much water you can catch with each wash and it’s soul enriching to carry a brimming bucket outside to satiate a thirsty tree.
- Explore natural skincare.
- Replace exfoliating scrubs with homemade sugar and salt scrubs. A handful of sea salt or raw sugar made into a paste with olive oil makes the most effective body scrub to slough off dry skin. And knowing that what’s heading down the drain afterwards won’t pollute our oceans makes it all the more relaxing to use.
- Replace plastic toothbrushes with bamboo ones.
- Recycle your toothpaste tubes. Dedicate a small bin somewhere handy to collect those pesky unrecyclable toothpaste tubes and when you’ve amassed a little collection, investigate alternative recycling. In Australia, Teracycle has 3250 participating locations and offers recycling for toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes and floss containers. Alternatively, you can make your own toothpaste out of simple pantry ingredients. Dentists are even heralding their worth as a positive move in dental hygiene.
- Explore cloth pads and/or menstrual cups. This is a topic that deserves an entire post all to itself but for now, chat to friends and family, do some research or simply bite the bullet and buy a few cloth pads. Personally I find them to be a low mess, low smell, simple addition to my daily routine. I can honestly say, I will never go back to packaged products.
- Question your shampoo and conditioner. Are they toxic time bombs? Are there more natural alternatives? Do they come in a larger/bulk size? Or perhaps explore shampoo and conditioner bars. This is an ongoing question for us in our home and one we’ve yet to find the perfect answer for. But as always, small changes made with great intention.
- Place a bottle in the cistern to reduce the amount of water used per flush. In the very essence of Archimede’s principle, the extra mass reduces the amount of water in the cistern so that each flush uses less. Simply remove the top of the cistern – every toilet is different but can involve unscrewing the flush button, unclipping at the sides or some gentle leverage to unlock it, and place a plastic bottle filled with water in the bottom.
Take one of these changes, for example, swapping out body wash for a bar of soap, and stick with it until it becomes second nature. It may take a bit of experimenting but start from where you are right now and move forward positively. Be proud of your small change/s, but most importantly of your mindset shift and intention. Hope grows when watered with action.