I have long known that the beauty industry has a waste problem, but it was only after spending two weeks tracking down my trash that I realized how much I am contributing to the problem.
As a beauty writer, the amount of non-recyclable packaging that arrives in my bathroom is staggering (it’s part of the job, but it’s still no excuse), as is the number of handkerchiefs and cotton swabs that go straight to the trash when I’m done with. use them. The experience of collecting my waste opened my eyes to the fact that I need to do better, so I spoke to sustainability expert Jhánneu Roberts to learn how to create a sustainable beauty routine.
His biggest (and most important) tip? There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to creating sustainable practices – you need to find what works for you to make sure you are able to maintain the trades you are doing. “It’s about finding that balance,” says Roberts. “It’s about working with what you have and being intentional about the things you’re buying and bringing into your home, because no one will ever be perfect.”
Below, she shares eight ways you can make your beauty routine less wasteful – try them all on by size and see which fits your long-term lifestyle best.
How to create a sustainable beauty routine
1. Opt for multipurpose products
Not only are multipurpose products a win for your wallet (who doesn’t love a two-for-one deal?), They’re better for the environment too. “Ideally, I try to find multipurpose products, so in general I am using less of them,” says Roberts. “So if I’m using a highlighter that maybe I could also put on my eyes, there are fewer products I have to use, even if it’s plastic.” Even if an item isn’t marketed as a multipurpose, you can still be creative and find different ways to use it. There’s no reason a creamy lipstick can’t double as a blush, or a brow pencil can’t be used as a subtle eyeliner as well.
2. Find ways to make disposable products reusable
Think of the elements of your routine that you use once and then toss, such as make-up wipes and cotton pads. In many cases, there are reusable options that you can use instead.
“I don’t use makeup wipes. I have cotton pads ($ 12) that are reusable and you can just throw them in the laundry,” says Roberts. “For times when a little round of cotton isn’t enough, I have a stack of small cloths ($ 12) that I’ll use. You can also make a DIY makeup wipe by rounding up the cotton, putting it in a container ($ 36 to $ 64), and adding your favorite toner or some soapy water so that you have them ready for l ‘use”.
Personally, I use many individually wrapped alcohol wipes to sanitize my beauty tools and finish my gel manicure. Since these wipes come in foil-and-paper packaging, Roberts says they’re not recyclable (“you can’t really recycle something that’s mixed that way,” he explains), so it’s best to fill a reusable spray bottle ($ 8) with denatured alcohol and spraying it on reusable cartridges instead.
3. Use biodegradable items when you can
Some things you use in your beauty routines, like cotton swabs, floss, and handkerchiefs, will inevitably end up in the trash, because they don’t exactly lend themselves to reusability (the idea of soaking a snot handkerchief twice or the waxy Q-tip doesn’t it’s so attractive). In these cases, opt for biodegradable options. “You can buy cotton swabs ($ 10) that are 100 percent cotton, with no plastic, so you can actually dial them up,” says Roberts. EcoTools also sells biodegradable makeup sponges ($ 8) that you can reuse for up to 30 days and then compost.
4. Use refillable beauty products
Thankfully, many brands have come to realize that single-use plastic packaging is a great problem and I started offering refillable options. In these, says Roberts, it is worth investing. “If you go to Credo Beauty, they have a lot of different options that are refillable,” says Roberts. (Although Roberts points out that some of these items are quite expensive, which can be hard for some consumers to exchange, but there are a number of options she loves and worth it.) There is Kjaer Weis who have foundation ($ 46 to $ 70) and blush ($ 32 to $ 56), where you buy the nice metal container once and then just buy the refills.
There are also brands like Mob Beauty that allow you to customize eyeshadow palettes by getting an empty palette ($ 10) and filling it with individual shadows ($ 12) of your choice. “I’m sure there have been times when you’ve bought palettes in the past and used them as three colors,” says Roberts. “You don’t use the whole palette and it’s so wasteful. Find brands where they give you the option to buy what you want instead of buying the whole set or palette or anything else that will end up wasted.”
5. Get products made from aluminum, glass or recycled plastic
Plastic is difficult to recycle and, as a result, only 9% of all plastic in the world that has ever been created has actually been recycled. You can look for products made with recycled plastic (Roberts recommends PYT Beauty), which technically is a better option over virgin plastic (new plastic made from a petrochemical raw material, such as natural gas or crude oil, which has never been used or processed before), but is still not ideal. “Even once you try to recycle it or throw it away, it will likely end up being wasted,” says Roberts.
So the best solution, he says, is to source items that come in glass or aluminum containers, which will be easier to recycle than their plastic counterparts.
6. Recycle your vacuums with TerraCycle
TerraCycle exists to recycle the many products that arrive in containers that are not recyclable by municipal centers. Individual brands, such as Josie Maran, EOS, and Herbal Essences partner with TerraCycle, so you can ship the vacuums to them and have them recycled for free. You can also find more public delivery points in general. For example, Credo Beauty, Nordstrom, and Nordstrom Rack have locations where you can take vacuums from any beauty brand to recycle.
7. Find other uses for products you don’t like
Big retailers like Sephora, Ulta, and Walgreens allow you to return used products, which means you can test something and bring it back (and get your money back) if you decide you don’t like it. The problem with this practice, however, is that all of these products end up directly in the trash.
If it’s within your budget to keep these items, you can always gift them to a friend or find another use for them.
“I’ve tried a lot of solid shampoo that didn’t work for me,” says Roberts. “And so what I’m going to do is use them to clean my makeup brushes. And there are many times when I use them as exfoliants and things like that are too much for my face, but I can use them on my body.”
8. Set manageable parameters
As you find ways to make your beauty routine more sustainable, try not to stress yourself out. As a consumer, there is only so much you can do and you don’t have to put all your efforts into reducing waste.
“I realized I can only do so much,” says Roberts. “What it boils down to is that the government intervenes and requires companies not to produce virgin plastic and have all these regulations. But until that happens, it will be really difficult for the consumer. And especially if it is someone it is like having a limited budget: finding these refillable makeup items is virtually impossible in an affordable budget range. ” In other words? Do your best and make any sustainable trade make the most sense to you.
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