Staying green while maintaining hygiene

Aziz Idris

The use of personal hygiene products is at an all-time high in the wake of this unprecedented global pandemic. As the government loosens up restrictions, the public is advised to always follow basic personal hygienic measures while going out.

This includes the simple act of washing hands with soap and water. The public is also advised to avoid of mass gatherings or crowded areas with confined spaces and to wear a face mask, on top of maintaining their personal hygiene. Hands should be scrubbed for at least 20 seconds – the same time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice.

People can also make simple switches at home, particularly in the bathroom, to always maintain good personal hygiene while at the same time creating as little harm to the planet as possible.

Anything from brushing teeth to washing hair presents an opportunity to also think about the environmental footprint that comes with personal hygiene.

One thing to consider is opting for natural hand-made soap or Ghar soap instead of the shower gel.

Organic hand-made soap is a Syrian heritage, particularly from Aleppo, the grandfather of all soaps during ancient times.

It’s made with olive oil, laurel berry oil, water and lye. As it is produced only from natural oils, the soap is highly biodegradable.

It can be used daily as soap for washing and shampooing, as a face wash, as shaving cream, and for bathing infants and babies.

This kind of soap uses less packaging, compared to the plastic bottle of the commonly used shower gel. This results in less packaging and the allowance for smaller, recyclable and reusable methods.

Another option is natural shampoo bars instead of their bottled counterparts. These minimal, diverse additions to the bathroom are an increasingly popular personal care item, particularly due to the benefits it gives to hair, affordability, and the massively reduced impact on the environment.

Solid shampoo bars are made with a combination of natural oils, and often with no chemical intervention, meaning they are excellent for any type of hair.

Being an almost entirely natural product, they are great for people experiencing skin irritations, dry, or oily hair. They also come in minimal packaging – something as simple as paper wraps – or even no packaging at all. In addition, the bars last a long time.

There has also been a spike in brands offering bamboo toothbrushes, not just in the online stores operated by local entrepreneurs but also supermarket aisles, which now feature numerous bamboo options, making it easier for consumers to start and finish every day with a more sustainable dental hygiene option.

This is a perfect choice for brushing teeth as it is made from sustainable bamboo (excluding the bristles) that will biodegrade at the end of its life.

Bamboo is also more appealing material than plastic as it breaks down much quicker and is less intensive on the planet in its production. The pairing of a bamboo toothbrush with all-natural toothpaste is a great combination to maintain personal hygiene while keeping the environment clean.

Another option is using biodegradable cotton buds.

There are lots of reusable alternatives that brilliantly help to combat the billions of single-use cotton swabs that are produced every day. These simply work by being washed with warm soapy water after use.

For those who use cotton buds on a daily basis, investing in a reusable option is definitely worth the upfront cost.

There are also 100 per cent biodegradable cotton buds. While these are discarded after use, they are made from soft cotton and bamboo so degrade naturally. These basic toiletries also come in recycled cardboard packaging too.

Commercial toiletries contribute to the 5.25 trillion items of single-use plastic debris which litter the worlds’ oceans today, and a shift is crucial in building a sustainable future for all.