Environmentally friendly made easy: Everyday Beauty Care Tips
What measures can we take to protect nature and simultaneously do something for our health? How can we do something about the pollution of our planet without rejecting effective beauty products?
This is what I wanted to know, and so I tested six products that are friendly for both people and the environment.
It was important for me to take note of the ingredients and the packaging involved with each product. I took care to particularly look at reusable products, which helps to reduce the garbage on the already large pile. Additionally, products should be free of plastic, microplastics, BPA (bisphenol A) and palm oil. From the outset, I also excluded products with unnecessary packaging.
It is always worth investing a few dollars to do the environment a favor since it is the only planet we have.
Every woman knows what happens once a month. Depending on the duration and intensity, each woman uses between 8 and 16 pads per cycle. This can cost upwards of 5 or 6 dollars every month. Over time this isn't just damaging your wallet but also the environment. In one year approximately 45 billion tampons and pads are used worldwide.
A menstrual cup is both a financially and environmentally friendly solution and has been celebrated throughout the blogosphere. Made of silicone, it looks like a small cup. It is easy to insert and remove thanks to a small handle. It is available is different sizes for different types of flow. The large and extra-large sizes are usually recommended for women over 30 and/or have had a child. The height of your cervix can also influence what the right cup size for you might be. It can be emptied every 5-10 hours as needed. If well maintained, it can be used for several years. If you aren't sure how often the cup should be emptied, I recommend using washable cotton pads.
A menstrual cup is not only good for the environment but also for your personal health. Why? Tampons and pads come in contact with sensitive parts of the body but not all women are concerned with what tampons and pads are made of. Conventional pads are made of cotton which has been treated with pesticides and harsh chemicals (if not organically grown), and plastic. Tampons, unlike a menstrual cup, also absorb important vaginal fluids, not just 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. I've chosen the Wegreeco pads, which come with a convenient net bag which can be thrown in the washing machine for easy cleaning.
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 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 fibers are simply dried which gives a miracle sponge free from plastic. Surprisingly, the plant fibers are quite resilient and the loofah can just 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 neighbor failed 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 contacts our body day after day. What actually causes body odor?
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 aluminum do. Aluminum clogs skin pores which does prevent unwanted body odors but also stops that important flow of sweat.
T'eo won me over. It is a solid deodorant from Lush that, instead of closing pores, limits the growth of bacteria and absorbs unpleasant odors 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.