Step 3: A Cleaner Way to Clean
Bathroom and cleaning items are tackled together because they all tend to be slower-to-use items that take time to use up and replace. Seeing results here requires patience -these changes don’t happen overnight. Over time, as you use up what you have, you will be able to replace items with sustainable, toxin-free alternatives, and your house will really start to feel zero waste.
1. Make a list and check it twice… and cross out what you don’t need
On a day when you have 30 minutes, make a list (yes, an actual list) of all the bathroom and cleaning products in your home. This is to build awareness of the things we use as part of our daily hygiene and cleaning routines. People usually have waaaay more than they thought they did. (How many lotions are we hoarding in the bathroom cupboard?!
Then ask youself if you really need all of your products. I used to have about 5 different bottles of shampoo in my shower at one time, I kept buying a different product before one ran out because I wanted one that worked better. The irony is my skin and hair actually look much better since eliminating many products and switching to natural, zero waste alternatives, but that’s another story…
Similarly, I also used to buy different spray cleaners for different surfaces - the windows, the kitchen counter, the bathroom tiles - but I’ve learned one natural cleaner really does the trick.
Bottom line: List out what you have, keep or find an alternative that you love, and take a page from Marie Kondo’s book: eliminate what you can live without.
2. Locate the alternatives
Locating alternatives is the most time-consuming part of tackling your bathroom and cleaning supplies, because it requires research on where to buy them.
Researching where to buy new products usually includes a mix of looking online to find stores that sell the right products in your area, and keeping your eyes open for products in your regularly frequented stores. When I started to buy products, I often called a store first to ask about items they carry before deciding if I’d visit or not. While stores are usually more than happy to take these types of calls, the process does take time.
3. Assign a shopping day
Expect to replace bathroom & cleaning items every 6 to 8 weeks. Because most zero waste products are very concentrated in a bar form - liquid soap is about 70% water- you’ll find the they actually last longer than what you’re used to. You may now be going to a few new stores to get these products, but you won’t have to do it often.
4. Get handy: make your own!
99% of the time I don’t like DIY products because, really, who has the time? If I can buy something cheaply and responsibly, my preference is to do that.
However, I’ve found that there are a few things that are so quick, simple and inexpensive to make (no more than 5 minutes!), it actually makes sense to do it. Check out my recipes for how to make your own toothpaste and multipurpose cleaner.
Find my full list of zero waste cleaning swaps here.