I'll admit I'm guilty. In the past I've used endless amounts of cotton swaps and cotton pads while washing my face as if it didn't matter that my bathroom trash would fill up with them every few weeks. Wiping off layers of black eyeliner and shadow after being out in the world all day. Cotton pads, face wipes, plastic razor blades, plastic toothbrushes, plastic deodorant bottles, plastic shampoos and conditioners. And what about, microbeads? Those tiny little scrubbing agents that you find in a lot of beauty products that are meant to exfoliate your skin. Those are plastic and they are ruining our oceans and making marine life really really sick. In addition to all of that, the amount of water that goes down the drain when washing and brushing can most definitely be reserved. So, you get it. You get it because maybe you do the same. We all make trash because we don't know any better and often don't think we have a choice, until now.
We know now that our landfills are filling up faster then we can even fathom and that's the thing, we don't have to because we throw it “away” and it goes “away.” If we had to lived amongst our trash we would definitely see things a little differently and think about what we purchase. I urge you to watch this enlightening documentary about India and it's slums to see what it would look like for us to live amonst the trash we create. OUR trash. It's extremely powerful. If you're interested you can watch it here! To contrast or well, maybe not , here is a beach in Hawaii. Not too far from home. This is really happening.
So if we know this is a problem that is here to stay if we don't act, what do we do? Baby steps. Start small and slow if you have to. But if we are all making small changes then eventually they grow into big changes!
On that note, here are the 5 things that I've swapped out of my beauty regime for good and what I'm using instead. I'll continuously be looking for more great ways to minimize my personal hygiene waste and will update you, but this is the beginning of a continuous journey for me.
Step 1. Turn off the tap! The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of two gallons per minute; by simply turning the tap off, you can save more than 100 gallons of water per person each month. So I've been filling up a medium sized bowl of water half way (approximately 2 cups) and use this to wet my toothbrush and wash my face. This way I know exactly how much water I'm using.
Step 2. Renewable Or Recyclable Toothbrushes. It's difficult to calculate just how many toothbrushes are sitting in the landfill. I guess if you think of the nearly 350 million people in the US and Canada alone and consider that they probably get through an average of 3-4 toothbrushes per year, that is over a billion toothbrushes, tossed in the trash... annually. Wow! So, instead of my old plastic toothbrush that inevitably will see the trash can, I've switched to these ones pictured in the photo by Preserve. You can find them a Sprouts and are available online. They are made of recycled yogurt containers and can be recycled again through their recycling program. I later found these totally biodegradable bamboo brushes online by Brush With Bamboo which I will try out after these. Every component of these bamboo brushes is plant-based: bristles, handle, wrapper, and box. Use the water in the bowl to wet your toothbrush and brush those pearly whites without contributing to the planets massive collection of trash.
Step 3. Reusable Cotton Pads. Instead of my normal non-reusable cotton pads I found these reusable cotton pads and face wipes which handmade by NaturalLinens on Etsy. No more cottons swaps or cotton pads pilling up in my trash can every day. I use Jojoba oil to remove my makeup but you can use coconut, avocado or whatever oil you like. Plus, they are super soft, easy to wash and did I mention handmade? So, using the water in the bowl remove your makeup and wash your face.
Step 4. Bulk Soap! Instead of the soap in the containers or bottles, use unwrapped bulk soap. Whole Foods and Sprouts carry them as does places like Bulk Barn for people who live in Canada. Might seem like a small amount of waste but everyone uses soap and most soaps tend to come with a lot of packaging waste. It adds up!
Step 5. Ban the beads. As I mentioned early, microbeads are those tiny little balls that are found in many beauty products and toothpastes. They are so small but are actually causing problems in a big way! So big in fact, that the US has recently banned the use of them because they are slipping through the filtering system and flowing into our beautiful blue oceans. Not only are they accumulating as debris but the fish are starting to eat them because they look like food to them. I've been using this scrub for awhile which does not have any microbeads and is completely bio-degradable. I've been pretty happy with it, but there are many of them on the market and more to come with the recent ban. So, look out for products that do not contain these beads and if you have some laying around, don't throw them down the drain. Donate them to research groups that study plastics like 5gyres so we can learn from our mistakes.
This all might sound like a drop in the bucket but it's the small things that create BIG changes. So, give a few or all of these eco beauty tips a shot! If we all commit ourselves to one thing and truly stick to it eventually it's going to make a difference. Our ideas will spread and we be the change we wish see the change.