I’m not quite sure how we managed to forget to blog about this daily activity until now… Anna and I have talked a lot about washing hair, shaving and other bathroom routines, that we seemed to have forgotten about what we do frequently- to actually wash ourselves.
Using up shower gels and bubble baths which I purchased before going zero waste has taken rather a long time, as I cherish products more than I used to. By squeezing shower gels onto sponges or loofahs I was able to make a little bit of shower gel go a long way.
I still didn’t love that these products were in plastic which I now had to reuse or recycle and were probably highly chemical based, but it was great that my new zero waste mindset was aware of this. I had to make a real conscious effort not go out and buy zero waste shower gels and bath products before I used up the old stuff, as I didn’t want to waste what I used to use. In the nearly two years since going zero waste, I have tried out a fair few things. Some of these will work for you, others may not. Test out ones which you like the sound of and let us know when you find the perfect product for you!
Products I use in the shower
Some of you lucky people may live close enough to a refill shop where you can take an old bottle and get it filled up with shower gel. When I started my zero waste journey, I didn’t have a zero waste shop near me.
Seeing how I couldn’t easily get shower gel, shampoo or conditioner refills, I switched to bar soaps.
I started off using soaps from LUSH, as these were package free and I could take a Tupperware box to the shop and fill them up.
The sales assistant once did a little happy dance for me, because she was so impressed that I had my own box for the soap. Reason number 45961 to go Zero Waste, you may get unexpected happy dances performed at you.
I do really love LUSH, but am aware that some people call them out for Greenwashing, as they do use some safe synthetics in their products. I, however, take the stance that they are pioneers on the animal rights perspective and I can easily shop there for pretty much every bathroom product and beauty product waste free.
I’ve also purchased olive oil soap, which I can get easily form Holland and Barrett. This is good value for money as it is about £1.60 and lasts ages. It’s really good for my dry skin too.
A lovely treat for baths and showers are products from Honest in King Heath Birmingham. All their products are natural and as close to zero waste as possible. They take back bottles or sell solid soaps package free.
Making your own
I’ve had slightly varied results with making my own shower gels and soaps. I should probably be more persistent in order to get better results, but when the shop brought products are waste free and actually clean me properly (!) it seems a bit like a faff and I don’t want to waste ingredients.
I’ve experimented with making my own shower gels using some recipes I found on Hello Glow (is that the cutest ever blog name!? Maybe, the jury is out) and whilst they were lovely, I felt like I was creating more waste by gathering all the different ingredients than I would be if I was to buy a product made by someone who had actual skills in soap making.
Solid soaps are pretty easy to make if you get a readymade soap base from The Soapery, like I did. The soap bases are SLS free (a nasty chemical which is bad for skin) I then customised them with essential oils, adding oats, herbs or other exfoliates and pour them into silicone moulds. Again, some parts of this process (the soap base and oils, for instance) did come in packaging, hence why I haven’t done much soap making.
As I mentioned before, sponges or loofahs can make shower products last lots longer. Natural versions of these are ideal, as there is no concern for parts breaking off and getting into the water stream. Finding a natural sponge or loofah waste free is like finding a unicorn in the UK! I compromised and purchased a loofah in a cardboard box with plastic sticker keeping it closed.
If your countries climate is hot enough, or you have a greenhouse, you could grow the luffa plant and dry out the fruit into a loofah. (I’ve never tried this, so check it would work where you are, before investing time into the project!)
I experiment with different concoctions in the bath, dependent on how I’m feeling.
Epsom salts, essential oils, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and oats are all great things to add to baths which you may already have at home.
The typical ratio is one cup of the ingredient to a full tub of water (expect from the oils, which you only need tiny amounts of, as they can make surfaces slippy).
Epsom salts are relaxing and great for muscle aches.
Apple cider vinegar is great for mild skin irritations, so I use this if I have really bad eczema to help calm it. I also wash my hair with this, so I can do a 2-in-1 job of washing my skin and hair with this one. I recommend having a clean rinse after washing in apple cider vinegar.
Coconut oil is moisturising, whilst oats are exfoliating. Both are mild enough to use with sensitive skin. Add a tiny bit of coconut oil to a bath (careful, the bath gets slippy!) and add more if you like.
Oats are great for eczema. Wizz the oats up in a blender and add to the water, or tie them into a small muslin bag and suspend around the bath tap into the water.
So these are my ways to keep me (and the planet) as clean as a whistle.