Lately you may have seen the words zero waste on your body lotion (and if that’s the case, we applaud you). It’s a growing trend within the beauty industry, and as someone who has spent the better part of a decade reporting on such matters, it’s the trend I am most excited about.
To get a better understanding of what this term actually means, I spoke to Tiila Abbitt, the CEO and founder of Aether Beauty, a sustainable makeup company that launched the first zero-waste eye shadow palette in the makeup industry.
"Zero waste means making sure nothing ends up in a landfill," explains Abbitt. "That can mean a few things: One is that a product is reusable, another is that it can actually be recycled." (I’m going to interrupt here briefly to drop in that oft-quoted National Geographic stat about how 91% of plastic ends up in landfills.) "And on that note, it’s making sure there is no packaging or packaging waste. The main idea is to limit what actually goes directly in your trash."
She concedes that "this idea can be intimidating because people think they have to completely switch up their entire lifestyle," but this isn’t about perfection. "We don’t need a few people creating a zero-waste lifestyle perfectly. We need millions of people trying their best, thinking more about their own footprint and making better choices with the goods they are purchasing, however imperfectly, to make a difference." In sum, it’s not an all-or-nothing affair.
So, how do we do this? "Look for products that have less waste, are package-free or are fully recyclable. And avoid single-use items like face wipes and cotton rounds," shares Abbitt. We’re also fans of Garnier’s partnership with TerraCycle, which processes plastic for you and turns it into earrings and benches and more, and brands like M.A.C and Lush that offer new products in exchange for empties. And beyond carefully choosing your beauty products, start bringing reusable items like shopping bags, coffee mugs and water bottles, utensils and metal straws with you for when you are out and about. OK, now who’s ready to shop some of our favorite sustainable beauty products?
Aether Beauty Rose Quartz Crystal Gemstone Palette
Talk about a 360 approach. Everything from the palette itself (which is made from FSC-certified paper and printed with water-based soy ink) to the shadow pans (which are made from recycled aluminum) and the elastic closure (which replaces traditional magnets that are not recyclable)has sustainability in mind. Plus, the shadows themselves are richly pigmented and buttery in texture, with shades ranging from an everyday beige to a stunning rose-gold shimmer.
Ethique Heali Kiwi Solid Shampoo Bar
Say goodbye to plastic bottles and pumps. Packaged with a compostable label and made with 100% sustainably sourced ingredients like neem and oatmeal, this solid shampoo smells delightfully of kiwi and is particularly soothing to dry, itchy scalps. (Also, 20% of the brand’s profits are donated to environmental charities.)
Follain Refillable Everything Soap
Fans of castile soap will love this multipurpose (and completely nontoxic) cleanser. Use it to wash hands and dishes, on kids and on pets. The silky lather is gentle on every surface, and the glass bottle can be refilled at any Follain store, so you reduce the number of plastic bottles in your home. Choose from a fresh lavender or lemongrass scent (we’re partial to the lavender).
Makeup Eraser Makeup Remover Cloth
Fact: An estimated 7.6 billion pounds of makeup wipes are thrown into landfills each year (making them the third most wasteful product in the world). Pretty staggering, right? Enter the makeup eraser, a super-soft reusable cloth that gently whisks away all traces of makeup on your face. To use, soak it in warm water and wipe off your makeup as you normally would. When you’re done, toss it in the laundry. Each cloth lasts up to a thousand washes and is just as effective (if not more) than its single-use counterparts.
Edwin Jagger Double-Edge Safety Razor
Though a safety razor may take some getting used to initially, it’s actually preferred by many because it delivers a closer shave with less irritation. (The trick is to hold the razor at a 30-degree angle and not press down too hard on the blade.) Simply guide it over your skin and take your time with it. In addition to its cosmetic benefits, think of all the plastic you’ll be saving by not using disposable razors anymore.