I’m a greenwasher!

Filed in Blog by on April 27, 2011 27 Comments
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how to minimise your bathroom toiletries

how to minimise your bathroom toiletries

In a recent discussion, Ben mentioned toiletries and beauty products and I realised how much my personal grooming habits have changed.

When I was about 15 I’d spend over an hour in the mornings getting ready for school.

A complex, yet precise routine existed of ensuring I was first into the bathroom and applying all sorts of lotions and potions, daily hair washing and styling, shower gel, body spray, deodorant, body lotion and perfume, then at the end of the day I’d do it all over again! A regular cleanse, tone, moisturise regime coupled with foot cream, hand cream, more body lotion and probably a myriad of other rituals that I’ve forgotten about.

There were weekly shopping excursions for body spray, cotton wool balls, deodorant, hair gel, mousse, hairspray – you name it, I had to have it and apply it to every square inch of my body.

If anyone had told me then that some twenty or so years later I would be using just 7 different products I would have probably laughed in their face. Actually, I’d have probably grunted and then done rude impressions of you as you walked away.

So come with me to the bathroom where I’ll show you the products I use now:

Hair

On my hair I use clay or a gentle, mild shampoo with no harsh chemicals in it such as SLS.ย  Because the product is gentle and doesn’t strip my hair, I no longer need conditioner or hair packs.
When I was a teenager daily curling with heated appliances, blow drying, and the use of harsh stripping shampoos and colours meant I needed to replenish lost moisture with conditioners, hot oil treatments and retexturising products. What you take out, you have to put back in. If you stop taking it out, you don’t need MORE products to put it back in. I leave my hair to dry naturally, so I don’t take out the natural oils. Simple, right?

And by the way, my hairdresser is consistently impressed with the condition of my hair – no split ends for Mrs Green! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Face

On my face I’ve given up the twice daily cleanse, tone, moisturise routine and instead I, are you ready for this? splash water onto my face!

If it needs a bit of a clean I mix up yogurt and oats which serves as a multi purpose cleanser, exfoliator and moisturiser all in one. At other times I use clay. That means no cotton wool balls, disposable exfoliator pads (hello Aapri) and no packaging to dispose of.

I use a couple of drops of jojoba oil to moisturise if I need it (which I do this time of year and at the beginning of spring for some reason).

Body

If I’m taking a bath or shower I don’t use anything apart from water. I don’t bother with shower gels, soap or bubble bath and instead use a drop or two of my favourite essential oil. I figure that if I’m washing my hair the clay or shampoo runs down my back and gives me a bit of a wash as a side effect!

As you’ll be aware from recent posts, I’m not ready to embrace my inner cave girl and I haven’t found a perfect zero waste shave. Instead of using shaving foam I use a bit of shampoo; just enough for the blade to glide over. My razor blades are my zero waste sin.

Hands

Instead of soap I use watered down shampoo. We buy a mild eco brand anyway, so I don’t see it’s any different from soap. I use a few drops of jojoba oil as moisturiser if I need it (but tend to get around this need by getting Mr green to do the washing up ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

Stinky bits

I now use a crystal deodorant under my arms which comes wrapped in cardboard and has no packaging. Another confession is the occasional squirt of perfume. The ones I have are in glass bottles with a metal atomiser. I’m not sure how to recycle them because I’ve not used a full bottle yet…

Teeth

Toothpaste tubes are recycled and our toothbrushes are composted. Wahee!

Multi purpose

You might have noticed some repetitions in this little list. Shampoo doubling up as shaving foam. Clay being used on hair and face. Jojoba oil for hands and face (it can be used as a hair conditioner too) and I think that is the key to minimising products and therefore reducing waste.
The other thing to ask yourself is ‘Do I really need this?’
Yes, I fell for it all when I was a teenager, but now I see above the hype, above the necessity for different products for every square inch of skin and above the claims that anything I put onto my skin is going to perform miracles.

If we take everything apart we can see my list of products is currently:

Clay
mild shampoo
jojoba oil
essential oils
crystal deodorant
perfume
toothpaste

and if I really felt inclined, I’m sure I could knock two of those off the list.

What about you? What’s in your bathroom cabinet?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (27)

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  1. Hazel says:

    I remember Aapri! I’d completely forgotten about them!

    After reading Crunchy Chicken’s blog for a while, I’m now washing my face with honey. I probably use it every other day, as I am trying to cut down how many showers I take. Alternate days (or thereabouts) I wash at the basin, so I just use water on the flannel before I wash anywhere else.
    I find my face does get dry, especially over winter (despite little or no CH at home), so I am using coconut oil at the moment, but jojoba would be a good alternative. I have used it in the past- one of those things you get out of the habit of using.

    I do use shampoo and shower gel, but try to use as little as possible, and often use the rinsed out shampoo too.

    As ever, my main issue is trying to train the rest of the family, but DD1 is 12 and is happily using honey and coconut oil too for the moment.

  2. hollie says:

    im still working my way through figuring out what i can and cant use as even eco brands of shampoo/soaps etc have caused irritation.

    i tend to stick to solid bar soap and solid shampoo from lush as so far it is the only thing that i can use. ive found anything that is in liquid form irritates ๐Ÿ™

    i use a face cleanser from there too and even splash out with the occasional bath bomb ( even make my own too) i’ve done away with bubble bath completely and occasionally use hair conditioner but most of the time i run a little oil through it if its really dry… usually something straight out the kitchen.

    i make my own salt and sugar scrubs with ingredients from the kitchen and use leftover kiwi to make quick face masks – great to use up leftover bits, papaya works just as well as does natural yoghurt and honey, oats and water, finely grated almonds a little clay and water makes a fantastic face cleanser too.

    a lot of the products we use can easily be made week to week and kept refrigerated and in the case of pureed fruit face masks you could even make big batches and freeze it in ice cube trays and take what you need an hour before a bath.

  3. Kathy says:

    For some reason unknown to me, none of the toothpaste tubes in Australia are recyclable. So I use a toothpowder recipe that I gleaned from an American site (The Zero Waste Home). Mix 2 tbs baking soda &
    1/8 tsp white stevia powder. Place into a shaker and shake onto wet toothbrush when required. (http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/2010/03/zero-waste-recipes.html).

    I haven’t tried this, but it sounds great: a method for hair removal that I found on the New Zealand Rubbish free site:
    Mix 2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup water & 1/4 cup lemon juice in a saucepan. Boil, stirring frequently, until itโ€™s about 120 degrees, or until a drop of it in a glass of cold water forms a ball that holds the shape (it takes about 1/2 hour). Then pour into a glass jar and let cool about 30 more minutes. Then with the back of a knife spread a little bit of the mixture on your legs/underarms/etc., and use strips of cotton to remove just like waxing. An old pillowcase works very well. At the end you can wash the cotton strips in warm water, let them sit until the sugar is dissolved and voila’, ready for next time when all you have to do is warm them up in the water. (http://www.rubbishfree.co.nz/information.php/info_id/76)

  4. louise says:

    I have just made my own soap should be ready in a few more weeks ๐Ÿ™‚ I use crystal deodorant too but I was
    wondering what are the compostable toothbrushes? also where do you recycle your toothpaste tubes as I used to send mine to the PCF along with my crisp packets but they have stopped now I think.

  5. Stephen says:

    http://carbolicsoap.com/apothecary-c-296.html

    No nonsense products at affordable prices the carbolic soap shop has something for everyone, I use the carbolic soap, because we have live stock and we have always got our hands dirty, with the smallholding etc, and its hard to get hold of some of this stuff, it’s like going back 40 years, bev uses the sheepskin wool soap as well,”very soft skin” and they do washing boads as well, if you are Interested…. Ha

  6. Sandy says:

    we use homemade soap for hair and washing and saving, face moisturise with organics from Lloyds the chemist, doedorant crystal. suprised how good this product really is.
    the only thing I have yet to find is a good hair mouse for blow drying, cant get out of this habit, I have very fine hair and very poker straight any suggestions ?

  7. LJayne says:

    I use shampoo & conditioner but they are in plastic 2 bottles which I can recycle.
    I use a salt & vodka(!)-based scrub on my face from Lush. They take back their pots and if you return 5 at a time you get a free product, always a bonus!
    I must try crystal deodorant. At the moment I use the same thing but in a roll on formula so that does create waste.
    I shave with an electric shaver that takes rechargeable batteries.
    Perfume comes from The Body Shop in recyclable plastic 1 bottles.
    My moisturiser is in what appears to be a glass bottle. Must check that one out properly.
    Toothpaste – used to recycle the tubes through the PCF. Need to decide what to do now.
    Naughty, naughty I still use a plastic toothbrush although they do go for cleaning round the house after they are no good for teeth any more.

  8. Julie Day says:

    I use mainly natural and organic beauty products. There is only a couple of things with chemicals in (one for the bottom and one for facial hair). I did try using natural stuff for my hair but it was too sticky and awkward to use so gave up. The floss I use is made of natural materials so I compost it but the container I have to throw away. It’s either that or throw the floss away and recycle container. Toothbrushes are reused for cleaning tiles etc, same as flannels. My flannels are made of organic cotton same as my towels.

  9. Kelly says:

    Love the title of your post ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’ve started washing my hair w/baking soda and ac vinegar, using bar soap, and making my own deodorant. I gave away all my makeup and am still working on the best solutions for face wash and moisturizer, though I may be taking some of yours. ๐Ÿ™‚ Crazy how much we used to think was so necessary! My hope now is that my daughter at least won’t grow up with that mindset ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Antonio Pachowko says:

    For shaving I use an electrical shaver (and so no shaving cream/gel required and no razor disposal). I do not shave often because My skin is very sensitive as I suffer from “barber’s itch” and all my shaving equipment has to be sanitised by using isopropyl alcohol and TCP

    For my face I wash with ” Optima Organic Tea Tree Deep Cleansing Skin Washing” (come in a recycable botttle) as it is anti-bacterial and used to treat my folliculitis barbae and the acne i still get. To complicate the matter further I also suffer from Seborrhoeic dermatitis which affects the scalp and face. To prevent a falre up three times a week I have to wash my scalp and face with head and shoulders shampoo (for 10 minutes) or vosene interchanged to prevent the yeast from getting used to the treatment ( I cannot use nothing else apart from selenium disulphide but that smells terrible). When I get a bad flare up I have to Use a steriod cream with an antifugal ingredient (prescribed by thre GP) but I have not used one for awhile, as the tea tree wash and shampoo is holding it in check. To treat my other skin condition I have to use 10% benzoyl peroxide to kill the bacteria. I need to use a lot of products other wise I will suffer. I admit a lot of things I use is not recycable but I have no choice. i also use a tea tree oil facial scrub once a week to get rid of my oily buildup. I also use aveeno (made from oats) on my face as a means of preventing flaky skin (bottle is recyclable).

    For my body I use only soap with minimal wrapping and to brush my teeth I use a plastic brush and ordinary toothpaste. Once a month I mix sodium bicarbonate with my toothpaste as it good at getting rid of stains and a mouthwash which is totally recycable. I do not use a deodorant asunder my armbits is very sensitive but I spray my clothes instead.

    In summary I use alot of products some recyclable and other not. My skin is thr great driver,

  11. Sandy says:

    can anybody tell me how long would my deodorant crystal last, and how do I know when it is p\zt itz best ???

  12. Hazel says:

    The talk about dental floss is interesting. Bea at the Zero Waste Home mentioned a brass gum stimulator that she uses instead. I looked for one in the UK, but could only find one for ยฃ20 plus P+P on Amazon.

    I’ve just had another look, and found one in the US and it seems to work out as ยฃ4.50 ($7.41) for a stimulator, replacement head and postage to the UK. http://www.kleenteeth.com/mycategory.php?do=list&bname=GUM.Sunstar.Butler&cname=Gum_Stimulators
    I’m very tempted. The heads are labelled latex-free rubber- would that compost? Rubber does, but is latex-free rubber ‘real’ rubber?! Even if it has to go in the bin, it would be one tiny head infrequently rather than endless floss.

    I am prone to gum/dental problems, so if I can use something other than floss, that would be great.

  13. Joddle says:

    When I was living in Nepal for a couple of months I washed with only about 500ml of water. When I had a shower each day it was what I called a bucket wash. A single bucket to wash and rinse my whole body, and my hair if I’d washed it.

    When I came back to England this was a habit I was going to keep as I had become used to not using much water and I thought it would make an excellent contribution to cutting my carbon footprint.

    However, from the first moment I took a shower in England (it was March and a bit cold) all my resolve left and I have returned to taking showers. I’m pretty quick about it though: not taking more than about 4 minutes.

    Bathroom toiletries are cleverly marketed products. Even 5 years ago shower gel was looked at as a luxury and now it seems to have become a necessity. I hate the extra plastic and it doesn’t last as long. Great for the manufacturers and retailers however as it costs more than fast disappearing regular ‘ole soap.

    Southwark Council’s recycling outreach team are giving away shower gels in plastic bottles which say ‘recycle me’ on them. At first I thought it was a good idea as many people don’t know they can be recycled. Then I thought about it; it’s better to cut out the middle man and to buy something that doesn’t need to be recycled in the first place. Why not give out bars of soap with a paper ‘recycle me’ label on them?

  14. John Costigane says:

    Specialist retailer, Lush, provides Zero Waste Home Cosmetics which covers soap, deodorant, shampoo and bath salts, all in bar form. Having used all these products for many months only Dove Cream Soap, in card only packaging, is the exception. Latest purchases include lemon, again, and peppermint soaps with many more to try. One pleasing aspect from Lush is the ability to have compatible products, across the range of product types: ‘ Karma’ being one example, introduced by an assistant.

    Shaving consists of metal safety razor/blades and soap lather, Lush or Dove perfectly fine for the task. Tooth brushing using a wooden toothbrush/pig’s hair bristles combination with toothpaste packaging (minus lid) the only waste outcome.

  15. Lobma says:

    Mrs Green. How do you recycle the toothpaste tubes? I had no idea they were recyclable! Toothpaste is the last residue of the wasteful society I use.

    I’ve had a bar of hair Shampoo from Lush that lasted a year, and am only now onto the second one I bought at that time.

    I use Palmolive shaving stick, and I’ve only used about a third of one so far in 9 months. So with soap to wash face and body,

    AI the most green user of toiletries amongst men, or the most hygienics? ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Jo says:

    Please share with us how/where you recycle toothapaste tubes. I’m made great strides in cutting back the number of bathroom products in the house but am perplexed about what to do with toothpaste tubes.

  17. Teresa says:

    I was a bit of a dirty girl as I only washed my hair once or twice a week but was constantly styling it between washes. Because I had oily skin and rarely used foundation or powder I didn’t use moisturiser or cleansing cream much as there weren’t lighter formulations for those with oily skin back then though I used a lot of toner. I used a roll-on chemical deodorant and Colgate or supermarket own label toothpaste whereas now I buy Lush Aromaco solid deodorant and Kingfisher toothpaste alternatively with own label brands.

    When I take a shower I don’t want to wash the vitamin D off my arms and legs after being out in the sun so only use soap for more intimate parts.

    I used to buy shampoo bars from Lush but since I have fine hair I had to spend time fishing hairs out of the bar after washing my hair. Their Dirty product range includes toothpaste in tablet form with only cardboard packaging so I bought some. You can clean your teeth using fennel seeds with scrapings off a cuttlefish bone though I’ve never tried.

  18. Flipper says:

    I’m fairly new to following this website and the whole concept but would firstly like to say – love it!
    Now – more relevant to this post – I have a crystal deodorant but after one use I have put it to the back of the cupboard. It felt like I had dragged sharp blades over my arm pits for ages after. Am I doing something wrong??

  19. Mrs Green says:

    @hazel, can I ask how you use honey on your face? Would love to try this, but all I can envisage is a sticky mess! Not sure what latex free rubber is? Doesn’t sound natural to me!

    @hollie all those masks sound lovely; I guess using fruit is the simple and cheap way of making an AHA (or whatever they are called) product?

    @Kathy I believe you should be careful with using baking soda long term as I’ve heard it’s mildly abrasive? I’ve seen a hair removal strips recipe but I’m too chicken to use it LOL!

    @louise exciting about the soap – I hope it goes well! The toothbrushes are made from bamboo with natural bristles and the toothpaste tubes can be sent to the Philippines for recycling. We used to be able to do this via the PCF, but you now have to pay shipping which is quite considerable. So it might be worth setting up a collection point with friends / colleagues.

    @Stephen I remember the smell of carbolic soap; I can’t say it enamours me!

    @Sandy I still indulge in the odd can of mouse for TV work as my hair is very fine too. However, using clay eventually thickens your hair because you’re not stripping out the oils….For the deodorant, I’ve had mine about a year! it just wears away to nothing eventually.

    @LJayne sounds like you have things sorted Lesley. You could try a plastic toothbrush with a replaceable head for a compromise….

    @Julie Day Where do you get your compostable floss from, Julie?

    @Kelly good for you Kelly. i did the baking soda / a/c vinegar for a couple of years. I really liked it although it bought out all the red highlights in my hair and it practically went orange ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @Antonio It’s off topic, but colloidal silver might be good for your skin conditions, Antonio. It might not appeal to you because it’s not really a ‘scientific’ product, but it works wonders both inside and out…

    @Joddle a hot shower is a bit of a thing to lure into bad habits isn’t it? How annoying about the shower gel; I agree soap would have been better.

    @John Costigane I’m still to try the metal razors. Mr G reminded me of this only this morning – sigh…

    @Lobma @ Jo Toothpaste tubes can go to the Philippines, but sadly you’ll now have to pay shipping…I’m yet to try one of the famous LUSH solid shampoo bars. A year sounds great!

    @Teresa fascinating about the fennel seeds; not sure about the cuttlefish bone either!

    @Flipper welcome flipper, so glad you’ve left a comment. Are you a female flipper? I’m wondering if you applied the crystal stone to shaved armpits? It can smart alot because it’s very alkaline. You have to wet the stone (or your skin) before applying too, otherwise it drags the skin. not only that but it doesn’t work if it isn’t damp. Other than that you might have a dodgy stone, like an artificially made one rather than a natural alum. Check out this article for further info: http://mzw.wpengine.com/2010/04/sniff-my-pits/

  20. Hazel says:

    Mrs G- I use it like soap. I try and leave it on for as long as possible in the shower and then rinse it off, with or without a flannel. It’s not as sticky as you’d think, though I do wash my face before my hair, just in case!
    What is interesting how much you taste the honey- makes you wonder how much other cleanser you get in your mouth etc without realising…

  21. Mrs Green says:

    @Hazel: Thanks Hazel, it is reckoned we ingest up to 60% of what we put on our skin according to some things I have read…

  22. Flipper says:

    I am indeed a female Flipper. Thanks for the info. According to the retailer mine is ‘ammonium alum’ which if I’m reading your info right is not the natural crystal. I am currently trying a ‘natural’ deodorant from lush but am still interested in the crystal ones – am just confused as to how to know where to purchase the right one from ?

  23. Mrs Green says:

    @Flipper: I don’t know how you find out – my information came from the person I sourced mine from who is Sally at ‘Natural Spa Supplies’ (she is online) – she is brilliant and if you have any questions I’m sure she can help you…

  24. Francesca says:

    I love this post. In my teens I was a goth and I spent hours doing all the white face, black eyes, crimped hair pallava. The chemicals I must have ingested, don’t bear thinking about. Now, like you I have so few items and in my opinion I look ok and clean. Hurray for natural multi-purpose personal health items. Love your site, it rocks !

  25. Mrs Green says:

    @Francesca: Hi Francesca, oh yes – I remember crimping my hair until it practically turned to straw ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for the compliment on the site ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Sandy says:

    I have just been away Romania. well I took my crystal deodorant, and it worked, very well, no stinky bits at all. The weather was hot and sticky. 30 degrees most days.

  27. Mrs Green says:

    @Sandy: Yay! Sounds like a great success! I used the crystal deodorant this week for some pretty ‘nervous’ filming I did for a documentary; no one declined a hug so I guess it was working well! ๐Ÿ˜€

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