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4 Simple Swaps for A Zero-Waste Shower


A typical shower routine can generate a whopping 512 kg of waste

Source: Intan Indiastuti [19]


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Isn’t it really ironic that we hop into the shower to get clean but whatever we leave behind in the shower makes the world a dirtier place?


A warm shower can be a big pick-me-up, especially after a long, tiring day of work; so much so that we don’t really give too much thought about the waste that we’re making during this self-pampering time.


Think about it: we throw things out, we flush things away, and most of the products are encased in single-use plastic that sometimes isn’t even recyclable. In the UK alone, a typical shower routine can generate a whopping 512 kg of waste...all in a lifetime, most of which are made up of toilet paper. Times that by the country’s population, that’s 33,812,480 tons or just around the weight of 300 blue whales [1].


Read also: Making Friends with Water: How Sponge City Can Solve Jakarta's Flooding


But don’t worry, we can break this irony! There are many ways we can change our shower routine to make it more environmentally-friendly one shower at a time and here are our 4 tips:


1. Soaps and Shampoos


They seem so harmless and fresh, but our environment is not exactly a big fan of our soaps and shampoos, especially the liquid ones.


The first change to make for your shower routine

Source: Taryn Elliot [20]


As the green movement grows bigger, more people have begun to realize that conventional soap and shampoo may not be the cleanest product for the environment. Liquid soaps take more energy and more raw materials to make than a soap bar [2]. Going more into this slippery slope, some of the ingredients used to make shampoo are not reef safe, such as microbeads [3]! In terms of packaging, most of our hair care and body wash products are also packed in single-use plastic, which is a big no-no [4].


Replacement: Soap and shampoo bars!


Putting it simply, using soaps and shampoos bars should be the first change you make in your shower routine! Not only does their use lower your carbon footprint, but they also use less packaging, oftentimes plastic-free, so at the end of their lives, they would simply disappear and disintegrate [4].


Translation: no waste!



2. Razors


Razors are one of the items in our bathroom that has the shortest life span, where 1 cartridge can only be used for 6-9 times on average (making us throw away razors every 2-3 weeks) before having it disposed of and never seen again [5]. Well, we do not see it again, but in reality, the disposable razor you threw away 5 years ago is probably still sitting in a landfill!


According to the HuffPost, disposable razors are usually made from a mix of materials like plastic, rubber and steel, which makes them hard to recycle [6]. Here’s a little fact on razors that you may not know about, back in 1990 there were an estimated 2 billion razors in landfills already [7]. It’s 2020 so imagine how much more are there in the landfills now…


Replacement: Safety razors!


The eco-friendly replacement

Source: Ignacio F. [21]


Let me introduce you to safety razors: they are an eco-friendly replacement to a dull plastic razor. They are made of stainless steel [8], and the blade can be replaced and recycled [9]! Isn’t that such great news?


It will take some time to get used to using safety razors, but in time, these sustainable razors will definitely grow on you [9].


Read also: Making A Cleaner Earth with Zero Waste Living


3.Body Scrubs


Don’t we love a good scrub? Although they give off a refreshing feeling after use, they contain microbeads, which should send you some red signals [10, 11].


Minimize your environmental impact by carefully reading those tiny ingredient lists

Source: Polina Tankilevitch [22]


Replacement: Natural Loofah Sponge or DIY Body Scrubs


We get it. Exfoliating is so effective in removing junks out of our skin so minimize your environmental impact by carefully reading those tiny ingredient lists to make sure they don’t contain ingredients such as Polyethylene (PE), Nylon (PA), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and/or Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) [12]. Fun fact! Simple body scrubs could be DIY-ed at home, just make sure to do your research, since some ingredients (e.g. sea salt) that could be too harsh for the skin [13].


Natural loofah sponges are also a great replacement. They don’t have any plastic in them, made straight from the luffa plant AND it’s sustainable since it could be composted after its life span is up [14].



4. Water usage


Last but definitely in no ways the least (perhaps even the biggest), is your water usage. According to The Washington Post, a standard showerhead delivers 2.5 gallons of water EVERY MINUTE [15]!



2.5 gallons of water EVERY MINUTE!

Source: Dan Smedly [23]


Read also: Reviving Earth’s Dying Organ: The Coral Reefs


While replacing the showerhead is a possible solution to reduce your water usage, it’s not exactly sustainable in the long-run. No need to fret, there are simple ways to save water while you’re in the bathroom, such as taking shorter showers, making sure all leaky faucets are fixed and sealed tight (this can save you 15 gallons of water every day!) and putting a bucket in the shower [16,17,18]. The last one sounds silly, but it helps to catch the excess water so you can use it for something else, say, your plants.


There are many ways to become more zero-waste with our shower routines. These are just small adjustments and replacements to help start that journey. Let us clean the environment, one shower at a time!



Sources:

[1] https://www.circularonline.co.uk/insight/whats-your-bathroom-waste-legacy/

[2] https://greenstarsproject.org/2016/11/11/social-environmental-impact-sustainable-soap/

[3] https://theoceanpreneur.com/ocean-impact/zero-waste-travel/biodegradable-shampoo-recommendations-ideas-for-travelling/

[4] https://www.zmescience.com/other/feature-post/feature-solid-soap-liquid-soap-environment-29052020/

[5] https://getrockwell.com/blogs/journal/a-guide-to-eco-friendly-shaving-plastic-free-razors

[6] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/disposable-razors-environment_l_5cdb237de4b0790953deb7de

[7] https://www.emeraldology.com/shaving-away-pollution-from-disposable-razors/

[8] https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/2015-12-3-zero-waste-shaving/

[9] https://ecoroots.us/blogs/blog/safety-razor-for-women

[10] https://www.sailorsforthesea.org/blog/conservation/personal-grooming-scrubs-harmful-fish

[11] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/body-scrubs-without-microbeads-_n_7536414

[12] https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/plastics-and-packaging/plastic-microbeads#:~:text=Microbeads%20are%20small%2C%20solid%2C%20manufactured,for%20a%20variety%20of%20purposes.

[13] https://www.healthline.com/health/skin/diy-body-scrub#sea-salt-scrub

[14] https://www.plaineproducts.com/best-loofah-options-for-your-skin-and-the-environment/

[15]https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/03/04/your-shower-is-wasting-huge-amounts-of-energy-and-water-heres-what-to-do-about-it/

[16] https://www.watercalculator.org/posts/shower-bath/

[17] https://medium.com/@nickkourakis2004/why-you-should-take-shorter-showers-2fbc742c9371

[18] https://www.abcwua.org/Save_Water_in_the_Bathroom.aspx


Pictures:

[19] https://unsplash.com/photos/SufJtmQloUM

[20] https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-book-page-on-brown-wooden-table-4426556/

[21] https://unsplash.com/photos/Jvqs5mvf8Cc

[22] https://www.pexels.com/photo/beauty-products-on-shelves-3735616/

[23] https://unsplash.com/photos/2wVRh5MpQ0Y


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