12 Tips for a More Sustainable Bathroom – Sustainability Series

Your bathroom probably has a treasure trove of products that can be easily upgraded to be more sustainable.

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Welcome to the 2021 sustainability series. This blog post series will show you how to upgrade your products and lifestyle to be more sustainable, room by room of your house. If saving money, using less, and incorporating sustainable practices into your daily life are part of your New Years resolutions, this series is for you.

I thought we would start by upgrading the bathroom, because we’re flushing 2020 down the toilet! Just kidding, but metaphorically if that works for you, go with it.

Your bathroom probably has a treasure trove of products that can be easily upgraded to be more sustainable. Also, there are a number of daily habits associated with the bathroom (ahem) that produce a lot of waste (ahem, ahem) and be improved to be more earth-friendly. To me, the bathroom is a great place to start your sustainability journey.

Read on for tips to a more sustainable bathroom.

1) Tub scrub

The two ingredients you need to make an effective tub scrub. Photo by Caroline the Photographer.

Listen, I love Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser as much as the next person, but I DON’T love throwing away that melamine foam sponge after it disintegrates (usually after 2-3 uses–ugh!) Instead, I’ve been using a surprisingly effective combination of baking soda and vinegar to scrub off soap scum from the tub.

Instructions: Generously shake baking soda around your tub, really coating areas you want to concentrate (about a cup). Then, sprinkle white vinegar over the baking soda until a reaction occurs. Try not to wash away the baking soda, you want to form a paste-like texture. Let sit for 30 minutes. Using an enamel-safe sponge, scrub off any grime that has been lifted by the chemical reaction. Rinse with water.

2) Multi-purpose cleaner

Cleaning with my easy DIY multi-purpose spray. Photo by Caroline the Photographer.

The classic combination of baking soda and vinegar stars in the household multi-purpose cleaning spray. Combine 2 teaspoons baking soda with ½ cup of white vinegar and around 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (lemon essential oil works well here) in a spray bottle. Fill to the top with water.

3) Shampoo and conditioner bars

Using one of my favorite bar shampoos from Acure. Photo by Caroline the Photographer.

According to an article from FastCompany, the average American goes through 10 bottles of shampoo per year. I don’t need to tell you that the majority of these are plastic bottles that end up in landfills or the ocean. Consider making the switch to shampoo and conditioner bars, which require little to no packaging–and no plastic. They look just like bar soap and work just as well as your traditional shampoo and conditioner.

4) No-poo method

The really hardcore will consider forgoing shampoo and conditioner altogether. Instead of using traditional shampoo, wash your hair with baking soda and ‘condition’ with apple cider vinegar once a week.

Once a week?! The average American washes their hair 5 times a week. This incessant washing strips the hair of natural oil, and causes your glands to actually produce more oil. I can now comfortably wash my hair with this method once a week without feeling greasy.

As an added bonus, you’ll save lots of money. Statista found that Americans spent almost $80 per year on hair care products in 2019. This means that I’ve saved over $500 in the seven years I’ve employed the ‘no-poo’ method.


Shampoo – Combine 1 tablespoon baking soda with 3 cups water. Apply solution while in the shower, letting sit for a few minutes. Work in the hair like you would a shampoo, but note baking soda will not lather like regular shampoo. It may feel a bit slippery. Rinse with water.

Conditioner – Combine 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar with 3 cups water and apply in the shower after washing with baking soda. Let sit for a minute. Rinse with water.

5) Speaking of “no-poo,” try essential oils for toilet fragrance

Say goodbye to bathroom stink with essential oils. Photo by Caroline the Photographer.

Products like Frebreze and Poo-Pourri claim to cover up bad odors after trips to the bathroom. I find the scents cloying and headache-y, but even more annoying is the plastic packaging. Instead, we use eucalyptus essential oil to do the job. Sprinkle a few drops of essential oil before going about your business. In theory, you could probably use any essential oil, but I find eucalyptus to be especially adept at overpowering smells.

6) Bamboo toothbrushes

Skip the plastic and opt for a bamboo toothbrush. Photo by Caroline the Photographer.

According to National Geographic, Americans throw away a billion toothbrushes every year. Much of this, of course, is plastic waste. I’m not suggesting you stop changing out your toothbrush (gross!) but at least consider making the switch to a biodegradable option (like this bamboo toothbrush).

7) Plastic-Free Razor

Get a plastic-free shave with this Leaf Shave Plastic Free Razor. Photo by Caroline the Photographer.

I’ll be honest here and say I still have a plastic razor from the same major brand I’ve been using since middle school. In my defense, I use razors for probably too long because I hate using new razors. (I tend to slice my legs up with a new razor because they’re too sharp! Maybe I’m just a newb.) Anyway, I’m proud to say I will be making the switch to a plastic-free razor in 2021.

8) Reusable cotton rounds

Remove makeup with reusable cotton rounds. Photo by Caroline the Photographer.

Reusable cotton rounds are game changers in your bathroom lineup. Use them to replace makeup wipes, peel pads, and cotton balls. I like to use them to remove makeup by wetting my face, applying a little jojoba oil, and gently wiping with the rounds. I love these reusable cotton rounds from Boston-local company Brown and Coconut.

9) Make your own face mask

Photo by Caroline the Photographer.

Why spend money on overpriced face masks when you can make your own? DIY face masks are fun and effective. Seriously, ditch the single-use sheet masks and get to experimenting with products you likely already have in the kitchen. One of my favorite masks to make is a mix of calcium bentonite clay, honey and apple cider vinegar.

10) Buy frequently used products in bulk
A relatively easy hack is to make note of any bathroom products you are regularly buying. Do these products come in plastic packaging that you are throwing away every time you replace? If so, consider buying that product in bulk to reduce the amount of plastic waste your bathroom produces. For example, I buy hand/dish soap by the gallon and refill our soap dispensers. I also bought a gallon of jojoba oil (our moisturizer of choice) last year and it’s still going strong.

11) Upgrade your toilet paper
According to research from the National Resource Defense Council, the average American uses three rolls of toilet paper each week. That’s a lot of trees that are cut down for your bum! Start by making the switch to recycled toilet paper. Bamboo toilet paper is another sustainable option, as bamboo grows quickly and requires less water to produce.

12) Sustainably packaged and refillable makeup

Some of my favorite sustainably packaged makeup. Photo by Caroline the Photographer.

The makeup industry has made huge strides in the last few years toward more sustainable packaging practices. Many brands are incorporating recycled materials, introducing refillable options, and reducing packaging all together. I love Aether Beauty for their commitment to using recycled and recyclable materials. My favorite Aether Beauty eyeshadow palette is completely recyclable and comes without a mirror. (When was the last time you actually used the tiny mirror that comes with the palette?) Axiology’s Balmies are lip-cheek-eye multitaskers that are packaged completely in paper and 100% zero-waste. My favorite high-performing clean makeup brand Ilia has a recycling program where you can send back up to five empty beauty products per month and they will recycle for you.

Have any other ideas for a more sustainable bathroom? I’d love to hear them! Follow me on Instagram for more sustainability tips and stay tuned for more in the 2021 sustainability series.

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I created PunkMed to write about my passions—health, sustainability, and the outdoors.


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