Under threat: how to make your beauty routine more sustainable

At Lifestyle, we are starting a series exploring the issue of sustainability and how small changes can result in us leading more sustainable lives. Each article will cover a different area of everyday life and what changes can be made to limit your individual impact on the environment. We aim to make these changes as simple as they can be and at the same cost or cheaper than the normal alternatives.

With the recent arrival of the damning UN report on climate change, it has become clear that we need to do drastically more, in order to save the planet.

One major cause of environmental damage is waste pollution. In the UK, 18 million tonnes of waste are sent to landfill every year. Not only this but every year we are producing around 3% more waste which means that in 25 years, waste levels will be double what they are now.

More often than not we are horrified by these facts but don’t know how to prevent it from happening. In the world of beauty, we are surrounded by plastics, non-recyclable products, and one-use throwaways that are extremely damaging to the environment. Here are a few tips on how to limit your waste whilst still taking good care of yourself.

Face wipes aren’t reusable and also contain plastic. This means that after hundreds of years when they eventually biodegrade, they break down into micro-plastics that are toxic for the environment. They also often contain chemicals such as parabens and harsh alcohols that are damaging for the skin. Instead, consider using reusable cotton rounds (often used to stop breastfeeding mothers from leaking!) which can be used once and washed in the washing machine.

Coconut oil can seem expensive but is such a good sustainable option and has so many different uses that you can incorporate into your beauty routine. It’s completely natural and comes in a recyclable glass jar. It can be used on cotton rounds to remove make-up, as a good body moisturiser, and also as a hair mask. Simply leave it on the ends of your hair overnight and wash off in the morning.

Apple cider vinegar is a great replacement for toner. Simply dilute it with pure water, starting with 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water and adjusting to suit your skin’s sensibilities, then wipe it on with a cotton round.

Shampoo bars, available at Lush, are an excellent way to avoid waste. They have no packaging and they last for 85 washes, much more than the average shampoo bottle. They have different formulas for different hair types and they smell amazing. Lush also recycle their black pots if you bring them in (for a free face mask!) so they haven’t made a new pot since 2013.

Organic castile soap can be bought cheaply online in a large bottle. It’s a natural, non-fragranced soap but you can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to make a great shower gel alternative.

We use 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes each year. These are thrown away and most will likely end up in the ocean. The Humble Co. developed their completely recyclable toothbrush to combat plastic pollution as well as to provide vital oral health care to children without this basic need. All the necessary products are donated to the Humble Smile Foundation so that communities can have access to important oral health care.

Toothpaste tubes are made of hard-to-recycle materials, therefore, it is rare that councils collect them. Instead, why not try out this toothpaste recipe from a zero-waste website, Trash is for Tossers. Just mix 3 tbsps of coconut oil with 1½ tbsps of baking soda/bicarbonate of soda in a glass container or jar. Then finish it off with 25-30 drops of peppermint essential oil for the fresh minty taste we are used to with regular toothpaste. Mix it together and use just as you would normal toothpaste.

A stainless-steel safety razor is more expensive than its disposable counterpart but can technically last forever! After the initial cost, the only upkeep is changing the blades when necessary. This ensures less plastic is being produced, used, and thrown away.

 

Image Credit: Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons

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