Sunday, 13 October 2019

The bathroom shelf

Hi there, it has been way too long. However, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t continued our efforts to reduce our personal waste.

We’ve done a lot in the bathroom already by banning bottled soaps and shampoos but we can do more. A lot more.

When tackling the bathroom shelf, we had to ask ourselves the question: do we really need this, and if so, can it be replaced by something less polluting? The word “need” is flexible of course. Strictly speaking, I don’t need make-up, but no way will I ever leave the house without my face on.

So which improvements were we able to make?

1.    Shaving cream

My husband Mick replaced his shaving gel with shaving soap and a shaving brush that he got from someone for Christmas. He started using it, because you know, you kind of have to…. if only to tell the person who gave it to you that you have at least tried. He tried it and never looked back.

The soap came in a rosewood box (Arlington Christmas special). It looks very neat in our bathroom and it can be refilled. The soap can be bought in a local shop, as well as ordered online, and it arrives in a cardboard box, no plastic.

In order to be able to compare, someone measured his shaving foam consumption for me because there was no chance Mick was ever going back to that. Both “shavers” have the same relaxed approach to facial hair and shave every two to three days.

It is not easy to compare because shaving foam is expressed in millilitres and shaving soap in grams so I am mostly guessing. I asked shaver #1 how long a shaving foam bottle lasted him. The answer was approximately three months. In one month the shaving foam from an aerosol bottle went down from 128 gr to 107 g. A bottle costs around 4 to 5.5 EUR. That comes down to 20 to 22 EUR/year and 4 empty aerosols.

The shaving soap refill costs around 15 EUR and it weighs 100 gr. Shaver #2 weighed the soap with an interval of 1 month and the difference was 11 grams.  That comes down to 20 to 22 EUR/year.

So there is not much difference but the bonus of the soap is: shaving becomes an experience, no longer a chore. Well, that’s what real men say anyway. Whatever…

Recently, Mick also abandoned the plastic Gillette Mach 3 razor blades that every decent man “needs” in his life. He replaced it with a safety razor.

Financially: no difference
Space: no difference
Effort: no difference
Environmentally: big win

2.    Make-up and Make-up remover

I used to buy make-up whenever I felt like a new colour. And I’m sure I am not the only one. I particularly like the smoky eyes colours. I just opened my bottom drawer; I have loads of half-used make-up.

OK, that’s finished. I have promised myself to use up everything before buying anything new. That’ll probably keep me going for another 20 years.

I also stopped using disposable make-up brushes and bought proper brushes that I clean every week. At first, I bought a “proper” make-up brush cleaning product (just to show that they will sell us anything!). Of course that comes in a plastic bottle. It didn’t take me long to realize that I can clean my brushes with natural soap under the tap as well. So that bottle has to go as soon as it is finished.

Financially: win, because I buy less
Space: win, because all the make-up I have in the bottom drawer will be gone in 20 years
Effort: win, because I will have less stuff to worry about
Environmentally: win because I buy less, therefore throw away less

3.    Cotton pads

Cotton pads come with make-up remover. I used one or two a day. I knew a washable version was available but it was quite expensive and I had just bought a design cotton pad holder. The reusable cotton pads are larger than the disposable ones, so I’d have to get rid of my designer cotton pad holder, unless….

So off I went to the textiles shop to find cotton for cotton pads. I found an off-white honeycomb cotton that I boiled first to make it shrink. Then, I asked a friend of mine to make cotton pads that fit my designer holder. I now have enough cotton pads to keep me going for 3 months.

Financially: win, because I never have to buy cotton pads again, I do have to boil them once every 3 months.
Space: no difference
Effort: small loss, I have to wash my cotton pads every 3 months but I don’t have to go out and buy new ones.
Environmentally: big win because I don’t throw anything away anymore, but I use detergent to wash them, and make-up needs special stain remover.

4.    Cleaning ears

I had this awful habit of cleaning my ears every day. I got this habit from my childhood.

One of friends was not allowed to leave the bathroom without cleaning her ears. I can still recall her mum asking: “did you clean your ears? Where is the Q tip?”
Now, 45 years later, I clean my ears everyday every time I’m in the bathroom… It was ridiculous.

First of all, I stopped cleaning my ears every day. Once a week is more than enough.

Secondly, I started to look for a more eco-friendly version.

I found something online made from bamboo. I am not entirely satisfied with it yet. I still have disposable ones which I’ll continue using until finished (though not every day).

If I find a better reusable one, I will try it.

Financially: win, because I don’t have to buy any Q tips anymore
Space: win, because I now have only 1 Q tip
Effort: win, because I will have less stuff to worry about and never have to buy again
Environmentally: big win because I don’t throw anything away anymore

5.    Moisturising

During a visit to the Lush shop, my husband said he wanted to try a new moisturiser without any packaging. He was using an aerosol bottle from L’Oréal. The lady from the shop gave him something. He tried it.

Every time I kissed him goodbye or hello, the smell of that Lush block just made me want it too. So now, we each have one. No more plastic or even glass containers. The Lush block is solid. You rub it on your skin and your body temperature makes the wax melt. No more packaging!

The one problem with it is: summers like we’re experiencing now: they melt around 37°C. I will still need to buy a container for travelling to warm countries and during hot summer days.

Financially: moisturiser is always expensive. I would like to think it is comparable.
Space: is the same. I have replaced one product with another product
Effort: the same
Environmentally: big win. Apart from the paper wrappers that Lush products come in, we have no more waste.

Next: Clothes, travel or maybe Christmas presents…

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