10 Easy Eco-Swaps I’ve Made in My Bathroom

There are a lot of things we can do to be more conscious of the environment, like recycling, turning the light off when not in the room, avoiding the car for short trips, etc. These are good actions that hopefully most people have already adopted, but how about the easy swaps we can all make in our home? Our consumption of plastic worldwide keeps increasing and that results in more and more pollution. Maybe another day I’ll write a post about how badly plastic affects human health as well as wildlife. In the meantime, I’ve tried some eco-friendly products and see how they compare with the usual products we can find in supermarkets, starting with my bathroom. Are they worth the swap? Let’s find out below:

Dental care

1. Toothpaste tablets

I tried: Toothpaste tablets (with fluoride) by EcoLiving
My review: I loved the idea of using tablets instead of the paste we’re used to, but I wasn’t sure how effective it would be. It feels a bit like you’re eating a mint at first, then it surprisingly foams once you start brushing with a wet toothbrush. If anything, it can sometimes feel like you haven’t got enough toothpaste in your mouth but that’s probably because a unique tablet forces you to consume no more than the right amount (we’re probably all guilty of putting too much toothpaste on our toothbrush). I really like this product and will 100% keep using it. Not to mention it’s super convenient to travel.
Why it’s good for you: I don’t think I got to the bottom of what’s best between toothpaste with fluoride and toothpaste without (both options are available anyway so you choose what you prefer). Apart from that, it’s great to know exactly how long it’s going to last. It’s as effective as a classic toothpaste and keeps your mouth fresh after use.
Why it’s good for the planet: You can keep the tin box and refill it every month or so, the refill bag is plant-based home compostable so you can recycle it easily. This product is vegan and plastic-free.

2. Mouthwash tablets

I tried: Mouthwash tablets by Georganics
My review: It’s also a great idea to use mouthwash with tablets but the inconvenience is you need a glass to dissolve it into water, and it takes a while. It’s good to start dissolving it while you’re flossing then brushing your teeth to give it enough time to be ready on time (you might forget about it if you have to wait another 3 minutes after you’ve finished your dental routine!). I was used to Listerine and the burning sensation associated to most mouthwashes that made me feel like it killed all bacteria (without distinction between the good and the bad ones). In comparison, these mouthwash tablets feel very gentle and don’t burn at all so it’s probably safer to use in the long term.
Why it’s good for you: Unlike mouthwashes which contain alcohol, these natural tablets help to restore a healthy pH balance to your mouth. Without being aggressive, they maintain good oral health and freshen your breath, a little bit like after you chew a spearmint gum!
Why it’s good for the planet: It’s PETA cruelty-free and vegan certified. The packaging is plastic-free, recyclable & biodegradable. The product itself is only made with pure, natural and organic ingredients, sourced as locally as possible.

3. Dental floss

I tried: Dental floss (vegan) by Bambaw
My review: It wouldn’t change much in your routine to use a vegan dental floss instead of any other similar products, so I’d say you might as well make the swap, it’s the easiest one! If there is a tiny difference, it’s the fact that the floss might be a little bit thicker than the ones I used before. I feel like it’s working better and is more efficient than others.
Why it’s good for you: On top of doing the job properly, it’s a very affordable product too compared to what you can find in supermarkets. It also has a refreshing peppermint touch. It’s a super easy eco-swap that won’t change your habits and you’ll do something good for the planet.
Why it’s good for the planet: This dental floss is made from bioplastic (corn starch), which is as strong as plastic but made from renewable resources and compostable in an industrial compost. You can keep and reuse the refillable dispenser, made of glass and stainless steel. Refills are packaged in a cardboard box.

Hair products

4. Shampoo bar

I tried: Shampoo bar (mango) by Superfly Soap
My review: I’ve been warned about the transition period when you swap from traditional liquid shampoos to shampoo bars, but I actually thought it was really easy to use! I was a bit worried it wouldn’t foam enough or that I wouldn’t feel like I was washing my hair properly, but it’s working wonders. I suppose your hair type could influence how easy the transition will be for you. I love the fact that my hair feels drier than usual (they usually get oily easily), keeping a subtle “waxy” feeling on the touch that is actually quite nice. Some people advice to use apple cider vinegar to remove all residue but I didn’t feel I needed to. Using a shampoo bar also decreases the frequency I wash my hair. Finally, I always thought getting water in my eyes was the reason they got red after washing my hair but it turns out it was more likely to be my previous shampoo! There are so many chemicals in traditional mainstream shampoos, I threw mine away immediately when I realised my new shampoo stopped my eyes from being irritated.
Why it’s good for you: Traditional shampoos in plastic bottles strip away the natural oil production of your hair with too many chemicals within the ingredients. Stopping the use of these nasty products will allow your hair to produce its own natural oil again and it will eventually feel softer and more manageable. Plus a shampoo bar seems to last forever (I have yet to find out how long exactly as I’ve only just started using it last month). It’s available in a lot of exciting fragrance options, according to your hair type: normal to dry (mango, orange spice, coconut, avocado & banana or unscented) or normal to oily (lemongrass).
Why it’s good for the planet: For a start, there is no plastic there. It’s vegan-friendly and free of nasties such as SLS, palm oil, and of course cruelty-free. It uses a cold process method that excludes the animal fats that are traditionally used.

5. Conditioner bar

I tried: Conditioner bar (mango) by Superfly Soap
My review: First impression: it smells amazing! I don’t like the taste of mango but I’ve always loved the smell of this fruit, which I think is even better with the conditioner bar (this is fine because that’s what you use last). I find this product quite difficult to use though, it doesn’t foam and it’s hard to tell if you’ve put enough on your hair. I don’t feel it detangles my hair either, so I probably need to keep using it and see how it improves over time.
Why it’s good for you: The size is smaller than the shampoo bar (40g vs 100g) and the shape is also different (round vs rectangular) so there’s no way you can get confused between the two! You have matching fragrance options available too: mango, orange, coconut, banana, lemongrass or unscented.
Why it’s good for the planet: Same as above.

6. Shampoo & Body wash bar

I tried: Beauty kubes (unisex) shampoo & body wash by Eve of St Agnes
My review: I’ve heard a lot about this product so I was really keen to try but I personally didn’t think it was as good as the shampoo bar. The texture is way different, it falls apart under water so you can crush it very easily. It’s probably meant to be that way though, as a full “kube” is recommended per use. I suppose it could be a great alternative if a shampoo bar is not right for you and it’s also super convenient to carry if you’re travelling somewhere.
Why it’s good for you: There are 27 “beauty kubes” in the box and it’s suitable for all sexes. You can use it for both hair and body, which is always convenient. The fragrance is super nice: an infusion of lemongrass, bergamot, cedarwood and sweet orange essential oils. You can also buy it as a sample / travel size of 3 cubes.
Why it’s good for the planet: It’s vegan, cruelty-free and doesn’t contain any nasties: no palm oil, sulphate or silicone. The packaging is 100% plastic-free & plant-based, the home compostable film is derived from the cellulose of wood pulp.

Face & Makeup

7. Facial soap

I tried: Facial soap salvia green (vegan, for oily skin) by Amorphous Soaps
My review: This is another easy swap to make in your bathroom, it works just like a soap you would use to wash your hands but for your face. It doesn’t smell as good as fruity fragrances but I picked salvia green because of my skin type. The soap makes my skin drier, to a point I need to moisturise afterwards so I would say it works quite well! But maybe I should have picked the soap for combined skin (rhassoul rose) instead.
Why it’s good for you: These soaps are handmade and formulated with especially selected ingredients for different skin types, using an unique essential oil combination to soothe and nourish your skin. Salvia green is suitable for vegans but the other fragrances are not, because they use honey within the ingredients.
Why it’s good for the planet: It’s obviously plastic-free, the packaging and labels are made from recycled brown paper. The soap is also free of palm oil. Only salvia green is vegan-friendly.

8. Reusable make-up remover pads

I tried: Bamboo reusable make-up face pads by Bambaw
My review: I thought it would be great to have reusable make-up remover pads instead of buying cotton pads or wipes, but the truth is I didn’t have the occasion to try them out just yet… It’s been lockdown for a long time and no need to apply make-up in the first place (not that I wear much of it usually anyway…). I’m very excited by this product though. There are 2 different types of pads: one for sensitive areas and one for cleaning more tenacious products. What I like about it is the cotton laundry bag provided with it, it allows you to clean them all together in the washing machine once used. More information on this product in their manual.
Why it’s good for you: Despite the fact that you won’t have to constantly buy new cotton pads? Classic cotton pads lint very easily, which could be annoying, and they’re also chemically treated to make them soft and white. At least this product doesn’t involve any harmful chemicals.
Why it’s good for the planet: Cotton shouldn’t be used only once: it takes 20,000 litres of water to produce just 1 kg of cotton and requires 16% of all insecticides in the world. On the other hand, bamboo is considered the world’s most renewable material, absorbing 5 times more carbon dioxide and producing 35% more oxygen than trees. These pads use only 20% cotton and up to 80% bamboo viscose.

Deodorant

9. Crystal deodorant

I tried: Potassium Alum Crystal Deo Stick by Biork
My review: I was already convinced by this product as I’ve been using myself a crystal deodorant using potassium alum too (from Salt of the Earth). But it’s the fiancé I was trying to convince with this product! It’s quite expensive but I wasn’t taking too much risk by buying it. Potassium alum is a mineral compound made up of potassium and alum crystals, which means it’s a completely natural deodorant. I think it’s important to be careful with the type of product we use on this sensitive area of our body. My partner is now very happy to use it instead of classic deodorants available in supermarkets, which means you can trust the fact it’s working well (he’s not the most inclined to any type of change usually!). You basically just have to wet the product and glide it gently right after your shower. Then just let it dry for a few seconds and you’re covered.
Why it’s good for you: It’s completely natural so you know it doesn’t contain any alcohol or harmful chemical ingredients. It lasts forever… Just remember to dry the stick after use to preserve it even longer. It’s hypoallergenic so perfect for sensitive skin, and fragrance-free.
Why it’s good for the planet: Vegan and cruelty-free (which I suppose go together), it doesn’t include any aluminium chlorides and is 100% natural. The container is made of cork, which is a renewable resource, recommended by nature conservation associations. Given how long it lasts, you won’t need to buy another one for a very long time!

Reusable Cotton bud

10. The last swab

I tried: LastSwab Basic (peach) by LastObject
My review: I’ve been looking for such a product for ages and this is the one everyone was talking about so I had to give it a go. The case provided is cute and super convenient, allowing you to protect it and carry it around if needed. It was smaller than I expected but it’s quite solid. There are plenty of colours available so everyone can have their own within the family. After use, you simply have to clean it with soap and water and put it back in its case. I feel like it actually cleans way better than traditional one-use only cotton buds.
Why it’s good for you: It’s easy to make things worse with a normal cotton bud by adding extra cotton strands in your ears… A reusable one is not only more efficient but also more practical.
Why it’s good for the planet: The swab ends are TPE, the rod is plastic, and the case is PLA which is made of corn and is biodegradable. It’s so durable that it is meant to replace thousands of single-use cotton swabs!

Among these 10 products, there is nothing I regret trying… I fully intend to keep using them so I would say these eco-swaps were definitely worth it! I think starting with the bathroom was probably the easiest for me, although there are still many things I can still swap in our home. It’s not as straight forward as simply buying these products in a classic supermarket, it requires a little more research and a specialised online shop (preferably based in your country) to order them from. But if it’s good for you and the planet, why wouldn’t we all give it a try?

Big Girl x

Christmas Tips to Have a Festive Season That Won’t Cost the Earth (literally)

It’s that period of the year when most of us consume more than usual. Maybe we could expect this Christmas to be even more shameless than usual because of what we’ve all been through with the pandemic. It’s not yet behind us but we all deserve to indulge ourselves at the end of the year, right? It feels like a legitimate reward for surviving 2020 so far. It would be great to do this without harming the planet too much though, especially if it doesn’t represent too much of a hassle. After all, Christmas is about sharing and we all have to share the same planet (at least until they find another planet we can move into… but I wouldn’t count on it too much personally).

Transport

In the UK, people are allowed to mix with 2 other households during 5 days (23rd-27th December). Chances are many will travel long distances to meet with their family and friends. Taking the plane is one of the largest carbon impacts an individual can have, so if possible it’s always better to avoid it. Sharing a car would lower the carbon footprint for each passenger and create less traffic on the roads. And if you can’t meet with everyone at the same time because of COVID restrictions this year, there is also the possibility to video chat!

Christmas food

I know it’s hard and not in line with Christmas indulgence habits, but try and estimate food portions more appropriately. Don’t over cater if there is a good chance it’s going to end up in the bin. I know it’s tradition but do you really need all these Brussel sprouts on the table (who really likes them anyway…)? Don’t forget that beef and cheese have a very high carbon footprint, so if you can think of a better alternative, go for it instead. Make sure you use leftovers after Christmas, share them around if there’s too much to eat (hence why it’s a good idea to prepare the right amount of food beforehand).

Electricity

Cooking that big turkey requires the oven switched on for hours… Which is an excellent opportunity to turn the heating off as the oven will warm up the home nicely. No one wants to wear their festive Christmas jumpers if it’s too warm inside anyway! Choose LED lights for your illuminations as they can be used for years to come.

Christmas gifts

When it comes to giving, you want to do things right. Below are a few ideas on how to make someone happy, buy smart and preserve the planet at the same time:

  • If you’re clueless what to buy, it’s a good idea to ask what they need
  • Don’t buy anything that is unnecessary or will not be used
  • Opt for gifts that are made locally and close to home
  • Think of activities or experiences like a nature day out, a cooking class, etc
  • If you’re looking for electrical equipment (such as TV, fridge, etc), pick the most energy efficient
  • Do your shopping online, it will save you a trip and reduce your emissions from travel
  • Use recyclable wrapping paper, or make your own with old newspapers, magazines, etc
This year I’m using naturally degradable craft paper to wrap my presents, before putting them under the tree (I have my little elf to help me out, as you can see).

Of course you might receive gifts that are really not good for the planet because they’re full of plastic or contain harmful ingredients, especially products for the bathroom. You can’t educate everyone on the matter and it might ruin Christmas spirit to tell them off for that mistake. Just be thankful it comes from good intentions and if you’re not happy with it, why not give them away to charity? You could also re-gift them to someone who would enjoy it more than you (no one will know unless you tell).

Christmas tree

Finally, there is also the debate: real vs fake Christmas tree. Opinions differ but no matter what you go for, there are many ways to make it more sustainable. Basically, a real tree is better for the planet but you’ll have to recycle it properly. A fake tree is also an acceptable option, as long as you’re planning to make it last at least 10 years (so pick a good quality one!).

What action(s) are you taking this year to be more environmentally friendly?

Big Girl x

Christmas Debate For The Environment: Real or Artificial Tree?

real or artificial tree for christmas

I remember walking down a residential street in London after Christmas, 2 years ago. It was full of pine trees left on the pavement, waiting to be collected… Not only was it annoying for pedestrians, but it really looked like a long tree cemetery. I imagined them talking to each other: “Oh you’ve been chopped too? Now they’re getting rid of us like a vulgar piece of rubbish”. Ok, I know it’s weird to imagine trees speaking… But they used to be living things after all. I think it’s cruel to cut them just for a few weeks. For that reason, I’ve always preferred a fake tree for Christmas. But now I’m starting to wonder if it is indeed the right choice for the planet. What if fake trees are actually worse for the environment? I have gone through the pros & cons for both options below.

Should I buy a real tree for Christmas?

Buying a real tree would allow me to have different decoration styles at home if I ever fancy a change. Maybe I’ll go for a different size, shape and/or type of tree each year for example. It smells good too. It makes me feel like I’m bringing nature inside and that is not something a fake tree can provide. And maybe it’s actually good for the planet, because if people didn’t buy them, farmers wouldn’t plant them! Pine trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen during the 8-12 years it takes to grow to a reasonable height, which is cleaning the air and helping slow climate change. But then, what do I do with it once Christmas is over? I’m sure I can recycle it, somewhere, somehow… but it seems like a hassle. Also, I can’t help but thinking it’s not right to remove these trees from their roots.

… Or should I buy a fake tree instead?

Most artificial trees are made of plastic and manufactured in China, so it’s actually not the best option for the planet because its contribution to global warming is much higher than a real local tree (if it’s then recycled properly). They sell really nice looking ones though, real trees don’t always look better. And they’ll probably be cheaper in the long term depending on their quality. Not to mention it will save me from doing tree shopping every Christmas. I’ll already have it at home ready to be unpacked and reused. Of course they don’t smell as good as a real tree but at least they don’t lose their needles (my 2 cats would definitely spread them everywhere). But then, keeping it means I need to store it and it takes quite some space…

I opted for an artificial tree myself a few years ago. It comes with artificial snow, fake pine cones, fake berries and LED lights all around (really convenient!). It has 3 parts that are super easy to assemble or dissemble, it takes less space that way. But according to the Carbon Trust, we will have to reuse it at least 10 years to have a lower environmental impact than that of a real tree. Challenge accepted. Below our (fake) Christmas tree and our (very real) cats wearing their Christmas jumpers, proudly for one, reluctantly for the other…

my cats wearing their jumper in front of our christmas tree

The bottom line: what’s the better choice?

I mean, the lowest carbon footprint would be to ditch the tradition and not having a tree at all… But it doesn’t really feel like Christmas if there’s no pine tree, does it? Below is my conclusion on the matter:

If you opt for a real tree:

  • Look up where the tree is coming from before you buy it (although it seems there is no need to worry so much about deforestation anymore as most of them come from a horticultural crop and aren’t felled from pre-existing forests).
  • Buy local so your money helps providing employment in the agricultural sector, it will have a lower carbon footprint too because less transport is needed.
  • Find out beforehand how to recycle it so it can be turned into compost – does your local council offer a Christmas tree collection service for example?
  • If you have space in your garden or on your balcony, why don’t you keep it as a permanent tree? (You would need to buy a potted tree with roots in that case).

If you opt for a fake tree:

  • Keep using it and make it last as long as possible!
  • When it’s time to replace it, consider other options like a real tree or decorating existing plants you may already have at home.

What did you go for? Did this post make you change your mind about your decision?

Big Girl x

How Can We Have a Positive Impact on the Environment?

Let’s face it, we’re in this situation partly because we haven’t taken care of our planet well enough so far. Our environment and the current pandemic are strongly linked together and it’s more important than ever to act before it’s too late. I know this is just another post on the matter but the more people talking about it the better.

How can we help the planet as individuals?

I’m not going to talk about what the Government should do, they’re often too slow to react and I believe individuals can make a huge difference already. It’s a matter of making the right decision when you do have a choice that doesn’t really affect your life. It’s about bearing in mind that your actions do have an impact and making small changes in your routine is definitely worth it! It has more impact for the planet if everyone changes their lifestyle a little rather than a minority taking drastic measures.

“In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.”

David Suzuki

Use your car less

Ask yourself if you could you walk instead, or take your bike. Otherwise public transport would still be a better option, if you can. Maybe you could commit to use your car only during the weekend for example? There is also the possibility to drive an electric car rather than one using petrol or diesel. On our end, we don’t have a car anymore and most of the time, we don’t miss it. When we do need a car, we hire just for a day or two.

Eat less meat

It’s not about becoming vegetarian or vegan (unless you really want to!) but at least limit your consumption of meat, especially beef and lamb. You can read this interesting article talking about how beef is way more damaging to the planet than white meat for example. Dairy is not great either, personally I’ve replaced cow’s milk with plant-based milk in my diet (it’s also more digestible and better for your health so it’s a win-win).

Shop less often

Everything we buy has a carbon footprint. You could shop more “green”, but sometimes it’s even better to just shop less (and live more – to save the planet). Think about reusing things a bit more for example, like selling rather than throwing away, buying second hand rather than new.

Use more reusable accessories

We have a tendency to buy some things out of habits or tradition without even thinking of the impact it can have on the planet. Some things are easy to change though, for example: use silicon lids instead of cling film, a reusable coffee cup instead of a disposable one, metal straws instead of plastic ones, tissue paper instead of wrapping paper etc.

Talk more about it

Don’t underestimate the impact of your words on your friends and family, or even colleagues. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else? When you make a sustainable-oriented decision, other people around you do too because we influence each other.

Sometimes you just can’t avoid that car trip, really crave for that steak or forgot to bring your reusable cup to the office. It’s fine, you can always compensate with a green initiative! Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Donate to an environmental charity (here are a few options)
  • Recycle items for DIY or give old objects a second life
  • Plant a tree if you have a garden
  • Opt for sustainable energy in your home (solar panels, low carbon heating options etc)
  • Volunteer to be part of a green charity
  • Educate yourself more by reading about 30 Ways to Be More Eco Friendly in 2020

What small changes have you already made in your habits?

Big Girl x