Finding ways to use fewer single-use products and move into sustainable packaging can be daunting. However, consumers can start reducing their use of plastic in three steps: reassess, rethink, and replace.
First, they can reassess their current products and consider the impact of each on the environment. For example, skin cleansers that have microbeads, which are tiny plastic particles, can be replaced by products with natural exfoliants, such as oatmeal, sugar, and coffee grounds.
Second, consumers can rethink what they use. Is every product necessary? Instead of makeup removing wipes, perhaps they can rely on reusable cloths and cleansers.
Third, plastic products can be replaced with multi-use products that are more environmentally friendly. Someone who needs to shave can use a stainless steel safety razor instead of a plastic disposable one. Plastic toothbrushes can be replaced by bamboo or recycled aluminum ones. Sustainable packaging and products are easy to find and use once consumers know where to look. This infographic can help…
Maybe eliminating single-use plastic entirely feels daunting, but by shopping mindfully, you can make a difference without sacrificing your creature comforts.
For example, look for products packaged in recyclable materials or ones that can be refilled and reused. Even if a container can’t be refilled by the company, you may be able to repurpose it in another way and keep it out of a landfill. Certain beauty brands have their own recycling programs, many of which reward customers for their eco-friendly actions. MAC Cosmetics, for one, takes back lipstick tubes — and for every six a customer returns, they receive one lipstick for free. Kiehl’s has a similar program. Lots of other brands work with companies like TerraCycle to repurpose hard-to-recycle materials.
A few glass containers can go a long way in reducing your beauty- and hygiene-related plastic use. You can dilute concentrates in reusable glass containers, which reduces not only packaging but also helps on the production and shipping levels. And if you make DIY beauty products using ingredients such as coconut oil, sugar, and essential oils, you can also store them in reusable glass jars and bottles.
Think before you throw
Naturally, you can only reuse or refill some items, and if there’s no way to upcycle a tube, bottle, or canister, then recycling is a good alternative. You may think that putting anything that could be recyclable into the recycling bin at least gives it a chance, but that approach does more harm than good. So before you toss that empty plastic package into your recycling bin, look carefully to make sure it’s actually marked as recyclable — and clean any residual product out before sending it on its way. If the package doesn’t clarify whether or not you can recycle it, check with the manufacturer.
If you still don’t have a clear answer on whether or not you can recycle it or return it to the brand, toss it — and take the opportunity to pick out a plastic-free replacement on your next beauty haul.
By Kristen Seymour
Kristen Seymour brought her passion for both pets and writing to the online space nearly a decade ago, working as an editor at AOL’s Paw Nation and then Vetstreet.com. She’s also a regular contributor to HealthyPet Magazine. Additionally, Seymour covers fitness, food and healthy (and yes, sometimes pets!) on her Fit Bottomed Girls website and podcast.