Beauty lover but plastic hater? We’ve got you covered with these simple ways to reduce plastic in your makeup bag.
Here at bide, we believe that every action – however big or small – makes a difference, so this Plastic Free July we’ll be exploring ways that you can make changes throughout your home to help reduce your plastic waste.
First up, is your beauty regime. The beauty industry is reportedly the worst offender when it comes to plastic waste, being responsible for more than 120 billion units of packaging a year – most of which isn’t recyclable so ends up in landfill and our oceans. An estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic waste finds itself in the ocean each year and, if it continues at this rate, it’s believed that there will be a staggering 29 million metric tons by the year 2040. While the beauty industry isn’t responsible for all of this plastic waste, it is one of the biggest producers of single-use plastic, so it is clear that drastic action needs to be taken. Fortunately, awareness of the problem has led to an array of initiatives being put in place to tackle production of plastic waste, through alternatives to single-use packaging and ditching the plastic altogether. The British Beauty Council reports that many beauty brands are committing to 100% recyclable packaging by 2025 which is a step in the right direction to making sustainability an accessible option for many.
While the responsibility of creating less plastic sits with the corporations, we have a voice with our wallets – changing our buying habits to show the beauty industry that we demand better: more sustainable, eco-friendly packaging for our favourite products.
Here are some other ways you can make an eco-friendly difference in your beauty routine. Could you make one of these changes this month?
1 Switch to reusable cotton pads
Disposable makeup wipes can be a convenient addition to your skincare routine but they bring hidden plastic into our homes. Along with the often-unrecyclable plastic packaging these wipes come in, the cotton-like fabric of the wipe itself is usually woven together with plastics such as polyester and polypropylene. A staggering 11 billion wipes are used each year in the UK - that’s a lot of plastic going into our oceans, waterways and landfill that can’t degrade. Many big-name brands like Simple, Boots and Nivea have started to introduce biodegradable versions of their standard wipes which make for a good like-for-like swap if you love the convenience of this product.
If you want to completely eliminate plastic from your cleansing routine however, using reusable cotton pads or cloths can be a great option. Muslin cloths, flannels or cotton cloths that you already have laying around at home are perfect for using with cleansers or makeup removers. If you want to treat yourself to something new though, reusable cotton pads can be a great purchase. These handy rounds are made from cotton or bamboo and can be used exactly like single-use cotton pads, except they are washed after use. Simply pop the cloths or cotton rounds in the washing machine with your usual laundry (and bide washing powder, of course!), air dry, and then reuse.
2 Give products a new lease of life
Chances are, your makeup bag is brimming with plastic. From mascara wands and eyeshadow palettes to lipsticks and foundation bottles, plastic packaging has long been the norm. According to the British Beauty Council, 95% of packaging is thrown away after its first use, with only 9% of that being recycled. The rest simply ends up in landfill. Fortunately, there are sustainable and earth-friendly initiatives being introduced to responsibly dispose of your old makeup, and offer the packaging a new lease of life beyond its initial use.
L’Occitane recycle plastic empties from any beauty brand – either drop your packaging off in store or post for free – while Boots, The Body Shop, Lush and Kiehl’s offer recycling schemes that reward you for bringing in your empty products. As part of these initiatives, the plastics are melted down and repurposed into new products from outdoor furniture and playgrounds to plant pots and benches. You can find out what each company does with your empties here:
Charities, too, are coming up with new ways to use your discarded products. Wands for Wildlife, for example, repurposes your old mascara wands to help with the care and treatment of wild animals.
3 Refill your makeup
Once you’ve finished your makeup and recycled or reused the packaging, there are many eco-conscious replacements available. Refillable makeup is a great way of combatting the excess waste of beauty packaging by extending its life, and are popping up across different brands. Refillable eyeshadow palettes are becoming more ubiquitous and are a great way to reduce the production of plastic packaging, while minimising your own waste by choosing colours that you know you’re going to use. Lipsticks can also be refilled, helping tackle the estimated 1 billion lipsticks that are thrown away around the world. While this doesn’t completely rid your makeup bag of plastic, it does significantly extend its life and rescue it from landfill.
4 Swap your skincare
There are now many eco-conscious brands making change by producing plastic-free packaging for your beauty routine staples. Upcircle Beauty are certified Plastic Negative (which means they remove more plastic from the environment than they put out), while sustainable beauty brand Beauty Kitchen wash and reuse their packaging with their Return-Refill-Repeat programme and use materials such as compostable pouches, cardboard and precycled containers. When shopping for your skincare, look out for products that come in glass or aluminium containers, as these materials can be recycled infinitely without losing purity or quality in the finished product.
5 Ditch the disposable razor
Disposable razors are a perfect example of the throwaway culture that is unfortunately the norm for us today – a product that we buy, use a few times, then dispose of – with it having a devastating impact on our planet. An estimated 2 billion disposable razors end up in landfill each year because they’re usually made with mixed materials that are difficult to recycle and the blades pose a health and safety hazard in recycling centres to both workers and the machinery. With each disposable razor only often good for three to 10 shaves, it’s easy to see how there is such a problem.
Like many sustainable options, going back to traditional methods is a kinder choice for the planet. A double-edged safety razor – so called because it includes a protective device between the blade’s edge and the skin to minimise injury – is designed to last a lifetime. The handle is usually made from sustainable materials such as stainless steel or bamboo, and are completely reusable. The blade itself can be removed and safely recycled in a specialist centre (why not repurpose an old jar or container to store your used blades and later drop them off in bulk at a recycling point?). You can also opt for bars of shaving soap that come in minimal, and often recyclable, packaging to use alongside your razor for truly plastic-free hair removal.