Most of us know by now that the more sustainable and environmentally-friendly our daily routines are, the better the planet fares. Most of us also (hopefully) know that this doesn’t necessarily mean turning our lives upside down. Sometimes the smallest changes (reusable coffee cups, taking tote bags to grocery stores, etc.) can be the things that ultimately make the biggest difference. However, it can still be overwhelming when it seems there is so much that we could all be doing better—it’s hard to know where exactly to begin.
This applies to our beauty routines, too, of course. There’s how we apply the products, what products are stored in, and what’s in the products themselves to consider. Because it can all be a little overwhelming, I spoke to four experts about their perspective on the single biggest change someone can make in their routine to make it more eco-friendly and sustainable. After all, if all of us just changed one major thing about our day-to-day routines, the results might just astound us.
Swap Your Most Used Product For Something Regionally Sourced
According to Julie Levin, founder of Leaf People and medical herbalist, one simple, majorly impactful change you can make is to seek out a more sustainable, local version of an everyday product you use.
"Seek out one product that you use on a daily basis, such as a face oil, serum, cream, or soap, that is made by a nearby herbalist, farmer, or other entrepreneur utilizing regionally sourced ingredients and packaging,” Levin says. “With this change, you are supporting your local economy, bringing positive awareness to ingredients in your area, participating in a smaller carbon footprint, and creating connections within your community. And when you find one product you love, you will find others, and before you know it, your whole regimen will be comprised of beautiful skin care products produced near you."
Only Use Products With Reusable Glass Containers
Tina Hedges, CEO and founder of LOLI Beauty, suggests being especially conscious of how your products are packaged as a change that could make a big difference.
"Choose beauty products in reusable glass containers — beware of brands claiming their tubes, bottles or jars are made of corn or sugar based bio-degradable materials,” Hedges says. “These will ‘degrade’ into micro-plastics that will pollute our supply chain."
Support Brands That Participate In Recycling Programs
Similarly, Aether Beauty founder Tiila Abbitt suggests focusing on brands with recyclable packaging and those that participate in Terracycle recycling programs, noting that the “plastic-heavy” cosmetics industry makes up one-third of all landfill space, producing more than 120 billion units of packaging every year.
"The vast majority of these products are completely unrecyclable...and the result of all this disposable packaging? Trillions of tons of garbage that winds up polluting our soil and contaminating oceans. And the truth is: The Earth has a limited amount of space – pretty soon this trash will start encroaching on our everyday lives (it’s already severely impacting marine life),” Abbitt explains. “And it's not just waste: it's climate change! Virgin plastics generate heat-trapping gases at every stage of their life cycle. As plastic breaks down in landfills and oceans, they release damaging greenhouse gases into the environment. And on a less visible level, as ocean plankton consume more microplastics, they’re less able to do their vital job of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And more carbon dioxide means faster heating of the planet."
Use Washable Cloths To Clean Your Face
Celebrity makeup artist and clean beauty brand founder Jillian Dempsey suggests a simple change of replacing “tissues, beauty wipes, and cotton pads” with reusable, washable cloths. The change is small but makes a huge difference. Plus, as Dempsey says, it’s “less trash and easy enough to clean all parts of the face with removers like oil and facial cleansers."
If you’re looking to make your routine more sustainable, any one of these changes is a great way to do it. And if you really want to make a change, then why not just try all of them?