I’m a big believer in making small sustainable changes instead of big overhauls that cost a fortune and are hard to keep up. It’s an approach I’ve taken towards reducing the amount of single use plastics and other disposables in my life. Reducing one area, one item at a time. Last year I focused on the kitchen, the place I was using the most disposables. The kitchen is an area I’m happy to report that I‘ve managed to keep up.
This year, I shifted focus to the bathroom. I looked at the disposable products I was currently using and matched them up with their reusable and eco-friendly alternatives.
Below are the plastic free alternatives for your bathroom that have been tried and tested by us. The best part about them is that each item comes from a local South African company, which further reduces your carbon footprint and supports our local economy.
Mrs Martins Refillable Body and Handwash
Mrs Martins is a family run business. They source all their products from local manufacturers and their trademark is the indigenous beneficial microbes you’ll find in all of their products. They don’t test on animals and have a strict ingredient policy which includes using only ingredients that are plant-based, sustainably sourced, will biodegrade in less than 28 days and fragrances that are low VOC, hypo-allergenic and biodegradable. Their cleaning products all come in two options – an aluminium bottle and plastic bottle. They also do refill packs which allow you to buy a bottle once and then refill it as it empties.
Mrs Martin’s probiotic BODY wash is a nourishing, earth-friendly shower gel that is readily biodegradable and enriched with Vitamin E, argan and moringa oil. It also has indigenous microbes which keeps surfaces, drains, and sponges clean. It is also septic safe and keeps your grey water fresher for longer.
The fragrance, which is hypo-allergenic and natural, is best described as a really fresh and sporty perfume. It reminds me of the Big Pony 1 by Ralph Lauren Perfume and is possibly one of the nicest smelling body washes I have used. It lightly foams, which is enough to give you a good lather. It can also be used as a shampoo. While I was happy with how my hair looked and felt like after using it, I do prefer using products specifically formulated for hair instead of multi-use ones. It comes in two packaging options – the aluminium bottle I have (pictured) or a plastic bottle, which is a more affordable option. They have 1 litre and 5 litre refill packs available, allowing you to refill the bottles instead of buying new ones.
Mrs Martin’s probiotic HAND wash is similar to their body soap. It too is an earth-friendly hand soap that is readily biodegradable and enriched with Vitamin E, olive and moringa oil, as well as millions of the microbes normally found on healthy hands. It’s hypo-allergenic and septic safe. It is super gentle and leaves your hands feeling soft (which when you are washing your hands constantly, is a relief). Scent wise it has a pleasant light sweetness to it, like a sherbet. It too comes in the two packaging and refillable options.
Smittens Cleansing Mitts
Smart Mittens was founded by Nicole Cadiz Saks in 2013 and now run and owned by Janine Peters. It was founded out of the idea of using only water to cleanse your face and allowing it to repair and replenish itself. Giving you clean skin that absorbs skincare products better.
Smittens are microfibre mittens that deep cleanse your skin in seconds using nothing but warm water. They have what they call tiny smart fibres which can absorb the finest, microscopic particles of oil, dead skin, impurities and even bacteria. They also help exfoliate your skin gently. You can also use them with cleanser. They come in 3 options: The smitten, ideal for women, which is an ultra-soft mitten that can also be used to remove makeup, cleansers, exfoliators and face masks. The smitt which is slighter larger than the smitten, is ideal for men and specially formulated to reduce black heads and ingrown hairs. Lastly, there’s the smitty which has more of a fluffy texture and is ideal for babies. Along with using it for bathing, it can also be used for nappy changes. It’s hypoallergenic and doesn’t affect the PH of the skin or dry it out.
As someone who doesn’t follow the popular advice of washing your face with cleanser twice a day, I love Smittens. I prefer washing my face at night, using just water in the mornings, followed by a moisturizer if needed and SPF. The smitten is the perfect option to use to cleanse my face better after a morning workout without needing to use cleanser. It leaves my face feeling clean and smooth thanks to its gentle exfoliating cloth.
Get Smittens here (R120)
String Greens Shower Scrubbie, Bamboo Facecloth, Reusable Face Rounds and Soap Saver Bag
String Greens is a South African brand of zero-waste home care and beauty products. Their products are made by hand using 100% natural fibre, from materials that are locally grown, using organic principles. Every String Greens product is made with a zero-waste ethos. All their products below are machine washable and get softer after each use, so if you find any too rough, run it through a washing cycle to soften it up.
The String Green’s Shower Scrubby is handmade using pure bamboo fabric. It’s naturally antibacterial, long-lasting and fully compostable. It can also be machine washed and used for years. It is very small and to me works like a washcloth more than a mesh sponge in that it doesn’t hold soap as well and you get more of a soapy cloth feel than the foamy soap feel. It’s best for gently buffing and exfoliating your skin, something I’ve found bamboo products to be quite good at.
The String Green’s soap saver bag is hand crocheted from eco-cotton yarn. It has a dual purpose. You can use it to store soap as well as washing your body. It’s great as an exfoliating cloth if you like dry brushing. It too is biodegradable and compostable.
The String Green’s facecloth is handmade from bamboo yarn, which means you can compost it at the end of its lifespan. It has a very soft silk like feel and like many other bamboo products really feels like it does a nice gentle exfoliating job too. It’s a great facecloth, albeit on the smaller size. It also dries fast which would make it great for travel or in your gym bag.
The String Greens Reusable Face Rounds are made from bamboo, a sustainable alternative to single-use cotton balls and pads. They’re fantastic at removing makeup – again that bamboo thread which is more textured than a cotton pad does a great job at removing every last bit of makeup and dirt, and it also gives your face a gentle exfoliation. Reusable face rounds are one of my favorite eco-friendly beauty finds. They work really well for removing makeup and eliminate the use of a lot of cotton pads. They are machine washable and compostable. They also come in a little storage bag with 7 rounds, 1 for every day of the week before you need to wash them all.
Bundubeard Safety Razor DE8 and BundoBar
Bundobeard is a South African company started by Jaco Grobelaar out of his fascination with wet shaving. His aim was to build a company that would provide good quality sustainable products at a reasonable price. While it is a brand more targeted towards men, many of their razors are unisex.
The Bundubeard Safety Razor DE8 IS a three-piece razor with a durable hard chrome finish. With proper care it is designed to last for years. While it is undoubtedly a sleek and gorgeous looking razor, it is heavier than you think and needs to be gripped by the neck which is ribbed not the handle (which is where I normally grip a razor). The handle gets very slippery when wet, especially if using it in the shower, which can cause it to drop. The neck however gives you enough grip, so it doesn’t slip. It gives you a clean and smooth shave.
You need to buy it with a pack of blades (it comes without) – these feather blades are the ones I use which are super thin and come in a pack of 5 or 10. It is recommended that you remove the blade if you don’t use it often to prolong the life and regularly clean it with an old toothbrush, some soap and water. If you, like me, are used to gripping a razor by the handle, it’ll take some time getting used to. Go slower than you think you should – but once you get the hang of it, it’s great. Another thing that has taken me time to get used to is its shape. It’s quite big and curved which is different from the skinny flat ones I usually use. This made it challenging for me to shave my knees and near the ankles which are bony areas. I would assume it would be perfect however for a guy to shave his face with.
The BundoBar is a multi-purpose bar that works for both your hair and body. The clear side is the shampoo side, while the white side is the conditioning side. The conditioning side is also ideal for shaving. I used the zesty mint bar, which has a divine fresh, clean and mint smell. I don’t like bar shampoos, as I don’t feel they wash my hair well. I preferred using this as a shaving soap – for which it worked well. Quite innovatively, they make the bars in different ratios – you can buy either a shampoo or conditioning bar but also two different ratios (50-50 or 70-30), perfect for those of us who use more conditioner than shampoo.
What reusable and eco-friendly alternatives do you use in the bathroom? Please share with us in the comments!
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.