Potty Talk: Plastics in the bathroom

The Environmental Center

Everybody has an opinion and not everyone’s opinion is the same. I have the opinion that plastic is an amazingly versatile and useful substance. It is ubiquitous in our lives; but I am also under the opinion that we do not need to use it nearly as much as we do. I’m speaking specifically to single use plastics–that is defined as plastic packaging or containers or silverware or anything that is only used one time and is disposed up just after use. Humanity has made a lot of recent progress around reducing single use plastics, but there is a lot of work to be done. As an associated side point, The Story of Cosmetics has an interesting 9 minute video about the contents of self care products.

So, what can you do? Today, rethink your bathroom purchases.

  • Do you really need to buy that item?
  • Can you choose a product that comes in a smaller amount of packaging? Or maybe no packaging at all?
  • Can you buy a product in bulk reusing containers you already have available?
  • Can you make it yourself instead?

Here are a few specific items you can think about while reducing bathroom plastic. And here is a great article from Earth911.

Cleaning Your Pearly Whites

  • Toothbrushes are made of single use plastic and they come in a single use plastic container. There are some greener options for this. Apparently it is tough on your gums to use biodegradable bristles, so the best options all seem to have synthetic bristles. I would love to be told otherwise about this! Here are a few I found available locally:
    • Senza Bamboo – available at Market of Choice. Bamboo handle (a variety not eaten by pandas). Boasts 100% compostable packaging. Offers a tip on how to remove plastic bristles before tossing the handle in your yard debris bin.
    • Woo Bamboo – available at Safeway and Natural Grocers
    • Preserve – available all over! Handle is made from old yogurt cups. After you’re done using it, you can toss it into the Gimme 5 recycling bin at Whole Foods Market (check in with them to make sure program is currently running before heading over). According to the package, the case that the toothbrush comes in is also recyclable in the Gimme 5 bin.
  • Dental Floss is plastic string that comes in a plastic case. There are some alternatives you can find in town such as floss made from 100% silk and cases that are paper or metal. Another option is an electric water flosser: reusable over and over again!
  • Mouthwash is one of those things that we often tend toward after flossing. It rinses those bits away and leaves your mouth feeling fresh and clean. But what is actually in it to make your mouth fresh? Ever read the ingredients on the back of those bottles? Anyway, there are some pretty simple mixtures that you can try out. Just take a gander at some DIY recipes. HumanKind has some mouthwash tablets,
  • Toothpaste comes in a single use tube that is not recyclable that always comes inside of a cardboard box that is recyclable, but what’s the point? There are a few options here. Here is a pretty good review of some plastic free options.
    • Toothpaste that comes in glass jars. I’ve seen a couple options here at grocery store.
    • Toothpaste tabs! Although I haven’t found any of these available in Bend, there are lots of online options. Some come with more packaging than others, but you can do some research.
    • DIY toothpaste!


This is a tough one for a lot of people. I, for one, have had a hard time finding a good-for-you (i.e. without aluminum) deodorant that actually works. I tried the crystal, I tried the all natural Tom’s of Maine and others similar… I didn’t have a lot of luck. But I just tried a new one: Armpit Armor from Bohemian Peddler. And I have to say, I’m a big fan. And you know what else? It’s made in Madras, Oregon. And it comes in a paper tube! Check it out at locavore.

Another option that a friend just told me about is DIY deodorant. It has similar ingredients to the Armpit Armor, so I would like to try it out!

There is a company called Myro that offers refillable deodorant stick. That is definitely something to try, too! The refillable tube is plastic, but at least it’s refillable. HumanKind does refillable deodorant, too.

Everyone has a different body pH, so something that works for some might not work for others. I would love to know more about what works for different folks.

Bar Soap

This is probably the easiest thing to switch to to eliminate some plastic from your bathroom. Here is a great article about the benefits of bars.

There are SO many local bar soap options that come in minimal or no packaging. Just stop by locavore to discover your options! Steena’s Suds makes some great ones including a Shampoo Bar — of which I am now a convert. It works great and feels good in my hair after washing. It leaves a little squeaky feel to it, but only at first. I really recommend it.

Bottom Line

Really, it’s just important to stop and think and notice what you are buying and what you are bringing into your house. Again: do you need it? Can you find an item with less packaging? Can you make it yourself?

You choose with your dollar. I would like to reduce the use of single plastics in my house. What about yours?


  1. Carol on March 15, 2019 at 9:19 am

    I love this DIY deodorant: 1 T coconut oil, 1T corn starch, 1T baking soda. Mix well and store in reusable jar. There are a couple of downsides: when you travel or otherwise take it out of “room temperature” range, it either melts and separates or becomes too stiff to apply. And some clothing can pick up an oil stain from coconut. But for us it’s a very viable way to get baking soda to stay in place, it works, and smells good without perfume.

    • Rethink Waste Project on March 15, 2019 at 9:10 pm

      That sounds great and so simple!

  2. Mandy on March 15, 2019 at 10:32 am

    I’ve found the bamboo toothbrushes at TJ Maxx for very inexpensive (4 pack for $3.99). They also often have natural deodorants that I’ve tried. There are also bar shampoo and conditioners that you can get from Wren & Wild or from Natural Grocers/Whole Foods. I haven’t tried them yet but am going to after my current bottles run out. What I’d really like to find is something to replace the plastic razors.

    • Rethink Waste Project on March 15, 2019 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks for the tips on the conditioner and shampoo bars!

      Yeah — the plastic razors are tough. Preserve, the company I mentioned while talking about toothbrushes, makes a razor handle out of plastic yogurt cups as well as reusable bags and plates and other products. You can check them out at https://www.preserve.eco/collections. It is still plastic, but at least the product is made from recycled plastics!

    • Melissa on March 19, 2019 at 11:01 pm

      I bought a stainless steel safety razor back in the fall and I LOVE IT. Only the blades are replaced (which are recyclable) and the handle is supposed to last a lifetime. I got mine from Oui, and there’s does cost about $75, but once you have the handle, its only $11 for replacement blades. The only downside I’ve found is that it isn’t as close of a shave as I am used to, but it also doesn’t irritate my skin so I’m able to shave every day if I really want to.

  3. Mona Daly on March 15, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Love all your suggestions!
    Another great product I like to use is coconut oil in glass jars for makeup remover and lip balm.

    • Rethink Waste Project on March 15, 2019 at 9:14 pm

      Oh that’s a good tip! Thank you!

  4. Joni Loverin on April 5, 2019 at 10:44 am

    I have been using tea tree oil with a few drops of water as deodorant for the past 40 yrs. It is amazing, works excellent!

  5. Josie on June 28, 2019 at 10:06 am

    I contacted the Armpit Armor producer, but haven’t heard back. Does anyone know if their deodorant tubes are recyclable locally, or are they waxed? I can’t tell! Or biodegradable? Thanks!

    • Ani Kasch on June 28, 2019 at 1:55 pm

      Hi Josie,

      Sadly they are not recyclable. However, it is a small amount of paper waste rather than a large piece of plastic!

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