It’s Eco Week at Byrdie, which means we’re digging into the best in sustainable beauty, from our fourth annual Eco Beauty Awards to what it really means to follow a zero-waste beauty routine. Consider this week your education on how to be a more eco-aware, knowledgable beauty consumer.
Let me start by saying I am not zero waste, but throughout the last few years I have made many changes in my habits to reduce my waste to align more closely with a zero waste and eco-friendly mentality. If you, like many of us (especially during the time of stay at home orders), have become increasingly aware of how much waste you create on the regular and hoping to make a change, know that you are not alone.
There are a lot of small changes we can do to minimize waste in our daily lives. You can start out slow, and do small things that can make a big difference in the long term, like choosing a reusable water bottle or coffee mug instead of going through single-use plastic bottles; or, if you always forget your reusable coffee mug at home, just avoid plastic coffee lids. It’s definitely not about being perfect, and feeling guilty isn't conducive to positive change—it's about just starting and doing the best you can and feeling good about those small changes. I am not strict on a lot of things and I can certainly do better, but I live with this mentality and try my best to do small things, while allowing myself room for mistakes.
Anne-Marie Bonneau, also known as Zero Waste Chef, recently said, “We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” I come back to that often. We can all do a little, we can all start with one thing, and when it doesn't feel scary or hard anymore, we can take on another small thing, and so on. Before you know it, you’re changing daily lifelong habits that make a big impact on the environment on the long term and perhaps inspiring others around you to do the same, just from leading by example.
For me, it all started with one small change: minimizing plastic in my beauty routine. I started making a conscious effort to support brands that go the extra mile to source sustainable ingredients and create responsible packaging with the planet in mind. Here are some of my favorite brands for leading by example.
Yay for Earth
Created, hand-mixed and -poured by Stevie Van Horn in a completely zero waste production, Yay for Earth has one product, and that's all you need: a "sensitive skin lotion" that I would describe more as a multi-use balm for all skin types. I buy this on the regular in the biggest and smallest size, keep one on my bedside table and another in my purse. With how much I’ve been washing my hands recently, my eczema has started to surface in the folds between my fingers and this has been the best remedy to keep it under control. She sources the highest quality, fair trade, and sustainably sourced ingredients, uses only glass and aluminum for product packaging, and ships with all recycled, post-consumer materials—sometimes she even uses 100% dissolvable cornstarch-based packing peanuts (which are very fun to watch dissolve in water).
Not only is the actual product absolutely amazing and full of high-quality healing ingredients, but Stevie herself is inspiring to follow if you're interested in a zero-waste lifestyle or just an eco-friendlier life. I can directly attribute many of the changes I've made in my life to Stevie’s Instagram; she makes it look approachable, doable, and not so difficult after all.
Tina Hedges, founder of LOLI, believes that skincare begins with superfood—just like it has been through history. Her philosophy is that what nurtures us inside should also nurture us on the outside. Her company is truly the leader in zero waste beauty, sourcing organic, food grade, earth friendly ingredients that are always packaged in glass. All ingredients are water free—she strongly believes powerful ingredients should not be diluted, which not only makes her products more potent, but saves a lot of water usage in the process (water is the most used ingredient in the beauty industry and simultaneously a growing commodity). All LOLI products are of course shipped in compostable bags and post consumer-recycled and recyclable materials.
Some of the products even feature main ingredients that are upcycled from food waste. For example, the brand sources oil from the kernel of the French Ente Plum directly from a farm that would otherwise discard them. This ends up being the hero ingredient of one of my favorite products in the line, the LOLI Plum Elixir (also a winner of the 2019 Byrdie Eco Awards).
Lesse’s philosophy is "less is more." This ethos translates into three essential products that make up your entire ritual: a serum, an exfoliating cleanser, and a mask. Simply put, it's organic skincare refined to essentials, using powerful antioxidants for a healthy approach to skin—and they work like a charm. The brand recently launched their refining cleanser and it has quickly become a staple in my nighttime ritual with its gentle, yet effective exfoliating granules.
Led by a founder who is very politically outspoken and rightfully concerned with our current climate issues, Lesse is the perfect example of a brand that is doing their absolute best to provide effective, hard-working, and shelf stable products made from natural ingredients in sustainable packaging. Not only are all products homed in glass or recyclable aluminum tubes, they also omit all labels to minimize waste and instead choose to work with a family owned company in California that hand prints every glass bottle. Needless to say, all product boxes and packaging is made from recycled paper and they are even working with their factory to become net zero within the next three years.
Born out of necessity for clean, cute and sustainably-packaged nail polish, Habit has always had sustainability at its forefront. From creation, to packaging to mailing, they commit to using the most sustainable options without compromising on beautiful, clean, high performance cosmetics. Their Ultimate Organic Multi Use colors are a true staple in my makeup looks because I love the soft, creamy textures and the colors are highly-pigmented and flattering on all skin tones. The cute zero-waste glass and aluminum packaging makes me think of a space age sculpture and every single time I wear my favorite shade, I get so many compliments and questions about the color. (For the record, it's called Mod Squad.)
Kindred Black saw a challenge in creating zero waste products and they decided to tackle it. Their ‘slow skincare’ is an apothecary line inspired by a slower way of living, packaged in fully plastic-free, hand-blown bottles and vials that are sealed with waxed corks. The beautiful bottles and hardworking products are the perfect proof that you can be zero waste and luxurious without sacrificing product efficiency or aesthetic.
Their commitment to zero waste goes from conception to packaging: the hand-blown bottles come directly from a studio in Oaxaca, Mexico, where the artisans produce their own fuel with used vegetable oil from local restaurants, and the glass is created from recycled bottles. After being filled with colorful oils that are sourced around the world from the highest quality, most ethical and sustainable sources, they are closed with biodegradable cork and sealed for shipping with natural wax. And of course, everything is delivered to you in recycled boxes, with recycled tissue paper or recycled craft paper and water-activated paper tape. They are proud to be part of the 1% for the Planet Foundation (started by outerwear brand Patagonia's founder) that commits companies to donating 1% of their yearly sales to environmental groups.