Hands up, who’s ever been in a bathroom with toiletries all over the place, towels strewn everywhere and cupboards full of random bathroom items (and the rest)??
I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever set foot in a bathroom, whether it be their own or someone else’s, will have seen something along the lines of the above.
Our modern-day bathroom is depicted on the likes of Instagram, Pinterest and every home organisation programme we come across, as this idyllic space with candles, beautifully labelled and organised toiletries, plants and no sign of a bin anywhere. The reality in most homes however is quite the opposite.
With busy lives involving work (working from home being an even bigger factor), children, animals and other family members, it can be hard keeping on top of, and with the added worry for a lot of people about trying to be more eco-friendly and sustainable with the items their homes now house, the pressure is on!
The question is: how do we deal with it and more importantly, can we sort it so it has a more environmentally friendly standard?
For a long time, in fact, most of my life, I never really thought too much about saving the planet, being an eco-warrior, looking for ways to do things differently that weren’t damaging to our lovely green Earth.
That’s not to say I didn’t do my bit – I was brought up to believe you should recycle where possible, don’t drop litter and do what you can to use as little energy as possible. However, it wasn’t until I hit my 30’s that I really started to take note, to make small but achievable changes that, while they definitely don’t ‘save the Earth’, do help to make it a more sustainable and eco-friendly world.
Some of the clients I work with really struggle with the concept of letting go, not because they don’t want to, but because they hate the thought of items going unnecessarily to landfill or being wasted when they can still be used, but just not by them. It causes great pain that these items build up in their homes and yet they struggle to move them out, usually because there are no obvious places to send them or they just don’t have a way to get them out easily.
However, the ability to recycle items, items that would have previously gone straight to landfill, is so much easier now. With the start-up of new recycling programmes and charities, it is becoming easier and easier to be able to let go of those items in our homes that we previously struggled to.
So, I want to give you some ideas and easy options for changes that you can make within your homes, in particular your bathrooms, to be more eco-friendly and turn that clutter into an eco-oasis without too much trouble.
Let’s start with the biggest item, as this is quite often part of the problem. Lots of cupboards and shelves means places to throw things on/in. When organising these spaces use baskets or boxes, anything you can to contain the items so they don’t become unruly. The most eco-friendly way to do this is utilise boxes you have around the house – shoe boxes, Amazon boxes (let’s face it, most houses have at least one or two of these) – these can be decorated using old wallpaper, or leftover wrapping paper, or simple brown craft paper, if you want to smarten them up. Or if you’re wanting a more uniformed and perfected look, opt for the recycled plastic, wicker, wooden or bamboo baskets you can now easily get on the market. Remember to label and keep like for like items together so you don’t overstock.
More often than not I come across bathrooms that seem to become the breeding ground for makeup.
If you wear it, go through it every few months and take out all items that you no longer use or are past their best. Sadly, items like mascara use lots of plastic and toxic ingredients, meaning they’re not as eco-friendly as we’d probably like. However, through the recycling magic that is www.terracycle.co.uk there are more ways these previously unrecyclable items can now be recycled. Maybelline have partnered with Terracycle and you can now find drop boxes in most main supermarkets to deposit your mascara, eye liner, palettes and foundation. Hurrah! Alternatively there are more eco-friendly makeup options on the market such as this mascara from Ecovibe: https://ecovibe.co.uk/collections/mascara
When it comes to cleaning your makeup off your face, traditionally people tend to use cotton wool pads. As they’re single use they’re a huge drain on the environment due to the chemicals, water and deforestation that goes into making and getting rid of them. Instead, opt for reusable makeup pads. They can be washed and used time and time again. I use these pads from Cheekywipes that work a treat (https://www.cheekywipes.com/reusable-makeup-removing-pad-kits.html), but you can also make your own using old towels or muslins.
If you’re using single use plastic soap containers, shampoo and conditioner bottles or bubble bath consider swapping to an eco-friendly glass bottle, that’s refillable from a local refill shop. There are so many popping up that you’re never far from one.
If you don’t feel you have the time to pop to a local shop, there are more and more companies offering refill items that can be sent in the post, cutting down on single-use bottles. You don’t have to swap them all either, just opt for the ones that you use the most to start and see how you get on.
Toothbrushes – for as long as I’ve been able to brush my teeth (we’re talking quite a few years here) – have been the good old plastic, limited-lifetime toothbrushes, which don’t decompose well and stick around in the ground for many years.
Instead, opt for a bamboo toothbrush. Bamboo is a sustainable source of material – as it grows at pretty much the same speed you can take it down. Usually, the bristles will still be nylon but they can be removed and the handle recycled. They even have options for electric toothbrushes too – so there’s really no excuse for not having one!
Cotton Buds – As previously mentioned, these unfriendly single-use items have caused chaos in the past when it comes to eco-friendliness. Thankfully the government have stopped the sale of plastic-stemmed ones and you can now get bamboo-made buds instead. However, you could go one step further and get a reusable bud, like the ones sold here at Last Object https://lastobject.com/. Much more eco-friendly, cuts down on storage space and easy to clean!
Deodorant – We all know that aerosols are not great for the environment. Not only that, but despite the fact that they have reduced the cans in size, they still take up lots of space and while they can be recycled, it’s much harder to do so. Instead, opt for an eco-friendly deodorant cream. It lasts a long time, smells great and is good on the environment too – win, win in my eyes!
If you’re after a bathroom cleaner that isn’t full of nasty chemicals there are lots on the market (you can buy from the refill shops or online as mentioned before) and you can also make your own.
Bicarbonate of soda, lemon and vinegar all have cleaning properties that work a treat and can leave a room or surface sparkling clean. Add a splash of essential oil and you’ll be left with a lasting lovely smell. Simply look online for homemade cleaning products and you’ll find an abundance of recipes.
Ok, I know you’ll be thinking ‘what on earth is she going to say about this?’, but hear me out, if you’re wanting to go down the eco-friendly route then you need to look at where your items are disposed. Having one bin in a bathroom doesn’t work as you’ll inevitably throw everything into the one and not sift it out into the correct bins when the time comes. Make your life easy and organise it by type, in the first instance, by getting a multi-space bin. There are more on the market than you may think, but you can easily just get two smaller containers (from your house) or use wicker baskets (with a liner) and use those instead. Something like this Joseph bin from Argos doesn’t break the bank and looks smart. (https://www.argos.co.uk/product/8475967)
Having said all that, if you’ve worked down the list above and made all those changes, you’ll find there won’t be anywhere near as much waste as before so the simple single bin may suffice after all!
Whatever you do, don’t put pressure on yourself to do it all in one go. If you want to be more eco-friendly and have an oasis of a bathroom, it can be done but as the sayings go; Rome wasn’t built in a day; & small steps lead to great things!
Siân Pelleschi (Sorted) APDO, Conference Director