This is part of a new series of posts called Ditch the Disposables where I explore and educate about reusable options for common disposable items.
As part of my current Conscious Shopping Challenge, I decided to take a look at the disposable items found in the bathroom. For such a small room, it really does produce a lot of waste (pun not intended!)! I decided to break these down into Paper Products & Personal Care items. Enjoy!
Facial Tissue is a common household item in many homes, especially as we make our way into the cold and flu season. You find yourself carrying them around in your pocket, your purse, just about everywhere – prepared. A great alternative to kleenex or Puffs or whatever brand you use is: handkerchiefs. Yes, those old stand-bys your grandma used to use!
I’ve been using handkerchiefs for about 5 years now and absolutely love them. I switched one winter when I had been battling a particular nasty cold and my nose was just so raw it was painful. The thought of using one more kleenex/toiletpaper/paper towel made me just cringe. So, I dug out a little hanky I’d been given as a gift years before. Put that in my pocket thinking that it was going to be completely gross when I put in the laundry that night. And yeah, it kinda was. But I discovered something else: comfort. It didn’t hurt to blow my nose! It didn’t hurt to wipe it, either! And the hanky just seemed to go on and on; after each use I would fold it, and fold it, and keep finding clean spots throughout the day. With disposable tissues, I had easily been using half the box. Well, this got me thinking: $$$. Duh, using the hanky was going to save me money. And for me, sometimes that is all it takes! Each night I toss the used hanky in the laundry. Each morning, I tuck a new one in my pocket or purse. And as a mom, I found out that my oldest child won’t fight me when I have to wipe her nose if I use the cloth hanky!
Where to buy:
There are several online retailers that have cloth handkerchiefs available for sale, if you wish to purchase them. Most are also retailers for cloth diapers, mama cloth, and other reusable products. Go figure.
Or brick & mortar stores:
- Major retailers like Walmart or Target (usually found in the mens’ section)
Or buy used/vintage:
- Thrift Stores, garage sales, etc. (I love to see the beautiful patterns found in vintage hankies!)
If you are so gifted, you can also make these yourself. There are several patterns out there, these are only a few. I just did a Google search.
Using several of these methods, I now have a dozen or more hankies for personal use. I have folded them and keep them in an old tissue box (DH still prefers “real” tissues, but we haven’t bought a box in a year). When I pull one out, the next one “pops” up, just like disposables.
Many people use these for removing make-up, or for facial cleansers. You can buy or make reusable ones that will save you money and help the planet. Jillian’s Drawers has a set that even come with a dispenser and a little bag to wash them in!
Feminine Protection – this post covers this in great detail.
Lastly, the one everyone was most curious about, I’m sure. Toilet Paper.
Cloth TP is used the same way you use paper TP. I keep ours in a little basket in the bathroom. (In fact, unless you knew it, you would think they were the wipes for the diapers!) You can wet it first, if you choose. In fact, most people find this to be the best & most comfortable way. This can be done either in the sink, or with a peribottle kept in the bathroom for that purpose. It is, in fact, very comfortable. And I actually feel cleaner after using the cloth TP I have in the bathroom.
As with cloth diapers, everyone wants to know, what do you do when it’s time to wash? When you’re done using it, you can keep the wipes until laundry day in a wet bag or in a container (wet bag is easiest, because it can go right in the laundry, too!). After whatever method you’ve chosen, you can either a) do a load of just the cloth wipes, b) add them to your regular laundry (some people choose towels.), or c) if you have children in cloth diapers, you can toss them in with the diapers. That’s it. They can be dried either in the dryer or on the line.
Personal Care Items
As far as “disposable” when it comes to Personal Care items, I have chosen to focus on homemade recipes = less packaging waste. This will also address issues with chemicals in these items, because you are making them yourself.
Option 1: Buying items that have little to no packaging, like this shampoo bar from Burt’s Bees.
Option 2: Make it yourself.
Option 3: Go No ‘Poo. Many people have successfully gone this route, including the author of the Conscious Shopper Challenge herself. Google “No Poo” and you’ll find several articles: like this How to Go No Poo and No ‘Poo: New & Improved. This is my next personal challenge, when my current shampoo is gone.
Option 1: Buy Items with little to no packaging – Use any number of Soap bars on the market. Be sure to read ingredients & check anything you are unsure of against the Skin Deep site. There are several out there you can buy on Etsy or at your local health foods store.
Option 2: Make it yourself. Google “homemade body wash” and I found these articles:
Or, if you’re so inclined, do the same search, but for Homemade Soap. There’s so much to find! Even how to make soap bars in a crock pot!
Now, I am not going to advocate never changing your toothbrush. Or to reuse someone else’s. BUT there are several great products out there you should check out.
- Preserve Toothbrushes are made from recycled yogurt cups (the bristles are new!) and they are completely recyclable when you’re done. But wait! They offer a subscription service. Pay $13/yr and you will get a new toothbrush 4 times a year. The first shipment has a travel case. Each shipment thereafter includes a pack to ship your USED toothbrush back to Preserve where they will recycle it back into a new toothbrush!
- Eco-Dent Replaceable Head Toothbrushes: You simply replace the head every 3 months.
- ToteBrush: a unique product with replacable bristles/head that include the toothpaste as well.
Option 1: Buy something with Less Packaging. Like this Tooth Powder from Monkey Brand. Have never used this, but sounds interesting.
Option 2: Make Your Own. Again, Google is your friend. Found these recipes:
Option 1: Buy an Item with Less Packaging. Like a Shaving Soap and brush. The whole kit has a bit of packaging, but once you have the brush and bowl, you only need to buy the soap again.
Option 2: Make Your Own. Like that found here: Shaving Soap Recipe
Takes you back to the day of the barber shop with the shave stool.
Option 1: Buy an item with less packaging. The Crystal is probably the most popular of name brands.
Option 2: Make your own. Google will bring you a TON of recipes:
This is my next challenge after the “no ‘poo”!
I haven’t tried all of these methods personally, but there are a lot of great options there! Leave a comment with your experience, please! We all learn from each other.
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