It's safe to say we've never been more aware of the impact our lifestyles are having on the environment than we are now. Consequently, the idea of living a zero-waste lifestyle is something we're hearing bandied about the internet more and more. It's a radical concept that in it's most potent iteration will see you padlock your bin shut and vow never to throw anything away again.
Anyone else picturing The Hoarder Next Door right about now? Well, it's less about keeping everything we ever purchase and more about really taking the time to consider each and every purchase we make. Kathryn Kellogg of Going Zero Waste thinks the movement toward a zero-waste lifestyle is a no-brainer. "It just makes sense and puts the power back into the hands of the consumer," she explains. "We can make such an impact on our daily choices and purchases and living a zero waste life is easy, fun, and saves tons of money! It's also great for the planet. Why wouldn't you want to be apart of it?" Her enthusiasm is palpable and got us thinking: Considering the beauty industry plays its fair part in filling the nation's landfills, how can we be a little more responsible with our beauty regimens?
Even if a fully zero-waste lifestyle isn’t for you, keep scrolling for five simple swaps you can make to help reduce the environmental impact of your beauty regimen. Trust us—you won’t even notice anything different from your regular routine.
Choose Recycled and Recyclable
The easiest place to start when it comes to reducing your environmental impact is to buy from brands that use recycled and recyclable packaging. These aren't always easy to find, but as a rule of thumb, avoid plastics. "Every piece of plastic ever created still exists," reveals Kellogg. "Plastic doesn't biodegrade; it photodegrades, which means it gets smaller and smaller and smaller. Ninety-four per cent of all water samples in the U.S., both bottled and tap, contain micro-plastic. We're drinking plastic."
That being said, glass jars are a good alternative, as they can either be recycled or repurposed into something else. And you'd be surprised—many luxe or chic-looking brands have zero-waste packaging without you even realising. Kellogg lists her favourite reduced-waste brands on her blog, but we love Aesop's potent formulas and earth-friendly glass packaging, as well as Tata Harper's skincare, which comes in 100% recycled glass.
Switch to Reusable Cotton Pads
If you're a cotton pad user, it's likely you get through a good wedge of them every single day, taking your makeup off, applying toner and the like. They may be light, but they place a pretty massive weight on the country's landfill sites. Instead, arm yourself with a pack of reusable cotton rounds that you can simply throw in the wash once you've used it. And because they're a bit sturdier than their throwaway equivalents, they are much better equipped to peel every last scrap of makeup from the face—even mascara. Etsy sells loads or you can find them on Amazon too.
Oh, and don't even get us started on face wipes. These pesky little wipes don't just have questionable consequences for the complexion, but they can also take hundreds of years break down in landfill. Made from the Asian konjac plant, konjac sponges can be composted once their month-long lifespan comes to an end, and they're much more effective at trapping dirt and sebum from the skin's surface and lifting it away, so your face will reap the benefits too. Aptly named The Konjac Sponge Company, its range of sponges with added skincare benefits are particularly robust.
Make Your Own Makeup
This swap is a little trickier, and you might not be willing to forgo your favourite brands just yet, but making your own makeup is a brilliant way to reduce your environmental impact. Kellogg ensures us it's not all that difficult in practice and has come up with loads of tried-and-tested recipes—even one for a pretty foolproof DIY powder foundation. She will admit, however, that finding the perfect formula for a homemade mascara wasn't easy (although she thinks she's cracked it with this recipe) and that there are some things—including concealer—that just can't be made at home without sacrificing some element of the product's efficacy, so you needn't wave goodbye to your makeup bag just yet.
Go Sold With Your Shampoo
It's pretty straightforward: Ditching the plastic bottles of traditional shampoo in favour of a packaging-free version has got to be advantageous for the environment. Thankfully, you needn't scrimp on hair-boosting formulas either. Lush's solid shampoo bars come infused with ingredients that offer any and every hair benefit you could want—from root-lifting to shine-inducing, curl-defining to moisture-giving.
Use a Safety Razor
It's easy to forget something as menial as your razor when trying to reduce your waste, but many zero-waste beauty bloggers advocate switching to safety razors to cut down on the number of plastic versions hitting the landfills. They do require extra precision though: You need to hold the razor at a 30-degree angle to get the closest shave and make sure you don't press too hard, else you risk nicking the skin.