To mark #WorldOceansDay, today on Byrdie UK we’re sharing all the ways we can be kinder to the ocean—and the wider planet—with our beauty choices. As well as investigating the beauty industry’s plastic problem, we’ll be exploring the art of conscious beauty consumption, plastic-free products, zero-waste routines, and teaching you, once and for all, how to recycle your beauty packaging. Plus, follow our Insta Stories for ways you can reduce your plastic usage, not only in beauty but across your entire daily routine.
It’s no secret that plastic waste is costing us the earth. In fact, Greenpeace estimates that 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in our oceans each year. That’s no small figure, and considering plastics can take 1000 years to decompose, it’s hardly surprising that #BeatPlasticPollution was on the agenda for this year’s World Environment Day.
Still, we find plastic in almost everything—from the punnet that holds your supermarket strawberries to the razors you have to bin because the metal blades can’t be recycled. No one said going plastic-free is easy, but beauty brands are starting to make it a priority, with policy changes rolling out across even large, mass-market corporations.
For example, Aveda aims to use post-consumer recycled materials for all of its products, and most of its bottles are made up of 80% PCR. Meanwhile, Garnier has teamed up with TerraCycle to allow you to drop off your empties at its depots. In exchange, you get points that can be turned into a donation for a nonprofit.
Steps are being made in the beauty industry, but there are things that you can do at home, too. Namely, reviewing your product collection to see where you can swap in plastic-free products on your next shopping trip. To make it easier for you, we’ve rounded up a selection of zero-plastic essentials that a) reduce your carbon footprint and b) are very good.
An Insta-friendly aesthetic meets eco-friendly packaging in this natural face polish, which is housed in a biodegradable tube made of sugarcane. You could almost mistake it for plastic, right? The same is true across the brand’s other tubed products: the multitasking Babe Balm (£18), the smoothing Buffer Lip Scrub (£9) and the handbag-friendly Plumper Lip Balm (£9). Ideal #shelfie material.
Dior knows that luxury doesn’t mean unwrapping layers of cellophane, so it has nixed the unnecessary wrappers and cardboard wedges that once came with its beauty products. Meanwhile, paper leaflets have been replaced by a scannable QR code, and the plastic display shelving on its counters has been upgraded to glass.
Floral Street has ditched the cellophane for its range of fragrances, boxing each perfume in a biodegradable carton made from recyclable paper pulp. As for the scents themselves, there are eight distinctive florals to choose from. And with names like Neon Rose and Iris Goddess, you should expect these bouquets to come with a unique twist.
Fact: Every plastic toothbrush you’ve ever owned and thrown away is still on the planet. That’s why we’re switching to these bamboo brushes, which are biodegradable and come in recyclable packaging. Why wouldn’t you swap?
Kjaer Weis’s stainless steel compacts are a testament to how sleek your makeup can look without the plastic. The sliding, gliding lids come with a satisfying click, and the formulas inside are all organic. The airbrush-in-a-pan foundation is a favourite of ours, but try the Cream Blush (£41), Lip Tint (£35) and Lustrous Bronzer (£41), too. They’re a recipe for a Jennifer Lopez kind of glow.
It goes without saying that the most plastic-free packaging is no packaging. While this isn’t possible with a liquid shampoo, Lush’s solid shampoo bars come up trumps in the eco-friendly stakes. The good news is that its ever-extending range now tends to all manner of hair types. You can also add a metal tin to your order to keep the bar intact for longer.
While not entirely plastic-free (nail polish bristles are typically plastic), the custom bamboo lid on these nail lacquers goes some way in reducing waste. The shade range isn’t huge, but the summery fuchsias are a perfect holiday pedi choice.
With a glass bottle and a bamboo lid, this cult classic oil is completely plastic-free. Meanwhile, the hardworking vegan oil inside evens skin tone and lends a noticeable boost in vitamin C–powered brightness. In fact, you can use it for almost any skincare woe—from perpetually parched pores to oily, acne-prone complexions. It’s the definition of a balancing act.
There you have it—now you can go and make guilt-free beauty purchases.