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Wasted Beauty: A Case for a More Sustainable Cosmetics Industry

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From horses to cars, telegraphs to cell phones, things have a way of evolving. And the cosmetics industry is no expectation. While there has been a slew of positive changes to cosmetics since their inception - we're super glad sunscreen is no longer an oil and sand concoction like the Greek Olympians used in 400 BC - the industry has also endured negative changes as well. Namely, the alarming amount of waste it outputs.


This industry that holds promises of beauty is making our planet uglier by contributing to the 23 million tonnes of waste thrown out annually by UK households (Source: GOV UK). Some packaging indeed avoids these trash mountains thanks to recycling, but recycling has proven only to be so effective. Besides the fact that recycled plastic in the UK has only a 46% recovery rate, this rate only applies to items that make it into the recycling bin. 50% of UK residents don't recycle bathroom products like shampoo and body wash bottles due to inconvenience, translating to 2.7 billion plastic bottles going to landfills annually.

So how do we fight this issue? While more companies are going green than ever, and the UK is making efforts to reduce this sector's environmental impact, such as banning microbeads in 2018, consumers also need to make sustainable changes.

The 5 tips below will help you focus on making your beauty routine more sustainable. We aren't saying you have to give up your favorite moisturizer, but a little mindfulness goes a long way!

1. Think Zero Waste


Zero waste is a great way to preserve resources while ensuring your beauty routine isn't adding to landfills. There are several ways to strive for zero waste with cosmetics, including reducing the amount you use, only buying what you need, picking products with no packaging. Another option is to take containers that you already own and filling them up with hygiene products at a bulk store.

2. Avoid Single-Use Products

Buying reusable products, or even reducing single-use products, is a great way to reduce and even eliminate waste. For example, lots of people are now ditching cotton rounds for reusable face rounds. The same goes for cotton swabs.

3. Ditch Plastic


If you are going to avoid one material, aim for plastic. It is difficult to go plastic-free, especially when it comes to cosmetics, but not impossible. Ways to transition away from plastic include opting for shampoo bars instead of bottles, foundation in a glass bottle, and cosmetics with refillable options.

4. Recycle Right

Finding a place to recycle expired or unused makeup is difficult, but not impossible. Consider brands that offer their customers the ability to send back their unused or expired products. That way, they can dispose of them correctly without polluting the environment and reuse the packaging.

5. Do Your Research


There are thousands of products out there that claim to be "natural" and "organic." After all, companies know that those are the buzzwords that sell. However, don't just take the companies word for it. You can research ingredients on a website like Cosmetics Info to find out the specific science and safety of ingredients and judge for yourself. If you have residual questions, try contacting the cosmetic company directly.

Final Thoughts

By making sustainable beauty choices, you can be part of the push toward sustainability in the cosmetics industry. After all, companies rely on our business to thrive, so by choosing who and which products to support, we can make a difference.



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