It’s 2021, and environmentalism isn’t just trendy, it’s necessary. 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record with record-breaking heat in nations across the world, a deadly wildfire season in Australia and the west coast of the United States, a record-breaking hurricane season in the Atlantic and deadly floods worldwide. Our planet is in a dire state, and while no one individual is going to be able to fix it we can all do our part. Mass movements and environmental policy coming out of DC is what’s going to solve this climate crisis, but your individual decisions do make a difference, and at the very least can absolve some guilt, so why not?
We’re not saying you immediately need to become entirely zero waste and compost all food scraps, live on a solar-powered farm and eat entirely off land you’ve tended yourself. I mean, that would be stellar, but I’m talking about little habits every day we can all instill in our routines that do make a difference. These habits could include using eco-friendly cleaning products or installing a compost tumbler in the backyard. Or, it could be going plastic-free in one room in your house.
Plastic is a major culprit in the environmental footprint of most households. It is now believed there are 5.25 billion plastic pieces floating in our planet’s oceans, and of that amount, 269,000 tons of it float on the surface. There have now been microplastics found in every corner of the ocean, even the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench. Over 40% of expelled plastic comes from consumer product packaging, and around 80 billion plastic bottles thrown out each year come from shampoo and conditioner alone. Yikes. Turns out the bathroom can make a huge difference in our plastic use, so we’re going to start there. This guide is going to be a part of a series of plastic-free guides, so welcome to the first of many eco-manuals for ridding yourself of plastic guilt. The world is hard enough as it is, don’t let your toothbrush weigh you down.
Plastic-free might sound like a big commitment, but there are actually plenty of products out there, and more being created all the time, that are free of all forms of plastic. These alternatives include things we all use every day to keep our bathrooms and ourselves clean — like cleaning sprays, shampoo, conditioner, dental floss and even toilet bowl cleaning supplies. I’ve included, believe it or not, a plastic-free version of each of these products below. I’ve gone head to toe and given you an alternative for every step in your potential hygiene routine from your hairbrush and dental floss to your body wash and razor. It’s possible to look good and live your most eco-conscious life at the same time. Here’s how to go plastic-free in the bathroom.
Part I: Cleaning Products
We’ve got a whole piece on eco-friendly cleaning products you should check out, but here are some products specific to the cleaning needs of the bathroom to get you to a plastic-free space.
1. Blueland Bathroom Refill Packs
Blueland is an excellent green cleaning resource, they make tablets you dissolve in water that create cleaning solution, and they’re super simple to use with glass bottles ridding you of any plastic content. These bathroom tablets are designed for use on porcelain toilets, tubs, sinks and tiles and come shipped in compostable packaging. You only need to buy a glass bottle once (and I’ve linked one below) and these tablets cost $2 or less, so you’re not only saving the planet but some change in the process.
2. Blueland Multi-Surface Refill Packs
This cleaning solution from Blueland is made for surfaces of all kinds ranging from tile to countertops, stone and even wood. If you’ve got any or all of these materials in your bathroom this might be a better fit. Each of these tablets make 24 ounces of cleaner and the solution has a fresh lemon scent that’ll leave your space smelling fresh. Drop these tablets into a glass bottle and you’ve got yourself a plastic-free cleaning routine.
3. Glass Spray Bottle
This is a simple 16oz. glass spray bottle that’s available on Amazon. It’s multi-functional, eco-friendly and the dark amber color of the outside provides some UV protection against degradation of the materials inside. It comes in three different colors, and is made to be reusable. While the straw inside, pump and nozzle are all made of plastic — the reusability makes this an environmental choice, and a plastic-free version of these components has yet to be invented. The pack also comes with a nozzle to make refilling easy.
4. Natural Coconut Fiber Toilet Brush
Toilet brushes are typically made of plastic handles and plastic bristles, but not this one! It’s made of natural coconut fiber and a wooden handle, with a cotton lanyard so it’s easy to hang for drying. The angled twist of the bristles is perfectly designed to fit under the rim, and the coconut fibers are durable and won’t damage your toilet.
5. Primode 100% Compostable Trash Bags
These compostable trash liners are perfect for using in your metallic or wooden basket bathroom trash can. Each one has a capacity of three gallons so the capacity is no less, and they meet all BPI requirements for compostability. They’re strong, durable and entirely made from plants and vegetables. This switch from plastic is a no-brainer.
6. OsoCozy Flannel Reusable Cleaning Wipes
Technically these are made for using on baby’s bottoms, but they can just as easily be used to clean your bathroom. If you’re a cleaning wipes person, you can replace the plastic container those normally come in, and the harmful chemicals that come in their solutions, with these reusable wipes and the cleaning solution above. These are made of cotton flannel so they’re soft and durable, and the 8″x8″ dimensions are perfect for bathroom cleansing.
Part II: Shower and Bath Products
Whether you’re a shower, bath or hybrid person — chances are you use some plastic in your daily hygiene routine. Whether it’s the container your favorite shampoo comes in or what your loofah/ shower brush is made of, plastic is a part of the cleansing process for most. It doesn’t have to be! Here are some of my favorite plastic-free shower alternatives.
7. Ethique Eco-Friendly Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
Ethique is a great plastic-free hygiene brand that makes 100% sustainable, ethically-sourced products that are better for you and for the planet. It’s an entirely zero waste beauty brand that makes super concentrated bars that each equal a bottle of a typical haircare product. These shampoo and conditioner bars are suitable for all hair types and are all plant-based.
8. The Earthling Co. Shampoo Bars
The Earthling Co. is another eco-friendly beauty brand that’s worth looking into if you’re passionate about this stuff. These shampoo bars are similar to the ones above in that they’re also made with a super-concentrated formula and come in plastic-free packaging. They contain plant-based ingredients, are scented with natural essential oils and boost vitamins in your hair as they cleanse. The bars contain no parabens, fillers or silicones, and are suitable for all hair types.
9. Ethique Eco-Friendly Dandruff Shampoo
If you suffer from dandruff you don’t have to also suffer from plastic-ridden guilt. This shampoo bar is made specifically to target and ease itchy scalps with Heali kiwi. The formula is vegan, pH balanced, plant-based and 100% compostable. It’s one of the most eco-friendly choices you can make, and it’ll soothe your scalp in the process.
10. Dr. Squatch Men’s Soap Variety Pack
The truth is, the best plastic-free alternative for body wash is a body soap bar. As long as the ingredient list doesn’t contain abhorrent amounts of plastic or non-compostable materials you should be good to go. Dr. Squatch is a favorite at Spy for its men’s soap bars that are made without parabens, harsh chemicals and other unnecessary junk. This variety pack comes with three scents — pine tar, cedar citrus and gold moss. All perfectly manly, all eco-friendly.
11. Ethique Bodywash Bar
I can’t help but include another Ethique product in this list — they’re too good! This body wash bar is entirely plastic-free, vegan, plant-based and compostable. It’s made with lavender and peppermint scents and saves one plastic bottle per bar as well as .3 liters of water. Win-win.
12. Hey Humans Lavender Vanilla Body Wash
Hey Humans is Jada Pinkett Smith’s brand new beauty line at Target that’s vegan, cruelty-free and made with formulas free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates and silicones. The packaging is 99% plastic-free and made of infinitely recyclable aluminum, and the body wash inside is naturally hydrating, replenishing and cleansing. The cleansing formula is enriched with jojoba seed oil and other essential oils, and it’s less than $6.00. An environmental bargain.
13. Bathing Culture Refillable Mind and Body Wash
Bathing Culture is another great company to use for all-natural beauty products. This all-purpose soap smells really great (I’ve used it myself) and comes in a 16 oz. reusable, refillable glass bottle. The formula inside is certified organic and the bottle is available with a plastic pump or a metal cap if you prefer to go entirely plastic-free. The formula contains no fillers and has a scent evocative of the forests of Redwood trees in Northern California. The ingredients are simple and all easy to pronounce, and you can easily refill your bottle at any of their retailers nationwide.
14. Hey Humans Lavender Vanilla Body Lotion
Another product from Smith’s new line, this is the nourishing body lotion that’s designed for dry, combination and normal skin types. It’s also made with a vegan, clean and cruelty-free formula that’s delivered in 99% plastic-free packaging. All of the products from the brand are made with gender-neutral scents that respect the planet’s natural resources. This all-natural body lotion is made with comforting vanilla and lavender as well as rosemary, shea butter, aloe vera and vitamin E.
15. Bamboo Handle Razor
A majority of disposable and electric razors contain some element of plastic, except for this one. It’s made with a bamboo handle and metal components around the head, blades and handle. The textured bamboo handle isn’t just great from an environmental perspective, it also offers an easy grip. The razor also has a double edge design so you get a smooth shave, even on sensitive and delicate skin.
16. Konjac Biodegradable Body Sponge
This body sponge is eco-friendly and entirely plastic-free, unlike most standard loofahs. The Konjac root, which it’s made of instead of plastic, is rich in vitamins A, B12, C, D and E, as well as minerals like copper, iron, zinc and magnesium. It’s also an effective sponge for cleansing, and good for sensitive, acne-prone skin.
Part III: Daily Hygiene Products
Whether you just stick to the toothbrush, floss and face wash basics or you’ve got a more intensive daily hygiene routine — you probably interact with one or two plastic products in the process. Thankfully, there are plenty of plastic-free alternatives for most of these products that are widely available on Amazon. Some of them are more expensive than their plastic counterparts, but you’re also paying for not having to replace disposable versions and buy new ones. Environmentalism = longevity, and I’m here for it.
17. hello Antiplaque Whitening Toothpaste Tablets
Toothpaste tablets are the eco-friendly, plastic-free alternative that remove the need for a plastic toothpaste tube. Toothpaste tabs form a paste after you chew them and then work just like any other toothpaste when combined with water and a brush. These tabs from hello have a nice peppermint flavor and come in a plastic-free reusable tin. You just buy refillable packs of the tablets and eliminate the need for plastic in your dental routine.
18. Bite Toothpaste Bits
Bite specializes in making toothpaste bits, and these come with a fresh mint flavor in a refillable glass jar. They offer a subscription so you’ll always have a fresh supply, and each tablet is made with clean, vegan-friendly ingredients.
19. Hey Humans Fluoride Toothpaste
Smith’s line also includes a natural toothpaste fortified with fluoride whitening power. All of the ingredients are naturally-derived, clean, vegan and cruelty-free. The toothpaste is triclosan-free, peroxide-free, anticavity, anti-tartar and anti-plaque. The toothpaste also contains Everice technology for fresh breath all day long, and contains hydrating squalane and menthol for a refreshing shine. It’s free of artificial sweeteners and the tube is made from infinitely recyclable aluminum.
20. Bite Teeth Whitening Gel
This is the first and only teeth whitening system that’s entirely plastic-free, and comes from Bite, the same company that makes the toothpaste bits above. The peroxide-based formula is entirely vegan, gentle enough to not irritate sensitive teeth, but still strong enough to brighten and whiten. The kit comes with a whitening serum and applicator in a glass jar. You apply the serum to dry teeth, let it sit for two minutes and then rinse. You get a brighter smile guarantee in 14 days or your money back with your purchase.
21. LEAFICO Bamboo Toothbrush
It’s an everyday item we all use, and it’s typically made of plastic — in both its disposable and reusable electric version. This one has an eco-friendly bamboo handle that’s ergonomically-designed for an easy grip as well as charcoal-infused bristles, that both replace plastic and provide a whitening element. This kit also comes with eco-friendly floss and a metal tongue scraper for keeping your entire mouth healthy.
22. Treebird Eco Dental Compostable Floss
This eco floss comes in a glass container, eliminating the plastic component in this daily hygiene item. The silk floss comes in a spool that’s 33 yards long, and the glass container is refillable and meant to be reused. The packaging it comes in is made of Kraft paper that can be immediately composted upon arrival, and you can subscribe to get refills delivered to you easily on Amazon.
23. Hey Humans Natural Deodorant
Smith’s line at Target also includes a natural deodorant, made aluminum-free and without silicones or parabens. The deodorant’s formula is enriched with essential oils for a pleasant scent and other upcycled ingredients. The packaging is made of recycled paper and is 99% plastic-free. The scent is gender-neutral and it’s been dermatologist-tested as suitable for all skin types. It glides on smoothly, and is designed for all-day, comprehensive odor protection.
24. Myro Deodorant
This natural deodorant comes in a plastic container, but it’s reusable and refillable, so you save on plastic by not buying an entirely new plastic container every time. You choose the color of your case, the scent of the fill and your plan for how often you receive a new one. The case itself is durable, ready for travel and super aesthetically-pleasing. I’ve personally tried this natural deodorant and love it — the scent was light but noticeable, and the deodorant went on smoothly. I’d recommend this for someone who’s ready to cut down on their plastic usage, but perhaps isn’t ready to quit full turkey.
25. Blueland Hand Soap Refill Packs
Hand soap is another bathroom necessity that often comes in a plastic container. These hand soap tablets are from Blueland, our favorite when it comes to eco-friendly, plastic-free cleaning products. Drop one of these into a glass hand soap dispenser with some water and you’re in business. The tablets come in three different scents — Iris Agave, Perrine Lemon and Lavender Eucalyptus, or you can grab a variety pack that includes all three.
26. Glass Pint Jar Soap Dispenser
Speaking of plastic-free hand soap dispensers, this glass one has a matte black stainless steel top and a rustproof pump. It’s designed to be used for liquid hand soap, and each one can hold 16 ounces of liquid. The tops of these bottles are also corrosion-resistant, and the glass is lead-free, food safe and safe for use with essential oils, which eco-friendly hand soaps tend to contain.
27. Ethique Eco-Friendly Face Cleansing Bar
Face wash is another key component to a healthy, well-rounded hygienic routine, and to glowing skin. There’s no need to sacrifice your minimal-waste lifestyle with this face cleansing bar from, you guessed it, Ethique. The “In Your Face” bar is entirely vegan and plastic-free just like their other products and is 100% compostable. Scrub away that oil, grime and dirt without adding plastic to the equation.
28. Biodegradable Elastic Hair Ties
If you’re rocking a longer flow post-quarantine and need some hair ties without plastic elastic inside, these hair ties are a great option. They’re completely biodegradable, and made of organic cotton and natural rubber. They come in 100% compostable, recyclable packaging and offer an ouchless, no-slip hold for all hair types.
29. Bekind Plastic-Free Hairbrush Set
Hairbrushes and combs are a frequently-used and necessary part of any beauty routine, they’re also almost always made with plastic. This set comes with four hair tools including a brush and three combs. The brush has wooden bristles built in that are not only better for the planet but better for your hair as well. The wood reduces static, detangles and defrizzes as well. All of the tools are suitable for all hair types, and the rounded bristles help to distribute oil across your scalp evenly.
30. Lucky Teeth Organic Mouthwash
This mouthwash from Lucky Teeth comes in a zero waste 16 oz. glass bottle with a small bamboo cup for portioning out the correct amount. It’s made with food-grade peroxide that whitens teeth, heals gums and refreshes the mouth in general. The liquid itself is cruelty-free, vegan and free of sugars, alcohol, fluoride and glycerine. It also contains essential oils for targeting gum disease, bleeding, sensitivity and all types of inflammation.
31. Raw Elements Natural Sunscreen
Spring and summer are on their way, and no matter what season it is you should be wearing sunscreen for protection. This sunscreen from Raw Elements is non-nano zinc oxide that’s 95% organic, water-resistant, reef-safe, cruelty-free and SPF 30+. It comes in a metal reusable tin, rather than a plastic container, and the formula is certified organic.
32. PAPR All-Natural Deodorant in Biodegradable Packaging
The last piece of the puzzle is deodorant. Skip the plastic container and harmful chemicals seeping in through pores and go for this all-natural version. It comes in biodegradable packaging and is entirely aluminum-free. All-natural deodorant is hit or miss depending on some people’s bodies, so for this one I say go with what you’re comfortable with. But, I will say this formula was developed over the course of two years and includes safe ingredients aimed at long-term protection like coconut oil, tapioca starch, and lemongrass. The company that makes the deodorant is also certified in climate neutral products and is an entirely carbon-neutral company, so you know this product is coming from environmental overachievers.
33. The Last Swab Q-Tip Alternative
Like plastic straws, Q-tips and similar cotton swabs are terrible for the environment. Just think about how many little plastic tubs are out there in our waterways right now. If you use Q-tips for cleaning your ears, then make the switch to The Last Swab, a washable silicone brush that can be used to clean out all your body’s gross nooks and crannies — without hurting any sea turtles.