‘Beauty is Pain’: How the Environment Suffers From Cosmetic Waste
September 14, 2018

‘Beauty is Pain’: How the Environment Suffers From Cosmetic Waste

You’re a young, vibrant individual full of life and care for the mother earth. After all, who isn’t in this modern generation. But, what if we were to tell you that the makeup and skincare products you use every day actually lead to the degradation of our earth each and every year?

Unfortunately, this statement is entirely accurate and the particulars regarding it are more outrageous than you could possibly imagine. However, to truly understand how these products affect our environment, we must look at what the issue is at hand and then figure out what we can do as concerned individuals to prevent this problem from destroying our environment for years to come.

How Do Health and Beauty Products Harm the Environment?

Although it may shock you, the truth is that each and every year, the cosmetic industry creates billions of tonnes of non-recyclable plastic to hold their products in. In fact, in 2008 alone, over 120.8 billion tonnes of plastic waste was sent to landfills across the country. Once there, this waste continued to emit carbon gas into our atmosphere at a startling rate.

For as long as this plastic exists, it will continuously emit these harmful greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and, unfortunately, the lifespan of the common plastic bottle or cosmetic packaging can be anywhere between 450 and 1000 years.

Unfortunately, various common cosmetic companies are still using packaging that is not biodegradable or recyclable while the ones that do show concern for the environment tend to have prices that are outrageous for the more expensive packaging they are using.

Although you may now be thinking to yourself that you buy products that are fairly harmless and recycle them properly, you are more than likely wrong. From the surprisingly harmful chemicals found in your makeup and skincare products all the way to the microbeads that are put in the most popular face scrubs of today, your carbon footprint may be far larger than you previously postulated.

As stated above, microbeads (also referred to as microspheres) are small beads made up of polystyrene or polypropylene that are found in toothpaste brands and face scrubs all over the world. These small beads may be great for your exfoliation process but, once you wash your face, you are likely sending them down your drain and into the ocean where they negatively affect marine life and emit greenhouse gases for decades.

With all of these concerns now looming over you, you may be wondering what you can do to reduce this pollution in your everyday life. After all, the idea of harming marine life and our atmosphere just to have a clean face is pretty alarming. However, below we will talk about some ways you can change your negative environmental impacts around without losing out on the skincare cosmetics you know and love.

What can you do to Prevent Cosmetic Pollution?

You’ve probably heard the quote by Steve Jobs, ‘we’re here to make a dent in the universe’. Although he probably wasn’t talking about buying more environmentally-friendly cosmetics per se, every small action has its impact.

When it comes to helping the environment, the products you choose to support is highly important and the way you dispose of said products is as well. Therefore, let’s talk about a few things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint starting today.

Buy From Green-Conscious Brands

With the negative effects these cosmetic wastes have on our environment finally being recognized, many brands have chosen a more environmentally-friendly approach. For instance, some brands have chosen to utilize reusable glass containers that can be recycled or refilled at their locations. In fact, certain companies have even been known to reward customers for reusing the packaging once the product runs out.

However, it is important to be wary of the term ‘natural’ nonetheless as some brands simply chose to add natural ingredients on top of the harmful ones and benefit from the green-centric cosmetic fad.

Avoid Microbeads as Often as Possible

Of course, face scrubs are absolutely incredible and help to clear your pores and cleanse your face on a daily basis but, when it comes to microbeads, it is better to simply steer clear altogether. Instead, try face scrubs that utilize natural ingredients like salt as they are not only better for the environment but your skin likewise.

Invest in a Plastic Shredder

Shredding plastic makes it easier for recycling plants to break down your products and it also reduces the space they take up in your recycling bin as well. This allows for you to add more product waste to your bin and not use a full bin as an excuse to toss the excess in the regular trash can.

Fortunately, plastic shredders can be found online for fairly cheap and you can actually make your own plastic shredder for roughly $50 as well. With this said, there’s really no reason why a green-forward individual would not have a plastic shredder in their home.

Make Sure to Place Plastics in the Recycling bin

As stated above, there’s no reason to ever put plastic in a regular trash bin. That’s why paying attention to your garbage is so important. If the cosmetic product or its packaging is made up of paper, cardboard, glass, or plastic, throwing it away in the right bin will ensure that it doesn’t become yet another item stuck in a landfill emitting carbon gas for decades.

Purchase Brands That Don’t use Harmful Chemicals

Although you may think working with a brand that is green-conscious would mean they also steer clear of all harmful ingredients, this is not always the case. Therefore, it is highly important to know what these harmful chemicals are and how to avoid them.

When you see any of the chemicals below, it’s best to not purchase the item as it will not only affect the environment but will also negatively impact your skin’s health as well.

  • Parabens
  • Sulfates
  • Formaldehyde
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Alcohols
  • Butylated Compounds
  • Phthalates

In the end, by following these steps and being aware of how your health and beauty products affect our world, you can rest assured that you are not part of the problem and are making a dent in our universe one purchase at a time. After all, if you’re bound to make a carbon footprint no matter what, why not make it a light stiletto instead?