What I do in the bathroom ;)

A great place to start being an eco warrior is in the bathroom, where most of us start our day!

Toilet Talk

We buy recycled toilet paper that comes wrapped in more recycled paper which you can use as wrapping paper before recycling again (woooah, are you dizzy yet?) If you are really HARD-CORE(yeeah!) you can cut out toilet paper altogether. Check out this site, which explains that cloths or rags work just as well as toilet paper. http://radicalfrugality.info/paper-products.html .

Another TP alternative is a little squeeze bottles with a spout to wash “down there” instead of wiping.

Also, we reuse our bath water to flush the toilet with. This doesn’t actually have to do with being garbage free, but it’s something extra we do for the environment. Our system is kind of complicated, but that’s because I’m a bit of a clean freak. The basic idea, which Kyle got from his German boss, is to save the bath water then use a big bucket to scoop in into the bowl of the toilet. Here’s my system:

1. Get a large Tupperware container ( large enough to sit in, scruched up) and keep it in the bathroom. Also get a big bucket (about mop sized) and a smaller one (yogurt container) to scoop the water with.

2. Put the plug in when you are having a shower
3. When you finish use the big bucket to scoop the water into the Tupperware
4. After using the toilet, use the big bucket to “water bomb” the bowl of the toilet and everything will flush down.
5. Put a small bucket full of water in the toilet so that there is water sitting for the next time.
6. Use a towel to wipe up the water you have inevitably spilt on the floor

4. Use the small bucket to scoop from the Tupperware and fill the big bucket to “water bomb” the toilet. This way you won’t splash water on the floor. Follow step five, but skip six.
*** If the Tupperware is already full, and it is nearing time to clean the tub anyway, you can leave the water in the tub, however; if the tub is sparkly clean and the Tupperware is full, just fill the buckets and then pull the plug
*****If you shave a large beard, or your head, or excessive body hair while in the shower, just pull the plug and then wipe the tub down with a rag and some vinegar.

But how do you brush your teeth?toothbrush

I use Fuchs “V” tooth brushes. They also have one’s with detachable heads, but those one’s come in a throw away package. Mine comes in a hard plastic carrying case you can use to keep things in, including your toothbrush if you want! The toothbrush is plastic made from corn so it eventually biodegrades. I do find they don’t last as long as a regular toothbrush, but I think I tend to keep them longer than I should so that may be a good thing!


Preserve looks good too, but I’m afraid of them because they are so big. Contrary to popular belief, I have a very small mouth.http://www.recycline.com/products/preserve.html

As for what goes on the toothbrush….

I used to use Tom’s of Main Toothpaste, because it came in a recyclable aluminum tube, but it seems that they are not making those anymore. Instead they have plastic tubes with a throw away plastic seal. ARGGG! (OOOPs, my bad. They are still making those. I just accidentally bought Nature’s Gate instead of Tom’s. Tom’s is still a pretty good option because at least you can recycle the container.) So I’m going to make my own tooth paste. I haven’t tried yet, but here’s a recipe. It’s from this site.


MAKE YOUR OWN TOOTH POWDER. Thoroughly mix 3 parts baking soda (the cleanser and sweetener) with part salt (the abrasive) and funnel the compound into a short small-mouthed container such as a pop or beer bottle. You’ll find that the creation has a satisfying, different taste and leaves your mouth feeling very fresh and soothed. If you’d like, add a few drops of peppermint or wintergreen oil to the concoction – or mix the home “brew” half-and-half with a commercial tooth powder – to give the dentifrice a more pleasant flavor. I’m going to flavour mine with fennel because it’s my favorite!

***January 28, 2007 – I made this for a TV crew and tried it after they left. It’s really yucky. I don’t know if I can do it. The texture is nice, but it’s salty!!! I will need to find something to sweeten it with.

Cleaning your ears and other orifices

Many people just use facecloths. I have lots of piercings to clean and I just really like having clean ears, so we do use Q-tips of sorts. We buy organic Essentials biodegradable cotton swabs. They are expensive. I think $11.99 for 180 at Grassroots. Sometimes they are wrapped in plastic, when they are not, I buy them- I should really write the company about that.

Primping and Pruning (Razors)

Right now, we both have our old (non-disposable of course) razors with the changeable blades, and we just go as long as possible without changing the blades. Ideal bite did a tip on hair removal and suggested straight razors (very cool, but I’m too accident prone for that), electric razors, or recycled razors by Preserve. I would like to switch to the recycled one, but then the one I currently use would be garbage. Catch 22! Anyhow you can look for yourself at ideal bite (they are great). I’ve also included a tip they did about sugaring and will let you know when I try it.


Lather up!

Soap Works has amazing soap you can use for washing all your parts (body, face, hair) and for shaving too! You can get them at a lot of health food stores and they have no packaging at all, not even a sticker! I get mine at Etherea, or Tutti Frutti. We use Lush cinnamon Solid shampoo, which you can also use to wash your body. It lasts for a really long time and you can get a handy stainless steel carry case for traveling. If you use conditioner, Lush has solid conditioner as well. It doesn’t work well for me, and I’m still looking for a good conditioner with refillable containers. Grass Roots has some but none of it works well in my hair! I’ve tried olive oil and coconut oil both both turn my hair into a greasy mess! The body shop no longer refills containers and neither do a lot of the hairdressers (in fact all that I have asked so far). Every one stopped with refills after the SARS scare. Anyhow the hunt is still on.

The pits

We use aromaco solid deoderant from LUSH Cosmetics.
It smells like patchouli but works very well. Also we bring our own bag and ask them not to wrap it. Don’t get the Aromacreme instead, even if they are sold out of Aromaco! Aromacreme has witch hazel in it and it burns and causes rashes. Ouch!

Aunt Flow
When it comes to menstrual supplies, there are many alternatives to mainstream pads and tampons, which are as bad for our bodies as they are for the earth. I use cotton cloth pads, which I wash out and use over and over. If I need to be more discreet I use natural sea sponges. ***** Anna just alerted me that sea sponges are animals! That means this method is not vegetarian, and also no longer my method of choice. I think I will shell out the $50 for a keeper.*****Many of my friends like the keeper or the diva cup, which is a little cup you insert. The awesome part is that it lasts 10 years!Check out these sites for more info: http://www.grassrootsstore.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=187http://www.oxyboost.com/cleaning_pages/cloth_menstrual_pads.html (http://www.grassrootsstore.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=187)



Filed under mentruation, personal care, reusing water, toilettalk

30 responses to “What I do in the bathroom ;)

  1. Hi there,

    What a lot of work you’re putting into this. I had no idea there were biodegradable toothbrushes. Can consider flushing the toilet with saved bath and shower water.

    Have started blogging about my adventure with those that not only don’t care about waste-reduction, but throw the stuff in the street to boot. http://www.wastewalkabout.wordpress.com.

    Need to work on the look of it, but it does the job.

  2. Anna

    Hey Sarah,

    Do you feel ok about using sea sponges as a vegetarian? I haven’t used them because I feel weird about it since sponges are an animal (even though they seem plant-like). So I still use tampons when I need to (only for dance shows or swimming, all other times I use pads). But maybe they’re harvested after the animal dies naturally? I haven’t looked into it and was wondering if you had.

    I was also wondering what you do about dental floss. I made a new years resolution to floss my teeth every day, which means that at the end of my garbage free week I’ll have 7 pieces of floss. I don’t think you can compost it? I don’t even know what it’s made of.

  3. lu

    When I was younger, and living in a small apartment, I used to fill buckets (peanut-butter and liquid-detergent pails from the food coop) with the grey water from the washing machine and carry them upstairs to the bathroom to use for flushing.

    I didn’t collect much water in the shower, because I hadn’t figured out how to collect it efficiently. Will try your method since I now have a water-efficient washing machine that is farther away from the bathroom—and still no dryer.

    I’ve been using baking soda for brushing teeth, and baking soda and vinegar for cleaning EVERYTHING. Really cuts down on plastic tubes, caps and containers.

    Glad to read about what you’re doing in the Globe.

  4. Anna
    I had no idea sea sponges were animals. I just looked it up and it’s horrible!
    “Today’s sponge divers use modern diving equipment such as wet suits and oxygen tanks. The divers pry sponges off the rocks or reefs where they grow, and bring them up in their string bags. The divers pile the sponges on the deck of their boat and cover them with wet cloths. The animals die on the boat, and their skins rot off. After the skins have decayed, the harvesters wash the sponges and string them on a long, thin rope to dry in the sun. After they have dried completely, the harvesters wash the sponges several more times.”

    I don’t think I will use them anymore either. Perhaps I’ll get a keeper. I feel so bad-it’s like I was shoving a kitten up my vagina a few times a year, or a puppy or a koala- ooooohhhh-I’m sorry. Think of all the sponges that unknowingly gave their lives to sop up my blood.
    I usually use pads, but need something when I’m modelling. As for dental floss, we get biodegradable and then flush it down the toilet. I’m not sure what else to do with it. May be we can put it in the city wide compost here, I’m not sure. I never really thought about it, but now I’m worried that it will get into the water systems and fish will swallow it or birds will get strangled by it or something, so I’ll look for a better alternative. I have to admit, we don’t floss very often(gasp) which is good for the marine life, but may be not so good for our dental health.
    Here’s some suggestions from the green guide:
    “Eco-Dent floss is packaged in cardboard, making it both recyclable and biodegradable. Though made of nylon, the floss is vegan-waxed using rice bran and infused with a blend of essential oils (www.eco-dent.com/floss.htm). Available online at http://www.pangeaveg.com ($5.49/100 yards).

    Tom’s of Maine carries flat or round nylon floss in both flavored and unflavored varieties. The floss is waxed using a combination of beeswax, Carnauba wax and Jojoba wax and is flavored with essential oils (www.tomsofmaine.com). Tom’s of Maine Naturally Waxed Anti-Plaque Flat Floss ($2.54/32 yards; http://www.drugstore.com). ”
    I’m not totally clear on how nylon can be biodegradable, but they both say they are 100%biodegradable.

    • don

      read the description closely: the packaging is biodegradable, not the floss itself… it’s nylon, which doesn’t biodegrade…

  5. blair

    If you were worried about the floss catching on things or being swallowed by animals, you could chop it into smaller bits before composting it maybe…

    And the keeper is great. I’ve had one for years, and it hasn’t caused me any problems whatsoever. Yay keeper!

    And wow, I just wanted to say how damn proud I am of you!

  6. Pingback: DARN! « Say No to Trash

  7. Brooke Tillia


    This is a really invasive question but I was wondering what you use for birth control?

    • Dora

      There is something more reliable out there that is NOT your mother’s rhythm method and would be completely ecologically sound. Go check this out http://www.tcoyf.com/ It is not like the rhythm method because you don’t assume that you ovulate 14 days before the beginning of your next period.

      You can reliably predict your fertile window by watching your cervical fluid, taking your BBT to determine when ovulation has already occurred (and you are safe) and checking the position of your cervix, and charting that and avoiding relations a few days before once you have determined your personal pattern.

      The whole 14 days thing is an average, and that means that 80% of the female population will ovulate sooner or later than the generic 14 days.

      You can learn the method online, just google Natural Family Planning or there is a really worthwhile book called “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler

      I used this method to achieve pregnancies exactly when I wanted to and also to avoid when I didn’t want to. Tons of resources online for those who would be interested. Fertility trackers, free and premium style online are available too.

  8. Ha Ha. That is a very poignant question as I have just discovered I am pregnant. I seem to be allergic to condoms (even the non-allergenic ones) and had been talking about getting fitted for a diaphram or IUD, but I hadn’t done it. So we used the rhythm method: http://www.epigee.org/guide/rhythm.html.
    knowing that we were adults in a secure relationship and if something happened it would be OK, and it did and it is, so I don’t really have a great answer for birth control. Sorry! I found some info here: http://www.grist.org/advice/ask/2003/09/25/umbra-contraceptive/

  9. Evelyn Saungikar

    Hi Sarah,

    Congrats on your pregnancy! I’m not quite sure where you’re located, but I have two dozen used (but very clean) cloth diapers and nylon diaper covers in sizes medium and large, if you want them. I had borrowed the small and newborn covers, so I don’t have them any more.

    Let me know.

    Also, in your shopping tour of Toronto, you didn’t mention St. Lawrence Market! You can buy everything there without packaging, all in one place! Inspired by your example, though we are not vegetarians, we are hoping that the nice folks at Rowe Farm organic meat will let us bring our own containers – we’re going to try it next weekend.


  10. Evelyn Saungikar

    Also, regarding water use in the bathroom, last year I did an experiment to not use the shower or bath for six weeks, sort of as a solidarity experiment with people in developing countries. I just used the sink. I washed my hair first, then in the hair rinse water, washed my body. In total, three sinks full or about 10 L per day.

    It’s amazing how dirty the water gets when you use just a little! Other side effects: less laundry (no huge bath sheets to wash because I just needed two hand towels). Less lotion use because I wasn’t so dried out. Less soap use because it wasn’t washing down the drain continuously. Less use of shower cleaning chemicals, though it did get kind of dusty in there!

    The best part, nobody noticed any difference in my personal hygiene; I still shaved my legs every day, and washed my hair every other day. So, it’s not impossible in the modern world; we’ve been brainwashed that we have to shower every day. Most people in the world don’t do this, and our skin and hair is not made for this kind of onslaught, resulting in dry skin and brittle hair that we treat with litres of product! Especially in the winter.

  11. Thanks so much Evelyn!!!! I will add St. Lawrence to the list. And I would love those diapers! I will email you to discuss it further. Wow! Thanks for the help and keep up the good work!

  12. Alan

    Deodorant containers, made of plastic: are they recyclable? Bro-in-law says he thinks so, but the City o’ Toronto doesn’t seem to be clear. Food plastics are clearly indicated, and things like shampoo bottles and soap bottles, but … where d’ya go to find that out? I note that you use deodorant things that are not packaged at all, but … what about us, do we or don’t we recycle?

    All the best with finding a midwife and/or the other support systems to help you with fostering new life, both before and after birth. It’s quite a journey, our kids are 8yrs, and 15 mos. respectively, with boy cousins upstairs in a collaboro-owned home, at 4.5 and 1.5 yrs. Big cycling families, no car, no TV, lotsa music and books in the homes, much library, some shared meals, but (thankfully) two kitchens.

    All these are real choices, we fight over, decide and then re-decide. Keep up with yr faith, and yr practices. (We have a good friend who sends EVERY single piece of junk mail back. Wow!)

  13. Alan
    I would suggest calling the city waste management line 415 338 2010 about the deoderant containers. Does it have a number on the bottom and a recycling sign? You could also try the website http://www.toronto.ca/recycle.
    Hope that helps. Thanks for your support!

  14. Here is a way to take a water-saving shower, which I heard on CBC radio years ago. The interviewee was a Canadian woman who ran an organic restaurant in Mexico, so in our house we call this a “Mexican Shower.”

    1) Run shower for just long enough to get yourself thoroughly wet
    2) Turn off water. Soap yourself and lather your hair
    3) Run shower for just long enough to rinse off.

    This ends up using only 1 to 2 minutes’ of water. I recommend that people use this at the municipal swimming pool too, to help the city with its budget problems 😎 .

  15. Jane

    Hi. I just came across your website. Have you considered using Stevia as a natural sweetener for your toothpaste?

  16. Jane
    Stevia comes with packaging. We actually had to stop using it when we did the hardcore month. Do you know of somewhere to get it bulk or with no plastic or foil bits?

  17. Thanks for sharing this information. Really is pack with new knowledge. Keep them coming.

  18. Pingback: Fuch’s No, Preserve is a Go! « Say No to Trash

  19. Great info!! Bookmarked it!! 🙂

    We had the zero waste week (not totally zero yet though! 🙂 – inspired by you & other zero waste rock stars!! 🙂

    Any info on the biodegradable floss yet? (Does it really exist? & does it biodegrade? Into what?)

  20. JT

    Stubbled across this page while looking up info on biodegradable floss.

    Menstrual cups (I have a Diva) are an absolutely awesome invention, and is one of the two best purchases I have ever made (the other was a Camelbak). Even the Green aspect of them aside, they are better than anything else: more comfortable, less expensive, less to carry around, less bathroom trips. Without a doubt, I recommend!

  21. Laura Stein

    About Fuchs toothbrushes–
    I don’t what the case was in 2007 when you wrote this article, but since it’s still coming up in Google searches for biodegradable toothbrushes, I need to write that Fuchs toothbrushes do not currently use “biodegradable plastic made from corn”. In fact they use the cheapest and least recyclable plastic–#5. Perhaps the brand was bought out.

  22. ” As for dental floss, we get biodegradable and then flush it down the toilet.”

    Hi Sarah, I appreciate your efforts on behalf of the planet. However, could you please advise / warn people that they should never put dental floss down the toilet. This is a big problem for councils with pumps and strainers clogged. Even if it is biodegradable it will still cause problems – as breakdown is over years, not minutes. Pls check with floss maker and or council.

    While it is advisable to floss after each meal, it is most effective shortly after the last meal, so once a day may suffice – if you don’t have a sweet tooth.
    But necessary garbage – flossing is the most important part of oral hygiene, but complements brushing. Or should I say, brushing complements flossing.
    Flossing daily produces 12 – 15 g of waste over the year – less fossil fuel used than starting your car – once.
    & with good care, your teeth can last 500 years.

    • I did write a later post about how we discovered flushing was a horrid thing to do and we stopped. There are pictures of us on our last night of flossing, as we just stopped flossing completely during the project.

      • pat

        Hi Sarah, just a clarification on nylon floss, nylon (same material as fishing line)
        and PTFE (glide ) takes up to 600 years to biodegrade, thanks, Pat

  23. Thanks Pat. That’s why we were looking for other alternatives.

  24. You’ve done it again! Superb post!

  25. of course like your web site however you need to take a look at the spelling on
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