You begin and end each day with a trip to the bathroom, so why not make the experience as sustainable as possible?
Unfortunately, the room where you brush your teeth, tend to your hair and skin, and dispose of waste is often one of the most toxic chemical-laden places in the home. Poor air filtration, preservative-filled products, and chronically leaking sinks all lead to unexpected amounts of environmental damage.
The good news? Greening up your bathroom routine isn’t as complicated as you think. Just follow these tips to find new ways to improve your impact on the planet.
Brushing Your Teeth
You brush your teeth twice a day, so doesn’t it make sense to do so sustainably? A few switches in your regular oral hygiene routine will make a difference for the planet.
1. Trash the Plastic Toothbrush (and Floss!)
Too much disposable plastic is clogging up the world’s limited landfills, and your reliance on plastic toothbrushes isn’t helping matters. Consider using a brush that breaks down faster by using one made from bamboo or other natural materials, or choose a Preserve toothbrush made from recycled plastic.
You can also improve the sustainability of your dental floss by choosing biodegradable options made from silk or bamboo threads.
2. Brush with Miswak Sticks
Miswak sticks are a sustainable alternative to your regular toothbrush. Their anti-bacterial properties help to control the formation of dental plaque, prevent tooth decay and gum disease. They are natural, effective, inexpensive and well reviewed and are available to purchase from here on Amazon.
3. Turn Off the Water While Brushing Your Teeth
Keeping the faucet running wastes precious fresh water, so turn off the tap while brushing to save gallons of water every week.
4. Brush with Homemade Toothpaste
Forget those disposable tubes of toothpaste; you can easily make your own toothpaste with a few common ingredients. The results work as well as commercial options – but without the fluoride, microbeads, and other artificial flavors and ingredients.
Sudsing up in the sink shouldn’t be bad for the environment. These tips are designed to help you make a sustainable switch in how you handle this standard bathroom procedure.
5. Swap Out Your Antibacterial Soap
Consider yourself the victim of false advertising if you think your antimicrobial soap will get your hands cleaner than usual. FDA reports show that these products aren’t any better at washing away germs than standard soap, and they can trigger allergies, hormone disruption, and potentially even reproductive problems.
A better option? Stick to soap without antibacterial agents like triclosan and triclocarban to keep yourself clean AND safe.
6. Install Motion Sensors in the Sink
Make your bathroom resemble a fancy hotel and save water at the same time by installing a motion sensor faucet in the sink. By triggering a gentle release of water only when they sense something under the tap, this small upgrade can save you from wasting thousands of gallons of water each year.
7. Ditch Disposable Paper Products
You might struggle at the thought of forgoing your toilet paper for good, but there are plenty of other paper products that you can forfeit. Consider upgrading your disposable paper towels and makeup wipes for reusable rags and microfiber towels to keep things clean.
Considering that it’s an activity most people do on a weekly (even daily) basis, shaving can be surprisingly wasteful of environmental resources. You can curb your shaving carbon footprint with these tips.
8. Save Water While You Shave
Don’t let your tap run while you’re shaving your face. Instead, fill the sink halfway with water and dip it in to complete the job.
9. Ditch the Disposable Razor
Disposable razors might be attractive for their convenience, but investing in a razor with a replaceable blade will keep more plastic out of the garbage heap. You can also extend the lifespan of your disposable razors by re-sharpening the blades with a Razor Saver.
10. Say No to Aerosol Shaving Spray
Shaving cream canisters are bad news for the environment because they often contain hydrocarbon propellants like butane and propane. These compounds are a source of greenhouse gases, and their presence in the atmosphere has increased close to 60 percent in the past 30 years.
You can reduce this ozone damage by relying on a natural-ingredient soap and water for shaving. Better yet, make homemade shaving cream to gain complete control of the ingredients it contains.
Twelve billion sanitary pads, tampons, and other period supplies are dumped into U.S. trash heaps every year, but there are simple solutions for dramatically cutting down on this waste.
11. Use a Menstrual Cup
Menstrual cups like the Diva Cup are sustainable period care’s best-kept secret. These reusable silicone cups can be used just like a tampon, and it’s perfectly safe to keep them in place without emptying them out for over 12 hours.
Check it out this article out to learn more compelling reasons to switch over to menstrual cups.
Another sustainable alternative? Consider using a reusable sea sponge tampon. Similar in function to a tampon, these sponges come from sea creatures and are easy to rinse out between cycles.
12. Invest in Reusable Pads
Stop tossing your used pads in the trash each month by transitioning to a more sustainable solution like GladRags instead. Made of organically grown cotton, these reusable pads are easy to wash and last for years. The initial cost may be higher than a box of tampons, but they will save you hundreds of dollars over your entire period.
Using the Facilities
There’s no denying the fact that everyone does it, so why not make visiting the toilet a little less damaging for the planet? You’ll be amazed what difference some subtle changes can make.
13. Limit Your Toilet Paper
If you make a habit of going hard on the toilet paper, be intentional about restricting your toilet paper use. Simply cut out a few squares per flush to begin with and try to gradually increase the amount you cut out. You’ll save both money and your septic system in the process.
14. Install a Low Flush Toilet
Your toilet guzzles up a quarter of your home’s water use, which is more than any other appliance. Installing a low-flow design can save well over five gallons per flush without compromising its overall ability to complete the job.
If you can’t commit to upgrading your commode, make a DIY version by filling a 2-liter bottle with sand or pebbles and placing it in your toilet’s tank to displace some of the water.
15. Consider Going with a Compost Toilet
If you want to reduce your bathroom water use significantly, a composting toilet is the way to go. Modern designs are made to separate solids from liquids and offer utterly odorless operation, ensuring that guests won’t suspect anything is different with your commode until they notice the lack of water within it.
16. Fix a Leaky Toilet
Letting your toilet leak unchecked can waste well over 200 gallons of water each day. Worn out flapper valves are often the problem, and it’s simple to test if yours is to blame. Just drop some food coloring into the toilet tank and watch to see if it eventually shows up in the bowl without flushing. If so, you’ve got evidence of a leak.
17. Rely on Recycled Paper Products
Far too much toilet paper is made from virgin forests, but there are more options than ever to rely on recycled paper instead. Greenpeace states that 400,000 trees could be saved if American families bought just one roll of recycled toilet paper, so do your part by sourcing paper from recycled paper or even tree-free sources altogether.
18. Go High Tech with Your Toilet
You can increase the intelligence of your commode by upgrading it to a smart toilet with water sense technology. These models often offer different flush levels depending on the job, and some even filter used sink water into the toilet tank to reuse it for flushing. Today, the options for sustainability are unlimited if you’re willing to look.
19. Pee in the Shower
You can save gallons of water (and a bit of toilet paper) each day by peeing while in the shower. This simple change in routine might prevent the contamination of hundreds of gallons each year.
20. Consider a Bidet (and DIY Bidets!)
Ready to forgo the toilet paper altogether? The answer might be a French-style bidet. These innovative cleansers squirt a jet of water where you need it, providing a pleasant, hygienic alternative to paper. Best of all, a simple attachment is all you need to turn a standard toilet into a bidet.
Looking for a DIY option? A squirt bottle kept beside the toilet can also do the trick.
21. Buy Products in Bulk
Those sample-sized bottles really add up, so try to do away with them altogether by buying all your shower goods in the biggest sizes possible. Not only will you prevent some plastic production, but this often saves money too.
There’s no need to worry about your oversized containers being inconvenient if you invest in a refillable dispenser for the shower, too.
22. Regulate Your Shower Time
Looking to avoid dry skin while also reducing your heating AND water bill? The answer might be taking shorter showers. Research from the EPA shows that average showers add as much as 204 pounds on toxic emissions to the atmosphere from electric-powered water heaters, so limiting your shower to less than five minutes will make a difference for the planet.
If you’re guilty of zoning out while under the hot water, consider setting up a waterproof shower timer to keep you accountable for shutting off the tap when your time is up.
23. Lather Up (with a Bar of Soap)
What’s not to like about a classic bar of soap? Typically made with far fewer preservatives than liquid body products, solid soap also contains less packaging and can even last longer because of the concentration of their ingredients. You can switch over from your standard products to special body soap bars, facial soaps, and even bar shampoos.
24. Skip a Shampoo or Two
Does the thought of greasy hair have you terrified? Then those shampoo advertisements finally got to you. In truth, lathering up your strands each day strips them of their natural oils, leaving you with a dried-out head and hair even more likely to get oily again as your scalp tries to overcompensate.
So, save some water (and your natural scalp oils) by relying on a dry shampoo several days a week.
25. Replace Those Vinyl Shower Curtains
Standard shower curtains might look harmless, but the vinyl material has a strong plastic odor, and when heated, can release over 100 potentially dangerous chemicals into your bathroom air. You can reduce your exposure risk by opting for PVC-free plastic curtains instead.
26. Go Green with Your Linens
Toweling off in toxic chemicals isn’t ideal, but the harsh solvents used to make many bath towels make this a reality. A better option is to wrap up with organic cotton or bamboo towels that don’t contribute to the millions of pounds of synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides released into the ecosystem each year.
27. Air-Dry Your Hair
Addicted to your hair dryer? Even shortening your drying time by five minutes a day will prevent 45 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. So embrace the ‘wet look,’ or spend a little extra time with a towel over your head to dry your hair more naturally.
Makeup & Moisturizing
Much of the benefit from your bathroom routine comes from the products you apply to your skin afterward. But, do you really want toxic chemicals seeping into your system through the body’s biggest organ?
These tips will make greening up your routine easier than ever.
28. Pick Up Some Coconut Oil
Why waste money on diluted beauty products when you can rely on the active ingredients instead? Coconut oil is prized for its antibacterial and antifungal properties, and the creamy compound can be used to add much-need moisture to your skin and hair.
If you aren’t sure what brand is best, our guide for how to buy coconut oil will help you out.
29. Look Closely at Product Labels
The ingredients in your skincare products might be killing your health. For this reason, it’s smart to do some research on your favorite brands to ensure that they can deliver what they promise.
Three prominent ingredient types to avoid at all costs in your products include the following:
- Parabens: This family of chemicals preserves skincare products to extend their shelf life, but they are also known for mimicking estrogen in the body, upsetting hormone levels, and are even linked to breast cancer.
- “Antibacterial”: these products often include endocrine disruptors like triclosan and triclocarbon that can mess with your reproductive system.
- Phthalates: This group of chemicals can soften and increase the flexibility of plastic components in cosmetic products. However, they are known to be a dangerous endocrine disruptor that can potentially trigger birth defects.
Take a look at our pick of the best safe natural health and beauty products in this article.
30. Look Out for “Greenwashing”
Do you feel that the eco-friendly claims of every beauty product can be believed? Think again. Unlike food manufacturers, cosmetic companies can play fast and loose with labels like “organic” on their products, meaning that the term isn’t necessarily a sign that the entire product complies with organic standards (often, it’s just one ingredient).
Instead, you need to be on the lookout for the best products and brands that completely comply with organic standards. A hint: the USDA organic label is a sure sign it does.
31. Raid Your Kitchen for Skincare Solutions
Your skin is likely crying for the kind of quality ingredients that can easily be found in your kitchen pantry today. Ingredients like honey, chia seeds, aloe vera, tea tree oil and more can be used to support the development of healthy skin and hair, so be willing to get creative and try out some recipes.
Your Bathroom Atmosphere
There’s a lot more going on in your bathroom than the products you put on your body. You can green up the space by following these hacks for lowering the toxicity and improving its overall sustainability.
32. Set Up a Bathroom Recycle Bin
While a standard fixture in many kitchens, few people keep recycling bins in other rooms of their house. Adding a recycling bin to your bathroom will work as a reminder to be intentional about your trash, and you’ll keep countless toilet paper rolls, soap boxes, and other paper containers out of the landfill this way.
It’s also possible to recycle plastic products that are labeled ‘1’ or ‘2’, which often includes shampoo, lotion, and mouthwash bottles. Keep in mind, though, that they need to be thoroughly rinsed out and you usually need to discard the lid.
33. Clean the Air with Green Filters
Most bathrooms are small and poorly ventilated, which can lead to problems if you are relying on toxic cleaners or bath products. Keep the air more pure with a small space air filter designed to pull allergens and other potential irritants from the space.
34. Beautify Your Bathroom & Purify The Air With Plants
Add a houseplant or two to your bathroom to bring a touch of nature inside. Not only does it look beautiful, it will also help to cleanse the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Try an Aloe vera plant, a peace lily, spider plant, or one of these plants that thrive in the humid conditions of the bathroom.
35. Make a DIY Reed Diffuser
The bathroom is the smelliest place in your home, but a fresh and zesty essential oil reed diffuser can offer a long term fragrance that masks bad odors. Simply fill a reed diffuser bottle with water, add a splash of vodka and 20 drops of essential oil of your choice and then add some reed diffuser sticks. Turn the reeds regularly to keep the bathroom smelling fresh and add a few more drops of essential oil when the fragrance dissipates.
Bonus: Cleaning the Bathroom
You want your bathroom to be clean, but do you need to compromise the health of the environment to do so? These hacks for greening up the bathroom lets you have the best of both worlds: a clean AND sustainable space.
36. Rely on Water and White Vinegar
Despite all the bathroom cleaners available today, most jobs can be completed with just a solution of water and white vinegar. Just mix your own by combining nine parts water with one part white vinegar, and you can cleanse your mirrors and counter space as well as an antibacterial product.
37. Stay Away from Scented Cleaners
Their scent might seem natural, but the truth is that the chemical ingredients in these cleaners can react with ozone (especially on smoggy days) to trigger the formation of formaldehyde, a potentially cancer-causing agent. If you want the scent, look for products that deliver it naturally or make your own cleaners with essential oils.
38. Use a DIY Tile Cleaner
The products designed to remove the grunge from your bathroom tiles often contain the same toxins within gasoline: benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde.
You can skip these compounds by making your own tile cleaning paste. Just mix ½ cup of baking soda in a bowl and pour liquid soap slowly over the top until it forms a dough. Scoop some onto a sponge and start to scrub, rinsing off with water afterward.
39. Nix Single-Use Cleaning Products
You might love the convenience of your disposable wipes, single-use mob heads, and even flushable toilet cleaners, but the truth is that most of these products aren’t entirely biodegradable and there’s little research conducted about their effects in the water system. A better idea is to stick to washable clothes and reusable sponges or find products that are completely compostable for when you’re done with them.
40. Keep Your Drains Free of Toxins
Pouring toxic chemicals down the sink does not make them disappear. Instead, it only adds them to the water system.
Avoid pouring any product that contains sulfuric acid or concentrated bleach down the drain and stay away from anything that advertises the presence of “microbeads” or other small pieces of plastic. If you must dispose of these products, pour them into a leak-proof container and put them in the trash instead.
Finding ways to green up your bathroom routine is easier than you think. Use these tips to get started, and you’ll soon be living more sustainably.