Zero waste can seem like an elite, ableist idea full of promise yet unattainable in today’s fast paced life. Since we currently operate in a linear economy where things are specifically manufactured to eventually end up in a landfill (as opposed to a circular one where things are re-used, recycled, up cycled and repaired indefinitely), its easy to get frustrated and give up on trying to change all together. Our family has had our ups and downs of moving towards a more waste free life. I realized that 1. everybody in your house needs to be on board with the changes in order to make the most meaningful change, and 2. every change you can make, no matter how small, adds up over time. Please don’t give up on even starting just because it seems way too challenging. Its really not, and its SO rewarding to live in alignment with your values and the earth. So, I thought it would be a good idea to try to touch on areas of our life and home, one by one, and show you how we easily have shifted to better alternatives. A chunk at a time. Here’s my zero waste bathroom cupboard essentials.
1.Bamboo toothbrush- Did you know that about 1 BILLION plastic toothbrushes are tossed into the landfill (aka our beautiful earth) every year just in the US? That’s 50 million pounds of just toothbrushes! There are so many bamboo toothbrushes on the market that have compostable handles. We currently use the brush with bamboo toothbrush which comes in compostable/recyclable packaging.
2. Homemade toothpaste- We’ve been doing this for years and loving it. Its easy, cheap, works well (approved by our family dentist!) and I don’t have to worry about my kids accidentally swallowing some because its all edible ingredients. Here’s our recipe: 1/3c melted coconut oil + 1/2c baking soda + 1T stevia + 2T bentonite clay + 40 drops of peppermint essential oil (or a gum health essential oil blend). You can adjust to your preferences of consistency, sweetness, flavor etc. You can leave out the clay if you want- it has minerals and detoxifying properties which is why I use it. You can also sub xylitol for the stevia for even more cavity fighting power.
3. Floss in a refillable, recyclable container- I buy our floss from a small US company called Dental Lace that sells floss in a small glass vial with a metal lid, and separate refill spools. All recyclable and compostable packaging. The floss itself is 100% silk, so it is compostable. You can also pull silk threads from a thrifted or old silk scarf to floss with, a la Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home . Most conventional floss is coated with Teflon-like chemicals that make it glide easier between your teeth. These chemicals end up in your mouth and therefore your body. Plus, when you throw the floss away, those chemicals end up making their way into waterways and soil!
4. Copper tongue scraper- I love my tongue scraper. It makes my mouth way fresher. I like to use a copper one because the ones at the store usually have plastic handles, and copper is bacteria resistant. Pick one like this up from Etsy and nicely request no plastic packaging in the note to your seller.
5. Homemade mouthwash- Same reasons as homemade toothpaste, but also because conventional mouthwashes are loaded with crappy ingredients, dyes, alcohol, chemical agents, etc. One time I was using a Crest brand mouthwash and it STAINED MY TEETH GRAY over time!!!!! I had to have it all scraped and polished off by the dentist. He said chemicals in mouthwash can interact with your own personal strain of oral bacteria to cause this staining sometime. UGH. After that I started making my own. Just 500 ml distilled water + 30 drops peppermint oil and 15 drops clove essential oil , stored in amber colored glass bottle – I use an old kombucha bottle.
6. Safety razor- aka how people used to shave before Gillette and other ripoff companies started the myth of a “smoother” shave with ridiculous amounts of expensive blades, creams, and other shaving accoutrements. I bought ours (my husband and I share one) from Amazon about 7 years ago, along with a pack of 100 (!!) blades. This cost us 42 dollars and we still haven’t used up all the blades. I was scared to use it at first but it operates just like any other razor. Easy and shaves close. Here’s the razor and here’s the blades.
7. Toilet paper- TMI? Probably, but it is a real issue that we all have to deal with. Normally, TP comes all packaged up in a giant plastic wrap. I bought a bidet from Amazon years ago and so I use that + cloth wipes (left over from when my son was a baby and we used them instead of disposable wipes) for #1. For #2, I use actual TP, which I buy in bulk at my local coop. I buy the kind that comes individually wrapped in paper, like this and it all comes in a large recyclable/reusuable paper box. Since I buy a case of it at a time, I get a 15% off discount, too.