The beauty and personal care industry produces tons of waste every year. You can do your part to reduce your footprint by adopting more eco-friendly beauty habits…
We all like to look good (yes, even you gentlemen), but unfortunately, the beauty and personal care industry is one of the largest contributors to consumer waste. With numerous disposable products such as wipes, cotton swabs, and makeup applicators, and most beauty products packaged in small containers that are frequently replaced, our use of beauty and personal care products takes a large toll on the environment.
However, you can make a difference by shopping more responsibly, and considering where your beauty products will end up when you’re done with them.
You can start by making a conscious choice this year to make more eco-friendly choices when shopping for personal care and beauty products. Vote with your dollars and choose brands that use sustainably sourced materials and recycled packaging. Skip the disposable makeup wipes and applicators, one-time-use travel toothbrushes, and single-use flossers, and instead use reusable cotton pads for makeup removal and application, and splurge on a couple of good-quality makeup brushes that will last for many years.
Here are a few more eco-friendly beauty tips:
1. Seek out sustainable and responsibly sourced ingredients.
The ingredient list of any product is part of a much bigger story. Take palm oil, for instance. It’s one of the most commonly used ingredients in cosmetics, and increasing demand has led to rampant deforestation in parts of Asia. That method of cultivation, in turn, destroys animal habitats, leading some species close to extinction.
While there are few simple solutions for complex supply issues, you can contact beauty companies to ask how their raw materials are grown, harvested, and sold. Not satisfied with the answer? Make it clear to brands what it’ll take to make you a loyal (and Earth-minded) customer. Try something like this: “Sustainable agriculture would help emerging markets avoid damage like deforestation, pollution, and carbon release – issues that will affect everyone through climate change in the long run,” says Magdalena Antuña, the editor of Selva Beat, an environmentally conscious lifestyle magazine for millennials.
2. Choose post-consumer recycled packaging.
The best packaging is none at all, but when that’s not possible, avoid “virgin” materials – especially plastic, which is made from fossil fuels and usually winds up in landfills. Instead, look for packaging that’s already on its second (or third, or fourth) life. For example, inside Seed Phytonutrient’s shower-friendly paper bottles is a liner made entirely from post-consumer plastic, which uses 60% less plastic than a traditional bottle. Which leads us to the next step:
3. Go the extra mile when recycling.
That means, for instance, cleaning out the last bit of product from your shampoo bottle before rinsing and recycling it. Or plucking out the bristles of a plastic makeup brush before tossing it into the recycling bin. Not sure where to recycle – or whether something can be recycled at all? Plenty of brands offer incentives (a free lipstick, for example) if you return a selection of empties in stores or through Terracycle, a company that turns even the trickiest items into new materials.