With it being Earth Month and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, making conscious beauty decisions is on our minds more now than ever. But things like monitoring our consumption, optimizing our usage, and working toward more sustainable habits is important year round, not just on Earth Day. Now, before you go off thinking we're suggesting you completely abandon your old ways, hear us out: it doesn't take drastic measures to make your beauty routine more eco-friendly. There are plenty of tiny conscious beauty tweaks you can make.
"The beauty industry is only behind the food and beverage industry as one of the world's biggest sources of waste," said Belinda Smith, the founder of St. Rose, a cleanly formulated, sustainably-sourced fragrance brand. "However, instead of feeling guilty or discouraged let's do something about it. Small progress every day is a big win and we all need to do our part if we are going to steer this ship around."
Ahead, we're sharing a few conscious beauty changes you can make in your everyday life to work toward a more eco-friendly, sustainable routine.
Do Your Research and Support Eco-Friendly Brands
We're not recommending you give up your 10-step skin-care routine, but you can look to include more eco-friendly and sustainable products. "Support eco-friendly brands with sustainable ingredients," said Allison McNamara, founder of MARA, a sustainably made and ethically-sourced skin-care brand. "You have the power with your dollar to support brands that are doing their part to make a difference."
You can usually determine if a brand is eco-friendly by looking at its mission. "Being more mindful as consumers is the number one thing," said Smith. "Choosing better and buying less. Looking to invest in brands that are practicing what they preach."
Recycle Empty Beauty Product Containers
Instead of just throwing your empty beauty products away in the trash, recycling them properly with beauty-specific programs. Unfortunately, many beauty products cannot be recycling in regular blue bins with other cans and bottles. That's why programs like TerraCycle exist — they allow you mail your empty, typically non-recyclable beauty products to them to be properly repurposed.
To take your efforts a step further, you can look to support brands that partner with recycling programs. Garnier, Love Beauty and Planet, and Göt2b, to name a few, are all partners with TerraCycle and reward customers in various ways for recycling their empty products.
"Doing zero waste imperfectly is what we all should be striving toward," said Smith.
To help your products get recycled, McNamara explained you should clean them out before tossing them. "I know when you're in the moment it feels like a chore, but anything (beauty, food, etc) with more than 10 percent left in the component doesn't get recycled," said McNamara. "Do your part and rinse out your containers."
Swap Your Toothpaste For a Plastic-Free Alternative
Toothpaste is something everyone uses, but do you know what happens to those tubes after you finish them? "Toothpaste tubes can't be recycled and every single plastic toothbrush you've ever used is still sitting in a landfill somewhere," said Lindsay McCormick, founder of Bite Toothpaste Bits, a brand that makes a more eco-friendly, plastic-free alternative for brushing your teeth. "The Bite Toothpaste Bits are dry toothpaste tablets that come in refillable glass jars and the Brush by Bite is a compostable bamboo toothbrush with a removable head."
Trade Your Single-Use Cotton Rounds For Reusable Options
If you use a cotton pad every time you take off your makeup or use a toner, the amount you're throwing away can quickly add up. To reduce your waste, switch to reusable cotton pads. "Not only are single use cotton pads wasteful, many contain plastics too," said McNamara. The switch is better for the environment and your wallet, so it's a win-win. "It saves trips to the store and because they last for years, they'll save you money in the long run," said McCormick. Try The Good Stuff Reusable Cotton Pads.
Opt For Products Made With Biodegradable Ingredients
Plastic waste in landfills can take hundreds of years to decompose. So, next time you're shopping for things like a toothbrush or hair brush, try looking for biodegradable options. For example, WetBrush's Go Green Oil Infused Brush is made from all-natural biodegradable plant starch that naturally breaks down in a landfill within five years.
Think About Packaging
On the list of potential packaging materials, plastic is one of the worst. Glass, on the other hand is endlessly recyclable and is a better option of the two (however, when thrown out or recycled improperly, it can take twice as long as plastic to decompose). Whenever possible, look for zero-waste packaging. This includes items like shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars by Bottle None that come in plastic-free packaging.
Buy Refillable Beauty Products
More brands are allowing shoppers to buy refills to their favorite products without needing to purchase an entirely new jar or bottle. For example, OUAI sells refill pouches for their shampoos which uses less plastic than rigid bottles. Outside of the shower, the new brand Gelo Hand Soaps sells refillable, highly concentrated plant-based soap pods that are housed in a 100 percent biodegradable, water-soluble film that activates when combined with water and J.R. Watkins has a hand soap refill pouch, eliminating the need to purchase a new bottle.
Cut Back on Single-Use Everything in Beauty
Taking it a step further than just single-use cotton rounds, consider cutting back on single-use everything. "I stopped using sheet masks and face wipes years ago originally because I realized just how wasteful and unsustainable single use beauty products are," said McNamara.