The bathroom involves quite a few different specific areas. Like the shower, the toilet and the sink. This post looks at a more sustainable shower.
The whole room is washing things down the drain. Water treatment plants cannot filter out all the chemicals we wash down the drain. So eventually they can end up in our waterways. So we need to consider just what chemicals and materials we are washing away.
As talked about in our Sustainable Laundry post, the things that go down our drains affect the environment.
New Zealand got rid of microbeads in our body wash and face scrubs, this was the epitome of washing microplastics down the drain. With so many natural alternatives, there is no excuse for missing this bathroom item.
These replacements can slowly be made as your plastic items run out. It is not exactly sustainable to throw away perfectly good to use products before they are finished just to shift to a more zero-waste or sustainable bathroom.
This is one switch my hair had some trouble adjusting to at first. Seeing as it has been dyed at least 3 times a year for 13 years, it is very chemical reliant to look healthy. I am now growing out my hair dye to stop using these chemicals and all the plastic they come in. In saying that, travelling with long hair meant I didn’t use any moose, hairspray or similar as I just couldn’t carry it all. This certainly helped to detox my hair and I use no after shower hair products.
My hair naturally frizzes but it’s very greasy at the roots and dry at the bottom. I don’t cut my hair very often (as I do it myself), so dry ends are just a part of that.
Cold Pressed Shampoo bars
These are typically made by home crafters or even by yourself. They are packed full of natural oils and ingredients and have no sodium lauryl sulfate (the thing that makes the bubbles).
I tried these bar shampoo’s for a few weeks and unfortunately, they didn’t suit me as I have naturally very oily hair.
There is a detox phase for this kind of bar, normally two or so weeks where your scalp and hair adjusts to maintaining its own oils. To prevent the build-up of this kind of bar shampoo on your hair an apple cider vinegar can be used.
The great thing is, if the samples aren’t working for your hair, they are great for your body!
Synthetic Detergent Shampoo Bars
So moving to another option where the shampoo bars are essentially the same as the bottled stuff but have no harsh stripping surfactants (like liquid does) and are waterless, the shampoo block.
Personally, this worked the best for me and are reported to work well for most people. I use Ethique St Clements bar as this is designed for oily hair. The brand is Vegan and uses no Palm Oil too!
There is no transition period for this kind of shampoo, as they are similar enough to the liquid kind.
I now only have to lightly shampoo around the roots, every day in Summer and every second day in Winter. No conditioner needed either! As I am only washing the roots, the natural hair oils help to hold down my frizz as I am not washing them away to just replace them with a heavy conditioner.
There is also the no ‘poo option. Literally, no shampoo. A longer adjustment for your hair and scalp is needed. But if you are able to get your hair to this level, you can wash your hair with just water. There are many resources about this option available on the web.
Conclusion for shampoo
The trick to finding the best shampoo would be asking others for their recommendations, looking at reviews and maybe getting a sample pack to try different types.
The synthetic detergent type of block shampoo may seem expensive upfront, but it replaces 3 bottles of shampoo (in Winter this lasts me 5 months, in Summer about 3) so I only need about 3 blocks a year, and no conditioner. The Cold Pressed bars are even cheaper.
Approx. $66 a year for 3 (Ethique) bars, divided by 12 months is $7.33. I was spending about $12 nearly every month on plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner that contained palm oil.
Shampoo bars are great for travelling as well. No liquid to spill into all your other things!
You do need to keep them dry so they last longer, so I remove mine from the shower when not in use.
Body wash vs Soap
Body wash is often in a plastic container with a plastic pump. Also, depending on the brand, tests on animals and is full of pretty bad chemicals.
Essentially, body wash uses sodium laureth sulphate and other chemicals to strip oils away from your skin and wash them down the drain.
You then get out of the shower and have to use moisturiser to help your dry skin (which you actually just caused by scrubbing your body). Also, what you use to scrub the body wash over you plays a part.
A plastic scrubber or pouffe can be easily replaced for a more sustainable option. These pouffes have to end up in a landfill (which may end up in the ocean), as they are not recyclable.
These can be replaced by a soap keeper or a flannel and for those exfoliating showers a jute body scrubber.
Switching to a bar soap is not only much more cost effective ($2 or $3 for bar soap vs $6 to $10 good quality body wash) but plastic free. I personally like the Only Good brand as it is palm oil free and available at supermarkets.
The bar soaps last quite some time in a soap saver, vs it being loose in the shower. I have found mine to last about 6 weeks. As with the shampoo bars, they need to dry out in between uses to last longer, they have a tie so they can drip dry in the shower.
A soap saver means there is no need for any pouffe or flannel. Visit our store to buy your own made by Essenjay Design.
A more natural bathroom
All these bathroom replacements will mean that fewer chemicals are washed down the drain. With less suds from bottled products in the shower as well, there is less soap scum to clean!
We will talk about hot water and cleaning in other posts.