Green Tips: How to Build an Eco-friendly Bath & Beauty Routine

Green Tips | September 5, 2018

Many of us have a standard bath and beauty routine. What we may not realize is that the cosmetics, skin and hair care products we have grown accustomed to using may incur immense environmental damages.

Producing cheap or conflict palm oil for use in beauty products often involves systematic degradation of human rights and the environment. The World Wildlife Foundation reports that “up to 300 football fields of forest are cleared every hour to make room for palm plantations.” This massive deforestation campaign not only depletes natural carbon reservoirs, accelerating global warming, but also eliminates biodiversity and undermines the survival of species — namely, the orangutan — due to widespread habitat loss.  

Our use of everyday bath and beauty products can fuel ecological destruction or, if we make the right adjustments, help pave the way toward a more sustainable future. Follow these tips to become a more eco-conscious consumer.

Use DIY alternatives for store-bought products. Making your own beauty and bath products at home can save money and help conserve natural resources without consuming too much time. Check out these online recipes for DIY facial scrubs, butters, and oils.

Choose reusable alternatives for everyday bath and beauty products. Swap out plastic products for metal and rubber ones. Sustainable alternatives include metal razors, fabric shower caps, cotton make-up remover pads, and refillable liquid containers. When shopping, look for products with official ecolabels and sustainability certifications.

Read the ingredients. Always read labels to avoid products with environmentally-taxing ingredients. Check out the World Wildlife Foundation’s list of everyday products that contain palm oil to determine what alternatives you should seek. You can also break your reliance on conflict palm oil with the 28 Day Palm Oil Challenge (review the challenge guidelines under the “Bathroom” category to find conflict palm oil-free DIY recipes and shopping recommendations). When buying products with palm oil, look for RSPO and Green Palm labels, which indicate support for the development of a more sustainable and just palm oil industry. Additionally, beware of other types of oil that may contain pesticides made from harmful agrochemicals.

Support eco-conscious brands and stores. Organic and all-natural products can benefit both the planet and your personal health. Seek out eco-friendly hair and skin care lines like those from Burt’s Bees in local drug and health stores. Research brands ahead of time to see if they are B Corporation-certified, follow sustainability models such as the Future Fit Business Benchmark, serve on green business councils, partner with environmental organizations, and/or have clear independent commitments to minimizing or eliminating any harmful environmental impacts of their business (for a good example, check out The Body Shop’s “Enrich Not Exploit” manifesto).   

Understand product packaging. Avoid plastic packaging when possible; instead, look for products that come unpackaged, packaged in recycled material, or packaged in recyclable and reusable materials such as standard cardboard, paper, and glass. When buying products in plastic bottles, such as shampoos and conditioners, look for plastics that are easier to recycle by interpreting their numerical label. Note that #1 (PETE) and #2 (HDPE) plastics are the most commonly recyclable. Follow this Plastics by the Numbers guide for more information on plastics’ potential for recycle and reuse (also review this helpful article on plastic recycling codes). You should also check whether plastic packaging materials are free of toxins like BPA.

Buy in-person instead of online. Shop for your bath and beauty products locally rather than on the Internet to avoid the energy expenditure, carbon emissions, and excess waste of shipping.

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