By Naume Guveya
I’ve always believed that we need to simplify sustainable living if we are going to make it more appealing to everyone.
While some people out there can eliminate all their plastic, grow their own garden, and even make their own makeup and skincare products, not all of us possess such prowess. In most cases, the rest of us have to settle for doing the best we can. Ours is the path of trying to make the world a better place one step at a time.
To the extremists, the “one step at a time” principle may seem like an excuse not to do more. But what’s better; encouraging people to take small, effective steps or forcing them to go green overnight and inadvertently putting them off the entire thing?
I think the former is certainly better.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some simple and practical tips you can use to green your beauty sustainably.
I promise that you won’t have to make your own beauty products. The idea is to make simple but meaningful changes that you can easily incorporate into your beauty routine.
Note: You could just green your beauty, but it’s important to do it sustainably. Why? Because while the term “green” is all about the environmental movement, sustainability takes going green to the next level. If your green beauty routine is sustainable, you are looking at your beauty at a deeper, more forward-looking level.
Tip #1: Know What’s Going On
Knowledge comes from learning all you can about both green beauty and sustainable beauty. When you know what’s going on, you’ll be in a better position to assess a product.
For instance, if you know that sustainable beauty encompasses everything from human health to responsible consumption, equity, zero waste, and animal welfare, you may think twice about a brand that sources green ingredients but does not consider animal welfare or the fair treatment of workers.
Being able to research and staying in the know will help you to familiarise with reliable brands that have established and proven themselves in the green and sustainable beauty space. So if you want to green your beauty sustainably, build your knowledge first.
Note: Acquaint Yourself with the Beauty Isle Lingo. You cannot underestimate the power of knowing your green beauty lingo, especially when it comes to making the right product choices. Product labels won’t make sense if you are not familiar with the language of beauty products.
Tip #2: Go Waterless Whenever Possible
You have to clean yourself up, but how much water are you using with every wash? Does the water have to keep on running as you wash? Do you necessarily have to clean up with water every time?
Every minute your faucet runs, about 11 to 19 litres of water go down the drain. Imagine the impact on Mother Earth as more people run their faucets.
The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice your beauty routine to conserve water. For example, you can still take your showers but cut them short or you can sometimes opt for biodegradable, rinse-free organic face wipes.
Tip #3: Try Multipurposing
More green cosmetic companies are now offering products that play multiple roles. For example, you can now get all-in-one sticks that work as lip balm, eyeshadow, and blush. You can also get moisturisers that double as sunscreen.
Multipurposing helps you to simplify things. Having to deal with fewer products is a great way to green your beauty faster while also saving some money.
Tip #4: Work on Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
Perhaps one of the simplest ways of combating greenhouse emissions in our homes is to minimise heating water with non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels.
In addition to minimising water heating and cutting hot showers, you can also reduce your carbon footprint just by making the right product choices.
By ditching products that are derived from non-renewable sources. A good example is ditching petroleum-derived beauty products.
The petroleum sector is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, petroleum derivatives are present in a lot of beauty products such as lotions and balms. You may have seen some of the derivatives: propylene glycol paraffin oil, and ethylene.
You can start greening your beauty sustainably by choosing products that use more sustainable alternatives like fair trade cocoa butter, vegetable oils, and beeswax.
Tip #5: Scrutinize the Packaging
What’s the point of having a green beauty product swaddled in tonnes of hard-to-recycle or even non-recyclable plastic? Isn’t that counterproductive?
Assessing the packaging your beauty products come in is one of the simplest ways to green your beauty from the get-go.
Try to go for products with minimal packaging. For example, some brands now sell solid bars of skincare staples such as toners, serums, and cleansers. These bars usually come with little to no packaging.
You can also make a difference by choosing products with packaging that can be repurposed or recycled. This brings us to the next tip.
Tip #6:Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
This concept is nothing new and it remains one of the best ways to green your beauty effectively.
A report published by Zero Waste back in 2018 highlighted that over 120 billion units of packaging are produced in the global cosmetics industry annually. One of the biggest concerns was the use of non-recyclable plastics and this shows the importance of the three Rs.
Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.Fred Rogers
Reduce waste by buying only what you need and using every last drop, or at least everything you can get out of the container.
Reuse. Refillable products are increasingly bridging the gap in the beauty market when it comes to reusing packaging and lowering the cost of repurchasing a product. Even if you can’t get hold of refillable products, you can try to repurpose packaging, especially if it’s non-recyclable. For instance, you can convert an eye cream tub into a chic jewellery holder and you can avoid buying travel-size containers whenever you travel by reusing the small empty containers you already have.
Recycle. The first step to recycling is knowing the symbols. Understanding the seven plastic codes will go a long way in simplifying the process of picking out plastics for recycling. Plastic containers with codes 1 and 2 are typically recyclable with other household goods while the rest are hard to recycle and mostly not accepted by most recycling centres.
Generally, bottle caps tend to be unrecyclable. Other items that are unrecyclable or hard to recycle include compacts, tubes made of soft plastic or laminated foil, and nail varnish bottles.
It’s best to avoid hard-to-recycle materials but if you do end up with some, you’ll have to remove them from the rest of the recyclable material. Mixing recyclable and hard-to-recycle materials may contaminate the entire load and render it unrecyclable.
Tip: Some recyclers will recycle items that are normally difficult to recycle. You should try to find out if you have such recyclers in your area.
Tip #7: Start small
When you’re on course to make a change, you may want to hit the ground running. While this isn’t a bad thing, sudden big changes often mean big shifts. Big shifts can put you off balance and they can be difficult or even impossible to maintain.
It’s good to be aware of what you want to achieve, but it’s equally important to be sensible. It’s prudent not to try and green your beauty overnight.
Start small and build habits.
Maybe you can start by greening the products you use regularly and then you work down the list. As I like to say, millions of small steps are worth so much more than not doing anything. Green, sustainable beauty is within our reach and with collective action, we’ll get there.