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Saturday, December 10, 2022
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Saturday, December 10, 2022
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    Keeping it welcoming

    Laura Daily

    THE WASHINGTON POST – If you’re planning to give your entertaining skills a workout this holiday season, you’re not alone. After experiencing pandemic-related restrictions, we’re all ready for a little more in-person fun. But before you welcome friends and family into your home, it’s worth taking a long, hard look at your guest bathroom or powder room.

    These workhorse spaces need to be neat, practical and as germ-free as possible, while also making guests feel welcome and pampered – and not grossed out. But how do you do that while still being eco-friendly? Disposable hand towels, scented hand soaps in single-use plastic dispensers, plush toilet papers and aerosol deodorisers aren’t exactly known for sustainability.

    Experts say, though, that there are environmentally responsible options for these products that don’t require sacrificing your guests’ comfort.

    “In the past six to 12 months, I’ve seen so many innovations that it’s easy to give guests a taste of luxury but cut down on excess waste,” said beauty director for Real Simple Heather Muir.

    “Reducing waste in your home can be super overwhelming. Just think about how many plastic bottles live in your bathroom right now. My advice is to take baby steps. Even little tweaks can help.”

    Here are some options for a clean and comfortable – but also more sustainable – bathroom.

    – Liquid soap. It’s time to break up with the hand soaps in single-use plastic bottles. For cost savings and a more sustainable after-product, use refillable hand soap.

    “The system I like best is a glass dispenser you refill with product from an aluminium bottle that you can recycle like a soda can,” said vice president of sustainability for a company that specialises in eco-friendly personal-care and home products Danielle Jezienicki.

    Refills, usually sold in recyclable packaging, also come in a concentrated form, typically tablets or liquid you dissolve or pour into water. You can buy starter kits and refills, or you can find an attractive dispenser and purchase refills.

    – Bar soap. Although bar soaps can outlast their liquid counterparts, some people are turned off by the gloppy mess many leave in dishes or by the excessive packaging. My suggestion: Shop local craft fairs for handmade bars. You are supporting local artisans, and these soaps often contain fewer ingredients and have minimal – if any – packaging.

    Depending on the vendor’s recipe (and ask before you buy), you may also find that the bars won’t get slimy or goopy, even with repeated use over a short time. Just be sure to use a dish with grooves or slats to allow the soap to drain, Muir said.

    Other options include individual biodegradable hand-soap sheets, or dissolvable powdered hand soaps.

    – Hand towels. Everyone who uses your powder room is going to wash and dry their hands. Experts said to skip the paper hand towels made for bathrooms.

    “I’m a huge fan of 100 per cent organic cotton towels, because they are absorbent and quickly soak up water,” said homes and features editor at Southern Living Betsy Cribb.

    Cribb suggests buying multiple towels and swapping them out halfway through the evening. Those with enough counter space or a decent-size shelf can mimic a luxury hotel lounge by filling a basket or container with inexpensive, rolled washcloths.

    Add a bin for guests to drop the used towels into. After your event, toss the cloths in the washing machine and have them ready to use again next time. If you worry about damp towels spreading germs and feel most comfortable using paper towels, opt for ones made from bamboo, which is a fast-growing plant and is considered a more sustainable choice for paper products.

    – Toilet paper. Admittedly, this is a touchy subject. “People get incredibly defensive about their favourite brand,” Jezienicki said.

    “But eco-friendly manufacturers are producing great toilet paper these days out of recycled paper or bamboo that is soft, absorbent and comparable in price to regular brands, making it easy to switch.” These papers are plusher and more likely to be multiply than some of their predecessors.

    Jezienicki, recycled toilet paper and bamboo paper, said she replaced the traditional toilet paper in her house and no one complained – or even noticed.

    Several brands can be found on the shelves of big-box stores, and there are also subscription services.

    – Additional touches. Want to add some zero-waste extras? Help guests moisturise after hand-washing with a solid lotion/moisturiser.

    In case someone eats a bit too much garlic dip, leave a jar of zero-waste mouthwash tablets for a quick breath freshener.

    And instead of an ugly can of aerosol spray, opt for a scented soy or beeswax candle. Or find a DIY air freshener recipe online and fill a glass bottle.

    “And every room needs something living, so pull out a vase or jar and add some cut flowers or an evergreen sprig,” Cribb said.

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