Here's What Happened When I Tried A Zero-Waste Makeup Challenge For A Week
Last year, 142 billion units of packaging was created by the beauty industry, so I decided to challenge myself to ONLY use cosmetic products that were zero-waste.
Hi, I'm Farrah! Like you, I care about the environment. Recently, I decided to follow a zero-waste skincare routine for 30 days (which I've continued up until now) and it was extremely eye opening. This lead me to doing some research on another BEHEMOTH industry: cosmetics. So, I decided to challenge myself to complete a plastic-free makeup routine for one week, which could hopefully extend into a lifetime of Making Better Choices™.
I found many, many articles that basically said, "Yo, cosmetics industry...we gotta do better with the packaging thing." They're not wrong. Allow me to share with you some facts about the cosmetics world that might give you nightmares:
* The global cosmetics industry products 120 billion units of packaging every year, and a good portion of it is NOT recyclable.
* Last year alone, 142 billion units of packaging were created by the beauty industry.
* Many cosmetics come in packaging that's defined as difficult to recycle, where the product is compromised due to being made of mixed materials, which ultimately leads to its death in a landfill.
* The lifespan of a plastic bottle that your makeup product might be packaged in is between 450 and 1,000 years in a landfill.
* When you throw away plastic cosmetics packaging that makes its way to landfills, it emits harmful greenhouse gases throughout our atmosphere and contributes to climate change.
* Over five TRILLION tons of plastic currently lives in our ocean.
* Only 31% of plastic waste is successfully recycled.
After all that, guess what? I AM PART OF THE PROBLEM. I'm guessing you are too. My next step was to find makeup brands that were packaging-free, or as close to packaging-free as possible. I think the personal hygiene/skincare industry is ahead of the cosmetic industry in this initiative, because finding eco-friendly makeup was tougher than I expected.
To give you an idea of what I already own, here's a little taste of what my usual makeup purchases look like. These products cover a wide variety of different looks I can create:
And after doing A LOT of digging, here's what my eco-friendly makeup haul looked like:
I've anticipated your next question: "OK, Farrah, how eco-friendly are these products?" None of these companies were 100% packaging-free, but they were the best options when it came to zero-waste. Here's what I found out:
* Elate Beauty's bamboo packaging is made of seed paper and can be planted to grow wildflowers or composted. Their mascara wands can be broken off and donated to Wands for Wildlife. The glass bottles can be rinsed and recycled, and the bamboo strip from lids can be crushed and composted.
* Antonym Cosmetics uses sustainable bamboo for their power and eyeshadow packaging, along with FSC-certified wood for their eye pencils. They are very nearly plastic-free, with exceptions for their liquid foundation and the caps/sharpeners for eyebrow and eye pencils.
* Dirty Hippie Cosmetics provides products that are refillable. Their products are all handmade using green energy at DHC HQ in Canberra Austalia, and their plastic-free, recycled paper labels are printed in-house using green energy. They are 95% plastic-free with the exception of a few spray tops on their hair products/facial oil.
* Besame Cosmetics has a solid mascara that can be stored in a tin, but it does have a plastic brush with synthetic bristles enclosed in the container. The tin is aluminum so it can be tossed into the recycling bin or repurposed.
* Finally, I picked up Makeup Eraser's reusable mini rounds — because if I was putting eco-friendly makeup ON, I needed an eco-friendly way to take if OFF. Also, these helped erase any eyeliner/mascara application mistakes I made the way a Q-Tip would.