An (Almost) Zero Waste Home - The Bathroom

Compromising my personal hygiene, or the way I look, aren’t sacrifices I’m willing to make to decrease my environmental impact. Thankfully there are simple changes and awesome alternative products that can keep us feeling and looking good. Phew.

Simplify that bathroom cupboard

It’s so easy to end up with a huge array of products for different body parts and members of the family. A game changer for me has been to simplify. Each time I run out of a product, my first question is now – “do I need to replace it?” More often than not, I find I can skip it or find a multipurpose alternative. A favourite change has been moving to almond oil. It’s the all over moisturiser for the whole family, my facial moisturiser, eye serum, eye make-up remover, and my husband’s shaving oil. I buy it in bulk once a year and have saved a heap of time, money and packaging.

Check what products are made from

  • Ingredients: When choosing products, I always go for items with a simple list of ingredients that are things I understand – you can read more about my take on natural ingredients and reducing your body’s toxic load here.
  • Materials:  In terms of waste, I think about what is going to happen to items at the end of their useful life. Switching to compostable dental floss, bamboo cotton buds, and a wooden hairbrush means they can end up in the worm farm or compost bin rather than the landfill.

Think about how to reduce packaging

Product packaging is a biggie when it comes to waste in the bathroom. Here are some options to consider.

  • Package free: I always look for products with minimal packaging or none at all. More and more products are now available in bar form, from the humble soap to shampoo and conditioner, moisturiser and self-tan bars.  Essentially, it’s removing the water from products and giving you only the concentrated ingredients – dramatically reducing the need for excess packaging.
  • Making products yourself is also a great way to skip the packaging. It doesn’t have to be complex – I just add used coffee grinds to almond oil for a simple face scrub, and use cocoa powder in place of face bronzer.
  • Refilling: Reusing empty containers is an awesome way to reduce packaging. Visit your local bulk store and refill products like ecostore shampoo, conditioner, soap and body wash.
  • Reducing: Buying things in bulk is a really simple step to reducing the amount of packaging coming in to your home. Something as simple as buying the largest bottle of shampoo or double length toilet paper will reduce the overall amount of plastic.
  • Recyclability: When you do source packaged products, consider if the packaging is recyclable in your area.

Save waste and money with reusables

Switching disposable products for reusable options is a really simple way to reduce waste and a smart way to save money.

Both my husband and I have made the switch to safety razors where the only thing to replace is the metal blade, meaning no more throwaway plastic razors, blades or packaging.  Reusable pads, period underwear and menstrual cups are now super common and are great options when it comes to waste free periods. If you use make-up remover pads, there are amazing washable crocheted alternatives out there.

Keep getting ideas and inspiration

The zero-waste movement means there are more and more cool people coming up with cool products and solutions. For lots of ideas, inspiration and conversation, join the Zero waste in NZ! Facebook page and use the search function.

Small changes, big impact.


This is part 4 in our 6-part monthly series by behaviour changer Nic Turner of Mainstream Green. Stay tuned for the next post where Nic shares easy changes to reduce waste when it comes to laundry and cleaning.