If you’re like us, you’re considering all the ways you can be more sustainable in your everyday life, including in your beauty routine. And the good news is the transition can be pretty seamless. Here’s what to keep in mind when buying — and tossing — your products:
Pay Attention to Packaging
“The most sustainable options would be to opt for glass or some type of metal like tin or aluminum,” says Sarah Cieslinski, co-founder of Zero Waste Store. (That’s why you’ll find all True Botanicals products in glass or aluminum.) “They can be recycled and up-cycled endlessly, unlike plastic that can only be recycled one to three times before ending up in landfill.” Wood is another material sometimes used in beauty packaging that eco experts say is a sustainable material — as long as the wood is sourced from a sustainable forest (a certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) will let you know).
Watch Your Water Levels
According to the UN, by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity. And beauty products are one place you can immediately cut excess water from your daily routine. Beauty chemists say 70 or 80 percent of a formula consists of water — and it often does little for your skin. Look for bars, powders (like Vitamin C Booster), or oils (like Pure Radiance Oil). For products that typically require a water base, look for ones that trade plain water for something more nutrient rich (check the first ingredient on the label). True Botanicals uses green tea instead of H20 for formulas that do need a water — like the Repair Serum — so your skin can soak up benefits.
Brush Up on Your Local Recycling Rules
Try as you might, we’re going to guess you’ve still got a couple of plastic bottles kicking around your bathroom. That’s fine — just go the extra step and dispose of them in a responsible way. Look for bottles made with two plastics commonly accepted by curbside recycling programs: polyethylene (PET) 1 or polypropylene (PP) 5, both of which will display these numbers in the recycling symbol imprinted on the bottle. “But beware as plastic beauty products can often be made from multiple types of plastic that need to be separated before they’re recycled,” says Lily Cameron, founder of Wild Minimalist, noting deodorant sticks. Call your municipality to find out if they will take your plastics, and Cieslinski also advises you should always make sure your bottles are as clean as possible. If you’re still unsure, “the best thing to do is to actually throw it in the trash,” says Cameron. “Placing the wrong type of product in recycling can contaminate your recycling bin and send the whole load straight to landfill.”
Stick with Biodegradable Ingredients
Naturally derived ingredients won’t leave the lasting mark on the earth that harmful chemicals like phthalates, synthetic fragrances, triclosan, and chemical sunscreens will. Short of shopping with a glossary of toxic chemicals, though, it can be difficult to know which synthetics are safe for the planet and which aren’t. Check for the MADE SAFE seal, which all True Botanicals products carry — it verifies that the product is free of ingredients that persist in the earth (and in our bodies).
Streamline Your Routine
Elaborate, 10-step routines every morning and night aren’t actually good for your skin — or the environment. Narrow your daily skincare ritual down to simple (yet satisfying and effective) steps. “When you find a product that is packed with nourishing, natural ingredients, you come to find that it will meet a lot of your skincare needs in different areas,” says Cieslinski. “This also reduces the overall carbon footprint from less products being shipped and manufactured, and less product containers ending up in our landfills or oceans.”
Experiment with Upcycling
A container is a container once it’s totally cleaned out, so put your jars and bottles to good use instead of in the bin. Lip balm tins are a great place to stash jewelry, while Lauren Singer, founder and CEO of Package Free, recommends using glass jars to bring lunch to work. “Any leftovers you have can be put back into the jar and brought home to your compost bin,” she says. Or send the goods to someone else who might reuse them. Cameron notes that some wildlife organizations, like Appalachian Wildlife Refuge, will accept cleaned mascara wands “to groom rescued animals,” she says.
Ease Up on Paper
One place you can make a painless change? Your disposable paper products. “Reusable cloth facial rounds are amazing. They work better than disposable cotton balls in my opinion,” says Cameron. Stick with wash-off masks, like Resurfacing Moisture Mask, instead of sheet masks, and opt for makeup remover like Pre Cleanse Oil instead of wipes (they’re better for your skin anyway). Also keep in mind, adds Cameron, that “tissues, toilet paper, cotton balls, and cotton swabs made from paper can all be composted.”