From big beauty hauls to strangely mesmerising unboxing videos - packaging often goes hand in hand with the cosmetics industry and there’s no escaping our fascination with ‘shelfie’ worthy wrapping. But with the rise of ‘zero waste weeks’ and piles of plastic in our recycling bins, cutting down on packaging and disposable products in your beauty routine doesn’t have to mean ditching the lippy for a homemade beetroot lip stain (unless you’re into that of course.) Read on for some fantastic plastic alternatives that have all the glitter, but less of the litter.
It’s estimated that a worrying 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic has been created since the 1950s (the equivalent of one billion elephants) - a scary thought considering “every piece of plastic ever made still exists and will continue existing for at least 500 years.” (Fact courtesy of Greenpeace).
It can be difficult to avoid the disposable paraphernalia that comes with makeup routines, the brushes, sponges, lash combs...the list goes on. And while we’re not suggesting you swap your makeup sponge for a real life mushroom, a few simple changes could help you to streamline your makeup bag and lighten up your recycling bin.
From pressed powders to moisturisers, many cosmetics have more layers of packaging than a Russian doll - an origami maze of excessive paper, cardboard and plastic, all housing a product that often lasts less than a year (it probably took you longer to get through all that dried pasta your mum stocked you up on when you moved out.) And while recycling is good, reducing the amount of packaging we purchase is even better. Look out for products that have refillable or biodegradable packaging, or dump the pump bottles in favour of packaging-free cosmetics - Slap Sticks are a solid alternative to foundations. These dewy foundations come in forty shades and their very own reusable cardboard draw, so you can create your own standout look while enjoying a clean conscience.
Nip it in the bud
The Cotton Bud Project is a charity helping to raise awareness of the impact of plastic cotton buds on our oceans. They might seem harmless enough, but when flushed down the loo cotton buds can enter our sewage systems, polluting our beaches and harming marine life. The project is helping to persuade companies to switch their cotton buds from plastic to paper, so that they biodegrade faster if they do reach the sea. While it’s better to avoid cotton buds all together, if you really can’t shake the habit then try to choose non-plastic organic cotton buds to limit your impact.
Take it off
If you’re looking for a zero waste way to remove your makeup why not opt for reusable cleansing pads, we love these beautiful hand crocheted ones. These handy machine washable pads will save you some cash while also helping you to cut down your cosmetic waste. Made from durable but soft cotton they are plastic-free and handcrafted in Devon from natural materials.
Unless you’re sticking to good old fashioned fingertips when applying makeup, the options are currently quite limited when it comes to eco friendly makeup brushes and tools. We’re dreaming of makeup brushes that we can compost with our veg peelings once they’ve worn out, but until then minimising the amount of brushes you use is a great first step. Rather than buying lots of different brushes, why not invest in one or two good quality brushes that will last. What’s more, caring for your brushes properly will help to increase their longevity. You’ll find lots of recipes online for environmentally friendly makeup brush cleaners or you can lather up your brushes on a bar of soap and then rinse them out for the same effect.
Not my bag
Finding an eco friendly makeup bag can be tricky as they’re often plastic coated in order to make them more durable. This also makes it hard to know what to do with them once they finally wear out. Wyatt and Jack are a sustainable Bembridge-based bag company, who create eco bags and accessories from upcycled British deck chairs and vinyl pvc from retired bouncy castles. Still not sold? These vivid bags can be sent back at the end of their lifetime in exchange for a voucher towards a new purchase. Your ‘old bag’ will then be made into something new and exciting, helping to keep plastics out of landfill.
What else can I do?
There are loads of packaging-free cosmetics available (Lush Milan managed to fill a whole shop with them), proving that we don’t need to rely on single-use plastics in our beauty regimes. If you’re feeling inspired and want to learn more, why not continue your war on waste here.