When thinking about self-care items, there is probably one particular material coming to your mind. Brightly coloured objects in an infinite variety of shapes and forms: shampoo, shower gel, conditioner and co., the beauty industry’s packaging is all about plastics. Everyday basics such as toothbrush, razor or cotton buds seem little obvious, but have a considerable plastic footprint. All consists in the same synthetic material and the list goes on.
Recycling Challenges of Plastic
Microbeads in the cosmetic industry are not the only problem. Recycling packaging is often challenging and in many cases impossible. Small plastic containers, tiny tubes, lipstick covers or synthetic bottles are often too small for recycling systems. Mass-recycling technologies are simply not able to identify such little pieces. Unable to be processed, there is no chance for turning them back into the system, by giving them a new purpose. This also applies to black plastics. Black packaging mostly end-up in landfills, since its pigments are unrecognisable for waste sorting systems.
Moreover, studies show, people tend to priorities recycling packaging deriving from kitchen products rather than the ones we use in our bathrooms. In this area, waste often ends-up in a single bin, without being properly divided before getting discarded. Maybe you do agree, it’s time to go for a plastic-free bathroom.
Plastic-Free One Step at a Time
Clearly, a life before plastic is hard to imagine. However, to every plastic product, there’s a natural alternative. To go plastic-free one day to another, can be overwhelming. This is why we encourage a step by step approach. Just pick an area like the bathroom for example and start from there. Finish whatever products you have left and then slowly replace them one at a time. Once you purchased a natural product, try it, use it and see how the item works for you. If you’re satisfied go on and replace the next product on your list. If you’re not convinced, look for another eco alternative suiting you better. Try to find your own approach, that works best for you.
Natural & Eco-Conscious Options
Start looking for natural, eco-friendly and plastic-free alternatives. Creating a list with all the objects to be replaced is helpful. Here are some starting tips for you:
Bamboo Cotton Swabs: The stick from the swab does not need to be made out of plastic. It can be easily made of bamboo - a raw material that is considered one of the most sustainable plants on earth.
Reusable Make-up Remover Pads: Cotton pads aren’t necessarily containing plastic fibres. However, single-use swipes still are harmful to the planet. Get make-up remover pads that are washable and reusable. A simple and waste-free alternative to common ones.
Konjac Sponge: Knowing the amounts of microbeads intentionally added to many exfoliant products, an organic face peeling appears to be the better option. Once again nature offers all we need: the konjac plant’s root is rich in healthy, regenerating properties. Its texture is ideal for massaging and gently pealing skin. Using a natural product is the easiest way to make sure no microplastic traces will be left on your skin.
Loofah Pad: This is another example that applies to bodyscrubs through a plastic-free alternative. The more natural a product, the healthier for your body and the environment. Adapting an exfoliating structure when dry, loofah just seems to be made for body peeling. Simply add your favourite body gel or use it plain as it comes.
Bamboo Toothbrush: A plant-based toothbrush fulfils the exact same purpose as an artificial one. Biggest plus: it’s eco-friendly at once. If you prefer using your electric toothbrush, keep on doing so. No extra waste is needed. However, in case you go traveling without your electronic brush, get a bamboo toothbrush, instead of a plastic one.
Bamboo Comb: If you are looking for a comb, why not getting a 100% natural one instead of purchasing a piece of plastic? Again, bamboo is a highly sustainable raw material, easily usable in many different ways. After all, a natural item is much likely to be more beautiful.
Bamboo & Sisal Nail Brush: Looking for a natural nail brush, there’s one further challenge to overcome, avoiding animal bristles. Deriving from the succulent plant Agave Sisalana, the sisal fibre provides bristles that are both 100% cruelty free and organic. No plastic is needed and animals stay safe and untouched.
Create Your Own Products
Once you enter a plastic-free mindset, solutions easily find you. In order to avoid plastic packaging, you could create some of your bath products on your own. Liquid body-care like shampoo, shower gel or conditioner can be mixed with just a few ingredients. Take coconut milk and a drop of honey honey for a healthy and natural hair conditioner. In doing so, you’re not only brining to life a conditioner rich in nutrients, but you are also sure to be using a nanoplastic-free product.
Zero Waste Shopping
Refillable options are getting more and more trendy and zero waste supermarkets are booming. Just bring your own container to a zero waste shop and top it up. A concept designed for packaging-free food, body care products as well as laundry supply. You’ll find all sorts of bathing products, everything with a low environmental impact and – of course – entirely free of plastics, microbeads and nanoplastics. However, if there’s no such shop nearby, it would be better go to your local market instead of taking a car to reach the next zero waste shop.
In the last years more and more famous brands joined the zero waste path, offering refill solutions. Salt of the Earth for instance, offers refills of its natural deodorant. In 2018 Lush introduced a line of lipstick, that fit into old packaging - an initiative to cut down waste. The English brand, a former The Body Shop supplier, sells a huge variety of solid shampoo and body wash bars. Lush indeed is a pioneer when it comes to efficiency in trash reduction. Let’s take them as an example.
7.8 Billion People
Everybody can start cutting down the use of plastic. Nobody needs to do it radically, just gradually begin changing habit. Protecting nature, minimising our own impact and contributing to a healthier system surely gives you sense of satisfaction. The zero-waste and plastic-free movement is steadily growing, however it’s the entire system that needs changing. People want easy solutions and accessibility to eco-conscious products. A start could be supermarkets offering a broader supply of eco-friendly alternatives, in order to broaden the customer’s choice.
Now, imagine roughly 8 billion people making a small change. As the Zero-Waste Chef Anne-Marie Bonneau says: “We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Cover Picture Blog Post | Photo - Deux Cosmetiques