Making your bathroom more sustainable doesn’t require expensive renovations. A few simple lifestyle tweaks can help make your getting-ready time greener while keeping you glowing.
Our bathroom is our beauty sanctuary away from the noise of daily life, our precious moment of me-time—which means we’re often not paying attention to just how much we’re consuming while we’re at the sink or in the shower. Sure, we turn off the faucet while we’re brushing our teeth and try to take shorter showers, but there are other easy ways to be more eco-conscious while going about our daily personal care routines.
1. Prioritize your products
You’ve heard of creating a capsule wardrobe of classic clothing pieces that you wear again and again? Try a similar move with your beauty products. “Streamline your regimen to your top five products that you use daily or weekly in each category: skincare, haircare, and body care,” says sustainability expert Kathryn Kellogg, founder of GoingZeroWaste.com and author of 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste. See if you can stick to using just these essentials and not try something new until you run out of a product—meaning, don’t try a new shampoo until you’re down to the last drop of your current shampoo. “Creating a minimalist beauty regimen cuts down on your plastic packaging consumption and conditions you not to purchase every new product that catches your eye, leading to less product waste,” says Kellogg.
2. Keep a recycling bin in the bathroom
The principle of out-of-sight, out-of-mind means you’re less likely to recycle if there’s not a reminder to do so right there in front of you. “We recycle 90% of the packaging that we use in our kitchens, but only 50% of the packaging that we use in our bathrooms,” says Kellogg. So place a small receptacle that’s just for recyclables next to the regular wastebasket in all your bathrooms. “By making it convenient, you’ll encourage everyone in your household to be more eco-minded,” Kellogg notes. “Hopefully, they’ll think twice before chucking that cardboard toilet paper roll into the regular garbage.”
3. Dial back on single-use items
Try this exercise for one week: each time you toss a non-recyclable beauty product or package into your bathroom waste bin, take a second to think about it ending up in a landfill, then see how much trash has piled up by the end of the week. Sheet face masks, makeup wipes, cotton balls and swabs, mini ampoules, or individual packets of skincare and haircare—almost none of these one-and-done items are recyclable, and they build up quickly in your garbage. Think about which items you could swap out for more sustainable versions at the end of the week, like using a washcloth instead of wipes and full-size products instead of minis. (For more on this topic, read our post on 4 Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste in Your Beauty Routine.)
4. Look for refillable bottles
Recycling is, of course, essential, but the goal is to use less plastic overall. “Beauty brands are creating very innovative, sustainable packaging such as refillable containers, which make it so much easier to be eco-conscious,” says Kellogg. Products that offer refills to the original container not only use significantly less plastic—they also result in fewer non-recyclable components like bottle pumps and spray nozzles ending up in landfills. (Another perk: the refills tend to cost less than the original complete bottle.)
The new MyKirei by KAO Soothing Peony Milky Lotion “Holder for Life” refillable system, which reduces plastic by 75% for the pouch refill versus traditional packaging, lets you insert the Eco-Pouch refill into the reusable Eco-Holder bottle front, creating a beautiful countertop display of Japanese art. All other products feature “Bottle for Life” packaging, and when you refill a “Bottle for Life” or “Holder for Life” with our 100% recyclable refills through TerraCycle®, you can help reduce plastic waste by 40-86% depending on the product.
5. Easily conserve water and energy
We all enjoy lingering in a warm shower after a long day. But that extra relaxation time is putting a real strain on our nation’s water supply. “Keep in mind, water is not a renewable resource,” notes Kellogg. Only 1% of the world’s water is suitable for human use, and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 40 states may face a water shortage by 2024. The average shower uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute, so if you can shave just two minutes off your daily rinse, that saves 35 gallons of water per week.
And if you haven’t already done so, switch the overhead lighting in your bathroom to energy-efficient LED bulbs, which use up to 80% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Each of these simple updates to your bathroom time takes no more than a few minutes to do, but when you add up all the good they’re doing for the planet, you’ll feel as though you’re making a world of difference to your environmental impact.
Water conservation at EPA https://www.epa.gov/greeningepa/water-conservation-epa
How we use water https://www.epa.gov/watersense/how-we-use-water
Average water use per shower in the U.S. https://green.harvard.edu/tools-resources/green-tip/4-ways-measure-5-minute-shower
LED Energy Saver https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/led-lighting