Happy Friday! Today, I want to talk to you about a very important subject. A subject that I find lacks content and coverage. But before I get started, did you know that 120 billion units of packaging are produced by the cosmetics industry globally every year and that 80% of purchased cosmetics are not actively used? Doesn’t that sound alarming? Because it is and today, I want to talk to you about the beauty industry, how it’s negatively affecting the environment and what we, as consumers, can do to change it. People often disregard their makeup and skincare products when we talk about living a sustainable lifestyle. In fact, few are the people who know about the horrible impact the beauty industry can have on the environment and I want to change that.
Today, I want to tackle the subject of beauty and sustainability, so if that seems like something interesting to you then keep on reading. Also, don’t forget to check out my previous post: REVIEW // Ambient metallic strobe lighting palette by Hourglass
Beauty and sustainability
So what’s the issue here?
Like I mentioned above, every year, the industry produces over 120 billion units of packaging, much of which are not recyclable. And, people only use 20% of their products. So, most of them just end up in the ocean, destroying sea life and affecting our food diet. And take into consideration that plastic takes YEARS AND YEARS to decompose. “Unlike fashion, the beauty industry has been relatively insulated from criticism of this wastefulness…until now” (Shayma Bakht, 2019). In fact, more people are waking up and learning about this issue. However, I still don’t think this topic is being talked about enough. Being in the midst of this industry, I can see that it lacks coverage.
The beauty industry is rapidly turning into the fast fashion industry. A lot of products are being produced and the beauty companies are only encouraging their consumers to buy more and more. Most companies only focus on profit and only want to encourage people to buy meaningless products, and have a 12-step skincare routine, which obviously contributes to more waste and more negative impact on the environment. In fact, on average, American women use a total of 12 different personal care products a day.
Moreover, in 2019, there were more than 3,100 skincare product launches in the US alone (mass market, not luxury). This way of life contributes also to increasing the carbon footprint on the planet and hence, automatically affects negatively climate change and our biodiversity. We are currently living in total excess, using meaningless products on our skin that are actually not useful. Eye creams are not useful. They are basically overpriced moisturizers. I DON’T NEED THREE BRONZERS. THEY GIVE ME THE SAME EXACT RESULT (*me after I purchased the Marc Jacobs Bronzer*).
We are producing more products than our planet can take. On top of that, “research from Garnier found that over 56% of Brits (that’s 4.5 million people) don’t recycle bathroom products because of the inconvenience.” (March, 2018).
All around me, no one seems to care and a lot of brands don’t seem to be doing anything. Of course, they are so many initiatives that have been established since the issue was raised. More brands are going for sustainable packaging, are sourcing their ingredients from ethical sources, are dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint and waste. But these brands represent only a small percentage of the market and bigger brands need to take bigger initiatives.
Let’s not overlook as well the plastic that can be found in glitter, in cotton rounds, in makeup balms, in makeup wipes, in sheet masks and the list goes on. All of these products contribute to more pollution and more damage to our environment. To that list, let’s add the packaging of shampoos, deodorants, and lotions, which are, for the most part, plastic. And these are all products we use almost on a daily basis.
If you don’t know how bad overconsumption is to our planet and our life on this planet, I highly suggest to google it and make your research on this issue because it is bad. And more people should be aware of this issue.
If we go back in history a little bit, the industry of cosmetics and personal care has grown exponentially since world war 1 and with that, the amount of packaging and the way the products came. The beauty industry started getting more customers, hence the products needed to be easy to transport, flexible, and light. Plus, using plastic as packaging costs less in terms of production but shipping as well. So, since 1960, the amount of plastic packaging has increased by over 120 times, “with almost 70 percent of that waste piling up in landfills” (Alejandra Borunda, 2019).
What can we do as beauty gurus and skincare junkies?
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”
So, now the most important part of this post is: what can we do as beauty gurus and skincare junkies to change the industry and help our planet? Three words: Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Notice how recycle is the third word and not the first? Because recycling is not enough to help our planet. Before recycling, we must reduce our skincare and makeup consumption and we must reuse/repurpose the packaging of our empty products. We must actually empty our products before buying new ones. We have to use our products to a maximum until they’re actually empty and I cannot emphasize more on the word “empty”.
Living a more sustainable life as beauty and skincare lovers, is following those three things. Before thinking about recycling our products, we must go slow in our consumption. Liah Yoo, founder of Krave beauty and skincare YouTuber, started this trend about going slow and took the decision not to release any new skincare products this year. Going for a minimalistic approach in our consumption is key to save our planet. To slow down with our purchases and buy only the products that we need is key.
“Go simple. Commit to your products. Shop consciously and intentionally.”
Another way we can help our planet is by supporting ethical and sustainable brands like Krave Beauty, Lush Cosmetics, or Youth To The People. Youth to the people is a brand that uses glass packaging. Lush cosmetics is trying to go “naked” in the packaging they are using (no packaging at all like bar soaps). Krave Beauty decided to go slow in their production.
A third way we can help our planet is by choosing our products and the brands that we support, wisely. Look more into them. Make your research. Support the brands that encourage a sustainable and ethical way of life. I dedicated a whole post for that, so make sure you check that out here (I will be updating that list). But make your research. See where they source their ingredients, how they produce them, how they ship, what are their packaging made of, see their stand on this issue, see what they are actually doing, not just what they are saying. Hence, beware of greenwashing. This whole production process has a negative impact on the planet so looking into that is important. Go for products with sustainable packaging such as glass or recycled paper. All of these are so important but the packaging is not the sole thing you should be focusing on.
Some other tips to follow to become a more sustainable beauty guru/skincare junkie are: to stop using cotton rounds and go for reusable cotton rounds or a cloth to remove your makeup or apply your toner. Personally, I use my hands to apply my toner. It does the job. Also, try to choose “naked” products like bar soaps and don’t buy products you don’t need. It will only create more waste. Avoid makeup wipes or makeup balms that contain polyethylene to remove your makeup. Go for a cleansing oil that requires no cotton rounds whatsoever and does not contain plastic. Or, go for micellar water using reusable cotton rounds or cloth to remove your makeup.
Finally, if you are an influencer or blogger and you tend to receive PR packages, be conscious of what you choose to receive. Don’t be scared to say “No” if you know you won’t use these products. I know it’s hard but if you are an influencer or blogger for the sole reason to receive free stuff. I am telling you from now, you are doing it for the wrong reasons. As a small blogger, I don’t receive a lot of opportunities and at first, I literally said yes to anything but realized that what I was doing was not sustainable, at all.
To conclude, you don’t need to stop loving makeup or skincare to save the planet. These are just few behaviours and tips that I’ve been following for a while and, that I advise you to start following to face this issue and change our industry for the better. I understand that I am a small content creator but for the 11,000 people who read my blog every month, this is a very important issue we need to take more seriously. I linked down below a couple of resources I found interesting and I highly recommend watching the two videos.
That’s it for today! Beauty and Sustainability
I hope you enjoyed reading this beauty and sustainability post. If you did, don’t forget to give it a ‘like’ and to subscribe to my blog.