Consider this scary fact: humans have created 8.3 billion tons of plastic since the stuff was invented. Every year, we produce around 300 million tons of plastic, and about 8 million tons of this ends up floating around in the ocean. With viral photos of seahorses tugging around cotton swabs and literal trash islands popping up on our social media feeds, it’s clear that we humans need to clean up our act when it comes to how we treat Mother Earth.
Every little bit helps. You can start by taking a look at your beauty routine and finding ways to do less harm to the environment. Even if you’re not ready to commit to a zero-waste lifestyle just yet, it’s surprisingly easy to make small tweaks to your skin, hair, and makeup habits in the name of sustainability. Many beauty brands are rising to the challenge with waste-free packaging and ethically sourced ingredients, so don’t worry—adopting a more eco-friendly beauty routine doesn’t mean you’re limited to using coconut oil for the rest of your life. Still, it’s up to you to make a difference. Here are for a few simple ways to make your routine greener and cleaner.
We get it: It’s tough to go completely plastic-free, but you can reduce the waste you generate within your beauty routine. Take disposable razors, for example. Opting for a stainless steel safety razor instead isn’t just good for the planet—it also helps reduce razor burn and ingrown hairs and gives you a closer, longer-lasting shave. Other plastic culprits that are easy to replace: toothbrushes, dental floss, and bottled shampoo and body wash (try a beauty bar instead).
When you’re shopping for makeup, skincare, and haircare products, choose ones with smart packaging. Savvy beauty brands like Kjaer Weis and Surratt Beauty offer high-performance makeup in refillable packaging so you’re not throwing away plastic every time you finish a tube of lip gloss. You can also buy products in recyclable packaging, such as a glass, metal, or cardboard. In addition, be sure to recycle your tubes and vials instead of chucking them. Place a bin for recyclables in your bathroom and voilà—a green beauty routine just got a lot easier.
Microplastics are tiny particles of plastic less than five millimeters long. They are generating a lot of buzz these days, and for good reason. They’re known to be harmful to the environment, and, unfortunately, the beauty industry is a major producer. You know those microbeads in your face scrub and toothpaste? Those are actually tiny pieces of plastic that end up in our oceans and may be ingested by marine animals. Check out beathemicrobead.org for a list of products to avoid (and embrace) as well as more information on how to join in the effort to save our oceans.
As you go about your morning routine, consider all of the products you use just once before tossing them into the waste bin. Do you use face wipes? How about cotton pads or swabs? There are many reusable alternatives for these common disposables out there, such as makeup remover cloths and washable cotton rounds that you can toss into the laundry and use again and again.