Guide to Zero Waste bathrooms with Aigul Safiullina

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Zero waste is not a new invention, quite the opposite. Our grandparents lived that way and no one was thinking about it as any particular lifestyle trend, no one even had much of a choice. “Zero waste” was a given - handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues, sacks or fabric bags instead of plastic bags and no disposable cleansing wipes in the bathroom - just towels, a block of soap and running water (of course, shared with the rest of the household).

So what happened? Convenient solutions and our busy lifestyles gradually took over, and now we live in an era when we see plastic waste being pulled out of turtles’ noses… It seems like people are becoming more aware of the plastic problem, however the most common and most widely spoken of solutions to minimize plastic apply to our kitchens and the way we shop and do groceries. We would like to share with you a few hacks to zero waste bathrooms in hope that our overall plastic impact becomes just a bit lighter.

1. Check what you can refuse

Check what you already have in your bathroom, and what products you can use for several purposes. Maybe the soap you have already is actually good for your face as well and you don’t need to buy a new one?
Also, checking what you have doesn’t only apply to the products, but to the containers as well! You already have a sturdy bottle for your shampoo? Great! Try finding a bulk store where you can refill that bottle without having to buy a new one!

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2. Check what you can’t refuse

When you wish to make a change in your life (and stick to it!) good planning is truly the key. Identify what you need and do thorough research on the products available. Maybe you don’t have to buy a kids’ washing gel and one for yourself? Maybe you can find a solution for the whole family? And once you’ve identified your key products, move on to…

3. How can I get what I need?

There are several zero waste ways of shopping products for your bathroom. You can use one of the bulk stores, and for our Hong Kong based readers, we can list the following:

Live Zero: two locations in Hong Kong: one in PMQ where they sell reusable coffee mugs, stainless straws, bathroom products etc, but no food products and one store in High Street in Sai Ying Pun where they sell reusables, household products, bamboo toothbrushes, Taboocha on tap and food in bulk.
Seed: a store in Sai Kung selling household products, food in bulk, plastic-packaging-free personal care and reusables
Edgar: a store with two locations in Hong Kong: one in Tsim Sha Tsui in the K11 mall, and one in Moon Street, Wan Chai. Both location sell Zero Waste Items like everyday reusables as well as food in bulk and organic drinks.
NO!W No Waste: an online store with reusables and zero waste gadgets for your kitchen and bathroom
Plastic-Free HK: online store with reusables and Zero Waste Life gadgets for your kitchen and bathroom. They also sell beauty and skincare products free of plastic packaging as well as products for kids and pets!
A selection of Zero Waste products is also available in Just Green and iSGO.

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For the brave ones: DIY is also an option! Deodorant, house cleaning products as well as body or facial care can be easily made of ingredients that we might already have at home. Vinegar and citrus peel can do miracles for cleaning surfaces and a body scrub made of coffee grounds combined with coconut oil can give you a silky smooth skin. And have you tried a home-made face or hair mask (the most common recipes include eggs and dairy, so vegans might want to seek alternatives!)? Your creativity is the only limit, however bear in mind that all the ingredients you might be buying for your DIY projects also come packaged, and if buying these unconsciously, you might end up with more excess packaging than after getting that plastic-tube-packaged deo!

And now to the final step…

4. Check your budget and pick your battle!

Buying a whole bunch of Zero Waste items in one go might be expensive. Also, doing everything at once might feel overwhelming, and you might end up getting more confused than inspired. Therefore, do address your first battle! What would your first step be? Are you going to change that toothbrush of yours? Or will you make DIY toothpaste with your kids this weekend and store it in a glass jar that they have decorated? Maybe you like using make-up, and your first step could be exchanging the disposable cleansing wipes for ones made of cotton?

It is an expense to do everything in one go, so have a glance at your bathroom and pick a few items you would like to start with. Success in one area will keep you motivated to change more things and your transition to a lifestyle with less, maybe eventually zero waste will be more organic, and … more you!

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Whose brain are we picking?

Aigul Safiullina is the co-founder of Zero Waste Life. In March 2018 she decided to do an active effort to produce as little trash as possible. The waste she can’t avoid, she would store in a glass jar. WOMB had the pleasure to host a Q&A session with Aigul and have a frank chat about not-so-sexy parts of our homes, namely bathrooms and how to make them more Zero-Waste.

And if you want to know more about where we get our Zero Waste inspiration, check out our previous post listing Hong Kong based bloggers that we follow!

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