Bad habits: How to make your bathroom waste-free

Erin Rhoads is on a mission to help everyone live with less waste.

“Change starts with me,” says Erin. “And it’s not as hard as people think it could be.” But a good motivator, according to Erin, is thinking about the kind of world we are going to leave our children.

Listen to Erin Rhoads on Feed Play Love

The Rogue Ginger’s mission: Do you choose to accept it? 

Erin’s road to change came after watching the eco-documentary, The Clean Bin Project, which inspired her own journey to waste-free living and her own blog called The Rogue Ginger. But it’s recent research from zero-waste leader, Ethique  that startled her the most: here in Australia, we throw out 356 million plastic bottles just from the bathroom every single year.

If you’re anything like us, and you are blown away (not in a good way) by this fact, Erin says out of all the rooms in the house, the bathroom is the best place to start making changes. 

“It’s probably the most neglected room in the house when it comes to reviewing our waste habits,” says Erin.

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The zero waste and plastic free lifestyle does more than help cut back what we throw into our garbage bins. It sets many of us on a path to reevaluate what we truly need for ourselves as individuals. The photo above is proof of this. Three years ago I made the switch to water only hair washing. Well not water only to be exact, I do use rosemary tea and my hair brush gets more of a work out these days than it used to. No more shampoo or conditioner at home. Some might think it sounds tedious or they’ve tried water to find it didn’t suit them. Obviously there is no right or wrong way to wash your hair if you live zero waste/plastic free. There are so many ways to cut back on the plastic and waste whether it’s refilling shampoo bottles at a bulk store, washing hair with rye flour (it’s a thing!) and rinsing with apple cider vinegar, or a shampoo bar wrapped in paper. I’ve tried most of them and found water worked best for me. What this photo represents is learning to pause and ask myself if I was just buying a product because that’s what everyone else is doing without question. Going zero waste and reducing plastic helps us learn to question everything. At least that’s what it has taught me. And to conclude this ramble I’ve written a blog post about my zero waste hair routine on the blog, link in my profile 👩🏼‍🦰. Image: hair brush, plastic comb, spray bottle and rosemary laid out on a table. #zerowastehaircare #goingzerowaste #zerowaste #zerowastebeauty #noshampoo #wateronlyhairwashing #healthyhair #quittingplastic #lessplastic #rosemary #rethink #ecohair #ecohairproducts #reuse #wastefreeliving #lowwasteliving #wastenot #lessstuff #wastenotbook

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Ban (all) the bottles

“When everyone has a different shampoo and the shower gel and the bath bubbles. It all adds up.”

Erin’s first tip is to get rid of the shampoo altogether and invest in shampoo and conditioner bars.

“Most of the shampoo in liquid form is water. You save three-five plastic bottles if you buy a shampoo bar, instead of a bottle … just be sure to store it all in a container so it doesn’t get all sludgy.”

The next item to reconsider is the toothbrush

“Replace them with bamboo or wooden toothbrushes, as the only part of those that are plastic are the bristles,” says Erin.

“When it’s time to replace them you can soak the brushes in hot water and then pull them out and put them in the compost. The same goes for the bottom bit of the brush, you can use them for craft projects, in the garden or straight into the compost.”

Plastic bath toys  

Did you know that most plastic toys are made from recyclable plastic? That means when the toy breaks they can no longer be recycled.

“I buy our plastic toys from the toy library or op shops, so I am not buying anything new. But you can also use wooden toys,” says Erin.

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REUSE > We have kept our wooden toothbrushes after removing the nylon bristles for reuse. To remove the bristles soak the head in boiling water and then use pliers to pull them out. The bristles go into the bin and the body is used as plant markers in our garden, stirring sticks in the laundry, drum sticks for my son. They will also be great for art and craft in years to come. And then when they get to the end of their life, off they go to our home compost. Not the council compost collection service as they don’t take treated wood. Wooden toothbrushes are heat treated without chemicals. Photo: Three toothbrushes laying on a piece of board. Two of the toothbrushes have the bristles removed. #wastenotbook #wastenot #reuse #upcycle #actyourvision #woodentoothbrush

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The secret benefit of going waste-free 

One of the hidden benefits of going waste-free is the money you will save.

Erin says buying less also means being mindful of where you will spend your money.

“Not buying anything new anymore allows me the opportunity to think about where I put money. I try to buy things that last and not too much of them,” says Erin.

“It’s also about slowing down and thinking before you buy something on impulse just to keep your child happy. It’s okay to say no and explain to them why. Children are highly empathetic to animals and the world around them, they understand better than we do.”

Simple swaps can make a huge difference

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Beauty switches! On my less waste journey I have been blown away by the number of eco-friendly alternatives available. One of my beauty faves have to be these reusable makeup wipes! . Not just cute, these super-absorbent reusable makeup wipes are crocheted using 100% cotton. Perfect for removing makeup and cleansing, they come in a handy pack of seven, one for each day of the week and the best part is, they can be used over and over again! . They come with a drawstring wash bag. To clean throw them in the bag and wash them in a normal cycle in your washing machine. These guys last for 2-3 years and once you're finished pop them in your compost. . . . . #zerowaste #waste #ecofriendly #australia #consciousliving #ecolife #reuse #recycle #refuse #loveourplanet #planetfriendly #plastic #waronplastic #cleanourplanet #pickuprubbish #drinkclean #environment #organicbeauty #plasticfreebeauty #beautyblogger #handmade #naturalbeauty #organic #health #healthylife #savetheplanet #inspo #beauty #beautyinspo #love

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Lottie Dalziel, sustainability expert and founder of Banish, agrees that simple swaps, like using a shampoo bar and switching to a bamboo toothbrush, are excellent green habits that can be introduced easily to reduce bathroom waste. However, there’s another swap worth considering: reusable nappies!

Lottie says millions of disposable nappies end up in Australian landfills each year. Once there, they can take up to 500 years to break down.

Not only does ditching disposable nappies help to reduce waste, but doing so will also save you money. 

According to Recycle Right, a South Australian government initiative: “The cost of using only disposable nappies is about $3500 to $4500 per child. The total cost for cloth nappies that can be used over and over again, including liners and laundering, is around $1000.”

But if using reusable nappies isn’t always an option, Lottie says, “Using one reusable nappy each day can still make a huge difference to the environment and save you money.”

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