The global beauty industry is one of the highest contributors to plastic waste, generating a whopping 120 billion units of packaging every year. Sadly the vast majority of this is not kerbside recyclable.
As we’ve said time and time again, beauty waste is one of the hardest waste streams to recycle due to the complex nature of its packaging. To paint a picture of the size of the problem, in a recent survey of over 1,000 respondents in Australia, TerraCycle found that the average Australian uses 14 different products across haircare, skincare and makeup every week. With nearly 60% of respondents admitting that these are not reusable or refillable, most of these empty containers are destined for landfills.
It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of these numbers, but as a consumer, you have the power to curb your impact on the environment and to influence the products that are produced in the future. . There are many choices and changes we can make every day – and plenty of solutions at hand.. The trick is knowing where to start!
With that in mind, here are four simple steps everyone can take toward a more sustainable beauty routine.
Step 1. Less is more approach to beauty
Skincare topped the list of most frequently used products, with the average respondent using six different products per week. This was closely followed by makeup products (five) and haircare products (three).
Look closely at all of the different products you use each week, and ask whether they are all really needed? A growing trend of skin minimalism is seeing consumers everywhere scaling back lengthy beauty routines to just a few key products.
As one of the fastest growing industries in the world, beauty culture feeds on new product launches and creates a need for things we don’t necessarily need.
Simply reduce the number of products you’re using – stick to one body wash or soap bar, and reduce the amount of make-up you wear, which in turn may reduce the number of skincare products you need to use.
Step 2, Don’t let anything go to waste
Okay, so we totally understand that you may have very valid reasons for all the products you need. But that doesn’t mean they need to all wind up in landfill where it will take hundreds of years for them to break down.
Give your beauty empties new life by recycling them the right way! TerraCycle has dozens of free national beauty recycling programs across Australia and New Zealand that you can tap into.
Stuck finding the right program for you? Check out our latest blog that delves into all of our different recycling programs, to help you find the best one to address your beauty pain points.
Step 3. Go the extra mile with reuse or refillable
When you reuse an item, it does several amazing things. Firstly, it prevents an item from going to landfill or being recycled straight away. By doing that, it prevents the need for new materials to be made, which uses both resources and energy from the natural environment.
There are loads of brands doing amazing things in this space. L’Occitane, Lush, and Zero Co to name a few, offer consumers the option to purchase products in refillable pouches that they can refill in store. If you’re looking for more brands offering refillable options, check out this great article by allure.
Step 4. Opt for natural ingredients, cruelty-free and vegan products
A lot of beauty products are harmful to the planet and animals before we even apply them to our faces. For decades now, the beauty industry has been testing on animals or using them in our products for our own advancement.
Have peace of mind that your products haven’t been used to harm helpless animals by looking for cruelty-free or vegan products. It’s important to also look for ingredients that are organic, to reduce the need for pesticides and nasty chemicals being used in the process of farm ingredients.
Step 5. Start to cut out plastic
Back in the day, body wash was a bar of soap. Makeup pads were reusable face cloths. And most of our beauty products were packaged in simple glass containers.
The excess of plastic and packaging in the beauty industry can be a telltale sign that a brand is trying to make its product louder and more attractive, rather than relying on its intrinsic qualities.
Luckily, loads of plastic-free personal care alternatives are becoming more readily available. Tablets for toothpaste, as opposed to a plastic tube. Reusable face pads and cotton buds. There are loads of amazing eco stores that are a great starting place for sourcing plastic-free alternatives.
We hope this inspires you to make some small alterations to the way you approach your beauty routine. Stay tuned to our socials and blogs this month for even more educational content on how you can make a positive impact on the environment by fostering better beauty habits.