When it comes to the planet, everything adds up. Even the smallest acts that appear entirely removed from the environment make an impact — like flushing wet wipes or impulsively buying mascara at Shoppers Drug Mart.
But here’s the truth: there is no such thing as a “small act” when it comes to your beauty routine. In 2017, the global cosmetic products market was valued at USD $532.42 billion. You read that right — billions! And this is only anticipated to grow. A market this scale can only have a massive effect on our planet, and unfortunately at this time it’s not a positive one. 80 billion shampoo and conditioner bottles are thrown out annually, makeup wipes sit in landfills for one hundred years, and everyday cosmetic products are tossed in the garbage without being finished.
However, change is possible. It starts with educating yourself. It starts with supporting amazing cosmetic conscious brands. And most importantly it starts with you, the consumer, shaking things up. Here are 5 ways to green your beauty routine and support the planet.
1. Forgo Makeup Removal Wipes
(Photo from Oko Creations)
Don’t be fooled by the petite size of makeup removal wipes and cotton pads. They may be small and easy to throw away, but they make a lasting impact. It’s been calculated that it can take 100 years for makeup wipes to decompose in a landfill — yikes! Makeup wipes also don’t disintegrate in water. In the UK, it’s estimated that 93% of matter causing sewer blockages is makeup wipes flushed down toilets — double yikes!
Avoid filling the landfill and sewers by switching to reusable makeup removal pads.
Oko Creations is a Canadian company making just that! They use hemp and organic cotton to create reusable pads that are soft and gentle on the skin while removing all makeup. When they’re ready to be washed, just throw in the wash and dryer with the rest of your laundry.
Farm to Girl is another company that sells ultra soft biodegradable sea sponges that can remove makeup. Farm to Girl partners with small fishing communities to sustainably grow cosmetic sponges, and donates 20% of each purchase to women’s health and education.
2. Swap Out Your Exfoliating Scrubs
(Photo by Sophie Bourdon)
Exfoliating your skin is a great way to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores — but this shouldn’t be done to the detriment of the environment. Many exfoliants are made with tiny plastic beads that are so small they slip through water filtration systems and end up in our oceans. This contributes to the 12.7 million tonnes of plastic that enters our oceans every year, killing sea creatures and their natural environments.
Replace your plastic exfoliants with natural ingredients. It’s easy to make your own exfoliating scrubs using oatmeal, nut pulp, recycled coffee grinds, sea salt or sugar, and adding it to a carriers like coconut oil, olive oil, or honey. Sea salt and sugar are particularly favourable because they dissolve in water. Keep in mind that for some natural exfoliants, like coffee grinds, you’ll want to consider a drain catcher to prevent clogging your shower.
Another option is dry skin brushing. This is a fabulous way to cleanse and vitalize your skin without the use of harmful plastics.
3. DIY Beauty Products
(Photo from Hello Glow)
One of the best ways to reduce waste is to make beauty products yourself! Many beauticians and holistic nutritionists agree that they wouldn’t put anything on their skin that they couldn’t also consume. So forgo the packaging, plastics and synthetic ingredients by making your own natural products with basic ingredients from your kitchen!
Hello Glow is a great resource for DIY beauty products. Check out their round-up of 15 beauty products to stop buying and start making! Or use Wellness Mama as your go-to guide for all things bath and body, skincare, makeup, nails and hair care.
4. Shop Zero-Waste Brands
(Photo from Unwrapped Life)
Not sure you want to craft your own beauty products? No problem! There are so many new and exciting (and Canadian!) beauty companies that are finding alternative packaging methods to plastics.
Elate Cosmetics is a conscious cosmetics company from Canada that packages their beauty products in bamboo. Bamboo is a `self-regenerating resource that doesn’t require fertilizer and doesn’t need to be replanted.
Kjaer Weis is another beauty company that has created an intelligent refill system so customers can refill their containers — cutting back on plastic and cost!
To reiterate this enormous and scary fact, 80 billion plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles are thrown out every year! Unwrapped Life is proof that shampoo and conditioner doesn’t need to be in a bottle. Based in Canada, this company has developed shampoo and conditioner bars that promise salon-quality results. Be sure to check out their line of wildcrafted bars made of naturally-derived ingredients.
In the same vein, Ethique is dedicated to supplying an alternative to plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles. Each bar is equivalent to 3 bottles of liquid shampoo!
Meow Meow Tweet uses paper to create a biodegradable package that smartly holds their natural deodorant stick. As a plus, their packaging is decorated with whimsical illustrations!
No Pong is another brand (co-founded by a Canadian!) creating all-natural antiperspirants. Their deodorant comes in a recyclable tin and can be applied using your fingers just like a lotion or cream. No Pong promises that after one use, your armpits will be a much cleaner place!
5. Extend the Life of Your Makeup
(Photo by Raphael Lovaski)
When it comes to the products that you just can’t live without, make sure you use them up to the very end. Knowing how to extend the shelf life of your makeup will help prevent throwing them out prematurely and wasting product. Just make sure you don’t keep them past the expiry date! Here are a few easy tips:
Dry mascara? Soak your mascara (with the lid on) in a bowl of hot water to make it runny again.
Clumpy nail polish? Add a few drops of nail polish remover to make old nail polishes like new.
Low on foundation? Increase coverage by mixing foundation with face lotion to create a tinted moisturizer.
Dry liquid liner? Add a few drops of saline solution to moisten your liquid eyeliners.
Broken lipstick? Use a lighter to lightly melt the broken end of the lipstick and press the two pieces together until it firms. This works with chapstick, too!
Hardened powders? Press and remove scotch tape over powdered makeup that’s developed a hard film on top to access the useable powder underneath.
On the go? Having your makeup loose in a big purse or bag creates a greater chance of breaking it. Keep your makeup in a smaller toiletry bag to protect it.
Don’t feel pressured to change everything at once. Start by shifting just one or two habits in your beauty routine, or experiment with making a beauty product that you would use frequently. Once you see how easy it is to change (and how good it feels!) it’ll become easier to update your entire routine.