Our journey towards ending our plastic addiction

Personal

Bathroom, Personal Hygiene, Home and Kitchen Brand Tips

(UPDATED NOVEMBER 13TH, 2020 - Trash bags and compost tumbler information added; local information on plastic recycling added)

Anyone who knows us knows we take being plastic free pretty seriously. We have worked hard over the past several years to eliminate as many single use and even non-single use packaging as possible from our lives. We are nowhere near being 100% plastic free, but it is all about taking those small steps. 

This month marked the end of another bathroom item (a bottle of conditioner), and it seemed like a great time to share suggestions for different items that we have used, from bathroom and personal hygiene to home and kitchen products.
 
We are not in any way sponsored by any of these companies; however, we have found them all to be fantastic companies to purchase from and they each genuinely care about being environmentally friendly.
 
It is also worth first discussing the nature of buying a product online versus in store. Most intuitively think that it is less eco-friendly to have an item shipped to you individually, compared to a store having it shipped in bulk. This isn't always true. If you are not selecting RUSH shipping and instead following the standard shipping process in USPS, and if your retailer you are buying from is using smart packaging, research shows a lower level of carbon footprint versus in person retail. It is a complex discussion, but if you have more questions then check out this study by MIT.
 
journey towards ending plastic addiction bathroom
 
Toilet Paper / Paper Towels / Tissues - There are a few brands doing the right thing, our personal favorite is Who Gives a Crap. They offer all three of these items 100% plastic free, and of course, the paper itself is made from Bamboo. They package each roll in colorful fun designs, which honestly makes them a decorative piece in your bathroom. (We always have 2-3 backups on the toilet now for company, since they are so fun looking). Even better, 50% of their profits are donated to help build toilets! Last benefit - you can set up a subscription so you don't have to worry about reordering!
 
Toilet Bowl Cleaner - There are surprisingly few options in this category; however, Truman's is a legit option if you want to eliminate that potentially final plastic container in your bathroom.
 
Bathroom Cleaner - You will hear this brand a few times throughout this post, as they service many areas beyond these products. Blueland. Blueland is amazing. They have a range of items, most of which are simply in a tablet form. Not only are you saving space by not buying large jugs of liquids, but you are eliminating plastic. They were one of the first brands that we latched onto and fell in love with, and you will too! They're quick, affordable, and have a great mission!
  
journey towards ending plastic addiction personal hygiene
 
Body Soap - A standard bar of soap is your best option here, as typically these are packaged in a thin recyclable cardboard box. For a more unique option, you can usually find handcrafted bars at local markets.
 
Shampoo and Conditioner - We have found the brand HiBAR to be a fantastic plastic free solution, as it offers bars of shampoo and conditioner. It is definitely odd at first, as you are likely used to both of these being in liquid form almost ALL of the time. But their bar design makes it very easy to hold and massage into your scalp and gets very soapy. They have several options as well: Maintain, Moisturize, or Volumize.
 
Q-Tips - They got to go, as these single use plastics are absolutely terrible! Our current favorite alternatives are reusable swabs by Earthsider that should last QUITE some time.
 
Floss - A simple solution is available from Package Free. It arrives in a glass jar and made from silk. There are many other options / flavors on their site as well.
 
Toothbrushes / Toothpaste - Toothbrushes are an area that can be found in many places. You want a retailer that is plastic free and then specifically we recommend a color free bamboo toothbrush. The Package Free store has a great option with a great mission. Next, your toothpaste's best hope is a chewable tablet. Similar to switching your shampoo and conditioner, this is an interesting experience from your traditional toothpaste. Bite Toothpaste Bits is the best of the best. It's delivered in glass jars, making for a great plastic free product. 
 
Foaming Hand Soap - Bluelands second win on our list is their foaming hand soap. Just like most of their products, it involves a one-time purchase of a single container to store it in and then from there they only have to ship you small little tablets. In this case, you fill up your container with warm water and then simply toss in the tablet! We recommend starting off with a kit like this to get your starting set of jars (we talk more later about the multi-surface cleaner and window cleaner), then just buy tablets from there on out!
 
Deodorant - We have gone through a few options. Having one of us with sensitive skin has limited options. We found this natural deodorant by Primal Life to work nicely. Delivered in a recyclable cardboard tube and with 5 different scents to pick from.
 
Feminine Hygiene - Let's be realistic, the current solution for women is almost entirely plastic and wasteful. There are two great alternatives to consider. One great brand is Cora. A female forward plastic free company that has both tampon and pad options. Another solution avoids needing to buy any product again, or at least for a while. That is washable / reusable pads. It is not easy finding a great plastic free source; however, one set of these can last you many years to come. 
 
Bandaids - Similar to items like toothbrushes, you can find bamboo alternates at many online plastic free stores. We have used this one from the Package Free Shop (same place as the toothbrushes) and found it comparable to standard bandaids. 
 
 
Dish Soap - Blueland has a new product for this, which is a powder you can use. We have actually not used this yet, as we currently have a dish soap bar. Both are fantastic options.
 
Multi-Surface Cleaner - Yes Blueland again! Works just like the hand soap and comes in their kit with the bathroom and window cleaner items.
 
Dishwasher Tablets  - Blueland for the win! In fact, they just keep adding more fantastic products. What is great about having one retailer for so many products is you can order and have them all shipped at once to be even better about packaging and that carbon footprint!
 
Sponges - We have found great non-plastic sponges made from coconut; however, they were still shipped in a thin plastic. Our current favorite alternative is a kitchen scrub brush like this (again from Package Free). These will last you a while and there are many articles that warn against the use of sponges (due to how they can hold bacteria) so if you're looking to switch, this is a great solution.
 
Straws - You know this has to be on the list, given it seems to be one of the most talked about plastic problems. There are so many alternatives for plastic straws. We found that bamboo had a "taste" and was too thick. Metal or silicon were our favorites and so we have a set on hand when necessary. When out, we simply say NO to straws. Single use paper straws work, but like the bamboo straws, they often have an odd flavor. Besides that, the paper straws can be a pain as they fall apart too quickly.
 
Bottled Water - One of the easiest first steps you can take is to eliminate plastic bottled water with a reusable water container. If your faucet water is not what you want to drink, consider a water purifier or using a 5 gallon jug dispenser to refill your water. We are a fan of Cosco's Primo Bottom Loader Cooler that dispenses hot and ice cold water. A 5 gallon jug is less than $2 to refill and can last a couple weeks.
 
Window Cleaner - Blueland, yes believe it! This goes in their standard cleaning kit with multi-surface and bathroom cleaner and works exactly the same (a glass jar, a tablet, warm water, done).
 
Laundry Detergent Tablets - We swear this is the last win for Blueland, as mentioned before, they just keep adding new products! When we first started using them, it was just the hand soap and the three cleaners (bathroom, window, and multi-surface).
 
Trash Bags - We are not proud of this, but about 3 years ago we bought a Costco box of plastic trash bags (200 count), and we honestly went through so little trash that we are just barely past halfway through it! That being said, there are three good routes to go to replace your plastic bags. The first route would be a bio-based (made from plants) and certified compostable (proven to break down in hot conditions) bags. You want those two specific things to be mentioned. However, the problem here is that garbage bags, even these ones, won't really biodegrade in our landfill system. Worse, they won't do so if they end up in our water. The second option is simply to stop using trash bags completely. The fact is, if you start reducing plastic, properly recycling what you do bring in that is plastic/cardboard, and also composting all of your food scraps, what remains are items that are not particularly messy. You will find that putting them directly in your trash cans and then just dumping those into your outside trash containers is pretty practical, and then you can occasionally rinse them out if they start to get dirty. You will also find you go through a lot less trash by recycling and composting efficiently. Our trash can can last 1 to 2 months before getting full, and it is just a standard size trash can. The third option, and the one we are going with, is a reusable trash bag. You buy this product one time from Zero Waste Store, and then it is machine washable, leak-resistant, and mold-resistant. Great for reuse and to keep your bin clean of any potential mess.
 
 
Like we said in the start, we are only just beginning our journey, and the above represents most of our efforts. However, food has proven to be a difficult area to avoid, primarily, the non-recyclable thin film plastics that many food items have. The best you can do is choose alternatives when available, and make sure to know what you CAN and CANNOT recycle in your area. It sucks throwing away plastic in the trash, but it is better than trying to recycle it when it simply won't be recycled. In most recycling systems, plastics #1 and #2 are generally recycled and so packages in these numbers, when necessary, are preferred. It is important to both clean out AND dry these packages before recycling. Start paying attention to the hard plastics you do buy and perhaps you can find #1 and #2 alternatives (when a non-plastic option does not exist). For those in Fort Wayne, I have confirmed that they can take plastics #1, #2, and #5. Plastics like #3 are not taken but can likely be accepted by a plastic recycler. Film plastics are difficult to avoid, here is a website for resources for recycling these.
 
You can do many other things of course, not necessarily related to plastic, such as composting. Fort Wayne has a GREAT option now. Dirt Wain. Check them out. Subscribe. Be impressed like we are! Composting is now a viable option without you doing any of the overly dirty work (pun intended)! You basically have a bucket at home (that is pre-lined with a compostable bag) and you can either use a drop off spot to swap to a new bucket, or certain areas can also have a pick up service each week. We do have a compost tumbler at home (we recommend this two tumbler 70 gallon compost bin that has little to no odor and so is great for a suburban area and also looks nice; an investment, yes, but will last a long time), but sometimes we just have more compost than it can handle and so it is a great secondary option to get ride of surplus compost. Plus, taking compost out of our bin that has composted for a couple months takes up a lot less space than freshly composted items, so one container from Dirt Wain goes a long way each month.
 
Comment below any products we MISSED or any you suggest, we LOVE to hear about other ways to save plastic.

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About the Author

Nicholas Klein

Founder and visual artist, specializing in all aspects of a businesses presence from imagery and video to graphics and web. A graduate of IPFW with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, Concentration Photography as well as an Associates Degree in Business. His personal photography works are focused on landscape, travel, and aerial photography.

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