WRITTEN BY MEGAN L.
World Wildlife Day | #DoOneThingToday
According to the retail analytics firm Edited, the cosmetic industry is valued at $532 Billion. This is due to the increasing demand for new products, brand launches and upcoming indie brands.
In aid of World Wildlife Day, Luna Beauty UK is celebrating this year’s theme “Sustaining All Life on Earth”. We’ll be discussing and highlighting some key facts and figures, which have been extremely helpful in learning about today’s environmental reality. Moreover, we’ll be learning about what the environmental impacts are behind this ‘glamorous’ global industry. Furthermore, I’ll provide suggestions on how you can make simple and easy switches to your daily routine, in order to be more sustainable.
The topic of sustainability can be overwhelming and covers a wide range of issues. These issues include sourcing ingredients, manufacturing, packaging and brand ethics. However, we’ll be focusing on two of the biggest contributing issues: packaging and single-use products.
120 billion units of packaging are produced every year in global cosmetics.
With the majority being manufactured using non-recyclable components. From this, 8 million tonnes of plastic goes into the ocean each year, leaving the remaining waste to be burnt or buried. This all contributes to ocean waste which puts marine habitats in danger.
At the rate we are producing ocean waste, ‘by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish”. Plastics aren’t biodegradable; once the plastic is exposed to water it will then either float on the surface or start to break down into micro-plastics. In addition, plastic pollution is extremely harmful to marine life and the toxins it releases can be fatal. After all, water on earth is continuously reused and recycled. Subsequently, it’s inevitable you will have either consumed some of these plastics or will in the future.
To put this into perspective for you, researchers estimate that we consume around 74,000 plastic fragments per year in our diet alone. Consuming the equivalent of a credit card each week, and in a year totalling up to:
Non-biodegradable packaging is everywhere. Is there really such a need for excess and unnecessary packaging?
Arguably, luxury brands are the worst for using non-sustainable packaging and wanting to set themselves apart from heavily saturated markets. Moreover, they end up creating exclusive and unique products that no one else has; which is all achieved by using expensive, non-sustainable materials and excess amounts of packaging.
If they really wanted to stand out, they could stand out by being the most ethical, sustainable and innovative brand. In addition, they should be outcompeting themselves on how sustainable they are, not how frivolous they can be.
In general, beauty products are harder to recycle than most other products. Uncomfortable truths were exposed in the newly released BBC Docu-series Beauty Laid Bare – a definite must-watch if you haven’t already! It reveals the global rate of recycling is only 9% and black plastics are significantly harder to recycle. Recycling machines can’t detect black plastic, sending it straight to landfill.
One thing they drew particular attention to was the lack of awareness associated with this recycling logo:
A product labelled with this it doesn’t necessarily mean the item can be recycled. The logo is used to show that a particular company has paid a small financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging.
Did you know? 56% of us don’t recycle bathroom products. There is always such an emphasis on household and kitchen recycling, but not enough on bathroom recycling. Most households in the UK only use one bin for everything in the bathroom; when in reality a large number of the products can be recycled but don’t get separated.
The Docu-Series also highlighted the issue of companies basically admitting to fuelling fast beauty and consumer demand.
We need to stop the throw-away culture we have developed and the abundance of single-use items. On average, “1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds are used each year”, in the UK alone. According to the Metro UK, disposable wipes create 93% of sewage blocks. Similarly, in Sydney, it equates to 500tonnes, the same as 4 blue whales.
A wet wipe takes 100 years to decompose due to containing non-biodegradable plastics. Although convenient, we need to cut down on the volume of them we currently use. It benefits the environment, but it also benefits your skin. Using wet wipes to remove your makeup, oil and dirt build-up takes seven wipes! They are also drying and abrasive on the skin. Thus, switching to a reusable option will not only benefit the environment but your skin will thank you for it.
Consumers think companies aren’t willing to change, and companies think customers aren’t willing to change, so it’s a stalemate.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
At this point in the article, you might be thinking, what can I do? I’m just one person, I can’t make a big enough impact. It can be overwhelming with such a vast amount of information, trends, articles and campaigns we are faced with. However, it’s all about; making more educated choices, making simple, effortless swaps for better products and focusing on short-term solutions you can do. Clean, sustainable and ethical beauty shouldn’t just be a fleeting trend, it should be a permanent priority.
If you can take anything away from this, it would be to swap some or all of your current household items with environmentally friendly alternatives. If everyone started doing this, there would such a dramatic improvement. Corporations, manufacturers and brands have a lot to answer for but you hold a lot of power.
Simple Switches to Your Daily Routine
- Avoid single-use products when possible and swap to reusable items.
- Avoid buying minis, stick large-scale items.
- When travelling, decant your products into reusable travel bottles if possible.
- Invest in ‘naked’ soap bars.
- Add another bin to recycle your bathroom products.
- Do research before purchasing.
Try switching to products that use more sustainable materials such as:
- Glass and metals
- Compostable Cardboard
- Recycled plastic
Moreover, invest in products by brands that are pioneering for a sustainable future.
Loli is a skincare brand that considers the full life cycle of their products, making conscious decisions for their customers and the environment. They are building an eco-conscious brand and maintaining transparency with customers. Their products are 100% waterless (so the formula isn’t watered down). They offer customizable options with different bases and mix-ins. Which, suit your skin and are packaged in reusable glass jars. Loli is the first beauty company to be a member of ‘Made in a Free World’ and FRDM. A platform dedicated to monitoring supply chains for unethical working conditions.
Lush is probably the more commonly known sustainable brand. They develop positive solutions for the environment. Around 90% of their products are recyclable; using fully recycled paper packaging, believing products can be sold ‘Naked’. According to Lush UK, by selling naked products, they have saved nearly 6 million plastic bottles globally from selling shampoo bars alone.
However, when they do use packaging, they design it to be reusable, recyclable or be turned to compost at the end of the product life cycle. As mentioned previously, black plastic is difficult to recycle, so to counteract this they have developed creative solutions. They offer a free, fresh new facemask for every five pots you return to them. Alternatively, they also can be upcycled as home decorations, storage pots or a new home for your small houseplants!
Ethique combines their love and respect for the environment, to create the first zero-waste beauty brand for skincare and hair care bars. Lasting five times longer than bottled products, they’re worth the investment! They only use 100% ethically sourced ingredients. These ingredients are all; vegan, cruelty-free, sulphate and paraben-free. Moreover, 20% of their profits go straight to environmental charities.
Interestingly, the founder of Ethique has a background in biochemistry! This allows her to see how much waste the beauty industry actually generates. As well as, how she can use this information to tackle these issues.
Āether Beauty is responsible for creating the first zero waste and fully sustainable eye shadow palettes. They use:
- 100% recyclable papers, sourced from companies who plant more trees than they destroy to avoid excessive destruction and endanger wildlife habitats.
- Use aluminium that can be forever recycled, where most plastics have a recyclable life span of 2-3 times before they lose their quality.
- Focusing on attention to detail, they only water-based inks and colours that are easily recycled.
- They leave out the non-recyclable elements in their packaging, including mirrors and magnets.
From start to finish these palates are all sustainable. After the success of this product, they are expanding this sustainable design across a range of their products and formulas.
We could always do better. So, what are you waiting for?
Start by making one simple change today and we will be one step closer to success.
Remember there’s power in numbers.