The Beauty Industry Makes An Unholy 120 Billion Bits Of Waste Yearly, Here’s How We Can Fix It

sustainable beauty
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If ya didn’t know, today is World Earth Day, which means it’s a great time to have a think about how eco-friendly our lives are. We already know the planet is suffocating from single-use plastics like water bottles, milk cartons, grocery bags and takeout containers. In blaming those though, we often overlook the impact of things like our shampoo bottles, lipstick tubes, eye shadow palettes, powder compacts, lotion pumps and disposable razors. Oh and toothbrushes, my god so many toothbrushes! While all those things make us feel ~beautiful~, it makes our planet earth feel like trash – literally. So, there’s no better time than the present to invest in a more sustainable beauty routine. 

According to Zero Waste Week, over 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry, most of which is non-recyclable, end up in our landfills and in our oceans. That’s a lot of fucking plastic for one industry. One that we regularly contribute to without even a second thought for our environment. 

And while big beauty brands like The L’Oréal Group and Unilever are pledging to make 100 per cent of their plastic packaging reusable, refillable, or compostable by 2025 and 2030 respectively. There are a few things you can personally do to make your beauty routine more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

sustainable beauty
Welcome to my Ted Talk

1. Switch to reusable or biodegradable makeup wipes 

Considering makeup wipes take up to 100 years to breakdown in landfill, there’s really no excuse not to make the switch, especially when beauty brands like Face Halo exist. Not only are they better for the environment, but they’re better for your wallet too. Reusable products like Face Halo make light work of removing heavier makeup just by adding water and can replace up to 500 single-use makeup wipes.  

You can now also get biodegradable face wipes, brands like Simple, Nivea and Swisspers now make wipes that are made from biodegradable plant-based tissue, so if you’re keen to develop a more sustainable beauty routine without giving up makeup wipes, you can. 

2. Use refillable products

If you’re keen to cut down on your plastic usage, try shopping for beauty products that have refills. This way you only have to purchase the entire product casing once and simply purchase refills once you’ve run out. Brands like Fluff cosmetics, Hourglass and The Body Shop all offer refill schemes or product refills, so you can minimise your plastic purchases. 

3. Try non-plastic cotton buds

This one can make a huge difference and is such a simple swap. Trade-in your plastic cotton tips for bamboo or paper ones. Beauty brands like Swisspers have recently launched paper stems cotton tips that are made from sustainably grown wood pulp, recycled paper and 100% cotton. Eco-friendly retailers like Flora & Fauna also sell bamboo cotton tips that are 100% zero waste and affordable! 

4. Grab a biodegradable toothbrush 

Did you know that over a billion toothbrushes end up in landfill each year because they’re simply not recyclable? And that at any given moment in Hawaii toothbrushes can be found washed up on the beach? How fkd is that?! You can help reduce both these statistics by simply swapping your regular plastic toothbrush for a bamboo or wooden one. They do the exact same job and have less of an effect on our environment. 

5. Rethink your hair removal routine

Disposable razors are almost just as bad for the environment as toothbrushes. Razors really only last for 6-9 shaves, after which they’re blunt and destined for landfill. Apparently, the average person who shaves daily or near-daily can go through around 40-50 disposable razors a year. Which could end up being around 2,400 razors (or more) over a lifetime of shaving. Yikes! Makes you feel sick when you put it that way, especially when you could use a reusable safety razor. Sure, they’re trickier to master, but they’re better for the planet (and your bank account), so get right round ’em. 

And if you’re not a fan of shaving, why not bite the bullet and try at-home IPL or laser hair removal. 

6. Try solid, plastic-free beauty bars

Plenty of beauty brands are opting for the more eco-conscious solution of beauty bars these days. You can get a lot of skincare products like body wash, cleansers, exfoliators and hair products like shampoo and conditioner that now come in bar form, (Thankyou Shampoo Bars) making them zero waste. And we tell ya what, we bloody LOVE to see it. 

7. Know beauty brands’ sustainability practices 

Over the last 5 years, brands have begun to make changes and commitments to being more sustainable. They’re either changing their product packaging to be recyclable, updating the way they operate to reduce their carbon emissions or completely changing their formulas to suit more sustainable practices in the long run. Over time, these commitments, no matter how small, all have an impact. So do your research and support the brands that are making strides towards sustainability. These kinds of changes cost money and the more you support them, the more changes can be made. 

We’ve got this, friends.