Bea Johnson lives waste-free with her family since 2008 and is the author of the bestseller Zero Waste Home (Zéro Déchet en francais)
"Since embarking on the Zero Waste lifestyle, our lives have changed for the better: We feel happier and lead more meaningful lives, based on experiences instead of stuff. My goal is to share its incredible health, financial and time saving benefits!"

Zero Waste Bathroom

The fastest way to get to Zero Waste here, is to find alternatives to your disposables: Remove your bathroom trash can...whatever lands on the floor is what calls for an ersatz. Here are the changes we've made.

-Toilet paper: Yes, we still use it, at least until we get solar on the house and drying washlets on the toilet bowls. For now, it's TP; 100%recycled and unbleached, individually wrapped in paper to bypass the common plastic wrapper on multiples, while we wait for better packaging options to come up on the market. Evergreen is packaged in cardboard but is only sold online.

-Antiperspirant: Switch to a solution of baking soda/water/lavender essential oil in a stainless spray bottle or an alum stone (I bought mine in bulk in France, but you can find some here too). The latter lasts a year and also works on healing small razor cuts.

-Razors: Lucky me, I got it all lazered off six years ago (well before we tried to reduce our waste), but my husband still grows facial hair. He shaves with a reusable stainless razor handle and dries his disposable razor heads after each use, that way, each one lasts 6 months. When he has used his last disposable head, he'll switch to a safety razor. With solar, he'd probably go electric. 2/10/12 Scott has been using a double edge razor for a couple of years now. By drying the blade between uses, a pack of 10 blades should last 5 years.

-Shaving cream: Switch to a rich soap, shaving soap (wrapped in paper) or soap of Alep (I found mine in bulk in France, but middle eastern stores would carry it).

-Shampoo and Conditioner: Switch to bulk, I refill liter size bottles. If your hair is short, you also have the “no-poo” option: rinse your hair, massage baking soda in, then rinse, with vinegar for shine. I gave up after a 6 months trial on my long hair... I now “poo”.

-Body/face soap: Switch to bulk liquid castile soap or a package-free hard soap (best option since less packaging is involved in the making and selling)

-Toothbrush: There are no right answers out there yet. The choice is yours. Recycline (made of yogurt cups, packaged in a travel case, recyclable #5, but plastic), Terradent (replaceable bristle pads on a plastic handle, over packaged), Radius (replaceable plastic head on a recycled handle, too much non-recyclable packaging), and Swissco (wooden and packaged in a travel case but not a US product).

-Toothpaste tube: switch to a homemade tooth powder with baking soda and stevia (see recipes), in a glass parmesan dispenser.

-Dental Floss: Switch to a brass gum stimulator with a rubber tip.

-Cosmetics: Reduce. Cosmetics are my biggest Zero Waste issue, but I have reduced it down to 5 packaged items (cream, kohl powder, brown pencil, mascara, sunscreen powder) and 2 homemade substitute (cocoa powder bronzer and homemade vitamin E balm). While I have yet to find the first 5 items in bulk (on my on-going research list), I can recycle their containers at Origins. Read your labels, watch out for the dirty dozen, and check your cosmetics score on skin deep. If it’s good to you it’s good to the Earth too. 2/10/12 I thought this required a much needed update... The only thing I now purchase in packaging is a glass bottle of SPF tinted moisturizer. The rest, I either make (mascara, kohl eyeliner) or have eliminated (powder, brown pencil). What can I say? I am a work in progress;)

-Nail Polish : Switch to a nail clipper, stainless file and balm. After 15 years of using nail polish, I've gone naked and noticed that the ridges on my nails have miraculously disappeared. A bonus, since I can now also forego the buffer. My homemade vitamin E balm makes my nails shiny on demand and works on eyes, lips and hair. Nail clippers and stainless files come package free at the beauty supply store.

-Q-tips: Forget about them, they are not good for you anyways. Do your research.

-Feminine products: Switch to the Diva Cup and Glad Rags (I made mine from an old flannel shirt): Do I see some frowning? These require an up-front investment and take a couple months getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you won't go back to disposables.

-Hairspray: Switch to lemon water in a spray bottle (see recipes). Amazingly simple and simply amazing.

-Exfoliators: Switch to baking soda or oatmeal for the face and salt for the body, all found in bulk.

-Mask: Switch to bulk clays (French, Kaolin, Bentonite, etc...), mixed with water or apple cider vinegar.

-Contact lenses: My husband is still attached to his (laser can sadly not cure his condition), the packaging of the lenses and that of the cleaning solution are recyclable and by using them only on occasions, he doubles their wearability.

You can also...
  • Compost hair and nail clippings: My son believes that he is greener than the rest of us because he bites his nails and does not waste them :)
  • Put a brick in your toilet tank, it will reduce the amount of water used every time you flush. You won’t notice a difference (until you see your water bill) and you’ll forget it’s in there. If you have to buy a new toilet, get one of the low flow Toto toilets so you'll use even less water.
  • Collect water in a bucket while your shower heats, water your plants with it.
  • Use zero waste cleaning: Microfiber cloths for mirrors, hydrogen peroxide white vinegar for mold, baking soda as scrub, a mix of baking soda and vinegar as drain cleaner (see Zero Waste Cleaning).

Your turn to Zero Waste your bathroom.
Ready, set, mellow! ...if it's yellow.


  1. Bea,

    i'm currently getting laser with mixed results. Would be interested to know how many sessions you had before the hair was completely gone.

    after 4 sessions barely any of my hair is gone.


  2. Hi Melissa:
    I needed from 8-11 treatments depending on the area. I purchased a package deal, which covered up to 8 treatments and 1/2 off on the subsequent ones. That's when learned that my folicules had a price...

  3. Anonymous2/19/2010

    hi Bea,

    8-11? wow, thats a lot. they tell you 5-6 but i guess i should have assumed it would take more.


  4. Anonymous2/19/2010

    Have you talked to your dentist about substituting a rubber tip for dental floss? My understanding is that while a rubber tip is good for stimulating the gum line, it isn't meant to and can't get the food and bacteria between your teeth. mt

  5. Bea - Great suggestions for a Zero Waste bathroom. Re: the anonymous post above - I don't think Bea's intent is to give dental advice, merely ways to encourage people to think about all the disposable waste they create in the bathroom. It's obviously a personal choice.

  6. Vanessa2/20/2010

    Bea, what brand/s of makeup do you use? I'm trying to switch to non-toxic, simple makeup, too, and at the moment am considering the Inika brand ( but it would be good to get a recommendation.

    Also, what's this 'sunscreen powder' you use? And where are the recipes you've mentioned for various things?

    ... Oh, and your house is my dream house. Wow.


  7. Bea , I'm intrigued by your vitamin E balm. What ingredients do you use? Nancy

  8. Hi Nancy, it's just beeswax and vitamin E oil... I am scheduled to post my recipes next week.

  9. Anonymous2/28/2010

    Hi Bea,
    I really enjoy your blog and find it very helpful.
    Where is the recipe for making toothpaste that you mentioned? I can't find it.
    Thank you!

  10. Hi there: Thanks for your interest in the Recipes. Please note that I am weekly blogger. The recipes are not on yet, but are scheduled to be posted next week.

  11. Vanessa3/03/2010

    Hi again Bea,

    Just wanted to add: to exfoliate my face I swipe a slice of lemon over it, leave it to dry for fifteen minutes, then rinse it off - voila, baby smooth! With all your lemons this would be a handy one for you. :)

    Also, I just bought some Inika makeup and it is super. I'm so chuffed about it being a totally natural non-toxic product. However, it is still packaged in plastic, of course... :( I'm looking at Ecco Bella for the eyeshadows, as they come in cardboard palettes.

  12. Anonymous3/14/2010

    Hi Bea,

    I so appreciate your site! You have inspired me to think each time I reach for the waste basket. I have made quite a few changes since reading your blog. I would like to know where you buy or the brand/s of your cosmetics. I would also like your recipe for the cocoa bronzer. Do you have any thoughts on coloring hair- mine is gray and I am not ready to go natural.


  13. Anonymous: I am such a work in progress in the field of cosmetics!
    My "cocoa bronzer" is simply cocoa powder that I apply with a brush.
    I have not gone gray yet and don't know what I'll do when my first white hair appears, but I have found henna powder in bulk (Rainbow in San Francisco for ex.) It obviously would not work on everyone (I am a blond) but would be worth investigating if you're a brunette.
    I use Eminence sunscreen powder but am not married to it yet. Although the company said that their packaging (brush container) is recyclable, they have not been able to provide me with a recycling number (which makes me doubt its "recyclability"). I can always take it to Origins (who will recycle ANY cosmetics) when the time comes to make a decision on its disposal.
    For pencils I have been using Jane Iredale, and have left its cardboard box at the store (really un-needed). For mascara, I use Physicians Formula Organics, although I am also fighting their packaging. I am investigating cake mascara, but it does not have the lengthening properties that modern mascara has.
    As you can see, I have a lot of work left to do in that field!

  14. Vanessa3/15/2010

    Bea! I found a fully biodegradable toothbrush in fully biodegradable packaging! :D

    Have a look:

    We have ordered some and will let you know how they work out, if you like.

  15. thanks so much, Vanessa!!! will look in to it right away!

  16. Thank you so much for this blog! You have inspired me and have helped me to find products that I never even knew existed!

  17. Hi Bea!
    I must say that you have inspired me to be much more conscious of my consumption and waste. Cosmetics will be difficult for me too. What do you use for eye make-up remover? What do you use in lieu of cotton balls? Thanks!

  18. Hi Jen:
    Cosmetics are difficult, I aggree. Especially when we've used a routine for a long time. I use neither eye make up remover or cotton balls. I simply wash my face with soap (Castile) and dry with a towel and have done so for 20 years. Luckily, no adjustment there for me...

  19. Vanessa5/15/2010

    Jen, try using a little olive, jojoba or sweet almond oil to remove your eye make-up - just massage it around then wipe off with a warm wet facewasher. Works for me! You can also use oil to cleanse the rest of your face, and it's supposed to be particularly good for acne sufferers. I'm currently trialling it on my dry skin. is the guide I'm using - so far so good!

    Bea: an update on the bamboo toothbrushes - they are great! They come in a cardboard box of 12, each toothbrush in a paper wrapper, and work just fine. I've yet to test whether the bristles do compost down properly, but it's the best option I've found so far... The only downside is, now I have to part with my beloved Radius Source toothbrush and its comfy handle. :(

  20. Vanessa5/16/2010

    Also, for those who love cotton balls or pads to take off their makeup, try crocheted face scrubbies - you can find them on Etsy ( is where I got mine) or make them yourself if you're handy with a crochet needle. :)

  21. Thanks Vanessa, for your valuable ideas!
    I looked into the toothbrushes when you 1st mentioned them and am really excited about them. They are the best I have seen so far. I still have a few radius heads to go thru, but will order a box from my girlfriend who is planning to go to Australia this summer.
    Thanks for sharing your find!

  22. j.r. liggett's old fashioned shampoo bar is a great shampoo bottle alternative. it's wrapped like a bar of soap, but the wrapper is fully biodegradable (corn-based) and the shampoo is all natural and has no detergents or any junk like that. it leaves my hair feeling great, and i don't have to use conditioner either. it lasts just as long as a normal bottle of shampoo, even longer since i don't shower every day and it's really great. i highly recommend it, though i suppose it may not be the most practical thing for a whole family as opposed to bulk shampoo! in any case, maybe a great travel shampoo option, who knows!

  23. Hi Sam and thanks for your input! I personally believe that cornbased products are a problem as they confuse the average shopper who will more than likely recycle it and thus taint the recycling stream (see my Recycling article).
    What do you plan to do with yours?
    If a wrapper is needed at all, paper is much better.
    It seems like a great product and I would love to give it a try though. Perhaps I can find it here or get it online and ask to get it unwrapped. There is really no need for soaps to be wrapped and many companies already do it.

  24. hi bea! i get mine at berkeley bowl or rainbow and compost the wrapper. it is kind of like waxy paper. and yes, the wrapping thing is certainly one that has the potential to be confusing, i think, to most people who mean well but are not that educated on what is recyclable or compostable (in general and in their neighborhood/town). and i definitely agree that soaps most definitely do not need to be wrapped! i am sure that if you contact j.r. liggett online, they would totally send you an unwrapped bar to try. while they are not the most waste-free company and definitely have gimmicky products on their website, i think they would be totally happy to help you out! i am a lady who only lives with her fiance and has no kids and so my house has a lot less heads to wash but i felt compelled to share nonetheless!! :)

    again i have to say what an inspiration you are to me! i've been reducing/simplifying the house after finding your blog a couple months ago (my sister jocelyn pointed me to it, she is a mom at park school as well) and have been more vigilant about wasteful behavior. i would like to try to find a biodegradable shampoo bar that is not wrapped now! :) thanks again for sharing your remarkable lifestyle that i hope will soon be common sense to everyone and practiced regularly all over.

  25. Anonymous7/01/2010

    Hi Bea,
    What an enlightening the month that I have been following you, I have stopped impulse shopping, and donated numerous shopping bags of clothes, shoes and books. "Refusing" is the concept that takes all this to the next level. Assessing what is a true "need" is another. Keep up the great work. You are making a real difference.

  26. Hi Sam:
    I contacted the company, and the person that replied to my email, did not quite like my idea of unpackaged soap (as seen in many health food stores) writing that
    "this would have worked well in the 19th and 20 centuries"... but not today. Ugh.

  27. Thanks for the mention of castile soap. Last month I bought a bottle. (Sadly bulk bins are not available in my area). Since then it has replaced or eliminated the need for several items! I use a small amount mixed with water as a shampoo and face wash. I no longer need conditioner, and my comb just glides through my hair. This is also the best thing I found for my daughter's curly hair. Three weeks of constant use for me, and I'm loving it. I also have very hard water and it would make my skin so itchy. Now I use the castile soap on a sea sponge. My skin feels amazing without further exfoliating or lotion. Here's the list of what one bottle replaced/eliminated:

    *baby soap for the kids
    *kids shampoo
    *adult shampoo
    *adult conditioner
    *face wash
    *sugar body scrub
    *lotion (except for hands)
    *hand soap

    I love the idea of not buying all these different products and not having all these different bottles to recycle. Thanks again. :)

  28. I forgot to mention that I also no longer use things like hair mousse, gel, glue, or spray. So those have been eliminated because of lack of need.

    I also have used it to mop the floors, and will try it for hand washing dishes once my bottle of dish soap is gone.

    This product is amazing!

  29. ScooterX1/10/2011

    If you want to save the hassle of making your own tooth powder, you can just omit it all together. You don't need toothpaste or powder to brush your teeth properly. It is the mechanical action of the brush that is doing all the work - the paste/powder just gives you... mintyness. If you _want_ the minty stuff, that's OK. I just skip it and chew a mint leaf.

  30. Bea, I'm going to ask my dentist about this next week, but my mom swears up and down that baking soda should only be used occasionally on teeth because it can wear away enamel. Have you talked to a dentist about this? I'll report back after my dentist appointment next week with what she thinks. I really like the idea of switching to baking soda permanently!

  31. My dentist says that it's just fine using baking soda (many toothpastes already contain it).

    1. Anonymous6/13/2012

      Since everyone's teeth are different, everyone should check with their own dentist to make sure that baking powder isn't too abrasive for their teeth. Caution should always be used.

  32. Thanks for your response Bea! I'm going thrifting for a parmesan-type shaker to put my baking soda/stevia mixture in. Each little step I make is feeling really great!

  33. Bobbi: look for a parmesan shaker like the one pictured in the recipes. We have tried different container and this one worked the best. We close off all but the 2 largest holes. It dispenses just the right amount, at the right speed on our wet toothbrush.

  34. Any tips on where to find a shaker like that? Container Store, maybe? I was going to reuse an empty spice jar but the holes are much bigger than the ones on your container. Thanks.

  35. Definitely try the one you have first. The picture does not show the holes that we actually use, they show the smallest holes, my mistake. On the spice jar (which we use for travelling), we have a cap with large holes.

  36. Thanks Bea, I'll try the spice jar I have and not over-think this!

  37. I'm a newby to your blog and am really enjoying it! I've been reducing and greening our family for a couple years's crazy to say that. It really does come down to baby steps and before you know it, you've made tremendous changes!

    I'm very excited about the information on the toothbrushes and look forward to switching once we get through our radius heads as well.

    In place of cotton ball, I cut up our old baby washcloths into squares. We keep them in a glass jar in the bathroom and toss them in a mesh bag for the weekly wash. I was worried the edges might fray, but no sewing has been required and they work great!

    We also use baking soda toothpaste. Even my 7 year old daughter has made the switch. We add a little peppermint oil to a batch for that minty freshness.

    Thank you for sharing so many wonderful ideas. It's great to see others so interested...and inspired!

  38. Thanks Gwyn, great input.
    Flannel "eye remover" pads can also be made or found on Etsy and work great.
    I have some but do not use them often (mainly first aid and extractions).
    One way of sanitizing them after washing is to iron them on hot. I do that with my reusable feminine pads too.

  39. Sandra1/22/2011

    Thanks for the great homemade lip/eye/nail balm recipe! It was really easy to make, and I found I could forego purchasing separate bottles of face and body moisturizer if I used the same oil I made the balm with, as an overall skin moisturizer. The vitamin E oil was a little expensive for this purpose, so I substituted it with refined sesame oil (but I'm sure you can use other oils, like sweet almond, avocado, or grapeseed). It also works as a deep hair conditioner if you leave it on dry hair for 15 min, then shampoo and rinse out. And, if you buy a food-grade sesame oil, you can, of course, also use it to cook with. (Just don't use toasted sesame oil, or you'll smell like you dunked yourself in a stir-fry;)

  40. Hi Bea, thanks for the suggestions on the "eye remover" pads.

    A thought for the left over cardboard roll in TP...they can be donated to schools. The pre-school and kinder classes love them for art projects! My daughter's class is making binoculars next week. :-) We also paint and decorate them with art and decoupage, similar to the art on your steps. They are great for containing cords of small appliances like an iron, blender, hair dryer, etc. We gave them out as our homemade xmas gift and received requests for more!

  41. Lindsay2/07/2011

    Hi Bea,
    I found a Stainless Steel Neti Pot made by Health and Yoga. Just thought I would share!
    I love you blog and slowing becoming waste free!

  42. Elenor2/18/2011

    Hi Bea, I am currently devouring your site and slowly implementing many of your great ideas! I like the idea of the tooth powder and asked my dentist husband about it. His only concern was flouride, especially for kid's teeth. I know firsthand it makes a difference on developing teeth. Did your dentist have opinions on this?

  43. Elenor: With little research you'll find out that fluoride is in our water, and that our country is getting over fluoridated ;), causing splotchy teeth in children (and perhaps even more serious problems).

  44. Hi Bea,
    Working on implementing lots of your ideas, thanks!! Quick question, do you use plastic liter bottles to refill for your shampoo/conditioner? I was trying to think if glass would work (and I think it would look nicer)...but guess it could be risky in the tub :)

  45. Hi Bea,

    I love your website! Because of you I was inspired to join our local food co-op, where they have olive oil and castile soap and balsamic vinegar and even a wide variety of teas in bulk! I'm in love.

    Just wanted to give you a comment, though-- I've heard that a brick in the toilet tank is NOT a good idea. The brick will break down over time and the pieces will destroy your plumbing. A better idea is a sealed bottle full of water with either pebbles or sand on the bottom to prevent it from falling or drifting in the flow of the water, bumping into the plumbing works and causing occasional problems.

    Anyway, great blog! Thanks for the inspiration!

  46. Bea,

    You have been a huge inspiration and I love reading every post you make.
    I was wondering if you ever considered Family Cloth in place of disposable toilet paper. AKA reusable toilet paper. Even if only used for number one, it cuts down on TP use in general. There are many sites out there with more information and I'll be writing up a post about its place in our home too on my blog shortly.

    Keep up the great work and take care!!

  47. Anonymous3/09/2011

    Here's an idea that I first saw in the Middle East that would eliminate the need for toilet paper. All of the bathrooms have a toilet hose in each stall to clean their bum. I'm not sure how they dry off at the mall but a towel could be used at home.

  48. Anonymous:
    I have travelled in the Middle East before... the bathrooms are constructed to be hosed (toilet has its special "room", is completely tiled and waterproof). On our side of the world, bathrooms are built for TP usage... our best alternative is the bidet or bidet attachments.

  49. Hi Bea,
    Just FYI - your "Dirty Dozen" link does not work =(

  50. Anonymous3/15/2011

    Hello Bea - Love Love your Blog! I am a Mexican married to an Arab Construction Guru. Luckily he was able to install one of those Middle Eastern hoses in our Chicago home. Nothing was torn down and we use home made wash clothes to dry. It can be done. However, prior to the hose we used a garden watering pot that can be tucked away behind the toilet. Take care, Arcelia.

  51. Thanks Hestermania: fixed it.

  52. Love the blog! A couple other alternatives to hair removal are an epilator or sugar wax. Both are slightly painful, but after a while, you get used to it. I have been using my epilator for 2 years and have not had to replace any parts. With the sugar wax, I believe you can use old fabric and simply wash and reuse. I am not 100% sure though.

  53. Thanks Tanny for bringing that up. I have to say, if I were not lasered, I would either use the Scott's double edge razor or a sugar wax. Instructions are on

  54. Anonymous3/24/2011

    Bea, have you encountered any trouble taking a safety razor when you travel. I usually only have a carry on bag when I fly and wonder if I could take my double edge razor. Thanks,
    Mark in Cincinnati

  55. I am loving g this blog. My family is slowly working it's way to zero waste. We have quite a way to go, but it feels good to get started. I'd like to re-ask Erika's question above...What do you keep tour bulk shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotoion in?

  56. SRC: I keep them in stainless pump dispensers.

  57. Anonymous4/04/2011


    I discovered your blog and love it. I am in no way a zero waste, but your blog inspired me and I am making small changes in my life every day now to get closer to being waste-free.

    I have a silly question about toilet paper. Is it recycleable at all? I now purchase Seventh Gen paper-wrapped rolls, so we have eliminated plastic there and I recycle the inner carton roll, but the paper itself? We do not flash it since our house is older and we do not want to flood our bathroom.

    Thank you!


  58. Yelena: TP is compostable, not recyclable.

  59. Lindsay4/09/2011

    I finally switched to a Diva cup and wish i had switched sooner. This is my second month with it and I wish i could tell the world. So much more comfortable that using a tampon! I wouldn't trade it for a tampon ever! (Just thought some of you thinking they are gross needed another fist hand experience.)

  60. Agreed with Lindsay. I use a Diva Cup as well and LOVE it. Now I just need to get some reusable pads to replace the disposables. I've reduced usage down to 1 bag every 3-4 months but would like to eliminate those altogether.

  61. Anonymous4/12/2011

    I have a questions about the diva cup. How often do you have to change it? Does it leak? If you are in a public restroom how do you wash it before using it again? Thanks. I really want to try it but I am scared that it won't work for me.

  62. Re: Diva Cup. It too was an epiphany for me the first time I used it. I could not stop thinking about the money I had wasted on disposables until then.
    Anonymous: You should experience the same from a mentrual cups as you have with tampons re: changing, leaking, hygiene in public bathrooms.

  63. Jeanne4/17/2011

    After having my baby and seeing how fast the garbage bag would fill because of her diapers, I realized I was just adding to more garbage! So I decided to go green...then realized there are so many things I could do but where do I start? Then I found your blog because of 365 Days of Trash by Dave.

    Aiming for zero waste is what I'm going to do now. I want my baby to grow up without contributing any more waste (as much as possible).

    I also can't wait for my cup to arrive. (I don't remember what brand it is.) A friend is sending it from UK because no one sells it here in the Philippines.

    I so love your blog! I look forward to more post and tips from you.

    - Jeanne

  64. concerned4/18/2011

    About Robin's comment that Bea is not here to give dental advise... I know that she isn't but it is important to check with a dentist to make sure that her alternatives are healthy ones. As for the fluoride, some people do need it in their toothpaste. I for one have been advised by my dentist to use toothpaste with fluoride because my teeth are weak. It is important to consult your dentist who knows your history and health to make sure that these alternatives are healthy for you.

  65. Thanks for your comment:

    I agree with Robin: I am not a dentist ;)

    I simply share what I do in my home. Commun sense should have you do what works for you! I am not here to dictate, but simply share.

    Our dentist is fine with our dental hygiene, since fluoride is already in our water (I cover this in a comment above).

  66. Anonymous4/24/2011

    Hi Bea,

    Could you please share some information regarding how to purchase the tooth brush from Austraria? I am interested but I noticed that it wasn't in the "Store."

  67. Christina4/26/2011

    I'm not sure if you heard about another no-poo option where you use clay, but it might interest you. I read about it on this blog:

    Some more hints about bathroom stuff:
    -Another option for feminine products are sea sponges, one brand is jade & pearl.
    -Baking soda can lighten hair, some people like this some don't. I found out the hard way this makes black hair a dull black-brown.
    -Someone earlier commented about using oil to wash your face. You can use this method for cleaning the rest of your body, especially if you're sensitive to soap. A little history fun fact is that the ancient Romans used a method similar to this where they cleaned themselves with oil.

    Hope this is helpful, and thanks for such a great blog. :)

  68. Okay, I can't find Castile Soap in bulk in Los Angeles, any tips on that? Otherwise, should I buy it in the large plastic bottles, because I'm unsure about that part. Also, I went everywhere looking for the alum stone, and finally found one only it was wrapped in plastic inside the box! Is that how they usually come? And where to get shampoo and conditioner in bulk in Los Angeles? Do you think one could use Dr. Bronner's soaps for shampoo and body washing both?

  69. After looking into the Environmental Toothbrush, I found out the that "paper" wrapper it comes in is actually lined with polypropylene (according to the company). As this is plastic, you shouldn't be recycling it as paper or composting it. It is, in fact, waste. Just an fyi. I was super upset to find that out.

  70. Thanks so much for your comment, Jess! The company shut me out when I inquired about it (they simply said recyclable, and failed to respond further questions). I thought it was because I asked too many questions, now I think it's because they knew that their product was not perfect. Like I said before, I don't think that the perfect toothbrush is out there yet... Propylene is recyclable, but in my mind a waste. When we finish our supply box, I will be looking for a new brand, hopefully one that will come closer to perfection

  71. Hi everybody!

    I would like to share the "shampoo" what I use. Maybe u gonna try and u will like as much as I love it!
    I have a very long hair, so the amounts is for that.
    2 eggs
    1 lemon
    1/2 teaspoon honey
    8 drops of essential oil

    Separate the eggs. Combine the egg-yolk with the honey, lemon, and the essential oil.
    Make foam from the egg-white and stir carefully in the rest. The shampoo is ready, and toxin free.
    Just massage in to your hair, and wash with it for about 10 min. THe ingredients needs time to remove the grease. If your hair grease after, is because u washed down to early. I never had this problem though.
    I hope u gonna enjoy this.

  72. Vanessa5/19/2011

    Zsu – Thank you so much for the shampoo recipe! I'm going to try it for my next wash! :)

  73. Vanessa5/19/2011

    Btw, I was so bummed to find out about the polypropylene sleeve on the Environmental Toothbrush... :(

    I read Beth Terry's post on plastic-free toothbrushes though ( and she says neem sticks are an option! I'm going to try them.

    ...Chewing on sticks instead of brushing my teeth – boy, if my friends didn't think I was weird before, they will now! :D

  74. uttama6/01/2011

    Bobbi and Bea, You may even be able to skip the parmesan shaker for your toothpowder. We just have our baking soda in a glass jar, wet our toothbrush, and just dip the bristles in for a slight baking soda coating, and then brush! Easy!

  75. uttama6/01/2011

    oh and yes, in India, it is quite common that people use neem sticks for cleaning their teeth. My mom grew up there and she said it was a little ritual, she would chew on a neem stick for 10minutes every morning and walk around. I tried a tooth cleaning stick once in Africa (not sure if it was neem though) and it was really bitter and you had to really chew it for awhile to soften it up.

  76. Polypropylene might be theoretically recyclable, but if you tossed those little toothbrush sleeves into the recycle bin, they would just end up in the landfill. If you find a brand closer to perfection, let me know! I'm using the Environmental toothbrushes that were sent to me to review, but after that I'm going back to Preserve. No, it's not perfect. I don't like the fact that it's made from a product (plastic yogurt containers) that I wouldn't even buy myself. BUT they are made in the United States, and the company practices EPR by taking back the toothbrush and the packaging. There is nothing for the consumer to throw away. So I appreciate that. I don't like that the sleeve on the Environmental toothbrush is just waste and that they are made in China, shipped to Australia, and then shipped to the U.S.

  77. Susan d8/07/2011

    Hi B
    Thanks again. I plan to keep on using normal toothbrushes until something better comes along. Also, I just can't get used to the idea of plain baking soda so I'm going to keep on with normal toothpaste. I am excited though to try the castle soap and I am going to start buying unwrapped bar soap. It is too bod though that the only brand I can find costs about five times as much as a package of individually wrapped Ivory bars. I would love to be able to refill my shampoo bottles but unfortunately there isn't anywhere in my small town where you can do this. I know that the Body Shop used to refill bottles but i'm pretty sure that they no longer do it. Have you tried the castile soap for your hair?

  78. Do people buy Dr. Bronner's castille soap? I have to purchase online and was wondering. Also, do you get the unscented castille soap or the scented ones? What is a good price?

  79. Sarah V.8/28/2011

    Hi Bea,
    I have to say thank you so much for your wonderful blog with all of the great tips and tricks. I'm working on implementing as much of your advice as I can in China. I have some thoughts on how you could further reduce waste in your beauty routine that you may appreciate. First, Lush Cosmetics carries bulk solid shampoos and conditioners sans any sort of packaging. They sell a number of other solid lotions and potions as well. Lush carries simple metal tins to hold their solid products in for travel (reusable of course). Also all Josie Maran cosmetics are packaged in recyclable packaging and all of their compacts are made of compostable PLA. Unfortunately the mascara is not compostable, but I'm sure you could replace a number of products you are currently using with more sustainable ones.

  80. Anonymous9/18/2011

    Bea, where did you find your tooth powder shaker pictured? I have been trying to find a suitable one that covers the holes so I don't get the baking soda everywhere.


  81. I found it at Cost Plus, otherwise we have a similar one in the store.

  82. Bea,
    I love this website. I check it every couple weeks to see what new things you are trying! So many great tips! I am forever grateful. Please keep it coming!

    p.s. Found a replacement for toilet paper. I purchased a separate small waste bin for my bathroom (metal with a lid!). I keep lots of clean wash cloths in the bathroom in a bin and use them as TP. After use just discard them into the waste bin. Pretty much the same as using cloth diapers for a baby. I just wash them separately in the washer.

  83. Susan d10/09/2011

    Hi Bea:
    Over the summer I tried the Toothy tabs which are offered by Lush. I think they are basically made of baking soda and come in a small cardboard carton. I thought they might be a good way to transition into baking soda and have packaging which is very small and recyclable, however, I really did not like them at all. I felt like I had baking soda in my throat for hours after I used them. Unfortunately, I ended up throwing them out after only a few tries. I guess sometimes there is a bit of trial and error involved when searching for green options that you can live with.

  84. Hi Bea! Where do you get your kohl?

  85. On the feminine hygiene/birth control topic..Have you heard of intrauterine devices? I am currently on Mirena and love it! It's a small piece of plastic that you keep in place for 5 years and it also eliminates periods for most women for that time. I've had mine for 5 months and it is amazing! Easy BC I don't have to think about and I don't have to use tampons, pads, or the packaging that comes along with other birth control methods (besides the actual device). I had the Diva cup a few months before I had the Mirena put in and did love it but now I don't even have to use that. I don't know about all health insurance companies, but mine actually covered the entire cost and all I had to pay was the co-pay ($25!!). All I have to do is get it checked on during my yearly (and free) physical and I'm good to go.

    Love your blog! I'm slowly getting rid of the excess in my life!

  86. Anonymous12/23/2011

    Hi Bea, questions about your laser hair removal: was your hair removal permanent? Or do you still grow [some] hair? Also, which areas did you have lasered?

    I've been doing research and looks like FDA approves it for "permanent hair REDUCTION" not removal. I've asked around and am hearing mixed results, but most people are saying hair grew back. Seems like a big price to pay for something that isn't permanent. I really would love to have it done, if it's worth it.

  87. Danielle12/31/2011

    Hi Bea,

    Thank you for writing an inspirational blog. Please tell me where you get your bulk clay for face masks from.

    Thank you :)

  88. Whole Foods in my area carries bentonite clay, but I have also bought french clay from New Leaf.

  89. Sandra2/01/2012

    Hi, Bea. I've been purchasing bulk shampoo and conditioner using the glass bottles, but I'm having trouble transferring the conditioner from the rigid bottle into the pump dispensers in the shower. Is there a trick to doing this that you wouldn't mind sharing with us? Thanks for your help.

  90. Danielle2/26/2012


    Try using a funnel.

    1. Sandra2/27/2012

      I appreciate the suggestion, but I'm actually having difficulty getting the conditioner out of the glass bottle (can't squeeze that last bit out of the container).

    2. I add water and shake to make it more liquid.

  91. I was wondering what you use for face care, washing, moisturizer,& eye cream, any sugestions? It seems even the organic ones come in lots of packaging.

  92. I just saw your make up update - I'd love to know how you make your own mascara, if you get a chance!

    1. I am not ready to share it, it's not yet perfect. But I hope to have it mastered soon, or at least in time to have the recipe published in my book.

  93. Anonymous3/18/2012

    What kind of sunscreen powder do you use? Also, how do you make your cream? I didn't see it in your recipe section. Thanks!

  94. Hi -- I am so excited that I found this blog! It has really opened my eyes to the role evrey day consumers play in generating so much trash/recyclables which isn't sustainable. I am taking baby steps and for me, it's the awareness of what I am doing that I find very cool.

    Where do you find shampoo in bulk? I live in thousand oaks, CA and I called a few places locally but no one carries shampoo / conditioner in bulk. Thanks!

    1. I do not know. You can check the forum or wait for the bulk finder app that we are working on!

    2. I decided to try the J.R. Liggett's Shampoo bar which just arrived today. I love the fact that a tiny 3.5 oz. shampoo bar in minimal packaging offers about the same number of usages as a 24 oz. bottle of most shampoos. That is amazing!

      On bulk buying, I can't wait for your bulk finder app to be available! Will definitely check that out.

      Bea, this might be off-topic but one area that I constantly battle is my home office. Do you have a completely paperless system with bills, etc.? Do you subscribe to any newspapers / magazines? My dream is to have a clutter-free office. Did you cover it in a previous post that I might have missed?

      Thanks for being such an inspiration. All my friends and family tell me that I am obsessed with your blog. Without passion and a small dose of obsession, things don't change in my life so I'm glad I'm obsessed with your inspirational blog.

      Hugs! (my friends at work and I decided to designate today as a "Hug Somebody Today" day)

  95. Off to find a brick. Wonder how much it'll save us... :)

  96. Hi Everyone - Just an update on THE ENVIRONMENTAL TOOTHBRUSH..
    we have listened to everyone and have discarded the inner liner for the toothbrush. It now just comes in a single box inside an outer box that holds the 12 toothbrushes - thus elimating the only little bit of PPE that was attached to the product.

  97. You can buy Liquid Castile Soap in the Philippines from Casa de Lorenzo. They make Castile Soaps locally.

  98. Your husband could try these to exercise his eyes rather than use contacts. I haven't tried them yet, but I have done exercises to improve my vision. You will be surprised how well it works!

  99. Hi Bea,
    Thanks for what you're doing, and especially for writing about it!
    I'm currently living in India, and here they use water instead of toilet paper. It takes a while to get used to, but it actually is much cleaner than the American version. All you need is a small bucket with a handle or a watering can.
    Another thing that we do here is what I call the Indian Shower - a large bucket, filled with water at the desired temperature, and a smaller bucket with a handle.
    After using these for a year, I can't go back to the American versions.

    1. Please provide more info! I am intrigued. When traveling in India I still used toilet paper. How to you dry yourself?