My Top 5 Zero Waste Shower Essentials
Zero Waste Bathroom
May 19, 2017 | Kathryn Kellogg
Last Updated on June 28, 2022
These shower essentials will lead you in the right direction for a zero waste bathroom! In order to go zero waste, you don’t have to give up your favorite products or every pleasure in life.
Going zero waste may seem challenging at first, but it doesn’t have to be. One area where you can start making small changes that pay off big-time over time is your shower routine! These five shower essentials are zero waste and will help you get started on your path to a plastic-free shower routine today!
This post was sponsored by Plaine Products. I received these items to try for free. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post may also contain affiliate linking. Please see my full disclosure for more information.
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.
I went on a mission to find the best zero waste bathroom and shower essentials and now I am sharing my discoveries with you!
how showers affect 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 overproduce to compensate.
Many commercial shampoos, soaps, and shower items 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 non eco friendly bathroom products.
I stopped using conventional shampoos when I started using zero waste shower essentials two years ago. Over the years 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.
eco friendly bathroom products
Hair care is one of the biggest laments I hear from readers, and it has inspired me to try and find the best zero waste hair solutions for everyone. Plaine Products has been kind enough to send me liquid shampoo, conditioner, and body wash to review.
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 & shower items:
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 eco friendly bathroom 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 them to their new home.
If you’ve lamented over the shampoo bar – you need to check out their liquid shampoo and conditioner.
Plaine products have the ease of commercial products without the guilt and yucky additives – no SLS, vegan, and biodegradable. I used to use Aussie and this competes. My hair is light, healthy, and has lots of volume. You can check out their list of ingredients here.
These products are a great first step to a zero waste bathroom!
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 | best loofah alternative:
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! It’s seriously the best loofah alternative and I am in love with it.
I honestly cannot imagine my shower without a good scrub brush.
RELATED: Benefits of Aromatic Showers with Eucalyptus
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 your 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. A safety razor is another one of the best eco friendly bathroom products to start with.
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. It just so happens to be one of my favorite shower essentials!
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. Another great thing about the rockin’ ingredient list on Plaine Products is that it’s biodegradable.
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.
frequently asked questions
why are eco friendly bathroom products higher priced?
In most cases, they only seem higher priced. For example, if you buy a loofah and change it every couple of months, that’s going to add up and be very wasteful as well. But if you use a bamboo scrub brush it will last a very long time. So it might seem higher priced, but really it’s not.
Going zero waste can have some higher upfront costs, but because you buy the items once or rarely they are actually less expensive.
what are some shower items I can make myself?
It’s possible to make all sorts of zero waste shower items yourself. Here are a few of my favorites.
I love the idea of the reusable stainless steel containers. I’ve been searching for a zero waste conditioner solution… but wow, $30 a bottle is way more than I can afford!
It’s a higher ticket item, but the quality of the product matches the higher price tag. The worst is paying a lot for something that’s poor quality. And, for comparison I’ve been using these products for two months and I’m not even a quarter of they way through the shampoo. The shampoo will last at least 6 months and the conditioner will last more than a year.
Does anyone know a website where I can read more about loofahs? I use one and had no idea about the short expiration date or over exfoliating. I would like to do some more research on the subject.
Google the problem with loofahs. A whole bunch of articles should come up. I think most of it’s absurd. Just make sure it’s dry between each use and doesn’t stay consistently damp. Dry it out in the sun to kill any bacteria and be reasonable about it. 🙂 I wouldn’t recommend keeping one for years but 2-3 months feels extreme to me.
Thanks for all your articles, it gives me a lot of ideas to improve my daily routine and minimize my impact on the environment! I recently invested in a bidet and I really like it!
Regarding your above article, the aluminium packaging for soap and shampoo is a good step from the plastic packaging but I think it’s still buying water whereas soap doesn’t need it to start with… Soap and shampoo have only been diluted to make it ‘easier’ for the consumer but mostly to make us buy more, more often! I have switched to soap and shampoo bars and I am really happy with them, no packaging and they last so long! They are very easy to use and you have a very large choice. I first bought them from Lush (I’m in Europe) but they still use sodium laureth sulfate which is not good for skin, hair and environment so I switched to simple Marseille soap and more recently I found some made from soap nuts from soapnuts.co.uk and that’s the best I’ve found so far. Wide variety of soaps and shampoos for all types of skin and hair. I really recommend 😉
Yay! I LOVE my bidet too. 🙂 I totally get where you’re coming from. I used a Lush bar that was just wayyy to harsh on my scalp. It started flaking and peeling. The plaine products first ingredient is aloe and not water. It’s repaired all of my scalp damage which I am soooo grateful for. I haven’t tried soap nuts. maybe I’ll check that out next. Thanks for the recommendation!
Love this – especially re: grey water! I’m always hesitant to use shower water just in case, but I may need to look into these Plaine products. Despite the price, I loath shampoo bars and don’t have refillable options in my area!
They sell travel-sized bottles in aluminum too! Grab one of those to test it out and see how you like it. I think it really depends on the type of hair when it comes to the shampoo bar. :/
I really feel you about hair being one of the hardest swaps. Trying to find something that suits my hair seems so much harder, and I guess that shows how reliant we become on commercial things and how much rubbish is in them. I have a love / hate relationship with shampoo bars. I love the idea of them but my scalp doesn’t like them and after a while it felt like there was a buildup in my hair.
I completely understand that feeling. It’s hard when you have hard water. :/
Thanks for a very interesting blog! It really inspired me to start thinking more about my everyday choices and try to reduce the amount of waste.
I don’t know if you have heard about the problems of producing aluminum though – for a quick view, you could check this site for example: https://recyclenation.com/2010/11/aluminum-extraction-recycling-environment/
Producing new aluminum requires massive amounts of resources and excavating also destroys various habitats. Aluminum trade is also strongly linked to military vehicles, planes, ammunition etc.
Aluminum is a self-sustaining metal. 75% of all aluminum used is simply aluminum that already exists. I would much rather work with a metal like this than go to plastic.
The conditioner has silk protein, so not vegan.
It is, however one of the cleaner ingredients lists I’ve ever read.
I’m thinking a travel set might be in my future.
The silk protein is from corn, not silk worms! It’s totally vegan. I triple checked!! They’re actually phasing it out too, so it won’t be in the next batch. I agree the phrasing is a little misleading.
Is your estimate for the shampoo lasting 6 months when both you and your husband using it? We are looking to switch and will probably sign up for the subscription with plaine products but are trying to figure out the timing with two individuals using it!
I’m the main user. I’m sure my husband uses it every now and then, but not on the reg. I’ve used about just under a quarter of the shampoo so far.
WOW WOW WOW! I believe making your own homemade anything can be so empowering, but also overwhelming. I love how Plaine products make the zero waste transition as ethical as possible. We need more companies like that, because I love using products with pumps, but they waste too much plastic. I wanted to try to make my own hair conditioner; I contemplated using a bar of soap for my body, but I might try their liquid body wash because that’s what I’m used to. I’m definitely trying out their shampoo! I’m so happy that I came across your blog!
I hope you enjoy Plaine Products as much as I do!
I felt the same way – but if you find a bar of soap that you really love you will never go back! I hated the thought of bar soap pre-ZeroWaste but since I found a nice minty one I really prefer it over liquid as I find it cleans so much better! There is also no packaging except a small paper sleeve (if that) so it is much better for the planet.
Buying bar soap and liquid shampoo is a great compromise!
Your blog is amazing! I love how you describe in detail what you need to do as I find other blogs are a little vague sometimes…. which makes one less likely to do whatever they are describing – Keep it up! 🙂
I’m so glad you find it helpful!
Thanks for the Plain Products recommendation. I’m going to give it a try.
They’re awesome! I hope you love it. 🙂
Going "no poo" (no shampoo) actually started me on my zero waste journey as it was the first time I experienced the freedom of skipping whole aisles of the grocery store. I’ve since added traditional shampoo back into my life about a once a week but continue to skip using soap on the rest of my body (except for shaving). After trying many shampoo options from vinegar to various "shampoo bars" (and hating them all) on a whim one day I tried the peppermint goat milk soap I was using for shaving lather on my hair. It lathered like regular shampoo and did not leave my hair squeaky or covered in oil. Amazing! I’m able to replace your 3 bottles with one bar of soap. Granted this solution is not vegan 🙁 and I have very short hair.
I’m so glad you found what works for you! It’s different for everybody. 🙂
Be careful of you back when carrying buckets of water from the shower. I caused a serious problem to my back after hauling this grey water around over a long period of time.
Thank you for this list. I shower maybe once a week and the only downside I’ve had is finding a good healthy deodorant to keep me fresh smelling between showers. But, I’ve never had any smell complaint. Just a Hubby that says "OMG! You haven’t showered in a week! We should do something about that." Lol
I use nFuse magnesium deodorant and love it! It’s especially helpful for women because we don’t get enough magnesium from our environment so helps with natural uptake. But it does come in a plastic container unfortunately…
I just started using bar shampoo and conditioner, so I’m still in a bit of a transition. I have no problem going a week or so without showering, just using deodorant. However, I’ve also started working out more frequently, so I’m sweaty more often. I was wondering if anyone had any insights into how big of a deal sweatiness is and how that should affect the frequency of my showers.
Any input is much appreciated!
I need to tell you guys something about aluminum. Yeah, It looks way better than the alternatives but did you know that the city in Brazil where ALCOA ships Aluminum’s prime content has the largest amount of autistic kid in the country and that doctors believe the aluminum is the most important factor for the disease? Their train gets bauxite from the country side, destroying hundreds of km of forest, disrupting communities and finnally poisoning our subsole waters, creating sick children in the process. This is not a zero waste material.
autism is not a disease. but other than that, good commentary on this post
Just putting it out there, that shower head looks BIG TIME wasteful. I shower with an 0.5 GPM head, my wife turns the dial to get 1.5 GPM flow. That sunshower style can be up to around 5 GPM (gallons per minute).
I am confused, you said not to use aluminum for cooking and touching your food, however, you are saying it’s a wonderful product for hair. Wouldn’t you just cut it out altogether? It’s bad for deodorant too and for the country of Brazil!
I think she means that aluminum as an ingredient is not good to ingest or use on the body. But it is a great eco-friendly replacement for plastic bottles, the aluminum itself is not absorbed in the products like some plastic BPA can.
Any suggestions for the shower curtain? My inside one is plastic and requires replacing every few years. I assume its not recyclable, or at least not easily so. I guess a shower with a door would be a solution, but I have a bathtub and that’s a bit out of range of changes I can make. Thanks!
I believe they make some from hemp! Ours is around five years old and is plastic.
Can you explain a little more about how you use shower water to flush the toilet? I’ve done a little reading and found that some recommend pouring the water into the toilet bowl rather than tank, but can’t find the reason behind this preference.
You turn the water off and then fill the tank so when you flush, you’re responsible for replenishing the water instead of it automatically being filled.
How often do you have to switch out the scrub brush, if ever?
Could I use bath water to water my plants? No bubble bath or salts, but when I’ve rinsed off my shampoo, shower gel and (copious amounts of) conditioner, will it still be good for the plants?
I’ll definitely use it to flush the toilet though. What a good idea.
What Plaine product do you use for shaving?
They have a body wash that works great!
Why would you use the water pik in the shower? That seems like it would be a massive waste of water when you could do it standing at the counter and not have any water on, right?
But where did you get your rack to put all these stuff ? Its so simple, pretty and multipurpouse?
My safety razor is from Albatross and they have a service where you mail them used razor blades and they recycle them for you!!!
Love all of your content.
It’s really inspiring me to make better consumption choices in my day to day life.
What is the brand + model of your razor?? Do you have any recommendations?
I got so excited to check out Plaine Products, there is even a store carrying them in one of the areas I frequent for work. Sadly when I read the ingredient list the conditioner (the only item I am searching for) has shea butter which I’m allergic to. Any thoughts on a good option for a conditioner that doesn’t have shea (or cocoa) butter in it? Doing an ACV rinse is not enough for my dry, abused hair.
I appreciate the suggestion but when I looked at their ingredients they utilize shea butter, plus their products come in plastic bottles.
These are really great tips for the shower! I love your idea about the bucket and scrub brush. I’m definitely going to implement these at my house.
I haven’t used shampoo in 6 years, hair is halfway down my back, looks and feels really healthy. I use a bar of African black soap to wash with. I’ve never used a loofah or washrag or anything, pretty much just used a bar of soap to wash my body with, I’m almost 40 and never had issues. I shower once a week, generally, usually twice a month in the winter.
I attended a college with 30k students, showering 3x weekly when I worked out, wearing the same clothes the entire semester, and never had a problem making friends, girlfriends, or sitting right next to people in 3 hour classes. I also haven’t worn deodorant in 8 years. I did wear separate clothes to work out in, of course.
This is a great post! The things about the bucket is so interesting! Another option for somethings are Lush products. I’ve found they don’t use packaging for things like shampoo and conditioner bars, and now face care! I’ve had great results with the shampoo and face treatments. Best part is, no packaging! Tins if you want, but they’re easily reusable. It’s great!
We bought this old Cape in Massachusetts and my son noticed a little slot in the side of the old medicine cabinet in the bathroom. When we pulled it out to renovate we found YEARS of safety razors, in the wall, disposed of down this handy, magic slot. It was vaguely funny, but honestly, where did they think the blades disappeared to?
you have to wonder how sustainable it is to ship something to a place for a refill and have them ship it back to you. That’s a lot of carbon emissions!
Very useful tips thank you for thr blog.
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Hibar (hellohibar.com) is relatively new to the scene with solid shampoo and conditioner bars. I tried solids in the past and was very disappointed. I tried this brand and was delighted! I believe they are marketing these products as salon quality- and that has been my experience. I did not see any red flags in the Ingredient lists either (and yes, I’m always open to learning something new). The company says that they are working on sustainable packaging for travel. Their bars are wrapped in paper/cardboard without plastics.
You should check out Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve. I switched to them for my bar shampoo about a year ago and am hooked. They also have bar soaps, bar lotions, dry shampoo, natural deodorants, lip balms.. too many things to list. I try new items from them all the time and have never been disappointed. They also don’t use any plastic in their packaging.
Do you have to replace the bamboo scrub brush tho? or is it easy to clean?
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