The bathroom is the one place in my house where I have the hardest time reducing waste. There are just certain things that are waste producing that I can not live without. Dental floss is one of those things. I looked online for a biodegradable version of it, but couldn’t find anything here in India. Somehow I came across a vegan variety of dental floss and ordered one to try it out. Unfortunately, as you can see from the image below, the packaging was atrocious! One tiny box (which was made solely of cardboard) was packaged in a hella lot of plastic and a far too large box. Clearly, this is not a sustainable solution for me.
But most of the other things I’ve found as bathroom alternatives have worked out quite well. One is the bamboo toothbrush. It’s a Los Angeles-based company, and it was started by Rohit Kumar and Rohit Sahdev, two Indian American students. The toothbrushes are quite durable and their website even had creative ideas about how to recycle/reuse/upcycle the toothbrush once you’re finished with it. They also make bamboo straws, something that can come in handy for those who love drinking coconut water and who wish to refuse the plastic straws they come with!
But most bathroom waste actually is pretty easy to relieve oneself of when you live in India. Most of the things I’ve read about on other Zero Waste bathroom articles (see here or here) talk about a lot of products that just become superfluous here:
- razors: I use the traditional Arab and Indian method of hair removal, which requires no waste only water, sugar, and lemons!
- cosmetics & make up removal: I don’t wear anything except for kajl any more, which comes off simply when you wash your face and doesn’t stain your cloth towels. For those who want to use such products, there are some great recipes for make up and lotions and such here.
- toilet paper & facial tissues: I don’t use them. Here we use water to clean ourselves (which works so much better anyway) and for blowing our nose we use handkerchiefs, which of course we wash and reuse.
- tampons/sanitary napkins: I use EcoFemme reusable pads.
- soaps & shampoos: there are plenty of wonderful organic soaps here–too many to choose from, and most don’t have plastic packaging. I use bars of soaps from Wild Ideas, Cowpathy soaps, and Prakruthi Vanam soaps. Shampoos are from Wild Ideas–their powder shampoo is fantastic and comes in a glass jar that is perfect for reusing! When I want a liquid soap for my head, I use Soul Tree.
- toothpaste: This seems to be a problem no matter who makes it or where you buy it. All toothpaste these days comes in a plastic tube that is recyclable, but definitely hard to reuse. (TerraCycle does have a nice DIY activity to make a coin purse out of a toothpaste tube, but how many of those can one make and use?) In India we have another option: tooth powder, which was the traditional method of brushing one’s teeth and actually you can use your finger; there’s no need for a toothbrush with this. It also comes in a plastic container, but one that can be reused quite easily.
- deodorant: there are 2 Indian products that I quite like in terms of the environmental and health aspects. One is Maroma, made in Auroville, and the other is Common Oxen. Common Oxen recently came out with a deodorant product (it’s a cream that you put on with your fingers. It’s just great–the smell, the container (it’s metal!), and the price. Either way, both are terrific products.