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Your Green Beauty Guide To Creating A More Sustainable Routine


Your Green Beauty Guide To Creating A More Sustainable Routine

It's easier than you think, promise!   One unboxing can reveal a lot: cellophane wrapping, external and internal cardboard containers, paper pamphlets, multiple plastic or metal components—and that’s before you even reach the product itself. All that excess adds up: Packaging and container waste account for 21 percent of the material in U.S. landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. But thanks to a growing number of eco-minded brands, you don’t have to pick between your skin-care stash and helping the planet. Here’s your go-green guide.  

What exactly is sustainability?

  To put it simply, sustainability means fulfilling the needs of the current population without getting in the way of future generations. When it comes to the beauty industry, every step of a product's life is factored in, from ingredient sourcing to production—and, of course, what we do with our products once they're gone. And these eco solutions begin long before a product hits store shelves. Brush up on three steps that really matter:   1. Raw ingredient sourcing   Traceability (tracking something back to its origins) is a major issue when a brand is acquiring raw ingredients, especially if it’s purchasing items like palm oil and cocoa butter, which have been linked to poor labor practices and deforestation. If a product contains fair-trade ingredients (more on what that means below), that’s a sign of good traceability. Without that certification, it’s hard to know where a product is from, who’s harvesting it, or the employees’ working conditions.   At Lush, they buy exclusively fair-trade, organic cocoa butter. “We end up paying more than we would for conventional, non–fair trade butter, but we can feel good about the social and environmental impact,” says Heather Deeth, ethical buying manager at Lush.   2. The production process   Manufacturing plants generate immense waste and leave a big carbon footprint. In fact, the industrial sector accounts for about 22 percent of all U.S. energy consumption (manufacturing is the culprit for about three-quarters of that). To offset emissions, many companies are striving for a carbon-neutral state. This means they either release no carbon dioxides (CO2) into the atmosphere, or any CO2 that is released is balanced out by a reduction elsewhere.   Aveda’s energy comes in the form of wind, a clean, renewable source of power that doesn’t emit any CO2 into the air. The brand’s wind turbines generate 100 percent of the energy used to create products.   3. Shipping the products   Products don’t magically appear in stores. They need to be shipped from their production sites to shops around the country or the world. Whether they get there by ground, air, sea, or all of the above, each transportation method takes energy.   Haircare brand Kevin Murphy took this into consideration when creating its rectangular products, which are designed to be packed tightly together, allowing more products to fit in a single box. In fact, the box-shaped bottles use 40 percent less resin and require fewer boxes than their standard cylindrical counterparts.       5 easy ways to make smarter product swaps   The global cosmetics industry produces approximately 120 billion units of packaging every year, according to Euromonitor. Plastic is the worst culprit of them all. So the next time you’re scanning the aisles—or your feed—for a new beauty find, look for something housed in one of the below alternatives.     The right way to recycle your #empties   1. Empty, rinse, and dry the container   These extra steps might sound tedious, but they can prevent your products from ending up in a landfill (the average person in the U.S. creates 4.5 pounds of trash per day!). Your local recovery facility sells your recyclables to a third party that handles all the processing. A load that is dirty or damp can be turned away and sent straight to the trash, so consider going the extra mile and peel off the labels. “Recycling facilities have a certain percentage of contamination that they will accept,” explains Shannon Bergstrom, sustainability manager at Recycle Track Systems, but it’s best to keep contamination to a minimum to be safe.   2. Check your local green laws   Depending on where you live, your state might mandate dual-stream (separating your metal, glass, and plastic from your paper) or single-stream (it can all go in one bin) recycling. To make matters more confusing, what is considered recyclable is also not consistent from region to region. Bergstrom recommends checking your government’s website for info, especially for plastics, which are common in beauty products. Speaking of which…   3. Know that all plastics are not equal   “Rigid plastics, like shampoo bottles and moisturizer jars— really, anything that keeps its shape—are recyclable,” says Bergstrom. “But soft plastics, like product wrapping or even shopping bags, are not readily recyclable.” As a best practice, keep your plastics separate so you can sort through them easily and get the most accepted material into the recycling bin and out of landfills.   4. Understand that size really does matter   Anything smaller than your fist should go in the trash bin. “Too small and it will fall through the recycling plant’s infrastructure and is less likely to be recycled,” explains Bergstrom, who also recommends leaving on any caps and nozzles so they don’t get lost. For smaller beauty products, try niche recycling companies like TerraCycle, which specializes in hard-to-recycle products and provides easy-to-use, free shipping labels thanks to its partnership with Garnier. Many brands also have take-back programs, like Origins stores, which accept cosmetic empties from any brand. Brands like Lush and M.A.C even offer perks for bringing back certain empties.   5. Triple-check your sortings   As a general rule, Bergstrom says, when in doubt, throw it out. It might seem counterintuitive, but putting questionable items in your recycling bin can contaminate an entire load, leading it right to a landfill.        

So you've finished a product. But can you recycle it?

  Metal Tubes: Yes. Products housed in containers made from aluminum (like Grown Alchemist Purifying Body Exfoliant, above) are recyclable everywhere. Once they are empty, cut open the tubes to make cleaning them much easier.   Pump Bottles: Partly. Inside that plastic pump is a non-removable metal spring that makes recycling nearly impossible. It’s best to toss the pump, but the rest of the bottle should be good to go.   Nail Polish: No. It falls into the hard-to- recycle category and is best left to the pros at take-back programs.   Compacts: No. Especially if it includes a mirror (the reflective coating makes the glass non-recyclable) or a magnetic closure (magnets are never recyclable).   Hair Spray: Yes. Just make sure the can is empty first, otherwise it’s considered household hazardous waste, which requires a separate disposal process.   Lip Gloss: No. The tubes are often too small for traditional recycling plants, plus the applicator can include upwards of three different materials, which are almost impossible to separate and sort before being recycled.   Brushes: No. Like gloss, they are made from multiple materials, which are glued together. Instead, take good care of your existing brushes so you’ll need to replace them less often.

How to Spring Clean Your Beauty Bag

Got the urge to purge? Read on to determine which beauty products to keep, how to organize them, and how to safely toss the items you don’t need. (Recycling isn’t just for the kitchen.)

Assess what you’ve got.

Remove all your products from your bathroom, vanity, makeup bag, etc. and lay them out on a large white sheet or towel. “This clean background lets you clearly see and assess what you have, and it’s particularly helpful for seeing the colors and textures of your makeup,” explains makeup artist and beauty expert Jenny Patinkin. Categorize everything: Split up makeup, skin-care, and hair-care items, and then divide each of those piles into subcategories according to type of product. Now get down to business: “If you haven’t even picked up a product in two years, it’s got to go,” says Patinkin. Cast those items aside quickly and without thinking too much; don’t lament over how much money you spent on that pricey serum you never used. (More on what to do with those products in a minute.) RELATED: The Best Anti-Aging Products of All Time, According to Top Dermatologists
Next, assess the quality of what’s left. Any change in texture, color, or smell is a telltale sign that a product is past its prime. If the color is separated on your nail polish, even after you shake it, it’s time to get rid of it. Skin-care items often come with expiration dates, so anything that has expired should go. This quality assessment is important not only for hygiene reasons but also for efficacy purposes, especially when it comes to makeup. “Anything that’s cracked, crumbly, dry, or separated isn’t going to apply evenly,” notes Patinkin. Once you’ve gotten rid of the old stuff, purge any multiples. Have six red lipsticks? Ten pink nail polishes? Limit yourself to one of each shade, keeping the one you reach for most often. Patinkin suggests putting the products that have made the cut into a box and storing the box outside your bathroom. Anytime you need something, take it out of the box and leave it in the bathroom. “Do this for three weeks. If there are still products in the box after that, chances are high that you’re never going to use them, so get rid of those too,” she says.

Organize what’s left.

Have six red lipsticks? Ten pink nail polishes? Limit yourself to one of each shade, keeping the one you reach for most often. Now that you’ve streamlined your stash, organize it. Separate skin-care, hair-care, and makeup items, storing each category in its own place. Patinkin recommends using clear, stackable drawers, which let you easily see and access what you need. We like the variety of drawers and dividers from Boxy Girl (from $39; boxygirl.com). Train cases with pull-out trays are a great space-saving storage solution, adds Patinkin. Try the Caboodles Large Train Case ($99; caboodles.com). Skin-care products containing active ingredients—vitamin C and retinol, in particular—are best stored in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight, which can render those ingredients inactive. So consider keeping those items in a dark spot, like a drawer or closet. If you have a lot of makeup, separate products for face, eyes, and lips, and then organize those according to container size and shape to make everything tidy, recommends Patinkin. Now ensure your stash stays organized by committing to a deep clean twice a year. Do so during a change of seasons, when you’ll probably be switching up your skin care and makeup anyway, says Patinkin. One item to purge more frequently, however: mascara. It should be ditched about every 90 days, since dark, moist environments are breeding grounds for bacteria, and every time you use the tube, you’re contaminating it. (Preservatives in the mascara lose efficacy over time.)

Get rid of everything else.

Resist the urge to dump all your castoffs into a garbage bag and call it a day. Donating unwanted items is a great option—though for hygienic reasons it’s essential that they be unused, says Pam Koner, executive director of Family to Family, a nationwide nonprofit that recently helped launch Share Your Beauty, a beauty donation program. The type of product doesn’t matter; if it’s unused, donate it. “While personal-care products, such as soap and shampoo, may be more critical, makeup items like lipstick and mascara are always wanted as well,” says Koner. What about the rest? Much of what’s left over can likely be recycled, though it isn’t quite as easy as tossing stuff into your household recycling bin. Not all plastic is created equal, and not all types of plastic are recyclable. Containers made of PET or HDPE plastic can usually be recycled curbside, notes Gina Herrera, the U.S. director of brand partnerships for TerraCycle, a company that helps recycle hard-to-recycle materials. (The plastic type is usually noted on the bottom of the packaging; look for the recycling symbol and a number from 1 to 7.) You can also recycle certain glass packaging—though, as with plastic, it’s important that it be clean and empty. Recycling rules vary greatly based on location, so check to see what types of materials are accepted by your municipality, advises Herrera. This information can usually be found wherever your local trash and recycling schedule is listed.
RELATED: 11 Steps to Better Skin Caps, pumps, nail polish brushes, fragrance spray tops, and lipstick tubes typically can’t be recycled curbside, says Herrera. Before tossing these materials into the garbage can, ask your retailer if you can bring the packaging back. Companies including Kiehl’sMAC, and Lush offer programs that reward you for returning empties. Another option: TerraCycle has partnered with the beauty brand Garnier to launch a program that accepts personal-care and beauty waste from any brand. Pile your clean beauty discards in a box, create an account on terracycle.com, print out a prepaid shipping label, and drop off the box at any UPS location. Almost everything is accepted except nail polish, perfume, and aerosols, notes Herrera. Drop those items off at a hazardous-waste facility (the search tool on earth911.com can help you find the one nearest to you) and let the pros dispose of them properly.

Other ways to make your beauty routine more sustainable:

To minimize the beauty trash you produce, simple changes go a long way. Perhaps the biggest offenders are face wipes. They’re great for travel, but for daily use, consider swapping wipes for a washable alternative, like the Croon Starter Fibers ($26; justcroon.com) or Face Halo ($22 for 3; facehalo.com). When makeup shopping, opt for refillable compacts for eye shadow, powder, and blush. Kjaer Weis houses its makeup in pretty, refillable metal compacts—even the mascara casing can be reused. When it comes to skin care, go for items in glass packaging, like Tata Harper’s line. (What little plastic the company does use for its tubes is derived from Brazilian sugarcane.) And keep an eye out for Loop, a new waste-free shopping platform that launches in Paris and the New York City area in May, with plans to expand. Loopstore.com will sell products from major beauty companies (like Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and REN Clean Skincare) in glass and stainless-steel containers. When you’ve used them up, send them back to be refilled.

Six Ways You Can Reduce Waste at Home

Including tips on how to recycle more than just plastic bottles. woman mending jeans     Believe it or not, reducing the amount of trash you produce doesn't just positively impact the state of our landfills—it can also give your pocketbook a boost. Sure, it takes time to mend items that you can no longer use or to find new ways to repurpose them elsewhere in your home, but the end result is worth it. Recycling is one of the easiest ways to offset the amount of trash you produce and how much you throw out every day. If you simply can't reuse an item—be it old clothing or tarnished kitchenware—consider these six simple alternatives to sending them off to the landfill.  

Mend Your Clothing

In 1929, the average middle-class man owned six work outfits; the average woman, nine—all built to last. The typical American today buys six items of clothing per month. And we dump an awful lot, too: 84 percent of unwanted attire ended up in landfills or in an incinerator in 2012, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data. To streamline what you own (and, ultimately, what you trash), invest in fewer, higher-quality pieces, and when they wear thin, repair them. The Japanese tradition of sashiko is a form of mending that announces itself with artful designs in white thread. The sewing technique leaves shirt plackets and pant knees thicker and more durable. If you don't want to DIY it, shop at retailers that make mending part of their ethos. Nudie Jeans, for instance, offers free repairs on every pair of its jeans for life. Patagonia does the same for all of its gear, in addition to providing repair instructions, selling used and recycled clothing, and even more through its Worn Wear program.  

Drop Off Plastic Bags

Did you know that retailers will actually take back the plastic bags you used to bring your purchases home? The ones that hold groceries, produce, and dry cleaning are all made of high- or low-density polyethylene, which most municipal recyclers can't accept. But many major retailers, including Target and Walmart, offer drop-off bins. Visit how2recycle.info to find participating stores. reusable glass containers    

Start Using Refillable Containers

Back in the day, the milkman picked up empty bottles. We may soon be able to return ice cream and other containers in the same fashion, thanks to programs underway at Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and several other companies. Together with Terra-Cycle, they're testing a website called Loop, where you can buy food and toiletries in glass, metal, and reusable engineered-plastic vessels and mail them back for more. Nespresso already has a program like this underway: Shoppers can return its pods in prepaid envelopes, where the aluminum gets recycled, and the grounds get composted.   In the meantime, try repurposing glass bottles and jars you have, filling them with food you make or buy in bulk, like grains and beans.  

Turn Denim Into Insulation

Take any stretched, faded, or outdated jeans to J.Crew, Madewell, or a Rag & Bone store. You'll get a discount on a new pair, and the discarded items will get transformed into home insulation as part of these companies' partnerships with Cotton Incorporated's Blue Jeans Go Green initiative.  

Recycle Your Makeup Jars

L'Oréal, Garnier, Burt's Bees, L'Occitane, and more beauty brands are working with the eco-ninjas at TerraCycle to upcycle as much as possible, including tricky mascara tubes. Go to terracycle.com to find a collection point near you (like local drugstores) and drop off your empty packaging. TerraCycle will take it from there.  

Get Composting

Got food scraps? Congratulations: Even in the city, you qualify to transform them into a fertilizer that can help feed the planet. Place fruit and vegetable peels, eggshells, tea leaves, paper tea bags, coffee grounds, and paper filters into an airtight countertop bin to put a lid on the smell—or keep it in a covered bowl in the freezer. Then, take your weekly bag to a municipal site or farmer's market stand, or start a pile in your backyard. Here's how you can get started.  

The Beauty Products Our Editors Are Purging For Spring Cleaning

What’s that smell? No, it’s not the scented dry shampoo that’s masking your unwashed hair. It’s spring. The season of flowers, dreamy manicures, and outdoor mimosas is officially here. Well, almost here. Winter is still holding on like that ex-lover that won’t get the hint, but we can still dream of fresh, floral scent s and rosé cocktails. In preparation for spring, we’re starting to purge the things in our life that don’t bring us joy à la Marie Kondo. And our first target is the bathroom cabinet, where our beauty products are piling up. Over the last few months, we’ve tested so many new releases — some winners and others duds — but it’s time to part ways with the things we don’t need and make room for the newness. We’re also looking into recycling programs, like Terracycle, that sustainability dispose of our beauty goods, because the product purge process involves a lot of plastic. With all that in mind, we asked a few Refinery29 beauty editors to tell us what they’ll be tossing out before spring and which product they’ll be replacing it with. Their picks, ahead.

The Beauty Products Our Editors Are Purging For Spring Cleaning

What's that smell? No, it's not the scented dry shampoo that's masking your unwashed hair. It's spring. The season of flowers, dreamy manicures, and outdoor mimosas is officially here.   Well, almost here. Winter is still holding on like that ex-lover that won't get the hint, but we can still dream of fresh, floral scents and rosé cocktails.   In preparation for spring, we're starting to purge the things in our life that don't bring us joy à la Marie Kondo. And our first target is the bathroom cabinet, where our beauty products are piling up. Over the last few months, we've tested so many new releases — some winners and others duds — but it's time to part ways with the things we don't need and make room for the newness. We're also looking into recycling programs, like TerraCycle, that sustainability dispose of our beauty goods, because the product purge process involves a lot of plastic.   With all that in mind, we asked a few Refinery29 beauty editors to tell us what they'll be tossing out before spring and which product they'll be replacing it with. Their picks, ahead.  

How the Beauty Industry Is Becoming More Earth-Friendly

You want to look great while respecting the planet, right? April Long Mar 15, 2019       Beauty products can have some ugly effects on the environment, choking landfills with trash and polluting our waterways. Thankfully, companies large and small are stepping up their sustainability game, prioritizing the responsible sourcing of ingredients, implementing earth-friendly manufacturing processes, and experimenting with inventive recycling programs. But we all have a role to play. Even the tiniest gestures make an impact, right down to the number of styling products we use in our hair. Here, how you can help.  

The issue: squandering our resources.

  The way plant ingredients in your creams and shampoos are farmed affects local communities and ecosystems—and a product’s overall carbon footprint. One of the most egregious examples is palm oil, whose derivatives appear in a whopping 70 percent of cosmetics. Indiscriminate building of palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia has decimated rainforests, and research indicates that deforestation releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Also, most personal care products use water in manufacturing and as a main ingredient—and the availability of clean, drinkable water is expected to nose-dive by 2050, thanks to climate change, pollution, and increased demand.  

What’s being done?

  Mega-companies are making major changes. L’Oréal, which has committed to being deforestation-free by 2020, and Estée Lauder are working closely with the global nonprofit Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil to ensure that their cultivation methods and sourcing have minimal negative environmental impact.   So is Unilever—the parent company of DoveSt. Ives, and Pond’s—which released its entire supply chain to the public, promising to source all its palm oil sustainably. That’s a big deal, given that Unilever brands go through more than a million metric tons of the stuff per year. In addition, Unilever and L’Oréal are putting resource efficiency front and center, devising innovative ways to use less water in production and with products themselves (low-water-use shampoo, fast-rinse conditioners).   One of the most exciting developments, though, is brought to us by biotechnology, which companies are using to create environmentally responsible ingredients. The skincare line Biossance makes its squalane, a naturally occurring oil traditionally derived from shark livers or olives, from renewable sugarcane, and the brand Algenist’s key anti-agers, alguronic acid and microalgae oil, come from sustainable algae.  

What can you do?

  At home is start by being mindful of your water use. Turn off the shower while shaving, and skip a shampoo occasionally. If you want to go full-on farm-to-face, choose green beauty standouts like JurliqueJuice BeautyDr. Hauschka, and Tata Harper—they all grow botanicals on their own farms. Otherwise, look for labels such as Ecocert, which guarantees the use of renewable ingredients.           Seed Phytonutrients founder Shane Wolf, who worked to develop the first-ever shower-friendly paper bottles, made from 100 percent recycled material and used for the brand’s shampoo, conditioners, cleansers, and hand wash. More than 60 percent of paper is recycled, while less than 10 percent of plastic is, “Any move away from plastic toward paper is a move in the right direction,” says Wolf. And hidden inside each bottle is a packet of seeds, which can be planted to grow heirloom herbs.    

The issue: emissions and pollution.

  Global fossil fuel–related emissions of carbon dioxide reached an estimated record high of 37.1 billion metric tons in 2018, which is putting us on course for a very hot and smoggy planet. Consumers—that’s us!—are calling for accountability and action, and brands are responding.  

What’s being done?

  The big guys are effecting big change. Several items in Garnier’s SkinActive linehave earned Cradle to Cradle certification, which measures environmental impact over the life of a product, and parent company L’Oréal USA has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality for its plants and distribution centers this year by switching to renewable energy. (Fun fact: The Maybelline Great Lash mascaras sold in America are made with 100 percent renewable electricity.)   And remember those plastic microbeads from face scrubs and cleansers that were turning up in lakes and oceans (and fish bellies) a few years ago? They’ve been banned from rinse-off personal care products in the U.S. Small brands are making a difference, too. Most of Tata Harper’s packaging is made from easily recyclable glass (more than one ton of natural resources, like sand or limestone, is saved for every ton of glass recycled), and the plastic used for its tubes is derived from corn rather than petroleum.  

What can you do?

  Try an eco-audit of your own daily beauty regimen, assessing the number of products you buy and how much waste is produced as a result. The Nature Conservatory’s carbon calculator (nature.org) helps you determine your footprint, then offers tips on what you can do to decrease it. One thing you shouldn’t do: Clean your face with a non-biodegradable wet wipe—and you really shouldn’t flush it down the toilet. Why? Just Google “fatberg.”   Former fragrance exec Marcella Cacci launched the skincare line One Ocean Beauty in 2018 with a simple mission: to help protect the health of the oceans. The brand harnesses “blue biotechnology,” which involves reproducing marine extracts from algae, kelp, and seaweed in the lab rather than harvesting them from the sea. This means there’s no impact on the ocean’s natural bounty. “We never hurt the biodiversity,” says Cacci, who adds that the brand has also donated $250,000 to Oceana, the largest global nonprofit focused solely on ocean conservation.  

The issue: waste.

  A staggering eight million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year, with countless pieces of bottle caps and straws in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is actually two large masses between Japan and the U.S. West Coast. If current trends continue, it’s predicted that by 2050, plastic will outweigh fish in our oceans, and 12 billion metric tons of it will sit in landfills. The beauty industry, which produces billions of plastic packaging units annually, has a lot to answer for.  

What’s being done?

  Plenty! Unilever and L’Oréal have committed to using 100 percent recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025; Procter & Gamble, the übercompany behind Pantene, Head & Shoulders, and Herbal Essences, has pledged the same by 2030. Beginning this year, haircare brand Kevin Murphy is going all in, sourcing its packaging from reclaimed ocean plastic, a move that will save more than 360 tons of new plastic annually. Since 2011, Garnier has partnered with TerraCycle to tackle previously unrecyclable beauty packaging, diverting approximately 11.2 million empties from landfills. And at the World Economic Forum in January, a consortium of brands, including REN Clean Skincare and the Body Shop, announced participation in Loop, a shopping program that will offer products in durable packaging that can be returned, sanitized, and reused (like old-school milk bottles). It’s set to launch in the New York City area and France this spring.  

What can you do?

  Excuse us for shouting, but...RECYCLE! According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling just ten plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a laptop for more than 25 hours. Since products used in the bathroom tend to have a low recycling rate (people typically keep their bins in the kitchen), make it easier for yourself by keeping a ready receptacle next to the shower. Need more incentive? Kiehl’s, Lush, and MAC offer freebies when you bring in empties, and others, including Origins and Tenoverten (with nail salons in New York City, Los Angeles, and Austin), will accept containers from other brands as well. When shopping, gravitate toward items without excess packaging (or none at all—Lush’s new Naked concept stores offer bath products, haircare in bar form, and facial soaps with no packaging whatsoever), or look for a label that specifies 100 percent recycled content.   Since its inception in 2013, Beautycounter has become one of America’s most trusted sources for cleaner skincare and makeup. Founder Gregg Renfrew’s top goal is ingredient safety (the company’s do-not-use list includes approximately 1,500 chemicals), and she views sustainability as intrinsically linked to that mission. “We’re committed to making decisions that are based on scientific research, but given the large data gaps around safety and sustainability, it’s extremely complicated,” Renfrew says.   To help close those gaps, Beautycounter partners with researchers and universities, and has screened more than 1,000 ingredients for their effects on our health and the environment. Meanwhile, Renfrew is advocating for increased federal oversight to help clean up cosmetics: She and her team have met repeatedly with D.C. lawmakers to lobby for legislation like the Personal Care Products Safety Act, which would give the FDA the power to, among other things, regulate potentially harmful ingredients.  

The issue: animal testing.

  This practice may not be directly related to the environment, but should concern anyone who cares about our fellow living creatures. While the U.S. is inching toward a ban (California will prohibit the sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals starting next year, and New York and Hawaii have introduced similar legislation), many companies have implemented their own prohibitions on testing. The EU has forbidden it outright, but it’s actually still required for foreign products sold in China. For an international corporation that wants to do business there, this is a problem.  

What’s being done?

  Multinationals and smaller brands alike are pushing for change in China and countries that still permit animal testing; in 2018, the Body Shop and Cruelty Free International (CFI) brought a petition with 8.3 million signatures they’d gathered worldwide to the UN, calling for a global ban.  

What can you do?

  Check labels for a little rabbit; it signifies that CFI’s Leaping Bunny program has certified a product as cruelty-free. If in doubt, check Leaping Bunny’s website or head to PETA to find the rigorously vetted Beauty Without Bunnies list, which ensures that neither brands nor their ingredient suppliers are spritzing hairspray in any animal’s eyes.  


If you recently finished your favorite mascara, and you don’t know what to do with the container — and you’re determined to keep it out of the landfill — Appalachian Wildlife Refuge has the answer for you: They want your used mascara wands for the animals in their care. And no, before you ask, they aren’t looking to achieve longer, darker, or more voluminous lashes for the animals in need. But mascara wands do make for an ideal grooming situation.
For the past two years, the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge has collected used mascara wands as part of their Wands for Wildlife program, which began after they realized that the fine-toothed bristles made mascara wands the perfect tool for caring for the animals in their care.
As Appalachian Wildlife Refuge cofounder Kimberly Brewster explained to Green Matters, the wands are used in various ways with the animals, such as removing fly eggs and larva from feathers and fur of wild animals; grooming an area on an animal to remove dust, dirt, sand, sawdust, etc.; assisting the wildlife rehabilitator in examining for injuries; and cleaning the syringes used for feeding the animals.
Brewster added that “because the bristles are soft and so close together, they reduce the risk of potential injury to the tiny patients — especially squirmy babies.”
On March 10, 2017, Brewster’s fellow cofounder Savannah Trantham posted a call of action on Facebook, explaining the need for used mascara wands — and the response to the viral post was so astounding that today, Wands for Wildlife receives so many donations that they’re able to donate to other wildlife rehabs and facilities, furthering the impact of the donations beyond Appalachian Wildlife Refuge.
Actually donating the wands is easy as could be; once your product is ready to be donated, Wands for Wildlife advises you to clean them in warm, soapy water to remove any product and residue from the wands. Along with the form on their website, you can ship the wands to Appalachian Wildlife Refuge, who will either use it in their own facility or donate it to other organizations who work with animals in need.
In order to truly minimize your impact when it comes to getting rid of your mascara — and keeping your empties out of the landfill — you can also recycle your would-be-hard-to-recycle mascara tube with TerraCycle’s Personal Care and Beauty Recycling Program.
If you don’t wear mascara, there are still countless other ways to help the cause; Appalachian Wildlife Refuge currently has a wishlist of items that would assist them in helping the animals, and — of course — monetary donations are always appreciated as well.
In an email to Green Matters, Brewster explained how moved she’s been by the incredible response their initiative has received. She wrote, “The response to a simple request for mascara wands has been astounding. I honestly have trouble wearing mascara now — the outpouring of compassion brings tears to my eyes almost daily as i read messages, notes, and comments from people all over the world who care about animals, the environment, and just want to help. The world is full of good people wanting to do some good!”

Clean & Green Beauty

You want to look your best—but what if that comes at the price of the planet’s health? Thankfully, some of the biggest brands are making it easier than ever to embrace sustainable beauty. By Lindsy Van Gelder trash in ocean Everyone has a carbon footprint. But you also have a carbon face print, plus a carbon hair print, skin print—even an underarm print. Everything we slather on to make ourselves prettier has the potential to make the world an uglier place with problematic ingredients and packaging. It used to be that consumers who cared about the environment got very little help. You could buy your cosmetics from a small rack at the health food store and upcycle jars and bottles as knickknacks. You could also be the Debbie Downer who reminded everyone that rain forests and rabbits were suffering for our vanity.   But times—and beauty products—are changing. A survey by Unilever-—the maker of   Dove, Vaseline, Love Beauty and Planet, and scores of other brands—found that 78% of U.S. consumers now feel better when they buy products that are sustainably produced. “Consumers are looking for ways to help make an impact,” says Esi Eggleston Bracey, EVP and COO of  North American Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever. As part of a global green strategy to help their customers do just that, she adds, Unilever is working to “make sure 100% of our plastic packaging is re-usable, recyclable or compostable” by 2025. The company’s wide-ranging Sustainable Living Plan also includes a project to transform the industry that manufactures palm oil, an ingredient in shampoo and makeup, among many other products. The cultivation of oil palms has caused severe deforestation, threatening many species, including orangutans in Southeast Asia.   Meanwhile, in a program serving children all over the world who face severe health challenges from contaminated water, Procter & Gamble provided its 14 billionth liter of clean drinking water last year. L’Oréal launched the world’s first shower-proof paper bottle as part of its Seed Phytonutrients personal care line. What’s more, “today all our plants and distribution centers—19 facilities across 12 states—run on renewable energy,” notes Danielle Azoulay, head of corporate social responsibility and sustainability for L’Oréal USA. Several other large beauty companies (and small ones) have also gone over to the green side. And that may be thanks to shoppers like you. “Consumers are starting to push the market, and companies pick up on that,” says Carla Burns, research analyst at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG). But as lovely as it is that many big corporations have stepped up, she adds, consumers need to remain vigilant. For cosmetics, “the FDA still does not regulate words like ‘natural’ or ‘non-toxic,’ ” she explains, and not every company is committed to helping customers make healthy choices. “Packaging can be misleading—lots of green and flowers and bamboo. Consumers need to do their homework about what’s in products and whether they want to put it on their bodies.” So the next time you’re walking the aisles and filling your basket, here are a few things to consider.

Transparency and Ingredients

Although she’s a fan of educated consumers, Burns acknowledges that “not everyone has a degree in chemistry,” and squinting at labels can only get you so far. Plenty of controversial chemicals—DEA, BHA, phthalates, parabens, phenols, triclosan, formaldehyde and more—are permitted in beauty products (American products, anyway; some 1,000 ingredients that have been banned in consumer products in Europe are permitted here).   Even if you were to memorize which chemicals might be irritating or dangerous, they often go by multiple names that can appear on an ingredient list. Plus, federal regulation allows companies to leave some “trade secret” ingredients off  their labels. That’s why the EWG created the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, a website that lists the ingredients and potential hazards of nearly 70,000 products and lets users search by ingredient, product name or company. (The app has been downloaded 1.3 million times.) Ecocert, a European group that operates in scores of countries, including the U.S., certifies that cosmetics contain organic, sustainable, non-synthetic ingredients. Products that pass inspection carry the “Ecocert Organic” or “Ecocert Natural” seal.

Animal Welfare

Again, lists can help shoppers separate the sheep from the goats, as it were. But you can also get a little help from a label’s graphics: Look for the cruelty-free Leaping Bunny logo, awarded by a consortium of eight animal welfare groups, including the Humane Society.   Another list of companies that don’t test on animals is available from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (whose logo is, confusingly, also a bunny.) In addition, the PETA website features a list of cruelty-free vegan companies. (Burt’s Bees, for example, is cruelty-free, but because its products use honey and beeswax, they’re not vegan.) And some brands, like Unilever’s Schmidt’s Naturals, provide funding to animal-loving causes. Its new cruelty-free vegan deodorant, Lily of the Valley, was inspired by a favorite scent of primatologist Jane Goodall, with 5% of all proceeds earmarked for the Jane Goodall Institute.  


You may have heard about that garbage patch in the Pacific that’s twice the size of Texas. In fact, the World Economic Forum has predicted that at the rate humans are trashing the ocean, there will be, pound for pound, more plastic than fish by 2050. And beauty brands are literally cleaning up their acts. For instance, a new bottle for Procter & Gamble’s Herbal Essences shampoo is fabricated with 25% former beach plastic.   You can have a hand in this as well. Familiarize yourself with the types of materials your town recycles, then aim to buy products with appropriate packaging whenever possible. And commit to actually doing the recycling—even if it means remembering to grab that empty shampoo bottle out of the master bathroom and bring it down the stairs and out to the bin in the garage.   Granted, some beauty products are notoriously difficult to recycle—pump dispensers, hairspray triggers, eye shadow cases, lipstick tubes, pencils, shampoo and conditioner bottle caps and almost anything else that’s small. But one of the newest frontiers in eco-beauty is mail-in recycling. Garnier has teamed up with the private recycling company TerraCycle to sponsor free recycling of any brand’s plastics and packaging. It’s small efforts like these that will eventually add up and, ideally, leave our children with a Pacific that has a garbage patch that’s even smaller than Rhode Island.  

11 Items You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle or Upcycle

You’re already recycling paper, bottles, and cans, but there’s so much more that you can keep out of landfills. recycling, logo, recycle Americans use a shocking 100 billion single-use plastic bags a year—a huge number of which make their way into combined sewage overflows and then on to the ocean, where they pollute global waters and kill upwards of 100,000 marine animals per annum, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. You can recycle these and other kinds of soft plastics like dry cleaning bags; find a location near you on plasticfilmrecycling.org. Make sure you know about these 15 things that should never go in the recycling bin.   recycling, logo, recycle Any house with kids is likely to have a never-ending supply of crayons, some of which are too short to use or quickly fall out of favor. Instead of sending these non-biodegradable items to the landfill, though, you can give them a new life and new purpose by donating them. Programs like The Crayon Initiative collect them to distribute to kids in hospitals. You can keep those old, dried-up markers out of landfills as well with the Crayola ColorCyclerepurposing program.   recycling, logo, recycle Eco-minded toothbrushes, made with sustainable materials like bamboo or with disposable, replaceable heads, are helping to keep some of the world’s 3.5 billion toothbrushes out of oceans and landfills every year. But you can do a more efficient job of disposing of the plastic ones too. A collaboration between Sam’s Club, Colgate, TerraCycle, and the Kids in Needs Foundation lets you send your old ones for free to be upcycled into other products. Don’t miss these other 41 ways to save the planet in five minutes or less. recycling, logo, recycle   Tossed batteries are an ecological nightmare, corroding as they sit in the landfill and leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and the air, according to experts. Although they can’t be recycled with regular household metals, there are plenty of places that accept them for recycling, including Staples and Lowes stores. Battery Solutions will accept old batteries through the mail too. recycling, logo, recycleYour empty lipstick, concealer, and eye shadow containers are likely not accepted by your municipal recycling center. So what to do with these gloop-smeared bits of plastic when you’re done with them? Recycle Nation reports that many cosmetics companies are happy to take these tubes and cases off your hands—sometimes giving you a discount on future purchases—so they can turn them into new packaging. You can also send old packaging to TerraCycle through its collaboration with Garnier. On the other hand, these are 11 items you thought were recyclable but actually aren’t. recycling, logo, recycle Almost everyone’s got a drawer in the house holding mystery keys they’ve been hanging on to for years. Rather than throwing them in the regular trash, Recyclebank recommends calling around to your local recycling center to see if they accept them. Most towns won’t take scrap metal in curbside programs, but they might have options for drop-offs. recycling, logo, recycle In our increasingly disposable society, Americans generate close to 16 million tons of textile waste a year—a figure that seems to be growing and leads to a massive strain on landfills and the overall environment. The good news: Clothing and other textiles in good condition are upcyclable—take them to your local Goodwill or sell them to a consignment shop. TerraCycle sells boxes that you can fill with discarded fabrics, which the company will reuse, upcycle, or recycle. Learn more about what happens to your used clothing donations. recycling, logo, recycle Livescience.com reports that almost 54 million tons of e-waste like old computers, tablets, TVs, phones, video game consoles get thrown away a year around the world. Luckily, centers exist widely that will take this stuff off your hands and break it down into usable parts for repurposing or recycling. Find a site near you by plugging in your state on E-cycling Central. A lot of these centers take CDs and DVDs as well. Just make sure you do this one thing before recycling an old phone. recycling, logo, recycle   Remodeling your bathroom? Believe it or not, many recycling centers will take your old toilet and turn it into the concrete that goes into local roads and sidewalks. Chasinggreen.org suggests calling around to facilities near you to see what the procedure is—you make have to remove the seat and any screws or bolts before they’ll take your toilet off your hands. recycling, logo, recycle   Lions Club has long set out bins in easy-to-find locations, where you can place donations of old prescription eyewear—according to greenamerica.org, the lenses are re-ground so they can be donated to people in need. The site points out that many eye doctors’ offices collect used glasses as well. Check out these other 12 simple ways to reduce waste—and save money. recycling, logo, recycle It’s inevitable—every winter you unpack the holiday decoration boxes, untangle the strings of white and colored lights, only to discover that at least one strand of them has gone dead. Programs abound for recycling them, and some even reward you with discounts or gift cards. You can find a list of possible drop-off spots at houselogic.com. Read on for 30 ways to recycle just about anything.

10 Key Trends in Natural and Organic Beauty

TerraCycle APAC general manager Eric Kawabata said the issue is that most fast-moving consumer goods were designed for single-use, with packaging ending in landfill or incineration. His company aims to eliminate the idea of waste by collecting waste materials and using them to create new products. His organization has already partnered with cosmetic companies such as Garnier, Colgate-Palmolive, and P&G.