Environmentally-Friendly Made Easy: Everyday Beauty Care Tips
Which measures can we take to protect nature and at the same time maintain our hygiene and health? How can we do something about the pollution of our planet without renouncing effective beauty products?
That's what I wanted to know, and why I came up with a list of six products that are great for humans as well as the environment.
It was important to me to always look at the list of ingredients and the size of the packaging when buying: in particular, I made sure that the products were reusable to help reduce the amount of rubbish in landfills. The products should also be free of plastic, microplastic, BPA (bisphenol A) and palm oil. I also excluded products with unnecessarily large packaging.
It's always worth investing a few more pounds to do the environment a favour. It’s the planet we all live on, why not do something good for it?
Menstruation is a monthly thing that a lot of women struggle with. Depending on the duration of the period and the intensity of the bleeding, a person can end up using a lot of non-recyclable products such as tampons and pads, all at a personal (and relatively expensive) cost. In the course of time, this is not only bad for your wallet, but also for the environment: in the year approximately 45 billion tampons and pads are consumed worldwide.
The menstrual cup is a cost- and environment-friendly solution which are rising in popularity. Made of silicone and in the shape of a small cup, they are easy to insert and remove thanks to a small handle. They are available in different sizes, dependent on factors such as body size, amount of flow and whether or not the user has given birth before. They should be emptied every 5 to 10 hours, as needed, and can be reused for several years. If you are not sure how often you should empty the cup and to avoid possible small blood stains, it is recommendable to use a small pad as well, just in case.
A menstrual cup is not only good for the environment, but also for your health. Why? Tampons and pads come in very close, continual contact with our bodies, yet not every person is aware of the potential materials used in their production. Conventional pads are often made of plastic and cotton, which can be treated with pesticides and other harmful substances, if not organically grown. Additionally, tampons can absorb important vaginal cleaning fluids in addition to menstrual blood.
Almost every woman follows this routine: put makeup on in the morning, take it off in the evening. This results in a large number of makeup remover pads per year. About 1,300 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of cotton. Since these pads can only be used once and are expensive (environmentally speaking), they produce a lot of waste when thrown away and are harmful to the environment. Additionally, cotton is often treated with pesticides and other chemicals (see the note about tampons and pads above), which also can be damaging to our health. The solution is washable and reusable makeup remover pads.
For the DIYers out there, you can easily make your own reusable makeup remover pads. All you need is some machine washable organic fabric, a need and thread and some patience.
It is recommended to get a new toothbrush every three months. Over time, this results in a lot of plastic waste which can be easily avoided by using a toothbrush made from biodegradable material. I prefer to use a bamboo toothbrush. Why? Bamboo is one of the most sustainable materials that we have. It can grow so quickly (about 1 yard per day) that you can see it happen. It can also be harvested in an environmentally friendly way. At the end of three months, a bamboo toothbrush can simply be thrown in a compost pile.
Bamboo is not just good for the environment but is also naturally BPA free and antibacterial.
In addition to a bamboo brush, I also recommend brushing powder. It often comes in recyclable packaging and the supply lasts longer than what comes in a conventional plastic tube.
This natural sponge is harvested from a squash that is very similar to a cucumber. The plant fibres are simply dried which gives a miracle sponge free from plastic. Surprisingly, the plant fibres are quite resilient and the loofah can just be washed in the washing machine. Loofahs also last longer than plastic based sponges. Since it is basically just a dried out vegetable, a loofah can just be discarded like any other organic material.
Why is a loofah a better alternative than a conventional sponge? Artificial sponges are made of plastic and over time they release microplastics which then move through waterways into the environment. In the sea, these plastics are consumed by fish, and if you eat fish, you eat that plastic too.
A loofah can be used outside the bathroom as a kitchen sponge. However, it is important that it be thoroughly rinsed after use and hung up so it can properly dry. This will prevent bacteria from growing and extend the life of the sponge.
Refined pores, radiant appearance, and younger skin: these are the promises made from body scrubs found in every store. Such scrubs really do remove dead cells from the top layer of skin using fine, abrasive material. Of course, that sounds good, but what are the environmental consequences? It all depends on the ingredients of the scrub and if it contains microplastics. What exactly are microplastics and what are they doing in our beauty care?
Microplastics are small plastic beads which are "good" for scrubs because they work as the small abrasive particles, helping to soften the skin. The problem is that after a scrub gets rinsed away, these plastic beads end up in our rivers, lake and oceans - with catastrophic consequences for the animal world and potentially you, if you eat fish. These plastic pellets get consumed by birds, fish and mollusks such as oysters.
Although your skin might be softer after using a microplastic scrub, rubbing small plastic particles on your skin isn't harmless. Plastic is, of course, extracted from petroleum and can contain BPA and other ingredients that can be harmful for your health.
When buying health and beauty products, check to see if it contains microplastics. In this in-depth report from the United Nations Environmental Programme you can find various names that microplastics can appear by. There is also an app from Beat the Microbead, that you can use to scan the barcode of a product to see if it contains microplastic beads.
Let me introduce you to the body scrub from Majestic Pure. It is free from microplastics as well as palm oil and is cruelty-free and not tested on animals.
No one likes sitting in a crowded area in the morning and suffocating because their neighbour forgot to put on deodorant. That is why after a morning shower you apply deodorant to fight the stink of sweat. This means that deodorant ends up being one of the products that contact our body day after day. What actually causes body odour?
Bacteria is the culprit. Through sweating, the bacteria on our bodies activate and results in those unpleasant smells that reach our noses. However, sweating is a very important body function as it helps regulate body temperature and should not be stopped which is what deodorants containing aluminium do. Aluminium clogs skin pores which do prevent unwanted body odours but also stops that important flow of sweat.
Aromaco won me over. It is a solid deodorant from Lush that, instead of closing pores, limits the growth of bacteria and absorbs unpleasant odours at the same time. It might seem a little expensive but it does a great job and lasts several months.
This deodorant not only is skin-friendly but also environmentally friendly. There is very little packaging and no plastic that will end up in the landfill, unlike conventional deodorant that comes in an applicator.