Debate: There's something in the water

In light of recent discussion around ocean plastic pollution Miranda Stoner explains how we can reduce plastic waste and be sustainable in our beauty routines to help save planet earth.

Miranda Stoner
22nd October 2018
Intagram: @lushcosmetics

The allure of pretty packaging has always been the Achilles heel of the consumer. Sometimes we can even convince ourselves that a less than average product is worth buying just because of its chic box. Whilst experience has made me better at steering clear of unnecessary purchases I would argue that the beauty industry itself is also becoming more conscious of helping consumers to make more sustainable choices. Some brands are starting to question how much of their plastic bottles should be made of recycled materials whilst others are removing ingredients which cause aquatic toxicity and replacing them with natural equivalents. All of these are great steps in the right direction but there’s more that we do to remove excess plastic from our beauty routines.

The first thing to evaluate in your daily life is how many one-use items we use. The government already plans to ban wet wipes in the UK but what else should be cut back on? One of the most common plastic items to wash up on beaches is the cotton swab. A report by the World Wildlife Fund claims that throughout 2018, 10.8 billion wet wipes and 13.2 billion cotton buds will be used in the UK. These one-use-wonders may be bathroom cabinet essentials but they are doing no good to marine life. Fortunately, biodegradable alternatives exist such as Superdrug’s pure cotton buds (£1.05 for 300) with paper stems which work just the same as the plastic equivalent. To replace make-up remover wipes why not try an old-fashioned flannel and a cleanser, it’s less drying for the skin as well as being better for our water systems.

[pullquote]If you’re following the Korean 10 step night and day skin care routine it may be time to reconsider which items you could do without. [/pullquote]

A further problem with beauty products is the vast amount of packaging waste they generate. Think of all the cellophane and empty bottles you throw away in a year, now times that by the years you’ll live and then by the number of people on the planet and it’s clear that our way of life is not sustainable. Although some packaging can be recycled, the most important message for green living is simply to reduce the amount we consume. Products such as LaPepaBoutique’s Hemp Cotton Facial Rounds (£5.90 for 5) available on Etsy are handmade and reusable which means less packaging waste in the first place. It may take some getting used to but once you’re in the routine of throwing your face cloths in the laundry instead of the bin you won’t look back.

Another smart solution to the plastic problem is LUSH’s shampoo bars. These are 100% packaging free, will last for between 80-100 washes and don’t compromise on quality. LUSH also have a pot recycling policy where 5 empty pots equal a free face mask! In addition to this, LUSH play a role in reducing the number of microplastics in the oceans. These are tiny particles of plastic around 5mm which can be swallowed by marine life and lead to disease and reproduction problems. Most glitter products on the market are made of these, however LUSH glitter is formed from synthetic mica which acts like a natural mineral in water and can be broken down.

Something else to think about is the number of products you’re using. If you’re following the Korean 10 step night and day skin care routine it may be time to reconsider which items you could do without. Dr. Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible agrees that shelves of serums and multi-layered skincare routines aren’t improving our overall skin health as much as we think. That’s not to say you should throw them all out rather try and phase them out of your routine and replace them with eco equivalents such as Icelandic Brand Soley’s volcanic clay mask, using all natural ingredients and recycled packaging.

My final tip would be to experiment with new eco-products. There is such a gap in the market plastic free products and so many creative solutions from new natural ingredients to bamboo toothbrushes. Get googling and instead of thinking about the things you’re taking away from your beauty routine, concentrate on which new treasures you can add.

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