Everyday Ethical: Showers, Baths and Reducing Your Waste [Ep. 008]

Apr 2, 2019

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Key Links for this episode:

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Castille Soap [AD – affiliate]

African Black Soap [AD – affiliate]

Stainless Steel Safety Razor [AD – affiliate]

Lush Naked Sleepy Shower Gel

Tropic Bamboo Cloth 

Water Saving Shower Head [AD – affiliate]

Full Episode Transcript:

Hello and welcome to everyday ethical, a podcast about all of the small ways that we can be more sustainable, without the pressure to be perfect.

I’m your host Bethany Austin and I’m an ethical lifestyle blogger who talks about everything from slow styling to cruelty-free cleaning.

Today’s episode is a short and sweet one all about how to more eco-friendly every single time you shower or have a bath. And, no, I’m afraid it’s not quite as simple as just reducing your water intake. In fact, there’s a lot of things to consider from plastic packaging to the types of sponges you use and even how you’re shaving.

But don’t worry, I’ll guide you through the process of making your showers more sustainable, one step at a time.

Let’s dive in.

[Intro music]

Now, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably know that there’s little I love more than a bath. Seriously, I feel like baths can solve everything. Headache? Have a bath! Heart ache? Have a bath! Hungry? Have some food, in the bath! It is the ultimate in self-care, as far as I’m concerned, even if it’s the ultimate form of self-care. And I am a total Lushie too. The only thing that makes a bath better is when it’s a Lush bath.

Give me a bath bomb, a candle and maybe a glass of wine and I’m legit the happiest I could be. And that’s been the case – minus the wine, of course – since I was, maybe 12, when I bought my first ever Lush bubble bar. FYI it was the Ma Bubble bar which was honey I washed the kids scented but that they don’t sell anymore! And, yes, I did just have to do a deep dive google to find out the name…

Now, luckily, Lush is quite the ethical and sustainable company which meant that it was one of the area of my life I didn’t have to completely overhaul when I decided to start on this ethical living journey of mine. However, more or less everything else that I used in the shower did have to change!

For me, it all started with going cruelty-free, which I did about three years ago now. Whilst I started with makeup, I soon focused on making my skincare and shower products cruelty-free too, which meant switching up everything from my shampoo to my moisturiser which until that point were usually just chosen based on what was on offer at the time!

On top of that, within the last couple of years I’ve become way more aware of my plastic waste and have slowly but surely been transitioning over to packaging-free products. Now, let me be honest, I still have a long way to go with this. In fact, I have hoards of stuff left over from Christmases, birthdays and pre-sustainable living shopping trips. BUT there are certain things that I’ve been able to switch out for more eco-friendly options, like my shampoo and conditioner for example. I’ll talk more about the brands later!

And, of course, I’ve also had to face the fact that baths certainly aren’t the most eco-friendly due to the wasted water. So, to combat that I’ve quite simply had to reduce the number I have. Trust me, it’s been the hardest shift I’ve made haha.

That’s where I’m at in my journey right now. As I said, I’m not perfect but I have set myself some goals and I’m definitely getting there! Now though, I’ll talk you through every single eco consideration that you might want to think about when it comes to showering, having a bath, ya know, getting naked and washing your body – however you do it! That way by the end of the episode you can set yourself some goals to make this small area of your life more sustainable.

First things first, let’s talk about product packaging. I feel like it’s where we have to start. We are in a post-blue planet world now after all haha. The truth is that keeping clean really isn’t good for the environment in 2019. Most of our products come wrapped in packaging. In fact, until they were banned a few years back, microbeads were literal bits of plastic IN our shower products. Thank god those aren’t a thing any more in the UK, right? But unfortunately, we do still have to contend with the vast amounts of plastic in just about every cosmetics isle ever. Shampoo. Conditioner. Body wash. Shaving foam. Scrubs. There’s plastic everywhere.

My first recommendation for reducing this plastic waste is to simply consume less. However, most of us – myself included – don’t need all of the products that we have. That’s why I set myself the eco resolution at the beginning of the year to only buy something if I had completely run out of it. And no, that doesn’t mean I can buy a rose scented shower gel, because I don’t have another rose scented shower gel. It means I can’t buy a rose scented shower gel until I’ve run out of ALL shower gels! I know, unheard of! By doing this – by reducing my consumption – it means that I’m just creating less plastic waste in the first place.

On top of that, I think it’s important that we all consider using multipurpose products a bit more too. As women especially, we’re often told that we need a different product for every part of our body and bloody day of the week! God forbid you use something on your body and your face, you heathen! However, there are some great options out there that can work just about everywhere. For example, some Lush shower creams also work as shampoos. And a lot of face soaps can also be used on the body, as long as you’re doing so hygienically obviously. Or, if you want to go all out, you could even buy castille soap – liquid or solid – which has a ridiculously long list of uses: It can be used to wash hair, as a body wash, as a face wash, to clean plates and even to wash clothes! By using one bottle for all of that, imagine the plastic you could save.

Packaging-free products are also becoming more common, which is great news for anyone looking to reduce their waste. As I said I use completely packaging-free shampoo and conditioners in the form of bars. I’ve tried my fair share in my time, but my favourites have to be the Ultimate shampoo and conditioner bars from Atlas and Ortus. The shampoo works really well to get rid of product buildup and leave me feeling squeaky clean, whilst the conditioner is really nourishing, even on my thick, curly hair. And they smell incred too, which is obviously the most important thing. Now, I do want to point out here that Atlus and Ortus did actually gift me those products, however, they didn’t do so in exchange for a mention here and I would definitely buy the products in a heartbeat and probably will when I run out!

Another quite obvious option for “solid”, packaging-free products is soap! Good ol’ bars of soap can, of course, be used on your hands and body, but if you opt for something like African Black Soap, for example, that can even be used on your face. I used to love African Black Soap and, actually, I need to get back on that when I’ve run out of my current cleanser.

However, in relation to soap, a lot of people are hesitant to buy it because it can sometimes give your skin that weird, squeaky dry feeling. Do you know what I’m talking about? I hope so haha.

Anyway, if you don’t want to use soap on your body then Lush have recently really been getting into solid products and do have solid shower gels. No, they’re not just soap shaped differently. Lush Naked shower gels at least aren’t made using a soap base. They contain most of the same ingredients as their packaged versions with only a few ingredients that are different, namely sodium stearate which makes them solid. So, the gels work exactly the same, but come plastic free. Though, I would recommend investing in a soap dish so that they don’t end up slipping and sliding all over the place! Lush even have in-shower moisturisers, massage bars and, of course, there classic bubble bars and bath bombs without packaging too, so you really can have a completely plastic-free shower or bath routine.

Even if you can’t go for entirely “naked” products, even just trying to go for plastic-free ones is a big step in the right direction. For example, soaps and bath salts sometimes come in cardboard boxes and bubble bath can be found in glass bottles. So, just keep an eye out. And please slide into my DMs if you find some goodies in eco packaging because I’d love to know: I’m @ BethanyPaigeAustin but it’ll also be linked in the show notes.

Another thing that a lot of people do in the shower or bath is shave. Now, obvs, I’m not saying you have to shave by any means, no matter how you identify, but if you do choose to shave then this it’sfor you.

Razors and razor heads cannot be recycled since they are most often made of mixed material. Ya know, it has the plastic and the blades. So, even though they’re tiny, when you consider how many you may use in your life that’s a lot of waste going to landfill. To combat this problem, a great option is to get a reusable safety razor. So, they’re usually made of stainless steel, though I have seen a few cool bamboo handle ones. They’re really cool and old school. You buy the blades separately – yes you can still get them in conventional supermarkets or on Amazon – and then you put one blade into the razor at a time. When it’s going blunt, you take it out and that bit gets thrown away. Just one tiny blade instead of three blades and plastic! And some recycling plants actually accept blades, so keep an eye out for that near when you live and you might be able to collect them up to be even more eco-friendly. Whether you do that or not though, the main body of your razor can be used again and again and you are saving SO much waste.

I’ve also found that it gives a much closer shave so I would massively recommend giving one a go. They definitely work out cheaper in the long run as well, so if you can afford the initial investment I think they’re definitely worth it. I’ll leave a link in the show notes to some examples.

On top of that, whilst shaving, go for a plastic-free product like a solid shaving bar or something in glass packaging. For example, I always shave with coconut oil and then I reuse the glass jar that it comes in afterwards. It’s a win-win because it reduces my waste and makes my skin silky smooth too.

Another thing to think about when it comes to the waste you’re producing with your showers or baths is things like flannels and sponges. What do you even call those puffy net things that you use in the shower? Shower puffs? The shower puff girls… I dunno. But I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Well, a lot of those things actually contain plastic. Whilst they may be made of some natural fibres, they often have plastic woven in, or they can be made of just plastic. Either way, they’re not biodegradable. The alternative is to opt for those that are made of 100% natural fibres. So, for example, for flannels, Tropic who I LOVE make a bamboo facial cloth which is super soft and will eventually biodegrade instead of sitting in landfill. They gifted me one and I absolutely love it, it’s so soft. However, just bear in mind that with some things like that you’ll need to hand wash them because the chemicals you use in your washing might be too harsh and make it break down. Other great options are to go for cloths made of pure cotton, or to go for things like loofas and conjac sponges instead of shower puffs. They all do the same job, but the eco-friendly ones won’t stick around on the planet longer than you do. And you can also take this kind of logic on with things like towels too, by choosing ones that are made of 100% organic cotton, for example. I know, how boujee!

That’s quite a simple switch to make, but I do know that natural alternatives can cost a bit more money. If they’re not accessible to you then even just looking after the cloths and sponges you have to make them last is brilliant and means less waste.

Now, of course, we do also have to talk about water usage. If you’re wanting to make your showers or baths more eco-friendly then, ultimately, the less waste you use, the better. Temperatures are rising and by reducing the amount of water we use we can ease the pressure on our rivers and wetlands. The simplest ways to do so are, firstly, have less and shallower baths and, secondly, to reduce the length of our showers. No more performing the whole of High School Musical whilst in there, okay?!

If you can’t trust yourself to have quick shower (which I totally can’t) then you might want to start setting yourself a timer. That can be an actual timer or alarm, or you could just say something like “Okay, I’ll stay in for two Ariana Grande songs and then get out”. And really do make sure that you’re out by then. Spend every minute in the shower washing, not just standing there because it’s warm haha. If your showers are getting over about 15 minutes, then you might even be using more water than that required for a bath.

However, if you really want to reduce your water usage then don’t wash at all! Joking, if you really want to reduce your water usage then it’s also worth considering getting a water saving shower head. So, for example, Aerating shower heads mix water with air, reducing the overall amount of water that’s needed but still spraying water with a lot of pressure. That way it still cleans you and feels nice, but just isn’t as wasteful. And actually, they’re not too expensive. I had a quick google and they seem to range between like £20 and £40 and you can even get them online super easily, so I’ll link an option in the show notes, if you’re interested.

Those are all of the eco-concerns that I can think of when it comes to showers or baths. So, let’s have a quick recap with some goal ideas for you so that you can start making this area of your everyday life more sustainable.

Here are some ideas of eco goals for showers and baths

  1. You could buy one product completely packaging free. If you’ve never done it before, I would recommend beginning with a shampoo bar!
  2. You could invest in a stainless steel safety razor
  3. You could put yourself on a “no buy” month for shower and bath products. No, not even lush!
  4. You could start timing your showers, Ariana Grande songs optional!
  5. You could invest in some natural fibre sponges or flannels that you know will biodegrade once you’re finished with them.

If you do decide to aim for any of those goals, or you’ve created your own, I would love to hear it! Please, either slide into my DMs on Instagram or tag me in on an Insta story @bethanypaigeaustin (again it’ll be linked in the show notes) and use the hashtag #everydayethical too. I LOVE being inspired by the change you all make – it motivates me to keep creating this content and keep making changes in my own life, too.

I really hope that you’ve learnt something new in this episode and that it’s made you stop and think about an area of your everyday life in a different light. If it did, please leave me a glowing review on iTunes, it means that people are more likely to find the podcast and become eco-warriors, so your review is basically saving the planet. But really, it does help me out so I would massively appreciate it! Plus, please share this episode with all of your pals online and off and tell them to start timing their showers too!

I’ll speak to you guys next week!

 

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