The topic of environmental pollution is more present than ever and by now almost everyone knows and takes to heart that you should avoid plastic bags and separate the garbage. But what about the bathroom? We explain why plastic doesn’t belong in the bathroom and which innovative products make you want to keep your hands off plastic for good.
Why plastic is so harmful to the environment?
The main problem with plastic is that, unlike materials of natural origin, it decomposes only very slowly. In the course of the degradation process, plastic does not simply disappear at some point, but only breaks down into smaller and smaller particles. A large proportion of our plastic packaging does not end up in the recycling bin, but in parks or waterways. In fact, plastic makes up the largest part of marine litter at around 75 percent. Once in the sea, plastic is mistaken for food and eaten by birds, for example. Other animals get caught in plastic bags and nets or ingest small plastic particles through the water.
By the way: If you regularly have fish or other marine animals on your plate, you may also be ingesting plastic through the food chain.
How helpful is waste separation when it comes to plastic?
Of course, not all plastic waste is arbitrarily disposed of in the bushes or ends up in the sea at some point. In fact, we in Germany are quite exemplary when it comes to waste separation: organic waste, plastic waste, paper waste, residual waste. And yet there is still a big problem – even with proper waste separation. Because not even half of the plastic waste produced is actually recycled. Everything else is either processed into an alternative fuel or burned to produce carbon dioxide and hydrogen – with corresponding consequences for the climate.
So the fact is: plastic must be disposed of properly, but should at best be avoided completely.
How much plastic do we really consume?
The Federal Environment Agency reports that a German consumes an average of 220 kilos of plastic per year – and that includes only packaging waste. In total, 19 million tons of plastic are used by the German population every year. Although the microplastics and liquid plastics consumed by cosmetics seem comparatively insignificant at 0.25 percent, they end up directly in the water and cannot be recycled. You can find a selection of sustainable care products here.
Tip: If you can’t do anything with these numbers, you are the perfect candidate for a self-experiment. Simply collect all used cosmetic packaging and products in a box in your bathroom over a period of time of your choice. You’ll be surprised how quickly the box will fill up, taking away the opportunity to fade your consumption by throwing away the products. This makes it harder to distance yourself from the plastic problem and motivates you to use less plastic in your routine in the future. And speaking of switching to a more conscious lifestyle: Find cool sustainable sneakers here.
Why do personal care products contain plastic?
In the meantime, many consumers are aware of the problem of plastic packaging of all kinds – even in the form of shower gel bottles & Co. However, many people do not know that plastic in various forms can also be found in cosmetic products.
Microplastics: Microplastics are solid plastic particles that are less than 5 millimeters in size. Among other things, they serve as exfoliating granules in body scrubs, but are also contained in body lotions and deodorants. When these cosmetics are washed off, the microplastic particles end up in our waters via the sewage system and cause their damage in the ecosystem there.
Liquid plastic: In the context of environmental protection, many German cosmetic brands now do without microplastics in their products, but they continue to make use of waxy or gel-like plastics, among other things. Creams, shower lotions and soaps in particular contain these types of plastic, whose effect on nature has not yet been adequately researched. But some studies already suggest that liquid plastics are just as durable and toxic as microplastics.
As part of the new awareness of sustainability, cosmetics manufacturers are increasingly launching environmentally friendly new products. Here come a few suggestions on how you can make your bathroom grooming routine more sustainable in the future:
1. Cotton swabs with bamboo
Cotton swabs with bamboo like these have exactly the same effect as those with plastic – without the guilty conscience of disposal. Because bamboo canes are a natural resource and thanks to their fast growth, they are ready for harvesting after only 3 years.
By the way: Bamboo is completely biodegradable thanks to its natural origin, unlike plastic, and is even less energy-intensive to produce than wood.
2. Shower gel in one piece
Since time immemorial, we have only used shower gel in one way: liquid from a plastic tube. In order to minimize packaging waste and avoid plastic, however, shower gel is now increasingly being offered in bars – also especially for men. They are used in exactly the same way as bar soap: lather up in the hands and lather up the body. Simple, or? So there are no excuses not to try them out.
3. Metal razors
Conventional razors – whether for the face or the body – have both handles and sockets made of plastic. So when you dispose of them, they automatically contribute to environmental pollution. To counteract this now come alternatively more and more metal razors on the market. This is a step forward because metal can be recycled more than once compared to plastic.
4. Solid shampoos
Similar to shower gel, shampoo is almost exclusively packaged in plastic tubes. Alternatively, the hair care product can now be purchased by the piece from more and more brands under the term “solid shampoo”. These are most similar to shampoos as we know them – only water is removed from them to press them into solid form. The so-called “hair soaps” are less comparable, as they are composed of alkalis, fats and oils, and thus are also primarily recommended for dry hair and scalp types.
5. Deodorant cream and sticks
To avoid plastic spray bottles and useless ingredients, deodorant creams and deodorant sticks are the ideal choice. They are more suitable for sensitive skin thanks to their natural ingredients, and you don’t lose half of the contents when applying them because the product ends up all over the air instead of under your armpits.
6. Soap in a bar
A more commonly known tip is to only use soap in a bar to buy. Liquid soaps in plastic packaging are harmful to the environment and sometimes contain microplastic particles that are flushed into the sewage system when hands are washed. In addition, bar soaps last longer on average and are now even occasionally sold unpackaged. And we know: the best packaging is no packaging at all.
7. Toothbrush made of bamboo
Bamboo is also proving to be a suitable alternative material to plastic toothbrushes. Because the bamboo toothbrush is extremely durable and does not become unstable even when wet during tooth brushing. Finding classic toothpaste free of plastic is actually more difficult, as no ideal plastic substitute for the packaging has been found so far. But there are, for example, toothbrushing tablets in a glass jar – they are far more sustainable!
8. Skin care without plastic
To avoid plastic in body lotions and face creams, care products in one piece are one of the best options. Alternatively, natural oils such as coconut or argan oil from glass bottles are ideal for caring for even sensitive skin. These oils are also suitable for hair, beard and shaving, making them a real grooming all-rounder.
Conclusion: Every change counts
The fact is: avoiding plastic pays off. And if there are only two products on the list that appeal to you – try them out! Because every change, no matter how small, counts and helps to relieve the planet and our waters.
- 1 Why plastic is so harmful to the environment?
- 2 How helpful is waste separation when it comes to plastic?
- 3 How much plastic do we really consume?
- 4 Why do personal care products contain plastic?
- 5 Plastic-free alternatives
- 6 Conclusion: Every change counts