Surely there's a way to ditch our wasteful, disposable habits.
Scrolling through Twitter at 4 AM one jet-lagged morning after a recent trip, I came across this gem of a tweet. I screen-shot it immediately and saved it for future post inspiration, once I'd managed to shake the jet lag and was able to think more clearly.
This tweet sparked my interest because (a) I'm a woman, (b) I used to fill a garbage can in the bathroom on a weekly basis, and (c) I don't anymore.
Men who've never lived with women: you need a garbage can in your bathroom if you ever plan of having women as guests. Just trust me on this one.— Hilary Agro 🍄 #NoWarWithIran (@hilaryagro) December 20, 2019
Cannot believe how many dudes don't get this.
While Agro's words likely do apply to many women, and yes, a garbage can serve a purpose once in a while, it shouldn't be the mandatory accessory to femaleness that it has become. In fact, I find it utterly depressing to think that women have personal hygiene routines that require them to be accompanied by a garbage can at all times, while men typically do not. The good news is, it doesn't have to be that way, if you're willing to make a few minor changes.
Let's start with the biggie – periods. Of course you've got to have something to catch the flow, but tampons and sanitary pads are rapidly giving way to reusable menstrual cups – the glorious zero-waste alternative that reduces leakage, prolongs the time between changes, saves money, improves physical activity, and sends no smelly waste to the garbage can. If you haven't made the switch yet, I highly urge you to try. Different companies make different sizes for women who've had children and those who haven't, and a typical cup lasts 10 years, sparing 2,400+ tampons or pads.
Then there's the skin care / beauty routine. It can generate loads of waste if you rely on single-use disposable products, such as makeup remover wipes, cotton pads and swabs, tissues, plastic eyeliner tubes, stick-on lashes or nails, peel-off masks. Then there's all the product packaging itself – moisturizers, cleansers, shampoos and conditioners, lipsticks, eyeshadows, and mascaras that are designed to be thrown out after use.
Better alternatives do exist! You can find reusable, washable cotton pads and makeup remover wipes. Refillable makeup in minimal packaging is slowly becoming more accessible. Refillable bottles of moisturizer and hair products can be ordered online or sourced at local zero waste or health food stores. More companies are moving toward solid bar-based makeup, skin and hair care products, just like Lush has been doing for years. With a bar, there's nothing left to go in the trash or recycling, only suds down the drain.
Toothpaste? Get some crunchable tabs in a cardboard tube (goes into the recycling bin or fireplace afterward). Buy a bamboo toothbrush and silk dental floss that can go into the compost bin once its time is up. Buy refillable or recyclable tins of lip balm and sunscreen and hair styling wax. Look for glass containers of natural deodorant, rather than plastic, because they're more likely to be recycled. Check out this list of 13 zero waste beauty essentials. All of these suggestions apply to men, too.
I'm not saying you shouldn't have a garbage can in the bathroom (because other waste-generators such as contraceptives and baby products certainly need a place to go), but it shouldn't be seen as a woman's exclusive and automatic accessory. It's time we fought back against that notion and embraced alternatives that not only make our beauty routines cleaner and greener, but leave our world a less trash-filled place.