Updated: May 9, 2020
I’m not here to reel off facts and figures on sustainability. They stop meaning anything after the first few, they’re horrifying and boring in equal measure and they’re not much use if you don’t know how to avoid adding to the statistics. I’ve decided the best use of this space is to take you through my daily routine, explain the eco-friendly swaps I’ve made and the swaps I failed with and to think about the zero waste/ plastic free changes I’ve yet to make. Hopefully it will give you a better idea of what will work for you and might give you a few new ones to think about.
I thought I’d start in the bathroom. That’s where I’ve made the most zero waste swaps, where it all started and where it’s probably easiest to implement a few small, easy changes that can make your routine instantly more sustainable and with far less waste.
Leave No Trace started in the bathroom. I was taking my make up off after a night out and I was using cotton wool with make up remover. I must have went all out on the eyeliner because I’d gotten through 6 balls and the bin was already stuffed with cotton wool from the previous week. I remember thinking ‘what a waste- all that cotton used for a second or two and now it’s going to landfill’. It was my lightbulb moment. The next day I bought some cotton flannel and made myself some reusable make up pads. These days we make hemp rounds which are softer, more durable and a more sustainable crop than cotton and I can’t recommend them enough. They hugely reduced my bathroom waste, they mean you never run out and they don’t come wrapped in plastic. All round win and easiest swap of them all in my opinion.
My next swap was shampoo and conditioner bars. They took a bit of getting used to, to be honest. A lot of people find their hair seems greasy when they first make the swap but it passes, I promise! Your hair is used to chemical products that strip it of its natural oils and coat it with heavy residues. Your scalp over produces oil to compensate which you notice when you move to more natural cleaners. It settles eventually, honest!
The conditioner can also take a bit of getting used to. Again, because it’s natural and not full of silicones and waxes it doesn’t leave your hair feeling the same afterwards. Your hair is still squeaky clean so doesn’t have the slippery sleekness that allows you to comb it through easily that you get from a ‘regular’ conditioner. But persevere! I have a TONNE of wavy hair and I’d always assumed it was just frizzy and knotty but since making the switch it’s so much less crazy and can even be tamed into beach waves with a bit of coconut oil. The other benefit of bar shampoo and conditioner is that they both last for ages and are a fraction of the price. My shampoo bars last 3 months and the conditioner bars last 4 or 5. The ones we stock come in biodegradable and recyclable packaging so are completely plastic free. They’re also vegan, as is everything we stock at Leave No Trace. Make the switch but be willing to persevere for a few weeks. You’ll be so glad you did!
The last bathroom swap I’ll mention here is the safety razor. There are loads more but I realise this blog is becoming an epic weighty tome and I’d rather keep them snappy and interesting (hopefully!).
The safety razor was a late-ish addition. I’d always been a bit terrified of it. I’m dangerous when weilding sharp things at the best of times and I’m always in a rush so I was sure I’d take chunks out of my legs. It was when I saw how cheap replacement blades are that I finally went for it; the cost-cutter in me took over and I’m glad I did it. I won’t lie and tell you it was just the same as normal razors because it wasn’t. I had to go slower and even then my knees and ankles took a few hits initially but I’ve got it nailed now and I wouldn’t ever go back. My metal safety razor does as good a job and is a fraction of the cost of the plastic ones. The intial outlay is more- the razor itself it a bit more pricey but it’s only about the same as 3 packs of higher end razors so it pays for itself in no time.
My tips for nick free shaving are these:
1. Make sure you’ve been in the shower for a while and are nice and warm before you start. Raking a razor over goosebumped legs is a recipe for disaster. Plus, the warmer you are the more your follicles will relax and you’ll get more hair, meaning the shave will last longer.
2. Use soap! It adds a lubricating layer and means you’re less likely to snag or end up with a rash afterwards.
3. Take your time, especially on knobbly bits like ankles and knees. Although this is a safety razor and it has a protective bar to help prevent cuts the blade is more exposed than on a plastic one so you definitely need to take a bit more care.
3. Moisturise! We stock Kutis body butter and it’s wonderful. It’s rich and luxurious, nasties-free and smells lovely. It’s also plastic free and comes in a recyclable glass jar (sneaking in another swap!)
4. This is the most important one- make sure your blade is sharp!! Blunt blades cause cuts and rashes and also do a rubbish job! The blades are cheap enough and although I like to save money this isn't something to scrimp on.
And that’s it. First blog done!
Like I said, this isn’t a comprehensive list of the swaps I’ve made but it’s probably the ones I use most often, have found the easiest to implement and which have the most benefits in terms of reducing my plastic waste and single use.
In the next blog I’ll move onto the kitchen and come back to bathroom at a later date- there are loads more to mention! I’d love to hear your feedback on this post and if you have any recommendations or would like to share your own experiences of the products mentioned then get in touch. We love hearing from you!
Leave No Trace have a full range of eco-friendly bathroom swaps to help live a more sustainable life.
In the meantime, stay safe, wash your hands and don’t buy things you don’t need.