Post-‘Blue Planet’, we all know the destructive impact single-use plastic is having on our environment. But if witnessing giant islands of bottles and shopping bags floating around the ocean isn’t enough to wake-up the sustainable warrior within then consider this: just 9 percent of all the plastic ever made has been recycled.
That means there’s around 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste buried in landfill or bobbing on top of bodies of water around the world, all of which will take a minimum of 400 years to decompose. In short, this is a huge problem, but it’s also one that you can help to reverse the tide on – and a great place to start is when you get ready at the start of the day.
Take a look at the inside of your bathroom cabinet or shower, and you’ll notice almost everything is made from plastic. And while there’s no getting away from it totally in the short term, there are a few easy ways you can vastly cut down on your daily plastic usage. Here are five ways you can make your morning (and evening) grooming routine a little kinder on the environment.
Ditch As Many Plastic Bottles As Possible
While clear plastic is widely recyclable here in the UK, anything coloured is far trickier – and if your district doesn’t have the correct facilities, that green shampoo bottle could still end up in a landfill. However, many items you use in the shower also come in bar form.
Of course, the obvious and easiest swap is trading your body gel for a traditional bar soap – we recommend the Baxter of California Exfoliating Body Bar (£16 at mankind.co.uk) – but increasingly you’ll find companies such as Lush offering shampoos, conditioners, face washes and more in bar form.
Alternatively, look for companies that provide refilling facilities, like Neal’s Yard which now offers discounted refills on two of its most popular products – Geranium & Orange Hand Wash and its honey-infused Bee Lovely Shower Gel – if you bring back the original bottle.
Reuse Your Sustainable Cotton Pads
Single use packaging is one thing, but if the items that come inside that packaging are also things you use once and throw away, then that’s a whole lot of potential waste. Instead try to find re-usable alternatives, such as these organic cotton pads which can be drenched in micellar water to remove make-up or toner to finish off your daily face routine.
Let them dry after use, put them in the mesh bag provided and throw them in with your next wash. You’ll never need to buy disposable pads or face wipes again.
Make Like A Panda, And Go For A Bamboo Toothbrush
Another bit of stealth plastic in your bathroom that’s easy to avoid is your toothbrush. Bamboo is the way to go here, and the good news is there are plenty of plant-based brushes already on the market so it’s relatively easy to make the switch. However, it’s worth keeping an eye on the raw materials that go into them.
Unless you want to go for all-natural boar hair bristles, most bamboo brushes find are fitted with nylon bristles – so look out for those that reduce the amount of nylon by splicing it with other materials. If you want something that ticks as many boxes as possible, try the Truthbrush (£4.50, thetruthbrush.com).
Made in China from sustainably-grown moso bamboo (FYI pandas don’t eat this, so you’re not taking a meal away from an endangered animal), these elegantly curvaceous instruments are fitted with bristles made from a mix of 38 per cent nylon and 62 per cent castor bean oil, the packaging is fully recyclable and the company’s shipping to the UK is carbon offset.
Better yet, you can set up a subscription service that sends you out a new brush every three months so you never have a fuzzy brush head again. Sustainable and convenient.
Go For A Natural Deodorant
If you’re ditching as much un-sustainable, man-made packaging as possible, you should also think about ditching as many man-made chemicals as possible too. While medical research in the area is still patchy, applying chemicals daily to areas of your body where they can easily be absorbed into your system – such as the pores of your armpits – is arguably something to avoid if you can.
Many mainstream anti-perspirants use things like aluminium, petrochemicals or parabens (preservatives) to fight odour, block pores and extend shelf-life. And while the effects of ingredients like this still aren’t fully known, the thing is there are plenty of products out there that don’t use them which are just as good – if not better suited for the job. Dutch brand Nuud is a prime example.
This all-natural, all-vegan formula uses a micro-silver cream to help fight underarm unpleasantness and one application works for anywhere from three to seven days even with daily showers. Plus, the tube is made from sugar cane (so is fully biodegradable) and tiny, so it’ll free up plenty of space in your gym bag.
Take Your Gym To Task
It’s not just your own bathroom where you can do your bit to help the planet. If you tend to have a shower at your gym, you can do your bit there too.
Many gyms have already thought about what products they provide and how they dispense them (SoulCycle, for example, have refillable containers of Le Labo’s paraben- and cruelty-free Bergamote 22 shampoo, conditioner, body wash and face cleanser mounted on the walls of the showers), but if you go to a gym that doesn’t, make the first sustainable step and consider taking re-usable containers of your own products.
Muji does a great selection of hardy mix ‘n’ match plastic travel bottles and canisters that you can re-fill from your own stash rather than burning through travel miniatures or lugging huge bottles around all day.