5 Easy Ways to Give Your Beauty Routine an Eco-Friendly Makeover

By: Shammara Lawrence

Packaging and containers make up about a third of the trash in US landfills (yes, you read that right), and most likely, there are some empties—bottles, jars, and tubes—tossed from your own beauty collection among that staggering mass. If you’re looking to do better by the planet, know that you don’t have to resort to completely overhauling your home of its not-so-green products. Instead, do so by making small and realistic tweaks to your routine.

Below are five tips to make your beauty regimen more eco-friendly. These methods can guide you to create less waste and select greener product go-to’s. Read on for expert-backed ways to make a difference.

Take Stock of What You Already Own

If the idea of changing up your entire routine is daunting, know that you don’t have to overhaul everything at once. (After all, throwing everything out and buying new replacements only creates excess waste.) Start small and assess what you have in your routine. 

Looking, specifically, for the products in your stash that are made with earth-conscious ingredients and sustainable packaging can help you identify which ones to restock on and which ones you might want to replace with greener versions once they’re empty. 

An easy, more immediate replacement to keep in mind is the toothpaste you’re using. For an eco-friendly swap: Burt’s Bees newly houses its toothpastes in HDPE, a plastic you don’t have to think twice about recycling—just toss it straight into your home’s plastic-designated blue bin.

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Look Into Recycling Programs for Your Beauty Empties

Once you identify which of your products are recyclable (hint: look for recycling instructions or the universal “chasing arrow” symbols), look into how to properly dispose of them.

Recycling can sometimes seem complicated. (FYI, not all plastics are recyclable!) For items that are difficult to recycle, or you’re just not sure how to, there are programs set up to help.

Shop Sustainably Sourced Ingredients 

What goes into a product is equally important as the packaging it’s made of. Opt for products that contain sustainably sourced ingredients (meaning, in this instance, it was procured in a way that sought to avoid harm the environment). “A lot of ingredients like shea butter and beeswax can be sustainably sourced,” cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos says.

One way to identify if a product contains sustainably sourced ingredients is to look out for seals and certifications from legitimate organizations—like the Rainforest Alliance—that note its materials were harvested in ecologically responsible ways.

Use Your Products Down to the Last Drop

Editorial makeup artist Nicole Walmsey says that finding creative ways to get the last bits of product out of their respective containers is a way of creating less waste and saving money. She suggests picking up small, flexible spatulas to scrape the sides of creams and lotions to get every ounce of product that may be hiding in their containers. 

For liquid products—like cleansers and hair care—she recommends adding water as needed to loosen up what might be sticking to the packaging. To get the most out of your toothpastes, use a tube squeezer. Fully emptying your product containers helps get them ready for curbside recycling. 

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As for the stuff in your beauty stash you haven’t used up (like that moisturizer wasn’t working for your skin type), reach out to family and friends to see if they would like it before throwing it in the trash.

Seek Out Multitasking Cosmetics

Multitasking cosmetics (like lip-and-cheek sticks and dual-ended complexion brushes) not only make storing your favorite makeup that much easier, they also cut down on waste. Think about it: less product means less packaging that may ultimately end up in a landfill.

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