My Favorite "Zero" Waste Swaps: Grooming and Hygiene

I honestly wasn't sure what to name this particular blog post as I am kind of unfamiliar with the terms used for products you use while in the bathroom that may not be universally used by everyone. So I hope that the phrase "Grooming and Hygiene" will suffice.

In my last "zero" waste swaps blog post, I went over my favorite alternatives with regards to bathroom essentials. This time, I wanted to focus on some of the miscellaneous items you might also find in your bathroom. 

 

Period Cup + Underwear

Pink menstrual cup being held out by a white hand on a grey backgroundI honestly cannot even remember the brand of cup I have as I've had it for so so ong, but there is a great round up of 23 brands that you can find HERE. Image via HealthLine.com


I have had a period cup for a few years now. The idea to use one came from my cousin who made the swap and absolutely raved about how easy and comfortable it was to use. And for a few years, I felt the same way about my own! I would often forget that I was even on my period or was using the cup at all.

That is, until I got an IUD. Once I swapped by birth control method, I found it really uncomfortable to use a period cup. My cervix was just sitting too low, especially at the start of my cycle. So, I knew I had to make a switch (though, I will be trying the inside out method recommended by @minimalistmachinist before completely abandoning the period cup. 4/26/20 Update: The inside out method works! I repeat, it really works!).

My solution was to swap to using period underwear. Now, period panties are wonderful, but often times, they aren't fully zero waste. This is due to the materials used to create them, many being synthetic in origin. So, I am still on the hunt for a lower waste alternative to them (perhaps reusable wool pads? I am currently testing out my own pattern right now to see how they work!). But for now, my period panties have been a total life saver!

Black underwear on a white backgroundImage via SophieHines.com



I actually made my own using the Sophie Hines period panties kit + scrap knit materials I had in my stash. I was able to squeeze 5 pairs out of her kit which has been nearly the perfect amount I need for my cycle. These are a great, low waste, low cost alternative if you enjoy sewing!

If you aren't keen on sewing your own, there are both small and big brands that make reusable pads, panties, etc for purchase! Thinx is probably the most well-known brand, but I have also seen smaller, indie brands on Etsy selling a variety of products, too.


Makeup Products

Mid tone makeup concealer in a glass jar with white pump lid on a white backgroundPrior to making my own foundation, I used a cream foundation from Elate that came in a squat glass jar (which I actually re-use now to hold my current foundation!). I just found that I wasn't wearing the purchased products enough to justify the cost which is why I started making my own! Image via ZeroWasteStore.com

Now, I don't really wear makeup all that much, so I most likely don't have all the best options for low-waste swaps in this category. However, I have been seeing LOADS of brands shifting to zero waste makeup design which has been incredible! There are glass filled concealers and mascara tins and paint on eyeliner and lipstick in compostable packaging! With so many options at your fingertips, it shouldn't be difficult to find products that really work for you, your skin, your budget, and your ethos. And hopefully the options continue to expand!

If you are like me, however, and don't wear loads of makeup but enjoy having something in your cupboard for special occasions or something like that, then feel free to check out my post on my own DIY makeup! This makeup doubles as sunscreen (yay!) and is fairly lightweight so it doesn't feel like you are really wearing anything, plus it makes you smell like brownies which I find to be a total plus. 

A white hand holds a squat glass jar of foundation with a purple tint in front of a blue grey wall with a pink frame in the background

And if you are a super makeup kind of person but really want to minimize your waste in that area, below is a list of things you can keep in the back of your mind when looking at new brands to support:

  1. How can this package be disposed of at the end of it's life? Can it be composted or recycled? How many times will it be recycled before it inevitably winds up in landfill (plastic = 1-2 times, Paper = 10 times, Metal + Glass = Indefinitely)? Can I find a way to reuse it myself?
  2. What are the ingredients in this product? Do I feel safe putting it on my skin? Did the extraction of any of these ingredients come at the cost of another human or the environment?
  3. What is the cost of this product? Does it make sense to spend this kind of money on this item? Do I feel I am casting the right vote with my $?
  4. How will this product get to me? Does the company support carbon offsetting? Minimal packaging waste? Compostable packaging? 
  5. Is there an alternative in my house that I could use instead? Such as a lightweight oil as highlight, beet juice as lip stain, or cocoa powder for eyeliner?

Makeup is a super personal thing and the answers to these questions may vary. You may even find that you have more or less questions you wish to ask yourself before a purchase, and that is ok! This is all about finding what works for you, your values, and your lifestyle overall.

Maybe you already have the perfect foundation and don't wish to change it -that's perfect! Instead, are there other areas of your routine that could be swapped for a low waste alternative? Maybe you can purchase a reusable makeup applicator instead of going through those plastic derived spongey ones that get gross after just one use. Or you could swap out your blush 'cause you weren't all that attached to the color of your old one, but you've seen some that come in sustainable packaging. 

 

Makeup Wipes

A set of 5 yellow printed facial wipe squares fanned out on top of a light wooden surface.

If you DO find yourself wearing makeup, whether it be often or on occasion, one area that I know you can totally swap out to a reusable product is your makeup remover. Instead of using cotton balls or disposable wipes, why not try out some reusable makeup pads? They are super soft and easy to use, plus they can be washed again and again! I even enjoy using these wipes to put on my moisturizer (which for me is just a mix of different oils) to keep my hands from feeling that greasy sort of feeling you can sometimes get with certain products. When I am done, I simply toss my wipes into the wash or clean them buy hand with a little mild soap and water in the sink. 

You can either make your own (which is SUPER easy!) or there are PLENTY of places selling reusable wipes! I actually have both a blog post on making your own and sell a handful of extras I made as well!

These also make really great gifts for friends if you are so inclined to sew your own. Since they come together super quickly, you can make up a bunch and then give them to your bestie, gently opening up a potential conversation on living a more low-waste life! 

 

Loofah/ Luffa 

A pile of natural colored loofah spongesImage via IntelligentLiving.co

Did you know that those plastic loofah/ luffa sponges almost everyone uses are actually based off a a very real plant that can and is used for the purpose of washing things? It even has the same name! And can be grown in your garden if you enjoy a challenge/ have a long growing season! AND it is edible when it is a young plant!

So many great things about the loofah, it almost seems harder to NOT own the natural version. If your current sponge is looking a bit worse for the wear, why not swap out and try an all natural loofa/ luffa sponge instead? It is good for nearly a year and when it wears out, you can simply compost it and help to feed the soil once again. 

If a loofa isn't your thing, you can also opt for using small wash cloths or simply your hands and a bar of soap, which just happens to be my preferred method to getting squeaky clean! 

 

Safety Razor

A white hand holds an all metal safety razor in front of a background of out of focus plants.

For those of you who like to shave, swapping out your disposable razor for one that is endlessly reusable is one of the best swaps in the bathroom! I am SO SO happy that this was one of my very first major Zero Waste purchases way back when. Though I will admit... I was terrified of using a safety razor!

Before swapping out my disposable razor for an all metal safety razor, I did my research on how to use one and honestly, all of the reviews were terrifying! People kept saying that it was super easy to cut yourself and that it took so much finesse to get a clean shave and to expect a lot of cuts in the first few months of shaving. I basically thought I would accidentally wind up in the hospital with a terrible razor cut, which just added to my already huge fear of sharp objects. 

I am here to tell you that it actually wasn't that challenging to use the razor in the end, and I have never suffered any terrible gashes to my legs, underarms, or any other shaved portion of my body. To start, I went really cautiously with my razor for fear of cutting myself, but over time, I have found that I can move much more quickly than I thought would be possible. The trick is to apply the correct amount of pressure to your razor, which is significantly less than you are likely applying to your disposable razor. Once you master that, you will be shaving with confidence and few nicks in no time!

What I love most about the safety razor is that the body is super sturdy and totally recyclable. I am on my second razor (the first took a few too many tumbles in the shower and the head snapped off due to poor construction) which I adore! This particular brand has a really cleverly designed mechanism for inserting the razor safely PLUS they have a blade take back program which is incredible! 

A white hand holds an all metal safety razor in front of a background of out of focus plants showing how the mechanism opens at the top like a pair of french doorsA white hand holds an all metal safety razor in front of a background of out of focus plants showing how the top closes to secure the blade safely

They did send me a pack of blades, but I purchased a pack of 100 blades when I got my first razor and I have barely made a dent in those so... I think I am pretty much set for life! Some will recommend changing your razor after every shower, but I find my razors last a few months before I need to change them. I just go based on how the razor feels and swap it out when I feel I am pulling out the hair rather than shaving it off. 

A white hand holds an all metal razor blade in front of a background of out of focus plants.

 

Hair Brush

A bamboo hair brush with bamboo bristles sits on a light wooden countertop with greenery in the background and out of focus.

My hair has always been a pain in the butt. It's constantly tangled and curly and if I don't address it right after a shower, it can get real bad. I've spent many a night crying as I tear through my hair as gently as possible, trying to detangle it. So having a proper hairbrush for my poor head has always been top of the list for me. 

Luckily, I finally found one that is kind to my scalp, doesn't come apart easily (my last hair brush I spent more time putting the bristles back on it than I did brushing my hair), and happens to be made form eco friendly materials! In fact, the entire brush is 100% compostable and by the same brand as my toothbrush, Brush with Bamboo! I was so excited to purchase, I wound up accidentally purchasing two (whoops!), but that's ok as I keep one in my travel case so that I never leave home without it! 

Pumice Stone

A white hand dangles a black pumice stone AKA lava rock above a wooden table with greenery just out of focus in the background

I know that not everyone will need something to scrub their feet, because not everyone's feet are as rough as mine are, but if you do, then a pumice stone is for you! I hardly ever wear shoes unless I absolutely have to. I have been this way since I was a kid, walking around barefoot just everywhere. Which has led me to develop some really thick soles to my feet. 

In some ways this is great as I feel my feet are really strong and can withstand a lot! However, I do still enjoy pampering them and making them feel special and soft and that is where the pumice stone comes in. Pumice stones help to scrub off dead skin, especially around the balls and heels of your feet. So every now and again, I give my feet a bit of a pampering and spend some time running the stone along the roughest parts, exfoliating them and making them feel loved! And I feel even better knowing that my little treat to my feet is a fully compostable/ biodegradable product!

 

Well, that's it for my little round up of low waste alternatives for the bathroom! Did I miss anything? If so, I'd love to hear more about the products you use in your bathroom while trying to maintain less waste in your life in the comments below! And I promise I will continue with this series and share more of the items I have gradually swapped out around my house in my own efforts to live creating as little waste as possible :)

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