When it comes to talk about saving the environment, beauty products aren't put under the microscope as often as food wastage and power usage. The effort put into appearances doesn't come without its own environmental consequences though.
For instance, more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced annually by the global cosmetics industry which contributes to the 78 million tonnes of plastic packaging produced overall, annually. A third of this ﬂows into our oceans and, according to a report from the World Economic Forum, if this continues, the total plastic in the ocean may weigh more than all the fish by 2050.
This goes beyond just littering as chlorinated plastic releases harmful chemicals into the surrounding environment, tainting it and disrupting the ecosystem.
This is where the ‘zero waste’ movement comes in which aims to accomplish exactly what it states: create zero waste. On average, a person produces about 2kg of waste per day which may seem insignificant until you do the math and see that it adds up 730kg a year – or 3,650kg every five years – and that's a lot.
Clearly, the less trash one makes, the better, and as with anything, the key to bringing about long-lasting change is to start off slow and small. In this article, we're going to be looking at a zero waste beauty routine.
Waste not, want not
Many of us don't give as much thought to the packaging of a product as we do to its ingredients. We're careful about what we put into (and on to) our bodies. The better you treat your body, the more likely you are to live longer and healthier. The same works for the Earth with plastics being to it what trans fats are to us – bad in the long run.
Yet, dozens of plastic bottles and containers adorn the shelves and sink of our bathrooms from handwash bottles and toothbrush caps to shampoo and shower gel containers, all of which are destined for landfills.
If this level of consumption continues, we're looking at 12 billion tonnes of plastic in landfills, a planetary crisis in the making.
Adopting a zero-waste beauty routine then is just one of the ways to do your part in saving the environment. We use a multitude of cleaning and maintenance products daily – morning bathroom products, perfume, deodorant - and each one comes packed with its own environmental hazard.
Keeping it clean
Here are some alternative methods to try for a greener routine:
- Instead of purchasing bottled liquids, investigate buying soap and shampoo bars, both of which have come a long way over the years in terms of effectiveness. Opt for the ones packaged with paper which still creates waste but waste which is easily recyclable
- Ditch the Q-tips – often packaged in plastic boxes, it's already bad for the environment but it turns out that they're bad for you too. Research has shown that Q-tips end up pushing the ear wax in more than cleaning it out which can lead to infections
- Swap the facial washes for raw honey (sold in glass jars – reusable) which has anti-bacterial properties. It's natural too
- Use a safety razor instead of disposable ones for your shaving needs. Buy some quality blades and take good care of it and you'll be using it for 10 years
- Invest in coconut oil which has a hundred uses like as a moisturiser for the hair and body as well as mouthwash
- Switch your perfume with a mix of a few drops of your choice of essential oils with some sweet almond oil and rub it over your body
- Deodorant-in-a-jar is the way to go instead of roll-ons and sprays
If you're willing to take a dip on the zero-waste side, arm yourself with Zero Waste Home founder Bea Johnson's 5R's: refuse what you don't need, reduce what you use, reuse what you consume, recycle what you can and rot (compost) what's left.
It'll be a bit overwhelming at first as you'll soon come to realise that most products are packed in plastic, but the key is to start small. Begin by cutting down where you can, track your progress by tracking your trash. Do what you can and don't feel bad about what you cannot.
In the end, you'll come out as a conscious consumer who's not only saving the environment but also dirhams.
DO IT YOURSELF
Makeup is a tough choice when it comes to a zero-waste beauty routine as there aren't many affordable options out there which offer green ingredients and packaging. One option is to give it up entirely, but you can also make your own; the results still have a long way to go in terms of longevity but here are a few recipes* to try:
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tbsp cacao powder
1/2 tspn ginger
1/2 tspn bentonite clay
- Mix all of the ingredients together
- Dip in a powder brush and dust off excess
1 tbsp activated charcoal
1/2 tspn shea butter
1 tspn bentonite clay
2 to 3 drops of oil (sweet almond or olive)
- Mix all of the ingredients together using a mortar and pestle to really work the oils into the fine powder
1/2 tspn lemon juice
1/2 tspn oil (sweet almond or olive)
*Do a patch test of each ingredient first to determine if it's an irritant or not before fully applying
- Juice the beet
- Add 2 drops of lemon juice to the beet juice
- Add in the oil and mix well
- Apply with hands