Written by Alexandra Palmer
Think about it. There's the toothpaste tube, the shampoo bottle, the conditioner, the body scrub, the body wash, the facial cleanser and on it goes. As Chris Long - Founder of London Bathers - puts it 'bathrooms are often a sea of plastic'.
Plastic does not decompose which means that all plastic that has ever been produced still exists on this planet. Think about that for a second. Your very first toothbrush is still out there somewhere, sitting in a landfill or swirling in the ocean. We are staring straight into the eye of a plastic waste storm.
“Plastics often contain additives making them stronger, more flexible, and durable. But many of these additives can extend the life of products if they become litter, with some estimates ranging to at least 400 years to break down.” - National Geographic
But believe it or not, when the first form of plastic was invented in 1869 by John Wesley Hyatt, it was hailed as revolutionary and environmentally friendly, providing a sustainable alternative to nature’s finite resources such as ivory, tortoiseshell and wood.
In the early 20th century, plastic became the linchpin of industrial and technological advancements, saving lives in hospitals and trenches during WWII, revolutionising the motor industry and even making space travel possible. But as the use of plastic surged at unprecedented levels, it became associated with cheap and flimsy properties and a throw away culture developed, leading us to the plastic waste crisis we find ourselves in today.
“Once at sea, sunlight, wind, and wave action break down plastic waste into small particles, often less than one-fifth of an inch across. These so-called microplastics are spread throughout the water column and have been found in every corner of the globe.” - National Geographic
Today we are much more aware and informed about the environmental and health issues surrounding plastic. Businesses are becoming more engaged with consumer concerns regarding their environmental footprint and recycled plastic is now widely available. The ‘but’ in this equation is that virgin plastic is so much cheaper than recycled plastic.
The new Plastic Packaging Tax announced by the government in 2018 which comes into effect next year was devised to ‘stimulate increased levels of recycling’ and level the playing field between recycled and virgin plastic. The new tax applies to all plastic components containing less than 30% or recycled content. which itself opens a can of worms. The demand for recycled is set to drastically increase meaning more virgin plastic is needed in the first place and the UK waste management system will need to significantly increase its recycling capacity.
The answer? If we produce less plastic, there will be less plastic waste. Sustainable living is not just for the eco conscious, it’s something that we all need to take responsibility for and the bathroom is a good place to start. Find out how to reduce plastic waste in the bathroom here:
Sort it out
We’re used to sorting and recycling kitchen and household waste, but how good are we when it comes to the bathroom? Make life easier by having a dedicated recycling bin or split bin in the bathroom to help separate recyclable waste.
Raise the bar
It’s time to put cheap plastic bottles aside as soap bars are making a comeback, and it’s not just soap; shampoo, facial cleansers and moisturisers are all raising the bar in the emerging green beauty market. Not only are solid bars easier to package in environmentally friendly materials such as cardboard, they don’t use as much water as liquid based products.
“Another wonderful thing about solid products is that they negate the need for single use plastic packaging, recyclable or otherwise.” - SBTRCT
Refill those bottles
With refill shops and stations popping up all across the county, it has never been easier to eliminate single use plastic bottles in the bathroom. Shampoos, conditioners, body wash and soap are available at most household refill shops. If you can’t reduce it, reuse it.
Cut it at the source
We no longer need to choose between sustainability and quality. Take a stand and settle for nothing less than plastic free and sustainable packaging. Once hard to come by in the bathroom, forward thinking and purposeful brands such as Ksoni and Dook are helping to change that with sustainable packaging such as shampoo in a can!
“There are very important reasons as to why we chose the humble aluminium can to house our natural formulations: it's infinitely recyclable, the infrastructure to recycle it currently exists, and cans are among the lightest containers to transport.” - Ksoni
Zero Waste Toothpaste
Toothpaste has had a monopoly in the dental care market for quite some time, and a daily feature in every home, the tube has got a lot to answer for in terms of plastic waste. Tooth tablets, powders and chews have emerged in recent years as zero waste alternatives to traditional toothpaste, and are becoming more available in mainstream retailers.
“Our packaging is in fact 100% domestically compostable. And we don’t mean it has to go through an industrial process to be broken down using machines that most recycling plants don’t have. We mean stick it on the compost heap, give it 90 days, pull on your gardening gloves and start planting your hardy perennials… our pleasure.” - SBTRCT
Discover eco friendly deodorant
AKT London makes all natural, environmentally friendly deodorant balm - tried and tested under the gruelling spotlight of the West End. Designed with efficacy, strong environmental ethics, and premium fragrances at its forefront, not only is the deodorant balm natural and toxin free, but the packaging is plastic free and reusable. Win-win.
Bring on the Bamboo
One simple step you can take to reduce the plastic waste created in your bathroom is to swap your plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones. Not only are they nicer on the eyes they are kinder to the planet.
The truth is, it’s impossible to turn a blind eye to the plastic waste crisis affecting our oceans. It may seem like it’s out of control and out of our hands, but it’s easier than ever before to cut down on the use and waste of plastic in the bathroom, even if you take it one step at a time.