Zero Waste in the Beauty Industry

A few weeks ago I got into a conversation with a friend about plastics in the beauty industry.  “There are just plastic containers everywhere, and there are no good alternatives. There are shampoo bars, which are more expensive and you can only get in a few places. Also do tooth tabs even work? Plus they come in plastic containers!” Her closing comment, “Internet, I’m not washing my hair and teeth with baking soda.”

Based on this Refinery 29 article, my friend isn’t alone in her search for environmentally friendly and package free alternatives. I thought I had the solution: do with fewer products, use that extra money to splurge on boutique package free products (looking at you, Lush), or spend $75 on a “small” beauty products and packaging shipping box from Terracycle. If people want to use 20 products in their beauty routine, then they should be able to do so with zero waste options.

If you think that 20 products is a lot…

  1. Toothpaste
  2. Mouthwash
  3. Cleanser
  4. Toner
  5. Moisterizer
  6. Serum
  7. Foundation
  8. Concealer
  9. Primer
  10. Eye shadow
  11. Mascara
  12. Lip Liner
  13. Lipstick
  14. Bronzer
  15. Blush
  16. Setting powder
  17. Dry shampoo
  18. Hair spray
  19. Sunscreen
  20. Makeup remover wipes

And that’s a short list of daily products that many women fold into their routine.

Beauty industry! Why do you use so much plastic! Everything comes in plastic tubes, plastic tubs, plastic trays, plastic bottles, and plastic brushes with plastic bristles. Let’s not even get into micro-beads and their catastrophic contribution to ocean plastic pollution.

So what are the options?

  • Solid Bars: shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and body wash are all available in bar form. If you get a fancy one, then yes it’ll be expensive, but rising popularity in these products is leading to more options (especially homemade ones on Etsy).
  • Dental Care: Tooth tabs, DIY toothpaste, and biodegradable floss are your best options here. If you really like your conventional toothpaste, then try Toms of Maine. They have a partnership with Terracycle to take back all of their packaging (toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, brushes, floss).
  • Makeup: I’m out of my wheelhouse here, so here’s a few articles on the subject.

Reduce. Minimize. Combine. Are there products you can do without? Is your night moisturizer really that different than your day moisturizer? Can your products work double for you? When was the last time you went without makeup? Going without makeup is probably good for your face anyway. There’s no need to eliminate all the things in your life, especially if they bring you confidence and joy, but you’ll find your middle ground.

Have fun with this!

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