Whilst working on the farm in Hawaii, I lived in an RV and had to come up with a zero waste (or minimal waste) plan. With not much space I became very conscious of what I really needed for my body and how I could create zero waste solutions. Switching to a zero (or minimal) waste bathroom is thoroughly liberating and best of all - cheaper. Prior to my Hawaiian sabbatical I was under the misperception that making your own stuff was 1) hard and 2) poorer quality - neither of which are true. I helped make soap on the farm and also used the goat's milk shampoo, conditioner and lotion. All of which were faultless. Here I have compiled my zero waste tips on how to achieve a zero waste lifestyle.
This page is primarily focused on equipping you to be a zero/minimal waste eco-warrior so I don't focus too much on brands - more on empowering you to make these changes. For more information on brands I really love check out the Wilde Face, Wilde Body and Wilde Beauty pages. These products come from companies that are organic, consider their packaging and environmental impact and are cruelty free - all the good stuff.
FOR ALL THE DIY HOME BLEND RECIPES BELOW - TRY AND USE YOUR OLD JARS AND BOTTLES, I USE A LOT OF OLD CONDIMENT GLASS JARS...
zero waste Toothbrush
Traditional toothbrushes are made from plastic and have such short shelf lives (c. 3-4 months) that throughout our lifetimes we are senidng so much plastic to landfills. I find it somewhat ironic that what we use to clean our teeth is dirtying the planet. In the US alone over 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away every year creating 50 million pounds of landfill waste.
Switch to the environmentally friendly alternative - the bamboo toothbrush. Bamboo grows fast and the pandas are ok as they eat a different type of bamboo to the one used in the production of these toothbrushes.
What to do?
Keep hold of your old toothbrushes and use them for household cleaning (taps, floors, hard to reach spots, your car etc).
zero waste Toothpaste
Most toothpaste comes in plastic tubing, which we dispose of when we are finished, like with most things. Making your own is so easy and leaves your mouth feeling fresh and clean. You don't get the same frothing and bubbling as with "traditional" tube toothpaste - but who cares when the baking soda makes my teeth sparkle?
Homemade toothpaste recipe
- Glass jar
- 3-4 heaped tablespoons coconut oil (soft)
- 2 tablespoons of baking soda
- 15-20 drops essential oil (peppermint or cinnamon)
Alternatively if you want to try it out first I would recommend Georganics - they are a small company who care. Their toothpaste is coconut oil based and comes in different flavours and is accompanied by a little scoop. When I bought my second tub (made of glass not plastic) I asked to not have the plastic scoop included, which they were happy to do. I am delighted to say they now only provide wooden scoops. Way to go team. This is a great example of how small companies listen to their customers.
zero waste makeup remover
Do not waste your money any longer on makeup remover. Coconut oil is fast and effective (I take the one I cook with and scoop some into a glass jar for my bathroom, which doubles as body moisturiser and makeup remover). Dissolve some in your hand and massage into your face focussing on your eye makeup if necessary, then take your own homemade cotton pads (see below) to remove. Rinse with warm water.
Having your own reusable cotton pads will change your life - no more last minute dashes to the local pharmacy. Take an old towel and cut into strips and then into little squares (I started doing circles which was creating waste - why do they need to be circles? - squares work just as well). Sew around the edge to secure. I then have a separate glass jar in the bathroom to place the used ones which I chuck in the wash when full.
- 1 old towel
- Glass jar
zero waste face cleanser
I know people are very particular about how they clean their face. Switching to oil based cleansing completely enhanced my skin so I would encourage you to give it a try. I create my own facial oils - start small and build your way up. Oil doesn't make your skin oily - plant oils assimilate with your skin's natural oils and create balance. The only way to break down oil (like sebum which causes spots) is with oil - it's science.
Classic Facial Oil
- 100ml Carrier oil of your choice
- 20-30 drops essential oil
- Frankincense (this is my favourite EO for my face as it is such a strong astringent - creating tone, minimising pores and also healing old acne scars)
Once you become comfortable with the classic mix feel free to create your own blends. There are so many resources out there, but check out Wilde Face for my personal blend.
zero waste Facial Toner
Plant hydrosols are nature's answer to toning your skin. These are the "waters" left after distillation to extract a plants essential oils. Simply pour a small amount onto you homemade cotton pad and wipe over your face. It will remove any excess oil from your cleansing and also acts as a natural astringent, without the damaging effects of alcohol. You can also decant some of the hydrosol into a spray bottle and use as a refreshing mist for you face or hair. If you use Frankincense essential oil in your oil cleanser you will find that your skin will feel tighter and a hydrosol toner may not be needed.
I use NHR Organics as their products are certified by the Soil Association and you get more bang for your buck. Their products also come in glass with aluminium tops (no plastic!). They offer both floral water and essential oils waters - opt for the floral water for toning purposes.
- Normal/dry/combination skin: Rose floral water
- All skin types: Lavender floral water
- Normal to dry skin: Neroli floral water
- Combination skin: Geranium floral water
zero waste moisturiser
My answer to supple skin is again...oils. I don't tend to need to moisturise my skin after using an oil cleanser and then toner as my skin already feels soft and nourished, however again this is personal preference. You can reapply a small amount of the oil you used for cleansing if you feel that is necessary. The only product I would recommend using afterwards would be an SPF for sun protection.
For eyes I use castor oil at night - applying a small dab to my eye lash line. Look forward to stronger and thicker lashes. Use your face oil under your eyes as well.
zero waste Shampoo & Conditioner
So much wastage comes from those pesky shampoo and conditioner bottles. Find out more how you can embrace zero waste hair care in 5 simple steps through our blog. in a nutshell you can go zero waste with a shampoo bar - a great small company called Living Naturally make really nice ones using soapnuts and their herbal apple cider vinegar rinse is awesome. Make use of the pump bottle and make your own rinse afterwards. There is also the Lush shampoo and conditioner range, who are awesome as they have "saved nearly 6 million plastic bottles globally from selling shampoo bars alone" as they operate their Naked packaging policy.
Since switching to organic and herbal hair alternatives I've never needed conditioner. Leave these products in your hair to let the herbs work their magic, comb through in the shower and rinse out. If you need a bit of moisture use a balm, like the Odylique Ultra Rich Balm. This doubles as a body moisturiser (win). Again you can keep the container afterwards and make your own balms.
I now use a baking soda and apple cider vinegar hair routine and occasionally incorporate the aforementioned items to mix it up.
Home made dry shampoo
Mix all together and use a funnel to pour into spice shaker. Sprinkler over roots and massage into hair and then brush. I follow with a hydrosol (like rose/lavender - see Facial Toner above)to freshen my hair as well.
- One old spice shaker
- 2 tablespoons arrow root powder (or cornstarch)
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon or cocoa powder (depending on hair colour)
- 5 drops of essential oil (lavender/ylang ylang)
zero waste Body
It's a wonder how people used to function for millennia without the bathroom accessories we have now - kidding we use way too much sh*t. Oils are incredible for your skin, create your own signature blends using olive oil, sea buckthorn oil (my favourite - it's like a natural fake tan), avocado oil and essential oils (remember keep concentration to 2-3% or 20-30ml per 100ml of carrier oil as EOs are very potent). If you prefer balmier textures, add some shea butter to a mixer and pour in your oils and blend together. Infusing oils with herbs, like chamomile, rose and calendula gives them additional healing properties. I'll soon be writing a how-to guide on how to do this!
For hair removal, I strongly recommend getting laser hair removal - tonnes of great deals out there. No more plastic razors. Or, invest in a sustainable (plastic free!) alternative like this rose gold one. Even the replacement heads are cheaper than the horrible disposable plastic ones.
Washing your body is super easy by using the soap you use for your shampoo. Cut the soap into smaller pieces to manage easier. Alternatively, if you are set on having a liquid soap, the only brand I would ever recommend would be the iconic Dr Bronner's. Buy a big bottle (all of their bottles and pumps are 100% post consumer recycled plastic) of castille soap - lavender, peppermint, almond, citrus, eucalyptus, rose and tea tree. Dr Bronner's castille soap is also multi-purpose and can be used to clean your "Face, body, hair & food, dishes, laundry, mopping, pets & clean your house and body", so decant into other pump bottles and take full advantage!
zero waste DEODORANT
Here is an easy switch to make - from plastic stick to glass jar. If you haven't used a "natural" deodorant before then have a try - I really like Schmidt's or Evolve. Once you have given it a try - make your own!
Natural Deodorant Recipe
Combine the coconut oil (slightly softened) and shea butter in a mixer. Once combined add in the arrow root powder and baking soda and essential oils. Once all mixed scoop into a the glass jar and leave it fridge to set. You only need to massage a pea sized amount into your underarms.
- One glass jar (plus one more for any excess)
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons arrow root powder (pick up in bakery section at supermarket)
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons shea butter
- 20 drops essential oils
- Lavender & Rose
*if you don't have shea butter use 6 table spoons of coconut oil instead
**some people come out in a rash which is mainly due to the baking soda and your body detoxing (happened to my sister) - you can half the amount of baking soda and this normally resolves the issue
LADIES - zero waste
Ladies, now is time to ditch the tampons/pads. According to the Women's Environmental Network "tampons, pads and panty liners generate more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year, and they all contain plastic - in fact, pads are around 90% plastic - which ends up in landfill or, even worse, in seas and rivers...conventional disposable menstrual products are bleached white, and this process creates the chemical dioxin, which is linked to immune system suppression, reproductive issues and cancer." Pick up a menstrual cup and never look back - this one is VAT free and comes with a carrying pouch so you will never have one of those bathroom panic moments ever again.
zero waste EXTRAs
Replace your toilet paper with a sustainable option like Who gives a Crap an amazing social enterprise doing great work saving our forests and funding hygiene and sanitation projects. To clean your bathroom, either make your own or start using something like Splosh - buy the first starter kit (bathroom cleaner and toilet), and then purchase the refillable sachets (bathroom and toilet) - simply add to your empty bottle, add water, and it's ready to use! Cheaper and no plastic bottle waste!
Homemade bathroom cleaner
Add warm water and baking soda to a spray bottle and shake until combined. Add in remaining ingredients, spray on surfaces, leave for 2 minutes and wipe away with a cloth. Water based products have a shorter shelf life so half the recipe for shorter term usage.
- One spray bottle
- Half warm water
- Half white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 30 drops Tea Tree oil
- 20 drops Lemon/Orange Essential Oil
When disposing of old bottles you can't find a good DIY use for - PUT THEM IN RECYCLING. I used to be guilty of mindlessly throwing away bottles in my bathroom bin (which I put in the general trash when it was full) and not taking them into the kitchen where my recycling bin is.
Please share your DIY creations by using #wilde4theworld
I would love to see what oils you enjoy and respond to and what other zero waste things you are doing - any innovative solutions would be great to share with the wider community!