If you’re an eco friendly individual looking to go green, there are a few obvious places to start — perhaps you create a recycling command center in the garage, outfit your backyard with a compost bin, and stock your fridge and pantry with minimally processed, minimally packaged healthy food and drink.
These are all fantastic ideas and indeed, essential components of an eco-friendly home, but in planning for the garage and the backyard, the kitchen and pantry, we’ve left out one very important area: the bathroom. Chronically overlooked and left to last on the list, the lowly bathroom presents a fantastic opportunity to go green by making just a few simple changes.
Go green in the bathroom in 3, 2, 1
First, the basics. It’s easy to make a massive reduction in paper waste just by switching to 100% post-consumer recycled toilet paper. Over 27,000 trees are cut down every day worldwide just to make toilet paper — so choosing a recycled roll can put a significant dent in the number of trees lost with virtually zero effort on your part.
Second, if you’re a woman, consider rethinking the way you have your periods. Rather than using committing to a lifetime of disposable pads or tampons, it may be worthwhile to do some research into cloth pads or menstrual cups like the Moon Cup or Diva Cup. Cloth pads are an easy go green switch and they simply get tossed in the washing machine (just like cloth diapers would) to be washed and reused. Likewise soft silicone menstrual cups are a great, virtually waste-free alternative for tampon users. Full disclosure — There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s also a great way to reduce the amount of waste associated with your monthly cycle.
Also for the ladies (sorry, we do most of the heavy lifting in the bathroom it seems), evaluate your makeup and see if you can cut down on the packaging, the number of cosmetics products used, or even switch to a more eco friendly brand. If you’ve established a loyalty to one specific brand, don’t worry! You can go green while still looking good.
Recycling powerhouse Terracycle offers a recycling brigade for cosmetics and beauty products, where you can collect and send back an incredible array of product packages which would ordinarily be destined for the trash. Products included in this recycling program include,
- hair gel tubes and caps
- lip balm tubes
- lipstick cases
- lip gloss tubes
- mascara tubes
- eye shadow cases
- bronzer cases
- foundation packaging
- powder cases
- eyeliner cases
- eyeliner pencils
- eye-shadow tubes
- concealer tubes
- concealer sticks
- and lip liner pencils
That’s a whole lot of waste that can completely bypass your bathroom wastebasket!
A sharp idea
Next, a gender-neutral way to go green — switch out your razor. When your shave gets less than smooth, instead of buying some eight-bladed monstrosity where a package of replacement heads cost as much as a nice meal, invest in a stainless steel safety razor, instead. There’s a reason the world shaved this way for decades — it works! It’s clean, efficient, and waste-free, and replacement blades are a few bucks for a pack of five razor blades. It’s also an excuse to avoid gendered marketing. I don’t have to pay more for a pretty pink razor to fit my delicate lady hands, I’ve been using a “man’s” safety razor for almost three years now and I absolutely love it. Find one secondhand and disinfect it by boiling, or visit your local shave shop for options.
Prescription to go green
It’s now time to tackle the medicine cabinet. Disposing of medications properly is rarely mentioned, but it’s a vital part of prescription medicine safety. Emptying expired or unused pills into a garbage can be quite dangerous because of the possibility of small children or pets ingesting them, and if you think you’re being safe by flushing them down the toilet – think again. A story in the Harvard Health Letter states,
“A study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1999 and 2000 found measurable amounts of one or more medications in 80% of the water samples drawn from a network of 139 streams in 30 states. The drugs identified included a witches’ brew of antibiotics, antidepressants, blood thinners, heart medications (ACE inhibitors, calcium-channel blockers, digoxin), hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone), and painkillers.”
Yikes. Moral of the story? Don’t flush your pills! Take any old, unused or expired medications back to your pharmacy to ensure that they’re disposed of in a safe manner.
A clean slate
And last but not least, the task that we often leave until the bitter end: cleaning the bathroom. It’s easy to whip up a few simple recipes to give your bathroom a sparkling green makeover. Tub scrub, shower door spray, and an easy toilet cleaner — the recipes are all here and unbelievably easy to whip up with just a few natural ingredients. These DIY cleaners are a great way to go green in the bathroom without spending a ton on cleaning products with questionable ingredients, packaged in wasteful plastic bottles. They work like a dream and they make the often-onerous chore of bathroom cleaning seem a little less like drudgery.
Being able to go green means taking on all aspects of your house — from the fun and glitzy eco-tech to the more, ahem, down-to-earth aspects of green living, like embarking upon an eco friendly bathroom makeover. By addressing everything from your toilet paper to your cosmetics and beauty care products, tackling menstrual care and shaving gear, and even being a responsible adult by disposing of medications and finally getting rolling up your sleeves to get rid of that toilet ring, going green in the bathroom is a great idea.
Feature image credit: Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock