Minimal Living is a new blog series I’ve come up with, looking at lower impact plastic-free alternatives for nearly every room in the house.
I thought I’d start the Minimal Living series by looking at the bathroom because our quest to be clean shouldn’t dirty the planet (or something like that!). I’ve put together some plastic free bathroom supplies and toiletries ideas available via mail order – you can try your local shops too to see what they have or you can have a go at DIYs for soaps, etc.
Plastic Free Ideas For The Bathroom
Bath Salts* (£5) from Michelle Good Soaps – plastic free and made in small batches by the lovely Grimsby based Michelle.
Hemp & Honey Solid Shampoo Bar* (£4.60) from Aromawakening. Plastic free and free from SLES, SLS, parabens, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrance & preservatives.
Wooden Vegan Hairbrush (£18) from Cebra. Most brushes I’ve found have boar bristles but this lovely vegan one has sisal bristles.
Salt of the Earth Soap from Washed Out Soap Co (£5). Free of all nasties and plastics and great for sensitive skins/allergy suffers.
Andrex Toilet Paper (2 Pack) (approx £1.50) – the only toilet paper I can find that’s wrapped in paper, not plastic. Most commonly available in small convenience stores!
Bamboo toothbrush (£3.19) from Ecco Verde. Genius, because you can buy different colours so you can easily tell which toothbrush belongs to which family member. They also sell kids bamboo toothbrushes (also £3.19).
Preserve Toothbrush* (£3.50) from Planet Organic. So far I’ve sadly found that bamboo toothbrushes are not my bag. If they’re not yours then the Preserve toothbrush is your next best option. Made from recycled yoghurt pots and fully recyclable, it’s got some mighty fine green credentials.
Eco-Dent Dental Floss (£6.89) – comes in a cardboard box rather than plastic, and is 100% vegan as rather than being coated with beeswax, the floss is coated in rice bran and essential oils.
Natual Peppermint Toothpaste* from Georganics (£6.80). Lush used to sell tooth cleaning tabs in a cardboard box but they’ve now altered the packaging to a plastic bottle for some reason. I didn’t get on with the tabs – you can read more about the sorry tale here – but this natural toothpaste in a glass jar looks like it might be a better alternative.
Shaving Soap* (£8.50) from Holistic Treats – for men or women is handmade in the UK and free of any nasties.
Any other plastic-free bathroom supplies and toiletries? Do pop them in the comments below!
I’d like to talk about something that I feel isn’t talked about enough – periods. And specifically, how to have an eco friendly period.
Before you roll your eyes and click off the page I want to make it clear that when it comes to periods (and most aspects of life to be honest) I’m firmly of the belief that people with perods should do whatever works best for them, so there is no judgement at all in this post if none of these ideas are for you. I just wanted to put some ideas out there that you may or may not have heard of with no expectation that you have to give them a go.
Ideas for Having An Eco Friendly Period
To be honest, and perhaps to your surprise, I was never really on board with the idea of a menstrual cup. I would go as far to say I was a bit grossed out by the idea. So I understand if you are too. It wasn’t until after I had my first child that I became a lot more relaxed about the idea.
It does takes a bit of practice to insert and remove a menstrual cup properly, and to start to feel comfortable using it (much like the learning curve when you first start to use tampons) but once it’s in the cup can stay there for 12 hours, so there’s no need to take it out when you’re not at home. It’s easily cleaned, and there’s no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, even if you forget to take it out.
There are a few suppliers of menstrual cups in the UK. The most popular one is Moon Cup, which come in two sizes – one if you’re under 30, and one if you’re over 30 and/or have had a child (which makes you feel really good about yourself and your body!), but there are heaps of other brands I hadn’t heard of at Feminine Wear.
Period Pants are a new concept to me and something I haven’t tried. Essentially they are absorbent pants you wear during your period, without the need for any other sanitary protection, that you then just pop in the wash and re-use time and again.
The only draw backs I can think of are it may be slightly awkward/annoying having to remove trousers or tights in order to change your pants, and it may get expensive having to buy multiple pairs of pants. As I’ve not tried them I don’t know how many pairs would be required to see you through your flow.
I’m having trouble finding UK stockists – I can find plenty stockists of period pants that require the use of a sanitary pad as well – but no pants that you can wear without a sanitary pad. In the US Thinx Pants lead the way (these are designed to be worn without a sanitary pad and hold 2 tampons worth of liquid), and they do offer international postage.
Washable Sanitary Towels
Washable sanitary towels are exactly as the name implies. If you’re akin with washable nappies these will be a walk in the park to you. You just need to carry around a wet bag with you to place your towels in when you’re done using them, and then pop them in the washing machine.
I’m used to carrying soiled/wet washable nappies in a zipped wet bag in my nappy bag so personally I wouldn’t have a problem with carrying washable sanitary towels in a similar fashion, but I know not everyone is into the idea.
Essential a natural tampon. In our modern world this is probably considered the most ‘out-there’ option in terms of eco friendly period options, and not one that I’ve tried, but I’d be keen to hear from readers who have tried or do use sea sponges about their experiences with them.
From what I’ve read you just wet the sponge, insert, and then remove, rinse and re-insert when you feel them drop down a bit. At the end of your period they can be washed in the washing machine and stored for the following month, and should last roughly a year,
My gut feeling is that sea sponges would be a little trickier to use as you would need to rinse them on a regular basis (as much as you would need to change a tampon or a pad) so may be difficult to use when you’re not at home. And as they are natural sponge rather than synthetic then if you’re vegan, sea sponge probably isn’t for you.
If you are looking for organic alternatives try Natracare or Naty Nature Womancare – both available at Ethical Superstore. What I like most about Ethical Superstore is that they have dropped their prices on sanitary products by 5% in response to the 5% ‘Tampon Tax’ continuing to be levied on sanitary protection.
I’d be interested to hear your experiences of eco friendly period management. What have you tried and what do you swear by? And what pain relief methods do you use? I’m a hot water kind of person myself!
I'm Wendy and welcome to Moral Fibres, a green lifestyle blog. I believe that sustainable living should be hip, not hippie. Here you'll find all sorts of easy hints and tips here for living a greener life that won't compromise your sense of style.
As well as the blog I've also written a book on natural cleaning - Fresh Clean Home is out now!
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