• Organize by Flo

27 Ways To Organize Your Bathroom To Be More Zero Waste

Updated: Mar 4

Written By Marybeth Welty of Sustainable Lifestyle Solutions as part of our Organizing Blog Collab.

So many people think that organizing always implies decluttering and organizing the items you have and use in your current life.

Don’t get me wrong, decluttering and organizing your items into your space more efficiently is incredibly important for our health and wellness presently and long term, and is a big part of what organizers do.

What is sustainable organizing?

When we think about sustainable living and how to make the transition into living with less of an impact we need to be able to organize ourselves and create a plan for how we are going to do that.

This post will help you begin planning the items and practices within your bathroom you can replace or change as you transition into living more environmentally friendly.

How do we choose what to buy?

When we want to make more sustainable purchases there are different factors we need to take into consideration. Some important environmentally friendly considerations we use are:

Reducing plastic

Plastic is often not recycled and ends up in landfills or, if sent to a recycling facility, it is shipped overseas to third world countries for them to deal with. They often do not have the means, equipment, or facilities to sustainably process the items for new materials, so only a small percentage of the plastic items we purchase actually gets recycled. The rest end up in landfill. 💔

Reducing waste

If we want to keep plastic out of the recycling bin and our landfills it’s often best to find products which come in reusable packaging like glass or no packaging at all. If an item comes in glass this allows for repurposing and reuse of the container for other things, and eliminating the need to buy something new for that new purpose.

Hard plastic is not the only thing cluttering up our recycling centres and landfills though. Unless your municipality has a soft plastic recycling program (like the plastic that covers toilet paper roll packs or the plastic around a bag of cotton balls) this plastic will also go in the garbage. Any paper with shiny or glittery flecks in it (think holiday/birthday wrapping paper) cannot be recycled so also inevitably ends up in the landfill. 👎🏻

Refillable Containers

There are many refill stores popping up all over North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. These stores allow for you to take your own container (you could actually use a plastic container if you wanted, doesn’t necessarily have to be glass) to refill your products. Things like shampoo, conditioner, hair products, body wash, toothpaste, floss, toilet paper, face cleansers, lotions/moisturizers, shaving creams, bath salts and oils are all products that can be refilled. Every time you refill one of these products instead of buying one in a brand new container, that is one less container that will end up in the landfill, in some country overseas, or in the ocean. 👏🏻

Buying Local

Supporting your local economy is a great way to support the sustainability and growth of your town and support the individual business owners and their families who rely on that work for their wellbeing. If they can make more money then they have more money to spend on other services, restaurants, events, products, and activities in the town as well. Everyone helps everyone and creates a beautiful, harmonious cycle of living and sustainable growth for all.

Sustainably Organizing Your bathroom, The 1st Step…

It’s SUPER important that when we decide to start making the transition to becoming more environmentally friendly and working towards Zero Waste that the first step is to USE UP ALL OF THE PRODUCTS YOU ALREADY HAVE FIRST. For example, if you would like to switch over to a refillable shampoo/conditioner make sure you use up all of the shampoo and conditioner you already have in your bathroom. If you don’t want to use it or don’t like it then see if you can pass it on to someone that may want to use the rest of it. Try your best NOT TO THROW IT AWAY. When you flush products down the drain you are putting those chemicals into the water system. We need to be very cautious about what we put down our drains so please try to avoid rinsing or flushing anything down your drain if you can help it.

Zero Waste Bathroom Products and Ideas

When you are finally ready to start transitioning, here are some items we recommend switching over to from a conventional, disposable, or plastic version to a more environmentally friendly option. Please note: We are not endorsed by any of the brands or products listed below and encourage everyone to do research on the brands or styles that suit them best.

Body Care:

  • Use bar soap instead of shower gel. Why? In regards to sustainability bar soap is much more environmentally friendly than any shower gel. Shower gels and body washes often contain microplastics. You will see from this article that microplastics are products that typically have exfoliants in it that do not dissolve in water but stay in their solid form and are washed down the drain. This water then ends up in our rivers and oceans polluting the waters and poisoning our wildlife. If you eat fish or seafood you have very likely ingested microplastics because they have ingested it once it appears in their aquatic home environment. 😝 Bar soaps are perfect and even better when you can get ones with either a recyclable paper wrapping or no wrapping at all. (It’s soap after all so you will wash off the top layers when you use it which cleans the surface.) Get yourself a beautiful, locally made soap dish to display your beautiful, locally made or homemade soaps in the shower and by the sink.

Use your hands or natural materials instead of a plastic loofah. Plastic loofahs or poufs are, of course, made of plastic and cannot decompose or be recycled and therefore inevitably end up in the landfill. Wildlife can become tangled in them and they can choke them. Our hands actually provide a gentle exfoliation for the skin and are perfectly suited to washing our bodies. If you would like to use something to “scrub” with then wooden brushes, woven jute, or natural loofahs are much more environmentally friendly. The best way to dispose of a plastic loofah is to cut up the woven plastic into many pieces and then sadly put it in the garbage.


Facial Care:

  • Use refillable containers when possible.

Refillable containers are fantastic for face cleanser/milk, toner, and moisturizers. If you must use a body wash or shower gel then using a reusable container is ideal for storing these things. Finding a local refill store where you can refill these products is required. NOTE: Having a beautiful container and decanting products from store bought plastic containers into the pretty one defeats the purpose of trying to be more environmentally friendly. You are still purchasing a container that hopefully can be recycled but often will have to end up in the landfill, as many facial product containers do.

  • No microbeads As mentioned above, please don’t use products with microbeads. These are tiny pieces of plastic that do not get dissovlved in water and therefore end up in our waterways. An earth-friendly exfoliant that I love is used coffee grounds. I’ve used this on my face and body. It leaves a nice bronzing effect for the day which is nice if you were to use it before going to an event.

  • Cloth makeup removers/wipes Swap out cotton balls and cotton makeup wipes with reusable cloth pads. You can make these yourself very easily with leftover soft cotton fabric or buy some made from sustainable materials.

  • Reusable cotton swabs

Similarly as cotton balls, you can replace your cotton swabs with reusable swabs. BONUS: They work better for makeup application than regular cotton swabs too.


Menstruation:

  • Cloth pads and menstrual cups Whether you prefer pads or tampons during your cycle, cloth pads and menstral cups are the perfect swap for those disposable products. Cloth pads can be soaked in cold water and washed with a probiotic soap to clear away any stains. Menstrual cups can be boiled to sanitize. Regular pads are mostly plastic and cannot be reused, recycled, or composted and therefore end up in landfill, just like disposable diapers/nappies. Tampons are often flushed down the toilet which then flood our drainage systems and do not decompose. My fav reusable pads are Hannah Pads which are made in Canada and have many cute patterns. Divacup is probably one of the most used menstrual cups and has been around the longest, I believe. There are a ton of other companies though so have a look at what is most local and resonates with you.

  • Period underwear Becoming more popular are period underwear. Great for lighter cycles or fantastic to use as regular underwear with a pad or menstrual cup in case of leakages or shifting of the pad. There are so many styles available now, even ones that make you feel sexy despite this time of the month. I just started using these and I LOVE them. I feel so much more secure knowing I have them as a backup in case my bleeding goes rogue. Some popular brands are Thinx, Knix, Aisle, and so many more with a ton of different styles for everyone who menstruates.

Toilet Use:

  • Bidet with hand towels Girl, if you do not use a bidet yet you MUST. You will feel instantly 100x cleaner all day every day. There are styles which can clip onto your toilet seat or replace your toilet seat altogether. Tushy is a popular brand with the silliest marketing ads. I personally have this bidet wand which I love. It has varying pressures and a hose long enough to allow me to spray the bathtub or shower when I am cleaning. You can dry yourself with toilet paper after using the bidet or your best earth-friendly option is to use washable hand towels after each use. I recommend not reusing or sharing towels for risk of yeast infections and other unpleasantries. You can make your own hand towels or buy some made from sustainable fabrics (bamboo, cotton, hemp, etc.). Trust me, your booty will be SO grateful.

  • Recycled toilet paper wrapped in paper

If you are going to use toilet paper then please discontinue purchasing the kind wrapped in plastic. Opt for TP made from recycled paper and wrapped in paper. You can buy large quantities for good prices from places like Staples (oddly enough) which come in a cardboard box and are individually wrapped in paper.

Hair Care:

  • Refillable containers of shampoo/conditioners/hair products Refillable containers are also awesome for shampoo, conditioners, and hair products. Just like with facial products, finding a local refill store where you can refill these products is required. NOTE: Same as before, having a beautiful container and decanting products from store bought plastic containers into the pretty one defeats the purpose of trying to be more environmentally friendly. You are still purchasing a container that hopefully can be recycled but often will have to end up in the landfill, as many hair care product containers do.

  • Shampoo and conditioner bars If you don’t have a refill store close by, shampoo and conditioner bars are a great zero waste alternative. They come in all different kinds of scents and for every different type of hair.

  • Combs and brushes Everyone uses a comb and/or brush and “conventional” combs/brushes are usually made of non-recyclable plastic. TRANSLATION: They always end up in the landfill. If we all converted to natural materials to detangle and style our hair that would be a LOT of plastic we can keep out of the garbage.

Dental Hygeine:

  • Wooden Toothbrushes

Just like hair brushes, standard toothbrushes have plastic handles and bristles. Swap them out for wooden brushes with soft, natural bristles.

  • Toothpaste tabs or powder Toothpaste tubes are not typically recyclable. A zero waste option are toothpaste tabs and power. These products can be mixed with water to create a paste for which you use to brush.

  • Silk floss or waterpik Typical dental floss is basically a string of plastic that often gets wrapped around wildlife since it ends up in the landfill or in the ocean. A natural, renewable material that can be substituted is silk. Another option is the Waterpik which flushes out between the teeth and the gums with water pressure. Even though this will require purchasing a machine that is essentially made of plastic, it will eliminate the need for floss all together.

Hair Care:

  • Refillable containers of shampoo/conditioners/hair products Refillable containers are also awesome for shampoo, conditioners, and hair products. Just like with facial products, finding a local refill store where you can refill these products is required. NOTE: Same as before, having a beautiful container and decanting products from store bought plastic containers into the pretty one defeats the purpose of trying to be more environmentally friendly. You are still purchasing a container that hopefully can be recycled but often will have to end up in the landfill, as many hair care product containers do.

  • Shampoo and conditioner bars If you don’t have a refill store close by, shampoo and conditioner bars are a great zero waste alternative. They come in all different kinds of scents and for every different type of hair.

  • Combs and brushes Everyone uses a comb and/or brush and “conventional” combs/brushes are usually made of non-recyclable plastic. TRANSLATION: They always end up in the landfill. If we all converted to natural materials to detangle and style our hair that would be a LOT of plastic we can keep out of the garbage.

Dental Hygeine:

  • Wooden Toothbrushes

Just like hair brushes, standard toothbrushes have plastic handles and bristles. Swap them out for wooden brushes with soft, natural bristles.

  • Toothpaste tabs or powder Toothpaste tubes are not typically recyclable. A zero waste option are toothpaste tabs and power. These products can be mixed with water to create a paste for which you use to brush.

  • Silk floss or waterpik Typical dental floss is basically a string of plastic that often gets wrapped around wildlife since it ends up in the landfill or in the ocean. A natural, renewable material that can be substituted is silk. Another option is the Waterpik which flushes out between the teeth and the gums with water pressure. Even though this will require purchasing a machine that is essentially made of plastic, it will eliminate the need for floss all together.


Eye Care:

  • Refillable eye glass cleaner Did you know you can get eye glass cleaner refilled? It’s true. The last time I was at the eye doctor they gave me a spritzer of eye glass cleaner and said you can come in to refill it for free. Genius! I’m sure there are other eye doctors around that will do the same. Call yours and ask them if that’s something they offer so you can save money and packaging.

  • Contacts recycling If you didn’t know about contacts recycling well, I have exciting news for you! Bausch + Lomb partners with Terra Cycle and collects contacts and the packages they come in for recycling so they don’t end up in the landfill. If you go to the website, you can search for a recycling facility in your area.

  • Glasses recycling Most eye doctors will take your old glasses to recycle. The frames are sent to third world countries where they can be reused by those with lower income.

Shaving:

  • Safety razor, yes, even for women Safety razors have been used since 1880 and are a time tested staple to grooming unwanted hair. Disposable razors with cartridges as we know them today came into the picture in the 1960s. Safety razors last much longer than other types of razors with removable cartridges and are metal, not plastic. Safety razor blades can be recycled by places which accept them. They make them with many different colours and finishes, even for women. My fav is the rose gold one in the picture on the left by Lisse Shave.

  • Alternatives to shaving cream Instead of buying the metal container of shaving cream, two environmentally friendly options are: use hair conditioner, a conditioner bar, or a shaving cream bar. Shaving cream bars will lather really well and protect the area you’re shaving. Conditioner and conditioner bars coat and nourish the area and soften the hair and pores which makes it easier to shave off the hair and not strip your skin.

Bath Time:

  • Refill jars of epsom salts Bubble bath is similar to shower gel or body wash and often contains microplastics. Epsom salts are relaxing for the muscles and the body AND friendly for the environment. (yesssssss!) If you have a refill store close to you, you could use a large glass jar and refill it with Epsom salts to use in your bath.

  • Essential oils Instead of using bubble bath, if you would like to have scent in your bath you could consider using a couple drops of essential oils. Make sure you do not use any that are irritating to your skin (we are all different). Only 2-3 drops are needed as the oils are very concentrated. My go-to combination is 2 drops of lavender and 1 drop of eucalyptus. Smells so nice.

  • Rose/lavender petals Fresh or dried lavender or rose petals can be a lovely addition to your bath and add an even deeper scent profile to your mix. If you have reusable tea bags or a tea ball, they are perfect for the lavender petals which can otherwise wash down the drain when you drain the bath, which will then back up your plumbing.

  • Beeswax or soy candles No bath is complete without candles. Beeswax and soy candles are both natural and do not pollute the air in the room. If vegan is important to you, go for the soy candles. You can get them in dozens of different scents or fragrance free to compliment your bath and complete the atmosphere of your spa-time soak.


Linens:

  • Fabric shower curtain liner If you want to make your shower the epitome of luxurious and eliminate one LARGE piece of plastic (i.e. the elephant in the room), choose a fabric shower curtain liner instead of a plastic one. Plastic shower curtain liners have terrible off-gasses with VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which will hang in the air and which you will breath in for weeks. It’s tough and annoying to wash plastic liners and when you are ready to dispose of it, it can only go in the garbage. Fabric liners can be machine washed with your towels and will last you for years. I personally never knew fabric liners existed but once I discovered this, I’ll never go back to a plastic one again. Here’s one type from Bed Bath and Beyond.

  • Towels When choosing your towels, the most environmentally friendly options are those made from rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo or hemp.

In Conclusion

It’s really important to note that no one expects you to make the jump to zero waste everything overnight. This is a list to give you some ideas you can work towards once your normal products run out. It will be a transition.

REMINDER: Make sure you use all of what you already have before replacing.

No one expects you to be perfect.

I love the saying,

“It is better to have a million people living imperfectly zero waste than one person doing it perfectly.”

So let’s all help each other to replace one container at a time and organize ourselves to live more zero waste in our bathrooms.


Marybeth Welty is a Professional Organizer, Interior Designer, and Mindful Living Coach, and is the owner of Sustainable Lifestyle Solutions. She helps her clients create a calm, organized, and sustainable home and the life of their dreams by utilizing refined design principles, organizing best practices, mental wellness strategies, and a holistic lifestyle approach to sustainability. You can connect with her at www.sustainablelifestylesolutions.com and on Instagram at @this_sustainable_lifestyle.

Melanie McConnell is a Professional Organizer and the owner of Mello Spaces. She helps busy professionals and parents get the organized home of their dreams. Check out her website www.mellospaces.com and follow her on Instagram: @mellospaces

Florena Davies is a Professional Organizer and Owner of Organize by Flo. She uses her experience as a wife and mother of 2 to create real life organizational systems and changes for work and home that allow our 2 worlds to co-exist and 'Flo" together. Check out her website at https://www.organizebyflo.com/ and on Instagram @organizebyflo.


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