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What To Do With Bathroom Plastics

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What To Do With Bathroom Plastics

By Virginia Sole-Smith, Planet Green

I decided that Step One of my Plastic Detox Program would be to find out what I have. It’s both worse and a bit better than I thought.

The bad news: Virtually every product in my bathroom (save the hand soap and one moisturizer in glass bottles and even they come with plastic tops, but let’s not split hairs, okay?) is in a plastic bottle or tube. And I have a LOT of products.

The good news: A lot of these plastic containers are made from the safer types of plastic.

(Not sure what type of plastic you’re dealing with? Flip the item over and check the number in the little recycling symbol on the bottom. Then read on.)

Here’s the breakdown in my bathroom:

#1 Plastic
What Is It? PETE. Polyethylene terephthalate ethylene, used for soft drink, juice, water, detergent, cleaner and peanut butter containers
What’s Wrong With It? #1 plastics are designed to be disposable, meaning they create more waste. If you try to reuse them, they can break down on you. The good news is, they are usually recyclable.
Where Is It? Facewash, eye makeup remover, and body scrub.
Goal: Recycle these when they’re used up and look for reusable containers when I replace them.

#2 Plastic
What Is It? HDPE: High density polyethylene, used in opaque plastic milk and water jugs, bleach, detergent and shampoo bottles, and some plastic bags.
What’s Wrong With it? Not so much in terms of health this is one of the “safe” plastics (along with #1, #4 and #5). But it’s still made from petroleum products and ends up in landfills, so like all plastic, is not ideal from an environmental standpoint.
Where Is It? Facewash (yes I use two different kinds), shower gel, shampoo, several kinds of hair gel and hairspray.
Goal: Look for more sustainable options as I use up these items (can I find them sold in glass containers? Can I make them myself?) and try to pare down the number of products I’m using to reduce waste. But if I do buy a plastic bathroom item, it should be #1, 2, 4, or 5.

Next: #3, 5 and 7 plastics

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Read more: Bed & Bath, Conscious Consumer, Green, Home, , , ,

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Samantha, selected from Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


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10:59PM PST on Nov 11, 2013

thanks for sharing

6:11AM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

Thank you Samantha, for Sharing this!

7:30PM PST on Dec 13, 2012

Very useful, thank you for sharing.

3:09PM PDT on Oct 14, 2012

thanks but confusing!

5:11AM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

Terracycle has a program for all personal care items to be repurposed, even hairspray cans.

9:36PM PDT on Sep 6, 2012

Every bathroom product I buy comes in recyclable plastic, so I recycle them every other week (we put out our recycle bins every fortnight)

9:32PM PDT on Sep 6, 2012

I've found that if I buy my products in their largest state, that I can just keep refilling the smaller containers I keep in my shower.

A gallon of conditioner and one of shampoo lasts my husband and I over a year and I've been re-using the same containers now for about 15 years.

That, and I've discovered that, not just me, but most folks use Far more product than they need to get the job done. Just by cutting that back, I can make my facewash last over 6 months. I don't need the 3 squirts I've always used out of habit; I can get by with one.

8:06PM PDT on Sep 6, 2012

If you want to 'meet' a person who has made it her mission to make her own cleaning, personal care and edible equivalents to Big Pharm, Cosmetic and Food products I recommend that you visit The Cancer Assassin.

She has a Facebook presence and a blog by that name.
She is in remission (recovery) from a very advanced bile duct cancer, her blog began shortly after her diagnosis.

7:11PM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

I found a great recipe for facial scrub that I keep in a glass jar. Brown sugar, add enough honey to make an easy to spread paste and add a small amount of avocado oil (6 drops for a 2 oz container). That's it! I've received compliments about my skin which had never ever happened before. There another great benefit to this, it tastes so YUMMY! I can't stop scrubbing my lips LOL

7:07PM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

I make my own deodorant and it works better than anything I have ever used before. Some family members and friends have tried it and agree - they all switched.

Equal parts of baking soda and corn starch. Mix in just enough coconut oil to make a paste that will be easy to smear. Add some tea tree oil (I put about 12 drops for a quantity that fills up a small (4 oz or so) jar. Keep it in a sealed glass jar. Voila! No plastic :-)

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