By Colette Fitzpatrick
I’ve always cared about the environment but, in recent years, I pushed my passionate fight for a better world to the back of my mind because my fears for our collective future were paralysing me. Not the best way to deal, I’ll admit, but it was how this anxious brain coped. In the last few weeks, however, I’ve really been made to sit back and reevaluate. Because, while I was patting myself on my back for doing better than many, I wasn’t doing as well as I could. And the main culprit for my sins against the planet? Rabid consumerism.
Since getting involved in the fashion and beauty industries and becoming more and more reliant on distraction as a method of survival, I came to consume far too much. In the name of research, reviews, my career, the perfect skin I had long lusted after…you name it, I had an excuse for the intense ways I was accumulating things.
Beauty came into my life later. I have always loved clothes but I wasn’t really into makeup and barely washed my face, let alone moisturised (gross, I know), until I was around 21. When I became interested in these things, it intersected with beginning to work with brands and get samples for review. A firm skincare routine was established but I quickly had more items than I could use and would regularly receive new items that caught my fickle eye and had me leaving older items untouched at all or unfinished, at times. To this day, more knowledgeable as I now am, I am not a regular makeup wearer and, yet, have far too much of it. In fact, I normally have the cult items that many would love to own and they go underappreciated in my makeup drawer. I am, of course, not bemoaning how lucky I have been, I am simply saying that no one needs as much makeup as I have: especially me.
As such, all of this has made me radically rethink how I consume and what that means for me and my content in the future. While I can’t say I will never try new things again or that I’ll never buy any more makeup or skincare items, I am drastically cutting down and making smarter swap-outs to try and be a more considerate consumer. If you have been thinking along the same lines, here are my tips for five easy ways to make your beauty routine a lot more eco-friendly.
1. Buy Less (i.e. Time for a “skincare diet”)
It’s an obvious one but a necessary one. It’s time to really think before we buy, no matter who was touting it on Instagram, how aesthetic the packaging, or how good the bargain. Beauty routines have gotten very complex and a lot of people are talking about “skincare diets”. Less really is more and not only will your skin thank you for sparing it from an endless attack by various acids and creams, you’ll also be cutting out a lot of unnecessary waste and consumption. All one really needs is a cleanser, toner, moisturiser, SPF (during the day), and one treatment product for those with particular skin concerns. Put down the article on acids unless you’re willing to research the one you really need and unless you really do need a specialised treatment plan. Same goes for makeup; I know the glitter shade in that new palette is super pretty and perfect for the festive season but does anyone need another nude/red tones palette? Enough is enough. Plus, you’ll have more money for other things, like food, and isn’t that always a good thing?
2. No More Minis
Look, I get it, travel sizes are great for…well…travel and minis are an excellent way to try out a product you aren’t sure you want to commit to yet but both are inefficient uses of packaging and require buying more tubes/bottles/tubs of plastic more often, many of which aren’t widely recycled. If you aren’t sure about a product, bring in a bottle from home and ask for a sample, most places should help you out. If you want to travel, transfer to smaller containers for the trip. It’s a pain, yes, but, in the long term, you’ll produce less waste and save money.
3. Swap Out Your Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Even if you don’t care much about beauty or grooming, you’re unlikely to skip oral hygiene (I hope). You brush your teeth every day, it’s a necessity and can’t be avoided, which is all the more reason to try and make better choices as a consumer. Swap out your plastic brush for a wooden one that is biodegradable and your toothpaste tubes (often problematic and rarely recycled) for something like Georganics glass toothpaste pots or Lush’s toothpaste tablets. Georganics also do mouthwash tablets.
4. Go For Refills
Places like Lush, Minimal Waste Grocery and stores like the Hopsack in Rathmines, all do refills on various products or, as in the case of Lush, reuse and recycle their own containers. If you can avoid buying a whole new product with more packaging, it will really help you avoid unnecessary waste and plastic, in particular.
5. I ❤ Bars
Or you can avoid packaging pretty much altogether. Lots of things come in bar form and if you can get a product this way and it works for you, try it out. I’ve switched to bar soap in the shower, a bar shampoo (which I’ll admit that I hate but I’m going to see through) and once my current facial cleanser is finished, I’ll be going for one of Drunk Elephant’s bar cleansers (I’ll report back on how I get on). Often these types of products are pre-wrapped in stores but if they are not, when possible, I go a step further and insist on taking the bars without any packaging at all. You’ll get a weird look but you’ll avoid all packaging and isn’t that the dream? If you’re a germaphobe, like my mother, this probably seems like your worst nightmare but, if you can handle it, go for it!
BONUS: Make Your Own
I have a pal who makes several items herself and will work on getting her to share her secrets here in the future so look forward to that…
Basically, I’m not saying you can’t have your passions or have to wildly change your life. I still love skincare and makeup fascinates me, even if it isn’t a day-to-day love affair. I’m just advocating for more thoughtful consumption and a wider spread demand for more ethical and sustainable options because we, the consumers, drive the market. So, let’s drive it into a better future for all where we still get to have great products and (hopefully) great skin.
For more sustainability news, check out Philippa’s review of shopping with Minimal Waste Grocery and for more beauty bits check out our coverage of the beauty looks at London Fashion Week.