Welcome to Day 4 – Zero Waste Week 2019! Climate Change in the Bathroom

day 4 challenge - multi purpose cleaner


Welcome to day 4! I’d love to know how you got on with your clothes yesterday. Don’t forget to send me a selfie of you wearing an old favourite outfit – let me know how long you’ve had the item too!

Onto day 4 then. Although the bathroom seems like an unlikely place to tackle waste and climate change, there are small feasible changes that can make a big difference.

Bathroom products are large offenders for excess packaging, which as we know are very likely to end up in landfill. Face creams, shampoos, toothpaste and countless other products all come in plastic as the norm. This packaging is not even necessarily being recycled! The most common bottles and packaging not known to be recyclable are those of bleach, shampoo, conditioner, bathroom and kitchen cleaners and soap dispensers.[1] So capturing all that important resource that is bathroom packaging is a great habit to make sure you have in your household, not just for Zero Waste Week of course, but for life. It is an easy solution that makes a big difference to put a recycling bin or bag in your bathroom or perhaps on the landing to capture the products used in bedroom and bathroom in your house and that is probably a surprising number of (mostly plastic) containers. However, recycling is of course only the second best option, not consuming such vast quantities of these packaged products in plastic is the best thing you can do to reduce waste and help ease climate change.


Each day of Zero Waste Week, we’re reducing the price of an item in our shop. The offer runs from midnight to midnight BST.

Today, we’re helping you reduce the amount of products you buy to clean your home by offering signed copies of my book “Self Sufficiency Household Cleaning” for £2 off the cover price. You’ll learn how to make your own products for every room of the house, using ingredients you might already have in your home. Get your copy for £5.99 – includes UK postage. Books are in limited supply, so buy yours now.


Even more interestingly, the products used to clean your bathroom are also unlikely contributors to climate change. Aside from plastic packaging, the process required to make synthetic scents actually uses masses of energy and thus contributes to climate change. In fact, the chemical sector is the third largest source of industrial CO2 .[2] This just shows that a zero-waste lifestyle cuts down on more waste than we can see. Not only will your rubbish bins be emptier, but industrial waste and greenhouse gas production could also drop!

stats on bathroom recycling


Plastic comes in all forms in the bathroom. Start by looking at what you use every day. Firstly, do you use earbuds, cotton wool, tooth-floss, disposable razors and toothbrushes? All this is single-use plastic, meaning after its very short life, it heads straight in the bin and will likely end up in landfill. Now I am not suggesting we forego personal hygiene here, but rather that we think about finding some more sustainable and zero-waste alternatives. For example, can you use washable eco-friendly reusable cotton rounds, metal razors which you can put into the metal recycling at your local recycling centre or a bamboo toothbrush which you can add to your home compost or put with your garden waste collection? These types of products keep rubbish out of your general waste bins and out of landfill. Alternatively, find a recycling program for the products you use – and better still switch to those manufacturers and suppliers that do offer recycling schemes rather than ones that don’t. The more companies see that the public cares about the environment and the conscious use of resources, the more they will invest in ensuring their products are sustainable and recyclable or reusable. 


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stats for bathroom recycling

In terms of other products, you can buy shampoo and conditioner in bulk to reduce the amount of plastic in your rubbish bin. Rather than buying several smaller plastic bottles find yourself a pretty and practical container that you can decant into from your 5 litre plastic bulk buy bottle which you can share round the whole family or group of friends or find a refill shop and take your favourite refillable container there. Or switch to solid bars of shampoo, conditioner and soap and avoid a bottle all together. A Swiss study found that liquid soap has a 25% larger carbon footprint than bar soap, so you’re reducing waste on two fronts and fighting climate change![3] Some zero-waste shops sell shampoo, conditioner and soap in bulk so you can re-fill your bottles and save some money too!

You could even try your hand at some DIY products. Coconut oil makes a great body moisturiser, baking soda can whiten your teeth and apple cider vinegar can reduce blemishes! These products are far less expensive than the plastic-clad alternatives sold in supermarkets

zero waste bathroom swaps


This advice can be applied to your cleaning routine both in and out the bathroom. Firstly, steer clear of synthetic fragrances as we know these chemicals produce a lot of greenhouse gases. Instead, try and use natural alternatives like vinegar and water or this zero-waste all-purpose cleaner (https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/zero-waste-all-purpose-cleaner), which you can pop into reusable spray bottles. By creating your own cleaning products, you avoid so much waste and don’t have to worry about using harmful chemicals. Less waste means less worry!

Also get maximum use out of your cloths by washing them and reusing them, whilst avoiding harsh chemicals that will degrade them. Bonus points if you use old clothes to make cleaning rags! Think about investing in some zero-waste tools like a wooden toilet brush or scrubbing brush to replace sponges and scourers that have a shorter shelf life.

These small changes are manageable and could nearly eliminate the need for a bin in your bathroom! That is one less bin to empty, one less worry and one more step towards alleviating climate change through a zero-waste lifestyle!

make cloths from old towels or clothes

Today’s Challenge:

Try your hand at this all-purpose cleaner. Mix one part water, one part vinegar, some lemon rind and a sprig of rosemary into a spray bottle and see just how effective it can be!

Businesses, if you didn’t get your pack in time for Zero Waste Week, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Take a look at our other packs which cover reducing plastic and reducing food waste – you can use these throughout the year to engage staff and do your very own Zero Waste Week.  We have posters and postcards too. Check our items here.


Good blog post with some zero-waste bathroom brand ideas https://www.aconsideredlife.co.uk/2018/09/zero-waste-bathroom-guide.html

Brand head and shoulders incorporates beach plastic into their packaging https://resource.co/article/head-shoulders-wins-un-award-first-beach-plastic-shampoo-bottle-12172

How to have a zero-waste period https://eco-age.com/news/how-have-plastic-free-period

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/15/british-households-fail-to-recycle-a-staggering-16m-plastic-bottles-a-day

[2] https://www.iea.org/newsroom/news/2018/june/commentary-from-energy-to-chemicals.html

[3] https://friendsoftheearth.uk/plastics/beauty-and-beast-plasticfree-bathroom

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Rachelle Strauss


  1. Sophie on September 5, 2019 at 2:19 pm


    I’ve found the topics this week so interesting, the bathroom especially as it is the one place I never think to recycle. I will be hanging a bag on the back of the bathroom door to put recyclables in!

    Incidentally, The Stylist also had an article on recycling bathroom products. Most of the information was the same things you were talking about but they had one extra bit on how to separate metal springs from sprays so that plastics and metals are separated for recycling. Its is at the end of the following article https://www.stylist.co.uk/beauty/how-to-recycle-bathroom-products-plastics/294202

    they also had a section on recycling beauty products that I found interesting https://www.stylist.co.uk/beauty/recycling-beauty-products-bathroom-plastic-bottle-recycling/264384.

    Thanks again for the super interesting emails!

  2. Angela Twiselton on September 5, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    Body Shop and Lush are now both cruelty free again and will reward you for recycling your bottles and tubs with them.

  3. Helen Butt on September 6, 2019 at 7:10 am

    Faith in Nature products (available through health food stores) can be refilled at several outlets in Leeds (so presumably other parts of the country, too).

    Neals Yard do many of their products in glass. Unfortunately, the shop in Leeds is very small, so I doubt they could ever have a full refill service but when it comes to the (medicinal) herbs, they invite you to take your own container.

    Another responsible producer is Weleda, who has set up a programme for their soft tube packaging: https://www.weleda.co.uk/recycling-program

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