Make your bathroom a plastic-free paradise
Our bathrooms can be a complete disaster for plastic pollution – from plastic items wrongly flushed down the toilet, to microbeads in our sun cream. From the millions of shampoo and conditioner bottles to the unrecyclable toothpaste tubes and miles of tooth floss. Luckily, one of the easiest rooms to transform into a plastic-free paradise is the bathroom.
Whilst most of us are aware of the plastic in our soap and shampoo bottles, our razors and our cleaning products, it’s a nasty shock to many to hear that there is also plastic lurking in wet wipes, period products, nappies, tooth-floss and cotton buds. Any time we flush anything other than pee, poo and toilet paper, something (or someone!) has to remove it for us to have clean drinking water. Or it ends up as a very toxic dinner for some poor sea creature. We’re here to help you with options for a perfect plastic-free bathroom.
What’s going down your loo?
5.9% of all the litter on our beaches in the UK comes from items that have been flushed down the loo when they should have gone in the bin.
But fear not, we’re here to raise awareness of the obvious and not-so-obvious plastics in our bathroom, helping you to protect our one and only planet. Let’s dive right in.
What to flush
Most wet wipes are primarily made of plastic, and whatever the packet may say, they are NOT flushable! Fatbergs, which clog our sewers and cause plastic pollution, are actually 93% non-flushable wet wipes. On top of this, the number of wet wipes found on UK beaches has increased by more than 700% in the last decade. Yuck. Whether you’re using wipes to take your make-up off, change your babies nappy or for a ‘posh poo’, we beg you keep them away from the toilet bowl and put them straight in the bin. Even better, switch to reusable baby wipes or make-up pads, you can throw these in the wash and reuse them for years.
Over the past 25 years, plastic cotton bud sticks have been in the top 10 items found littering UK beaches. How are they ending up there? Well, here in the UK we’ve been flushing them down the loo… in their millions! Being so small, these pesky little cotton bud stems can squeeze through sewage filters. And even when they don’t, they end up contributing to ‘fatbergs’ block sewers and cause even more plastic pollution. The best solution to this cotton bud problem is to avoid them altogether. But if you really do need to use them, then opt for paper-stemmed cotton buds and be sure to always put them in the bin. You can now buy paper-stemmed cotton buds from Boots, Tesco, Asda, Morrison’s, Superdrug, Sainsbury’s, LIDL, ALDI and Wilko’s.
Clean body, clean seas
Soap, shampoo and conditioner bottles are 3 of the easiest items to swap for plastic-free alternatives. A good old-fashioned soap bar on a soap-rest does the job. Many brands are also now offering plastic-free shampoo and conditioner bars too. And because these bars don’t contain as much water as their liquid alternatives, they tend to last longer too. Alternatively, it’s super easy to fill up your existing containers at zero-waste shops. There are so many amazing brands that are now available for refills, so you might even find your favourite product ready to refill today. Win, win!
In 2018, around 5.5 billion people in the UK were using disposable razors. Most people will use more than 1 disposable razor per year. Add that to the packaging and bottles of shaving foam and gel, we start to reveal a mighty amount of plastic heading to landfill. A stylish reusable razor like this one by Bambaw, will last you years, avoid countless trips to the supermarket for a new one and may save you money in the long run. Bambaw’s razor is ideal for beginners and the individual blades can be collected in a container and then recycled.
Big-brand disposable period products are a potential health hazard, cost us around £4,800 over our menstruating lifetime and cost the earth. Menstrual products are currently the 5th most common item found on European beaches – more widespread than single-use coffee cups, cutlery or straws. Whether you’re looking to make a simple switch to plastic-free tampons and pads or want to give period pants, reusable pads or the menstrual cup a go, we’ve got you covered on your journey to #PlasticFreePeriods.
Eco dental hygiene
In the UK, we currently dispose of approximately 200 million plastic toothbrushes each year, eek! It’s important to keep on top of our dental hygiene, but there are lots of ways to do so without harming the planet. You can switch your non-recyclable toothpaste tabs or toothpaste in a recyclable glass jar. Your tooth floss can also be swapped for silk floss and a reusable dispenser. And even your toothbrush can be upgraded to a bamboo brush, now that’s something to smile about.
Shop for your plastic-free dental hygiene essentials with the Plastic-Free Shop.
Have a two-bin bathroom
It’s time for a bathroom make-over, and the first, most glamourous place to start is… the bin! Some of us get through a huge amount of plastic in the bathroom and although research shows that almost 90% of people regularly recycle from the kitchen, only 52% do so in the bathroom. Every bathroom needs a bin for the non-recyclables (e.g. period products, tooth floss, wipes), AND a recycling bin too.
Prevent plastic pollution whilst on the loo
Most supermarket loo rolls come wrapped in plastic packaging, even when the paper is recycled or they’re marketed as “eco-friendly”. In 2019, one supermarket alone estimated that it could save more than 900 tonnes of plastic each year if it removed plastic packaging from its own-brand toilet roll packs.
keeping it squeaky clean
Check out our Plastic Free Cleaning page for everything you need to know to keep your bathroom looking fresh and smelling clean.
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