So following on from the recent news that Sir David Attenborough is at the forefront of a new BBC initiative to encourage every one of us to become a #plasticsaction hero and take responsibility for reducing our own plastic footprint, sustainability is a buzzword right now. I’m trying hard to ditch the plastic and use my reusable cup (read my 10 ways to live a more sustainable life post here), but there’s always more we can do. Of course, it’s really difficult to eradicate all plastic, but many brands are already forging ahead (Dior has committed to removing all unnecessary cellophane packaging/cardboard inserts and to replacing display plastic with glass) and I’m trying really hard to take small steps to make every beauty purchase a more sustainable choice. There are loads of ways to make a difference – here are my five easy sustainable beauty swaps to start you off:
1 Rethink the wipes
This is a tough one for me. Our use of wipes has increased dramatically in the UK, and I can see why. I don’t use them day to day, but when I’m travelling, wipes are invaluable – whether it’s taking makeup off on the plane, removing a spot from otherwise clean clothes, or just having them in my bag to clean my hands, they’re just so handy. Sadly, our discarded wipes are clogging sewers and ending up on our beaches, so something has to change. For facial cleansing (for which, of course, you shouldn’t really be using wipes, but we all do) consider swapping to a cleanser and flannel routine (coconut oil is brilliant and leaves your face really soft, or I love the YourGoodSkin hot cloth cleanser from Boots – it’s a lovely creamy cleanser that removes every scrap of makeup and leaves your face feeling really clean). For travel, there are some decent compostable wipes out there if you search – try Yes to Cucumbers soothing hypoallergenic face wipes, which are 98% natural, cruelty free. Beauty Kitchen is a great brand if you’re interested in sustainable beauty. Their Seahorse Plankton Sustainable Beauty Wipes are made from 100% organic cotton and some delicious natural ingredients like aloe vera, lavender and bergamot. Remember though, even if you’re using compostable wipes, NEVER flush them!
Oh, and another discovery I thought I’d share with you – if you use moist toilet wipes, consider a toilet tissue spritz! I know it sounds weird, but it’s basically a spray to moisten loo paper transforming it into a kind of moist wipe. Still in a plastic bottle but much better for the environment than flushing toilet wipes! Sainsbury’s do a nice one available scented or unscented.
2 Consider switching to a shampoo bar
We’re already committed to buying bars of soap rather than plastic bottles of liquid soap, but have you tried out any shampoo bars? I’ve heard great things about the Lush Jason and the Argan Oil shampoo bar. Apparently they lather really well and leave hair soft and clean plus they last for ages. Anyone given them a go yet?
3 Replace your cotton buds
I’m sure you’ve seen the heartbreaking photo of the poor little seahorse hanging on to a plastic cotton bud. Cotton buds can hang around for 500 years, and when they’re flushed, they easily get through grates and meshes and end up in the sea. There’s no excuse now as bamboo cotton swabs are readily available, as are washable cotton rounds that can replace your cotton wool pads.
4 Think about packaging and buy responsibly
I’m much more likely to consider buying cosmetics packaged in glass or metal packaging these days. Especially things like lip balms and those lovely squeezy metal handcreams. When plastic packaging is unavoidable, I’m happier spending my money with fantastic brands that really care about the environment. From late summer, one of my favourites, REN Skincare, will be selling their award-winning Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Body Wash in a new hybrid 100% recycled plastic bottle, 20% of which will be plastic collected by global organisations like Surfrider from oceans, beaches, rivers and lakes worldwide. I’m also currently loving plasticsfree.co.uk, a brilliant company based in Newquay, Cornwall, who sell all sorts of plastic free items for the home as well as some fab beauty products packaged in tins and glass jars.
5 Ditch the disposable razors
If you think about it, plastic reusable razors are hideous things. Not only are they non-recyclable unless you break them apart (a risky business) into their component parts and dispose of the metal and plastic separately, but they’re horribly dangerous too – ending up in landfill sites with the sharp blades still intact. So what’s the alternative? Well waxing or laser, I suppose, but if you like to shave, some argue that electric razors are slightly more sustainable, you could also go for a metal safety razor with replaceable blades and commit to travelling to your local metal recycling facility to safety dispose of the blades.