It’s now been over a month since Earth Day 2021, and this year struck a chord with me more than past years have. Usually I practice Earth Day by “unplugging” and spending my time outside in nature. This time, something was different. I felt a pull to begin a journey toward a plastic-free lifestyle — one that I have attempted before but never followed through with.
I was already an avid user of reusable cups and straws, but I wanted to venture out of my comfort zone and work on revamping my daily routines. After realizing how much plastic was filling my bathroom sink, cabinets and shower, I knew exactly where to start my journey. I recognized that while I may not have the ability to influence hundreds of people to commit to plastic-free living, I can control my own actions and lower my own plastic consumption.
My shower was the first hurdle I vowed to tackle along this journey, and it began with a lot of research to find plastic-free replacements for my most commonly used items. I understood that while I was using large liter bottles of product, which requires less plastic than smaller volume bottles, I wanted to aim higher. I wanted products that were zero plastic in their use, their packaging and most importantly their disposal.
I began researching reputable companies that make shampoo and conditioner bars that have been well-reviewed for dyed hair. My search showed me that many bottled shampoo and conditioner products are up to 80 to 95% water. For me, the change from plastic bottles to bars was easy once I understood that I was originally paying more for a watered-down product.
From there, I moved onto plastic-free soap, razors, shower scrubs and facial products. Many of these products already have plastic-free alternatives, but I was so used to my daily products and purchasing routines that I never thought to move out of my comfort zone. At the same time, as a college student with limited income, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on this lifestyle revamp. Because of this, my purchases had to be intentional and cost effective over time.
Avoiding the “pink tax” on razors and razor blades happened to be a major success of this overhaul. While the “pink tax” isn’t an actual tax, the price comparisons that women pay for razors, shaving cream and other shower products compared to men are staggering. Women on average spend 11% more on razors compared to their male counterparts.
In comparison, I am now using a bamboo safety razor that costs only $25 and will last a lifetime, in addition to plastic-free recyclable razor blades. Five razor blades from common shaving companies cost around $20 for women, while safety razor blades cost me $3.
While I haven’t found a replacement for every plastic item in my shower, my shower shelf already has more space and less plastic! Overall, I’m now spending about $465 per year on my shower products versus the $1400 per year I spent when they were plastics based. If we all did this, the benefits to the planet would be incalculable. It’s important to make meaningful changes that add up over time rather than none at all if we want to combat plastic pollution on a large scale.
For more tips and tricks to start your zero waste journey, sign up for EARTHDAY.ORG’s End Plastic Pollution campaign.
This blog is the first of a three-part series on how to make your routines plastic free from the lens of one of our interns, Miranda Custer. Keep an eye out for part two around World Oceans day on June 6th, 2021, focused on daily hygiene and sink-based routines.
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