Going zero waste has definitely altered my shower routine from the products I use to how frequently I actually shower.
Americans shower WAY too much. Most Americans shower 1-2 times a day, but I know people who shower 3. It’s all just a little excessive. It wastes water but most importantly it’s flat out bad for your skin.
The body keeps itself moisturized with a layer of dead skin held together by lipids (fatty compounds). It protects the healthy layers underneath, and the more you shower the more you scrub that layer away.
Your body can’t keep up. In fact, it can lead to an overproduction of oil. (Further reading) It makes sense right? The more you strip your body of its natural oils, the more it will over produce to compensate.
Many commercial shampoos and soaps work similarly. They make you dependent on their products because they strip all of your natural oils away. This causes your body to overproduce, requiring you to buy more and more of their products.
I stopped using conventional shampoos when I started going zero waste two years ago. I have tried many different hair care methods. I think hair is one of the most challenging aspects of zero waste living since everyone’s body chemistry is so different.
If you're one of the readers who have complained about not liking shampoo bars, this is the product for you. They have landed the #1 spot on my zero waste shower essential list.
my top 5 zero waste shower essentials:
1. plaine products:
This is one of the most well thought out product designs I've ever seen. I don't know about you, but I’m nervous about keeping glass in my shower. These products are packaged in aluminum.
Aluminum is a self-sustaining metal. It's 100% recyclable just like glass, but it has a better carbon footprint for shipping because it's lighter than glass. Plus, it won’t shatter if it's dropped whether that be in shipping or in the shower.
They offer a refill service. When you run out of your products and order a refill you just switch the pump over to the new bottle and send the old bottles back. They'll sanitize the bottles, refill them, and send the to their new home.
I honestly cannot rave about them enough. I trusted them 100% with my hair for the wedding. Probably the most photographed day I will ever experience. With all natural soaps, I find them to be a little bit thinner so I have to use a little more product than I normally would. But, I'm washing my hair way less (on average every 3-4 days), so I'm still saving SO much product in the long run.
2. scrub brush:
In my old shower, I used to have one of those plastic netted loofahs. I always thought they worked well, but they have a pretty fast expiration date.
Loofahs of any sort can trap dead skin cells which can be a breeding ground for bacteria. It's recommended to throw out your loofah every 2-3 months. I can honestly say, I never did that. In fact, I'm a little shocked that it's recommended to replace them that often.
Once my loofah came to the end of its life, I didn't replace it. I read somewhere that between the hot water, the soap, and an agitator, like a loofah, you can over exfoliate. Back to breaking down that layer of dead skin cells too much.
I tried going without and using just my hands to lather, but it wasn't working out very well for me. The water here is hard and it's messed with my skin texture. I started breaking out on my back which I've never done before.
I decided to get a bamboo scrub brush* to see if the extra exfoliation would do the trick and it has!
I honestly cannot imagine my shower without a good scrub brush.
3. safety razor:
Safety razors* might seem like one of the scariest zero waste swaps. It can be intimidating holding something that could easily slice your skin. I don't consider myself to be overly clumsy, but I have never cut myself while shaving.
Full disclosure, I have dropped the razor and taken some skin off. But, I have never cut myself shaving! It really is almost the exact same as using a disposable razor.
I have a full post on how to use a safety razor here. What that post doesn't cover is how to recycle the blades.
You CANNOT put razor blades in the regular recycling bin. You have to take the blades to a special recycling facility where a machine sorts metal and it's not done by human hands.
If you're in Northern California, I got to the Concord Recycling Center. You'll want to get a steel can that has broth only. Cut a slot in the top of the can and pour the soup out. Rinse with water and tap dry.
Obviously, there's no way of completely guaranteeing it to be dry, but that's alright. Drop you used blades into the slot. Once it's full put a piece of tape over the slot and take it to your nearest metal recycling facility.
4. water pik:
I just wrote a whole post about my oral hygiene routine here. I love this water pik* because I can use it in the shower! This is so convenient. I don't have to worry about getting water everywhere, which I most definitely do when I'm using it by the sink.
I am lazy - a lazy, lazy woman. Water piking in the shower is probably the only way I would do it.
5. a bucket:
This is a great way to catch excess water in your shower! You can use it to water your plants or flush your toilet.
It's completely safe to use the gray water to water your plants and take it outside. Filling up a bucket is also a good visual tool.
If you're someone who tends to spend too long in the shower, gauging the fullness of the bucket is a wonderful indicator that the clock is ticking. Just be careful not to trip on the bucket if it's under your feet. I wouldn't know anything about that...
I truly couldn't imagine a shower with these five items. Everything is streamlined, simple, and effective.
If baths are more your thing make sure to check out my recipe for bath salts. What are some of the items you couldn't imagine showering without?