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Want to reduce your plastic exposure? Start in your bathroom
By Jenny Ringland
This week we read the news that microplastics have been found in human blood for the first time, with scientists finding particles in 80 per cent of people tested. The study, which was published in the journal Environmental International, found that particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs.
Which is pretty horrifying, and made us realise we sometimes forget to acknowledge just how much plastic there is in our everyday lives. Rather than get overwhelmed, like everything on our journey to uncover what it means to live a sustainable life, we realised starting small is the best option. Which is why this week we are starting a room by room audit, taking stock of all the plastic and seeing if we can find non-toxic alternatives, and it’s the bathroom first!
If you want to drill down even more, skincare is a great place to start, and we’re not just talking about your cleanser, toner and moisturiser. Personal care products, more specifically those you use in the shower, are one of the biggest culprits for hidden toxins like preservatives and fragrance, and they are also all predominately packaged in plastic. Your wet skin is drinking up those products at a much faster rate than it would if it were dry (remember how your dermo recommends putting your body moisturiser on damp skin). You’re also generally not applying them to small areas either, your entire booty is enjoying the fruits of all those products – the good and the bad. And did we mention you’re also inhaling them all via your daily home sauna too?
Start with one product – like body wash – and swap your mainstream go-to’s one at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Here’s our guide to keeping your bathroom as clean as possible.
The psychology of what we put in our bathroom bin seems to be different to our recycling and sorting standards in the kitchen.
Makeup bags and bathroom cabinets around the world are filled with single-use products from concealers to face wash, sheet masks, pump exfoliators, eye shadow pallets, the list goes on, and on.
To keep up with our appetite for afore-mentioned beautifully packaged products, the global cosmetics industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging every year, the majority of which are not recyclable. So that lip gloss tube / concealer case / toothpaste tube / disposable razor you just finished with, it’s destined for landfill, or worse, our waterways, along with billions of other single-use containers just like it.
Avoid artificial fragrance and instead look for brands with a naturally derived scent from plants – hint, they’ll generally be botanical/latin names. Put anything back on the shelf that contains silicon or parabens. Even if it claims to be powered by natural ingredients like clay, always check where this ingredient appears on the label. To go completely plastic free switch over to shampoo and conditioner bars, packaged in cardboard.
Choose refillable bodywash that comes in a jar, or better yet go back to the humble soap bar, the planet, and your organs will thank you.
Avoid those with microbeads, aka tiny plastic particles that make their way into our oceans and more devastatingly, end up as fish food. Instead try products containing coffee, sea salt, crushed nut shells – like walnuts – or coconut sugar.
A good face and body oil is ideal to keep in the shower, especially for cleansing skin and removing makeup. It’s as natural as you can get, affordable and hard working. It’s also great for dry skin. And once you’ve found one you love you’ll never look back.
If you haven’t already made the switch to bamboo, now there is even more reason!
Exfoliating isn’t just good for getting rid of dry skin it’s also great for getting your circulation going and stimulating your lymphatic system. Look for those made from bamboo and natural fibres like coconut husks.
Bamboo cotton buds are a great sustainable swap, they come in minimal plastic-free packaging and are 100 per cent compostable so they won’t end up in the ocean.
Disposable razors are probably one of the most wasteful things we use every day. Approximately two billion razors are disposed of in the United States every year. A safety razor will last years, you’ll only need to replace the blades, which can also be recycled.
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