Sustainable Bathroom Swaps


 - By Kailey Bradt

Sustainable Bathroom Swaps


Why are we looking towards the bathroom to make sustainable swaps?

The Facts: The Bathroom Lacks Sustainable Choices

Unfortunately, only 1 in 5 Americans consistently recycle in the bathroom and nearly 40% do not recycle at all. 22% have never even thought to recycle an item for the bathroom.

What’s interesting about recycling, is that we don’t think to do it because we don’t have a place in our bathroom to do it. 90% of packaging is recycled in kitchens, but only 50% in bathrooms. Out of sight, out of mind as they say. So, the first thing you should do is have a dedicated space to recycle your bathroom products. I actually have a cute netted bag I keep hung up next to my sink where I toss all my beauty packaging to be cleaned and properly recycled at a later date.

The reality is that recycling products from the bathroom is not straightforward. Additionally, there are so many different types of products and packaging in the bathroom, that even if you’re recycling some of the goods from your bathroom, it’s likely not actually getting recycled. If you are looking for information on how to recycle your cosmetics, I wrote a three part series specifically on that topic- you can find part 1 here.

The order is reduce -> reuse - recycle for a reason. However, most of the facts around sustainable bathroom choices tend to deal with recycling bathroom packaging. Recycling is actually the last step that should be taken. So let’s talk through some options for reducing bathroom waste.

Beauty Products

There are some great options for reducing waste when it comes to the bathroom. One way you can do this is to look for products that are concentrated with minimal, easy-to-recycle packaging.

Shampoo is 80% water on average. Consider switching to a concentrated formula like Moondust Hair Wash. The same way you’ll find your shampoo formulas are made of mostly water, the same goes for a facial cleanser. Try swapping for a sustainably packaged bar soap like the Herbivore Pink Clay Bar Soap which comes in a recyclable paper box or a travel-friendly stick like the Milk Matcha Cleanser that comes in a recyclable twist-up package. You’ve probably guessed by now your body wash is mostly water too- so consider swapping to a bar here. I personally love the Cannuka Body Bar, which comes in paper packaging for easy recycling. A new discovery of mine has been serum bars - I’ve been using the Bloom Jelly Serum Bar from Dew Mighty. I love a body scrub, but noticed most of them come in a plastic bag. A better option is to opt for a formula in a recyclable container like the Goop G. Tox Body Scrub. In the way of color cosmetics, there are some concentrated options out there. The challenge is always the packaging, so in the case of color I try to look for dual purpose products, like a lip and cheek tint, so I buy less. My favorite discovery on clean, concentrated color cosmetics with a zero-waste packaging solution are Axiology’s Balmies.

Another way to reduce waste in the bathroom is swapping out single-use packaging for refillables. 

Hand soap is something that I feel like I’m constantly refilling, especially in the year of 2020. I was using Method soap in a reusable pump container from CB2, but Method ships their refills in plastic bags + all their soaps have added fragrance. So, in searching for a better option I found Soapply. Soapply not only ships their refills sustainably in recyclable glass, they also offer a concentrated waterless formula. For deodorant, I’ve been loving Myro. You can pick your case color, your scent (they’re always adding new ones) and frequency of refills.


Another way to reduce waste is the bathroom is to shop reusable products!

My favorite swap has been replacing cotton balls with reusable washable cotton pads. I use a toner morning and night, so that’s two cotton balls a day. Most cotton balls actually contain plastic, believe it or not, so unless you’re buying 100% cotton cotton balls they actually contain plastic fibers. The same goes for q-tips- luckily reusable q-tips do exist from Last Object

Another really cool swap I love is this refillable dental floss from Quip (I got the silver metal container). Another great option for refillable dental floss is Cocofloss, which has many options for flavors and are made with clean ingredients like coconut oil.

Moving back to the shower scene, reusable steel safety razors like this one from Oui the People can be used time and time again, only replacing the blade. Traditional plastic razors with a metal blade are near impossible to recycle due to the construction of the different materials.

I feel like I could go on forever about sustainable bathroom swaps, but I’ll leave it here for now. Maybe we’ll do a part two in the future!

Happy swapping!


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Image: Hannah Thornhill for Susteau