Category Archives: bathroom essentials

meet leaf: the sustainable razor you’ll actually love

Zero wasters and minimalists rave about safety razors.

But when I bought my first safety razor, I wasn’t that into it.

Sure it gave me a close shave โ€“ but usually at the expense of scrapped up knees that left me feeling like a 13 year old shaving for the first time. I liked that I didn’t have to continuously rebuy razors…

But using a traditional butterfly safety razor is tricky. I have a whole post dedicated to how to use a traditional butterfly-style safety razor. Check that out here.

I honestly really liked my butterfly safety razor from Albatross once I got used to it. (There is a serious learning curve with safety razors.) But after I broke my second one, I thought maybe I should opt for a different style.

LEAF SHAVE

I first saw advertisements for Leaf Shave’s razor on Instagram. I saw how sleek and pretty it looked. And then I saw the bendy head and I knew I needed it.

At the time I was using Albatross, which is a great brand and makes awesome safety razors. But I was low-key hoping my razor would break (again) so I could buy a new one.

And boy was I lucky when my Albatross broke.

I bought this bad boy and I can easily say it’s one of my favorite zero-waste items I’ve ever bought. And there is no learning curve with using it, unlike the butterfly razor.

GIMME THE DEETS.

This all metal razor is plastic free. And that’s important because think about how many plastic razors you’ve used in your lifetime. Then multiple that by several million people (perhaps billion who use razors). That’s a lot of waste!

Leaf packages its razors and products entirely without plastic. They also offset their carbon footprint (they’re certified carbon neutral) and support climate action nonprofits. Pretty dope.

Now for the nitty gritty of the razor….

It has a head that bends, so you can easily shave over your knees, chin, and all the intimate areas.

It has three removable blades that can be easily removed by turning the knob on the back of the razor head a few times and lifting up the top portion of the head.

When you buy a razor kit, it comes with 50 razor blades. FIFTY! That’s insane. They’re light weight and fit nicely inside three spaces on the head of the razor.

TALK TO ME ABOUT PRICE…

Like most sustainable items that you only need to buy one of basically forever, it’s not cheap.

A Leaf Kit runs for $113. It includes a Leaf razor and stand, 50 blades and a blade recycling bin.

The razor on its own is $84.

But again, this razor will last you a long time. It ends up paying for itself after a year or so. Similarly to a menstrual cup (check out why and how I use a menstrual cup here), you only buy one for many many years. It’s an investment up front, but pays off in the end.

ANY DOWNERS?

Metal razors must be properly cleaned and stored โ€“ that’s the major bummer about using a safety razor.

I have a whole post dedicated to what you should know before using a safety razor. I wrote the post back when I used my butterfly Albatross razor, but the sentiments transfer to this razor, too. Wash it off, dry it and store it in a cool place. Metal will rust. While the Leaf is noticeably more resistant to rust than a traditional safety razor, it can still rust, so be sure to take good care of it.

Also, recycling blades is difficult. Most curbside pick up locations don’t accept blades.

But! If you mail your blades back to Leaf, they will properly recycle them for you! Just be sure to put your blades in a tin of some sort โ€“ either the one they give you or a mints container. I love companies that are proponents of a circular economy!

Also, the razor is covered by a lifetime warranty related to any defects that arise with the razor, such as the screw closure not working, the blade fillers are uneven, or the springs have broken.

Overall, I’d highly recommend investing in a Leaf. If you’re interested in a way to minimize your plastic use everyday, and can afford to hash out $113 bucks, buy a metal razor. And I’d say the Leaf is the best one on the market.

Is it the ‘REEL’ deal?

Lately I’ve been getting my toilet paper from Dollar General because it’s right down the road and when you need TP, it’s usually an emergency.

For more than two years I’ve been wanting to try out a more sustainable option, but every time I go to purchase it, we have plenty of TP. And when I need TP, I’m in dire straights and can’t wait for a batch to be shipped to my house.

But I officially tried out a sustainable brand called Reel.

WHAT’S REEL?

Reel is a sustainable toilet paper company based in California that has a business model for good.

It’s not a B-Corporation, but it’s very similar, and I’m surprised it doesn’t have a B-Corp. certification.

SUSTAINABILITY

The toilet paper is made out of bamboo, which is a pretty sustainable resource. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants. It can grow roughly 3-feet in one day.

The toilet paper is packaged in biodegradable paper wrapping and is shipped in a pack of 24.

ETHICS

Every time you order Reel, you give access to a toilet to someone else.

Reel partners with SOIL, a nonprofit that transforms waste into resources in Haiti. Through its partnership, SOIL provides toilets and removes waste from communities, which in turn prevents the spread of waterborne diseases and protects aquatic ecosystems.

The waste water is treated, turned into compost, and then sold to support agriculture and climate change mitigation efforts in Haiti. Pretty cool!

Since 2006, SOIL has been transforming waste into useful resources in Haiti.

QUALITY

I’m not too picky when it comes to toilet paper. But I can say, this toilet paper does the job and feels comfortable while doing it ๐Ÿ™‚ Since it’s 3-ply, it’s a bit thicker than your average toilet paper roll.

The TP is certifiably biodegradable and OK for septic systems!

The outer paper on the roll is a grayish tissue paper with an “r” on the outside (and it’s recyclable!). It looks sleek sitting out in your bathroom, unlike most toilet paper rolls.

The toilet paper comes with 24 rolls, which each have 300 sheets of 3-ply toilet paper.

HOW IT WORKS

Reel uses a subscription program, so you can rest assured you won’t run out of TP, or that your grocery stories will run out during a pandemic… we’ve all been there.

You don’t have to subscribe to the program though. I didn’t. Or at least, I haven’t yet, but I may decide to!

You can get it delivered to you every 4, 8 or 12 weeks, depending on how much TP you use. I’d say every 8 weeks would probably be the best bet for a two-person home. For more than two people, four weeks may be the better bet โ€“ it all just depends!

PRICE BREAK DOWN

The toilet paper isn’t cheap. For a 24-pack it runs for $29.99.

But considering it’s 3-ply, the price is pretty standard. Looking at Quilted Northern’s 3-ply option, a 24-pack of TP rolls runs for $27.50.

The 3-ply allows you to use less toilet paper for each wipe. Most 2-ply toilet paper runs for around $14 for a 20-pack.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

There are also two other brands of sustainable toilet paper that I’m aware of. The first is Who Gives A Crap, which is a B-Corp based in Australia! I’ve heard great things about their toilet paper, but decided to try out Reel. The other is Tushy, which is a bidet company that also sells sustainable toilet paper. Both brands also use bamboo in their toilet paper and are great brands to support!

I’d like to try all three and eventually do a review of which I like the best. Stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚

In the end, I like Reel’s toilet paper. It’s not the greatest, fluffiest toilet paper I’ve ever used, but it’s far from the worst. The price is decent for the amount of toilet paper you get, and I appreciate the company’s mission. I’ll happily use my Reel TP for now ๐Ÿ™‚

the best shampoo bar on the market

The very first blog post I wrote on Steel City Wasteland was about zero waste shampoo and how I hate shampoo bars.

I’ve tried several different kinds. I’ve tried Lush, J.R. Liggett, and some other random brands that just weren’t up to par.

If you’re tried a shampoo bar, you know what I mean.

First of all, in most shampoo bars, the lather is nearly non-existent.

(I know, I know, the soapiness of a lather doesn’t have anything to do with cleanliness… it’s just a chemical called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS, that makes consumers FEEL like our products are doing an even better job than they really are. But, hey, as a 20+ year all-things Dove girl, I know I’m an SLS addict.)

Second, it just feels weird to rub a bar of soap on your head. Maybe it’s just me, but something about it feels weird to get used to.

Third, the after-wash film. Shampoo bars always leave a nasty film on my crown and the nape of my neck.

If you’re unfamiliar with the filmy feel, imagine shampooing your hair, but not rinsing the shampoo out. When your hair is dry, it still looks like its coated in some sort of soapy oil.

Yeah, that’s what shampoo bars do. At least, that’s what they’ve always done for me.

Until I tried Ethique.

All about Ethique

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Ethique — pronounced “eh-teek”; it’s French for “ethical” — is a New Zealand-based beauty company that’s goal is to end the world of plastic waste.

The brand started in 2012 “as an alternative to the 80 billion plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles thrown out globally each year,” according to their website.

They have tons of beauty products — all plastic free.

Here are a few things they carry:

HAIR PRODUCTS: shampoo, conditioner and hair masks
FACE PRODUCTS: cleanser, scrubs and moisturizers
BODY PRODUCTS: cleansers, moisturizers and deodorants
LAUNDRY: laundry bar and stain remover
PETS: dog shampoo
STORAGE UNITS: in-shower containers

Reasons to love Ethique

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1. Plastic-free
Ethique uses biodegradable ingredients and compostable packaging.

2. Plant-based, but palm-oil free* and vegan
Ethique uses the best ingredients that are plant based and ethical.

*The problem with palm oil:

Palm oil is a controversial ingredient because of the way it’s obtained. Palm oil is cheap, and it can be found in lots of processed foods. The palm oil industry is destroying rain forests, especially in Indonesia. There’s a lot I could talk about surrounding the palm oil industry, like how it’s also contributing to increased CO2 in the atmosphere. But, as with a lot of things, there is some good to it. It’s creating a lot of jobs for Indonesians.

Interestingly, I went to the Borneo rain forest in Indonesia two years ago. While trekking with my friend, our guide — a local — talked to us about palm oil and how it’s harmful to the environment, but it’s helping the local economy. He said it’s a tough issue to have a strong stance on, because he’s seen the good and the bad. I think that’s a helpful reminder.

If you do buy something that contains palm oil, try to opt for one that is sustainably sourced — like Dr. Bronner’s soap. But, when in doubt, it may be better to just avoid palm oil altogether. The choice is yours.

3. Cruelty-free
Ethique doesn’t test their products on animals. In fact, they only test their products on willing humans. They are certified cruelty-free by CCF (Choose Cruelty Free), PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and SAFE (a New Zealand-based agency that certifies cruelty free companies).

4. Sustainable, and a B CORPORATION!
Ethique is a B Corporation, which should speak for itself. If you’re unfamiliar with B Corporations, here’s what their website says: “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”

Essentially, B Corps are the most well-rounded, ethical, sustainable, transparent corporations in the world. Here are a few B Corps you may know: Patagonia, Klean Kanteen, Tom’s of Maine, Ben and Jerry’s, and Stonyfield Organic.

If you see a company that’s a certified B Corp, rest assured that company has gone through a serious vetting process to be dubbed a B Corp. They really are the best of the best — a company you can trust.

5. These products last, and they save you money

Ethique boasts that one shampoo bar can last anywhere from 6-8 months. I haven’t been able to attest to that, as I’ve only tried the sample size. But the bars are definitely concentrated and seem to last quite a while!

6. The sample bars are adorable

The sample kit is super cute. The bars are heart-shaped. They just make you want to use them!

How well do the products work?

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Honestly, their shampoo bars are excellent. Not just for a shampoo bar, but for a natural shampoo, they’re outstanding.

Both the shampoo and conditioner lather well and neither leave a film on my hair. I can rub the shampoo bar on my hands or rub it on my scalp, both ways give a good lather!

At first using a shampoo bar may feel odd, but once you use a product that works well — like Ethique — you don’t even think twice about it. I hated using shampoo bars because they never worked for me. But Since using Ethique, I actually get weirdly excited to shampoo my hair in the shower.

Not to mention, all the products smell AMAZING, and every ingredient is not only listed, but on their website, Ethique goes into detail about what each ingredient does and where it comes from. LOVE the transparency.

I bought the hair sample kit to try a few different shampoos and conditioners before I invested in one.

I’d definitely recommend doing that! They also carry a sample kit for face wash and body wash, too.

The Ethique Hair Sampler is $16 and comes with three shampoos and two conditioners.

My favorite shampoo from the kit is the Heali Kiwi, because it’s good for my dry, sensitive scalp. Ethique also has shampoos for oily hair and dry, damaged hair. Basically, whatever your hair/scalp type, Ethique’s got you.

As far as their conditioners go, I liked The Guardian best.

Ethique’s conditioners are definitely the best bar conditioners I’ve used, but I would say I like the shampoo a little better than the conditioner. I’ll continue buying both, though, because I like them both! But I was really wowed by the shampoo.

I’ve also been using their face wash and I actually really like it!

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I’ve been using the SuperStar! cleanser. It smells like orange and I’ve noticed that it cleanses my skin without drying it.

I’d highly recommend it for dry skin folks!

Any downsides?

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Only one thing that comes to mind, though I wouldn’t consider it a downfall necessarily, is accessibility.

For most folks living in the USA, you’ll likely buy your Ethique products off Amazon.

This could be a positive thing to some people, because you can use your Amazon Prime membership! So that’s dope! But buying on Amazon means your package could come in plastic. Working with Amazon, Ethique doesn’t have much control over that.

Though, it should be noted that I ordered off of Amazon and my package only came in cardboard! So you never know!

ALSO! Ethique is slowly moving their products across the US. Right now, they’re working their way into Target stores, and are currently stocked in all Erewhon stores throughout California! Amazing!

Locally to Pittsburgh, Ethique products are available at Target at the Waterfront in Homestead.

Check out this linkย to see if there’s a Target that sells Ethique near you.

Overall, I love this brand and will continue buying their products! And, now that they’re available in more places locally, I’m even more floored to purchase from them!

I LOVE their shampoo. I’m thrilled to have found a zero waste, shampoo bar.

I’m still a big fan of Plaine Products shampoo and conditioner — check out that review here. But for now, I’m sticking with Ethique, and I couldn’t be happier.