Have you ever thought about what happens to your used makeup remover wipes, your shampoo bottles and face washes once you’re done with them? Well, these pieces of garbage we stop thinking about after throwing them out end up in our oceans and landfills, just like the less pretty pieces of garbage we use. Waste doesn’t just impact our environment, but people too.
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Worldwide1, the cosmetics industry produces over 120 billion units of packaging. This is just taking into account the cardboard you purchase your beauty products in -- and it contributes to the loss of 18 million acres of forest each year. Cosmetic packaging may be nice to look at, but sooner or later we won’t have very fresh air to breathe and enjoy our products if we continue in this direction.
Here’s another stat2 for you: Taking into consideration the plastic our products come in, it’s estimated that by 2050, 12 billion tons of plastic will fill our landfills (to paint a picture for you, that’s equivalent to 35,000 Empire State Buildings). According to the Community and Environmental Defense Services3, “landfills can… pose a severe threat to the health of area residents, lowers the value of nearby homes, pollute ground and surface waters, increase heavy truck traffic on local roads, and create a drain on tax dollars.”
So, even if you aren’t a tree-hugging hippy, as you can see, we have a bit of a problem.
What are us beauty lovers to do? Clearly, aesthetics are meaningful to us, otherwise, we wouldn’t care about pretty packaging, pretty vanities, and pretty skin. If you’re interested in knowing how you can do a little part amidst this big problem; through supporting eco-friendly cosmetic companies, to recycling your packaging for other uses, read on!
How to Reuse Packaging
1.Keep the mini bottle for travel
Instead of trashing my mini body butters after using them, I clean them out and refill them with my bigger body butters for when I travel. This way I am using products I already have instead of purchasing more minis and saving on plastic!
2.Reuse the packaging you prefer
Can you ever have enough spray bottles? For plants, for hair, to split up your favorite facial mist and have one handy in your purse and on your vanity. Instead of tossing that spritzer you really like, put some water in it and use it for your plants!
Sometimes I don’t get to use cosmetic samples to their advantage because the little packets they come in are non-resealable. So, I squeeze them in my washed old cosmetic jars and get more use out of them!
Companies that Recycle Empty Beauty Products
1. Most cosmetic companies only accept packaging from their brand, but some have gone above and beyond and accept packaging no matter the brand! Origins, for example, will accept packaging from any brand in its stores and will recycle the packaging for you.
2. In partnership with Garnier, TerraCycle allows people to ship their empty beauty products to them for free! Learn more about this program on their website.
3. Another brand, Lilah B., provides a shipping label with each purchase so that you can send back your empty Lilah B. products for them to recycle for you properly.
4. The Body Shop continues to make big plans for its packaging; making people as they relate to waste their primary focus. To read more about what they’ve done with Community Trade and what they plan on doing, check out their website!
Ways You Can Help
1. If you’re interested in going above and beyond, you can shop at brands like Elate Cosmetics, who create their packaging using bamboo. On their website, Elate says “bamboo is a self-regenerating natural resource,” making it more sustainable than other forms of woods. Bamboo can also be used for ecological purposes. Additionally, Elate bamboo palettes are reusable.
2. Instead of buying mini shampoos, conditioners, etc. opt for using a bar form of each! Yep, you can use bar soap face wash, shampoo, anything! This cuts back on waste through minimizing packaging (and is travel-friendly!). Several brands create bar products, such as Lush, The Body Shop , and even random brands on Amazon.
4. Recycle packaging when you can. Research places like the ones listed above, and do your part to the best of your advantage!
What you choose to do with your money is ultimately your personal choice. However, it’s better to be aware of the environmental and social impacts our choices have. In the saturated world of ever-changing beauty trends and beautiful new eye palettes, science claiming new and better ingredients, and consumerism, it’s hard to remember our environment and people who suffer at the hands of waste. Consider vowing to be a more conscious buyer and research each item carefully before buying, in the long run creating a better world for you and everyone involved (plus saving money along the way!).Read more in HER Beauty
1. Stylist Co, The Truth About Beauty Packaging and the Environment, https://www.stylist.co.uk/beauty/beauty-products-eco-conscious-packaging/183786
2. Stylist Co, Going Plastic Free: The Ultimate Guide on How to Quit Plastic, https://www.stylist.co.uk/life/plastic-straws-ban-oceans-plastic-free-tea-bags-reduce-plastic-waste/211470
3. CEDS Community & Environmental Defense Services, Protecting Communities & the Environment from Landfills, Transfer Stations, and Material Recovery (Recycling) Facilities, https://ceds.org/landfills-transfer-stations/