Let me blow your mind real quick.
Did you know that every plastic toothbrush you’ve ever owned still exists somewhere? Yep. The first plastic toothbrush you ever owned is still out there, hanging out in a landfill, waiting to decompose (and it’s got several hundred more years to go). That is, if it hasn’t found its way into the ocean, which is also a likely possibility.
Further to that, every plastic toothbrush that ANYONE has EVER owned still exists somewhere. These suckers take a really long time to break down.
The bathroom may not seem like a tremendous source of plastic in our lives, but when we think about how long it takes plastic to break down, it’s worth it to consider all the bits of plastic that we use every day. Here are four ways to cut down on plastic in the bathroom and make it a waste-free zone.
1. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush.
Bamboo is a quick-growing, renewable resource that is also biodegradable. Bamboo toothbrushes perform just like plastic ones, but can be composted when they’re worn out (it’s recommended you replace them every three months).
If the bristles on your bamboo toothbrush are made of a natural fibre like charcoal or boar’s hair, you can compost the entire toothbrush without removing the bristles. If the bristles are made of nylon, however, you’ll need to remove them with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Nylon bristles should go in your non-recyclable rubbish bin, and the toothbrush handle should go in your green bin or on your compost pile.
2. Switch to a toothpaste that comes in a recyclable container.
When’s the last time you recycled a toothpaste tube? Trick question, because toothpaste tubes aren’t recyclable, unless you’re using a special service like TerraCycle. Most municipal recycling services won’t accept them. The alternative? Opt for one in a metal tube or glass jar, which are both fully recyclable.
3. Switch to bar soap from shower gel.
I know what you’re going to say: “but I recycle my shower gel bottles!”
Well, that’s awesome! Because most people don’t. But here’s an important point: plastic can’t be recycled forever. The quality of plastic degrades each time it’s recycled, until it reaches a point where it’s no longer recyclable. The end of the line for all plastics is landfill, or incineration, which releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, so it’s best to opt for alternatives when we can.
When’s the last time you treated yourself to a bar of natural, hand-milled soap? Opt for one that’s package free, or wrapped in paper or cardboard - just don’t forget to recycle or compost the packaging! An added benefit: I bet you’ll find natural soap is much kinder to your skin than most shower gels.
4. Switch from a plastic razor to a safety razor.
Just like every toothbrush you’ve ever used, every disposable razor or cartridge you’ve ever used is still out there somewhere. Safety razors are a beautiful, zero waste alternative. They take standard double edged metal feather blades, which are fully recyclable, and the razor itself will last you a lifetime (not to mention look beautiful on your bathroom shelf!).
TO RECYCLE BLADES:
Keep them in an empty Altoid tin. When the tin gets full, simply add the entire tin to your recycling bin.
One point I must stress:
I’m not advocating throwing out perfectly good toothbrushes, toothpaste, shower gel, or razors! Please use what you have before you replace things with more eco-friendly alternatives! There’s no point in sending more waste to landfill without first using it up. When the time comes for you to replace these items, you’ll be better equipped to make sustainable buying choices.
Psst: check out my one simple trick for a waste-free bathroom.
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