For anyone who may have been following, I have been having a discussion with Dene Godfrey, a UK-based chemist who contributes to Personal Care: Information Based on Scientific Facts. He was upset with the post I had written regarding personal care products, stating that not all of my facts were accurate. You can follow the exchange here.

He pointed me to the website mentioned above and I’ve spent quite a bit of time this morning reading various posts on it. AND I’ve subscribed to receive updates, because the articles are very informative and must be read by anyone trying to find the truth.

I advocate self-education above all else. I encourage you to read this site, as well as the sources I used in my original post, and make your own decision. As with many things in life, the information does not always fall into black & white, but in a gray area and only by using common sense, and the facts you are given, can you arrive at the best decision for you and your family.

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.

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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!

Paper Products

Facial Tissue

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.

Facial pads

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.

Toilet Paper

Lastly, the one everyone was most curious about, I’m sure. Toilet Paper.

Buy/Make:

Use:

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.

Laundry:

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.

Shampoo/Conditioner

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.

Body Wash

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!

Toothbrushes

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.

Toothpaste

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:

Shaving Supplies

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.

Deodorant

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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Missed out on the last Tom’s of Maine toothpaste FREE sample? Looks like it’s being offered again. This won’t last long, so if you’re interested, be sure to act fast.  NOTE: This looks like it is for their fluoride version, but I’m not sure. Just be aware of this, if you do not usually buy fluoride toothpastes.

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Grandma  El Sale Again!

Over at BabyHalfOff, pick up a Grandma El Rash Remedy And Natural Shampoo Gift Set 50% Off – for $14.00!   “Grandma El’s Diaper Rash Remedy & Prevention is a Patented, Pediatrician recommended, healing ointment.  Used with each and every diaper change it will help to protect, prevent, and heal diaper rash.”

Also includes a $5 coupon for your next Grandma El purchase!

Set includes: One tub of Diaper Rash Remedy and Prevention, One Tear Free Gentle Baby Shampoo and One Organic Wash Cloth.

Contains no Phthalates, parabens, dyes, or any harmful ingredients.

Honestly – we love this diaper ointment. Smells so nice, goes on clean, no residue. And it’s SAFE for cloth diapers! Highly recommend it!

Valid today, 10/14 only, while supplies last.

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Just in time for Halloween!! Looking for some non-toxic alternatives to Halloween face paint? Head over to EcoBabyBuys today to pick up All Natural Face Paints from Luna Organics for 40% off – prices starting at $7.17!

Choose from 5 different kits. “Luna Organics was founded by a mother of two girls with the aim of providing high quality, safe play items for children.  Luna has developed a line of all natural kids’ play makeup and face paint made with non-toxic, hypoallergenic materials. All sets are hand-crafted in New Hampshire.”

Valid today, 10/6 only, while supplies last.

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For those of you in the Chicago area, one of the Groupon deal’s today is:

Buy $20 worth of product on Soap.com for $10

The Fine Print

  • Expires Jan 8, 2011
  • Redeem starting 10/7. Limit 1 per household. Multiple Groupon orders from the same household will be rejected on Soap.com. Valid only at Soap.com, not valid at diapers.com. Must use in 1 order. 1–2 day shipping included.

NOTE: This is NOT valid on the sister site –  Diapers.com

Soap.com has a lot of great products, including brands like: Tom’s of Maine, Seventh Generation, Kiss My Face, Badger Balm, Burt’s Bees, Caldrea, Canus Goat’s Milk, Dr. Bronner’s,  ecoTools, and more!

Valid today only, while supplies last.

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Over at BabyHalfOff, pick up a Grandma El Rash Remedy And Natural Shampoo Gift Set 50% Off – for $14.00!   “Grandma El’s Diaper Rash Remedy & Prevention is a Patented, Pediatrician recommended, healing ointment.  Used with each and every diaper change it will help to protect, prevent, and heal diaper rash.”

Also includes a $5 coupon for your next Grandma El purchase!

Set includes: One tub of Diaper Rash Remedy and Prevention, One Tear Free Gentle Baby Shampoo and One Organic Wash Cloth.

Contains no Phthalates, parabens, dyes, or any harmful ingredients.

Honestly – we love this diaper ointment. Smells so nice, goes on clean, no residue. And it’s SAFE for cloth diapers! Highly recommend it!

Valid today, 9/21 only, while supplies last.

Don’t miss a single post! Be sure to sign up to receive updates either by email or through a reader. Choose one of the options at right!