Sustainable swaps, with Lizzie Carr.

Sustainable swaps, with Lizzie Carr.

So, you’ve taken steps to recycle in the kitchen, but what about your bathroom? Four in 10 of us have admitted to not recycling our bathroom products,* meaning a lot of items that are designed for recyclability don’t have the chance to be. Instead, they are unnecessarily diverted to landfill, creating an estimated 30,000 tonnes of additional rubbish every year – a waste that, with the right actions, could be avoidable.

There are steps we can take to reduce our reliance on single-use bathroom products and ensure we are more conscious with how they are disposed of, too. Firstly, put any recyclables into the right bin – this is an easy but important is the first step. Once that’s done (and cemented as a long-term habit), here’s six easy swaps that you can make to create more sustainable habits and reduce your bathroom footprint.

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Start with your skincare

Sustainable skincare should encompass both the product and packaging. Often skincare is regarded as luxurious and premium quality if it comes wrapped in elaborate and decorative packaging. It’s a misleading marketing tool to lure in customers and stand out in but, in reality, the end consumer is paying for excessive packaging that is usually unrecyclable. Sustainable skincare should be both clean to the skin and clean to the planet.

So, what can we do?

Look for natural ingredients, minimal packaging, refillable initiatives or in-store recycling schemes. As with all the above, research brands before you buy - and look for transparent and genuine ambitions to be more sustainable, like REN Clean Skincare who have committed to a Zero Waste Packaging Pledge to be completed by the end of 2021.

The truth about toothpaste

It’s estimated that 1.5 billion plastic toothpaste tubes are thrown out** every year globally. It’s said that if you laid all the tubes ever used around the earth, it would stretch almost twice around it. That’s perspective, right there.

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The sustainable solution

There are an increasing number of plastic free, naturally derived toothpastes available. These provide a zero-waste alternative as most are made from glass which is highly recyclable or can be reused, and concentrate on organic or natural ingredients.

And your toothbrush, too

A staggering 264 million disposable plastic toothbrushes are thrown away in the UK every year*** and it’s estimated to take over 1000 years to fully decompose (and even then, it’s broken down into micro plastics). Sadly, like a lot of other single use plastic that’s discarded, toothbrushes are often found in waterways and washed up on beaches. We find a lot on our Planet Patrol clean-ups all over the world.

Battle waste with bamboo

Swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo option as both the handle and the bristles are usually compostable and can break down in your garden compost. If you have an electric toothbrush, it’s not time to chuck it away and replace with a bamboo one – the most sustainable option is using what you already have. Instead, get a recyclable head and look for industry recycling schemes where you can send them off to and ensure they are put back into a closed loop system.

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Potentially damaging deodorants

Roll on deodorants are usually unrecyclable. That’s because they are packaged in two types of plastic – one for the ball and another for the cap and outer shell. The process of recycling two types of plastic in a single item isn’t efficient, so the alternative is to simply discard it and produce another Equally, aerosol deodorants are problematic. Although aluminium cans are more recyclable, they must also be completely dry and empty before processing which often doesn’t happen. There are also the compressed gases in aerosols that can be harmful contributors of co2 emissions. It’s estimated that 600 million aerosols are used in the UK each year – and this doesn’t include roll on.

Refill and reuse

Make a simple swap away from single use deodorants to refillable, solid bars, powders, homemade recipes (here’s my one using just three ingredients which are all becoming more widely available in mainstream stores. Or, better still, just go armpit naked.

Single-use face wipes

11 billion wet wipes are used in the UK every single year**** and while they look like harmless squares of fabric, they are mostly made from plastic and don’t break down in water. Contrary to some labels on packaging, there's no such thing as a flushable wipe. If they enter the toilet cistern, wipes clog together in 'fatbergs' that cost the UK £100m each year to clear up.

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Wipe, wash, repeat

Get a reusable face cloth, ideally organic cotton or made with other natural fibres. If you use wet wipes to help remove your makeup, then swap for reusable pads that you can pop in the washing machine afterwards.

Wasteful hair washing

520 million shampoo bottles are discarded in the UK every year***** and even though these are largely recyclable, they end up in landfill because households aren’t separating them from general waste.

Switch to a solid shampoo

Opt for solid shampoo and conditioner bars – these are handy for travel too as can go in hand luggage. Or find refillable stations in your local zero waste store to top up one of your old shampoo bottles when you run out.