In our bathrooms is where we’ll likely find some of the most single-use plastic items in the house, and it’s where we use the most water, excluding our kitchens.
From toothpaste tubes, to shampoo bottles, to disposable toothbrushes, plastic cotton buds and nylon dental floss. All are used and discarded of – and almost none of these can be recycled, meaning they’re all piled into landfill.
By swapping to some eco-products and adjusting some of your water habits, you can drastically reduce the amount of wasted resources, reduce landfill, and save money at the same time. The bonus is, you don’t have to compromise on quality either!
And it’s not just the waste that’s the problem – plastic is a non-sustainable material, as it is derived from crude oil and more natural resources. We must come up with suitable, sustainable alternatives before it’s too late.
Use plastic free dental care
Every year, billions of plastic toothbrushes are thrown away. In the UK alone, if we all follow dentist’s advice and change our toothbrushes every 3 months, that’s 264 million toothbrushes off to landfill and our oceans a year.
Swapping to a bamboo toothbrush is a super easy way to drastically reduce our plastic waste at home. The toothbrushes themselves are robust, and better yet when they are disposed of properly, they can break down into natural elements, preventing even more landfill.
Bamboo is a sustainable and ecologically sound crop, when compared with other materials like timber. It grows 30 times faster than trees do, generates up to 35% more oxygen than equivalent strands of trees and helps to absorb climate-heating CO2.
When you’ve finished using your toothbrush, you can mix the handle in with green garden waste, into wood recycling or even reuse them – maybe as a natural plant marker, or my favourite, as a cleaning utensil!
Choose biodegradable dental floss
Dental floss is another common plastic-filled item in your bathroom. Most floss is made from Nylon or Teflon and is encased in a plastic box. The box can be recycled, but more often than not only into a lower grade material. And again – we must be looking to use more sustainably sourced materials as opposed to non-sustainable plastics.
Dental floss is also a big concern when it reaches our seas as it can tangle and wrap around things, harming marine life. It also causes issues blocking pipes where people dispose of it improperly by flushing it down the toilet.
Swapping to a biodegradable silk dental floss will drastically reduce the risk to marine life, and to the planet in general. It is designed to completely biodegrade into nothing, meaning the risks posed to marine life are drastically reduced. Silk is also a strong and effective material to use for cleaning your teeth, so you don’t have to compromise on the same results you get with traditional, plastic based flosses.
Although it biodegrades, it’s advised to still not flush it – as it doesn’t degrade quickly enough to not pose any risks to your pipes at home.
Encourage water-saving habits, or invest in water-saving fixtures
Being more eco-friendly at home also focuses on saving water. Making small changes with big impact on the environment can really make a difference.
For example, leaving the water running whilst you brush your teeth can waste so much water. According to waterwise.org, a running tap can use up to 6 litres per minute. If we’re brushing our teeth for two minutes twice a day, that’s an average of 24 litres!
That’s enough to fill a standard 1.7 litre kettle 14 times – showing how important it is to turn it off between rinsing, when brushing your teeth.
This is especially true when showering. Old-style showerheads can use up to 15-20 litres per minute and even some more modern ones will drain 10-12 litres per minute. So, when you consider that people shower on average for 8 minutes, the amount of water consumed per person in a year flows into thousands of litres.
Water is not an infinite resource, in fact only 1% of the Earth’s water is drinkable, despite being called the blue planet. Choosing eco shower heads, eco taps and tap aerators that reduce consumption by 60% with no loss of quality is a smart move.
Swap cotton pads for reusable ones
The amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of cotton, which is equivalent to a basic white T-Shirt, is the same amount of water one person would drink over 3 years, according to a report by WWF.
Compare that to us using cotton pads to cleanse and tone our faces daily, it adds up to a lot of water wasted and landfill created. Now, we can’t do away with cotton completely, it’s still an incredibly important resource – but we can be smarter with our use of it.
Swapping to reusable facial rounds can drastically reduce this wastage and improve your carbon footprint. They are made from a combination of cotton and bamboo; they are soft and durable and can be rewashed and used again and again.
You can use these to cleanse and tone our skin as well, even to remove face masks swiftly and seamlessly. They can be washed at 40°C to 60°C in a normal wash!
Get rid of those plastic cotton buds
According to another report by WWF, the UK uses plastic 13.2 billion plastic cotton buds annually – more than any other European country! It found that altogether, Britain uses the 5th highest number of single-use plastic items per person and contributed the high use of cotton buds to the use of makeup.
So many of them are flushed down the toilet, and as it’s easy for them to fit through sewerage systems, they end up on our beaches and in our oceans – polluting them for years and years to come. They also have chemical coatings on them that can harm wildlife if they ingest it.
Even though the government banned plastic cotton buds from April 2020, it will take some time to get them out of circulation.
By swapping to bamboo cotton buds today, you can take immediate action to reduce single-use plastic. There really is an imperceptible difference when using these cotton buds – they perform the same, if not better than their plastic counterparts, because they don’t bend!
And you can take comfort in knowing they are completely compostable and are free from every coating that their plastic counterparts have.