How to avoid plastic waste

Face cream, anti-puffiness eye cream, anti-aging cream, pores improvement serum, vitamin C serum, hyaluronic acid serum, tonics, hair masks, thermal-water… and the list goes on and on. These are the products, I can imagine, most of my female readers could find in their bathroom cabinets. That’s because of aggressive advertising from cosmetic brands and influence from famous women who are paid to promote these products as being crucial, if not “life–saving”, in every woman’s cabinet. And I didn’t even mention shampoos, conditioners, soaps, body moisturizers, and similar, more common essentials. Today we have a different beauty product for each part of our body, making our bathroom cabinet resemble a two-floor store in the middle of Milan or Paris.

That’s exactly how my bathroom looked like a few months ago. Eager to be perfect–looking I’d been using at least 10 different products every day and yet barely any of all them did what it promised. To make it clear, I’m not implying that it’s wrong to take care of yourself, in fact, it’s most definitely good for your health and wellbeing. What I’m trying to suggest here is that perhaps we should start doing it more responsibly.

The important thing to realize here is that buying all these products can not only deplete your bank account, but it has a direct impact on the planet and the lives of millions of animals and people around the globe.

Only in the last decade, we’ve have produced more plastic than in the previous century, and according to the “Foresight Future of the Sea” report from the UK Government Office for Science, this number will triple by 2025, if we don’t take any action. It takes at least 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose and disappear from the environment. Take into account that only 25% of the plastic is recycled globally. Now pause for a second and think, how many pieces of plastic packaging you throw away each year, and how many of these come from your cosmetics?

In total, half of the plastic out there is for single use only, meaning it’ll be used once, and then thrown “away”. But the reality is, there is no “away”. We are transforming the planet into a big rubbish bin. Animals are dying ingesting plastic and it pollutes and poisons our own food and water supplies.

Having realized how much my choices were affecting the environment, I decided to try and substitute my daily use of cosmetics with more sustainable options. After a fair amount of trials and errors, I managed to significantly reduce my plastic consumption, and it can get only better from now on. Here are my findings:

Shampoo and Conditioner

Use solid bars. There are many brands out there for all types of hair and they’re is becoming more and more common in all cosmetic stores.

Personally, I use products from Lush and Foamie but if you can shop on Amazon, you will find many more options there. In fact, the same applies to all the products listed below.

Soap

Many people believe the soap bar gets quickly consumed by bacterias and prefer to use body wash instead. But unless you have no basic hygiene in your bathroom, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. If you store your soap bar in a dry place, it will stay clean and last longer.

One thing to remember though is to ensure the soap bar that comes in paper packaging instead of plastic, otherwise, there’s no point in substituting.

Toothbrush

According to EcoPlanet Bamboo, it is estimated that around 1 billion toothbrushes end up in landfills every year and many of them reach rivers and seas, causing massive damage to marine life.

An alternative, the first sustainable toothbrush made with recycled plastic, was created two decades ago, by Eric Hudson under his brand Preserve. An even better option emerged sometime later – the first plant-based toothbrush made with bamboo from “Brush with bamboo”. Today we can easily find many brands offering different, inexpensive variants of this fantastic, natural replacement. In the last six months, I used toothbrushes from CareElite, HumbleBrush, and The Environmental Toothbrush, and I can highly recommend all of them.

Toothpaste

Most people think that toothpaste tubes are recyclable but as they are made of a mix of different materials, they are not accepted in recycling programs. Basically, every single tube of toothpaste you have ever used is still on this planet. Isn’t it a scary thought?

How can we change this? Sadly it’s not that straightforward —  sustainable options are barely starting to show up on the market and some of them lack traditional toothpaste ingredients, like e.g. fluoride. One of them is called tooth-tabs — they are little tablets that can be crushed in between the teeth, and then hydrated with the saliva to create the foam as we know it from using traditional toothpaste. What’s best about them is that while they’re sold in recyclable packaging, you can also refill your own in selected shops.

I tried two brands so far, one from “Schüttgut — Bulk, sustainable and unpackage food” in Stuttgart, and the Toothy-tabs from Lush cosmetics. I liked them both. You cannot refill your container at Lush yet, but I’ve been in touch with them and they promised to be working on it.

These five substitutes can make a huge difference in how we affect the environment. If each one of us makes these small changes, we will reduce the landfills, saving the oceans and nature from a severe environmental crisis in the near future. It is time to pay attention to our actions and be part of the change.

Now it’s your turn! If you haven’t already, consider using at least one of the products listed above or similar. When you do, make sure to let me know your experiences and thoughts on the matter 🙂