Every choice we make as individuals has an impact on the world around us, your skincare routine is no exception. The products that you use have to come from somewhere, and the packaging has a life once you’re done with your creams and serums.
So how do you choose products that are environmentally friendly, but will still give your skin what it needs? One of the biggest choices you can make is to opt for zero waste skincare that’s plastic-free.
What Does Zero Waste Mean?
You may have heard the term zero-waste being thrown around a lot. From all-natural, to clean, to sustainable, to cruelty-free, to zero waste, there are so many different labels for products that claim to be eco-friendly.
While all are important and serve a purpose, they’re not interchangeable.
So what’s the difference between all of them and zero waste?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, zero-waste means, “The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”
In layman’s terms, they’re saying that zero waste involves responsibility for creating products and packing without threatening the environment and the health of humans.
What does this have to do with your skincare routine?
Choosing sustainable skincare products that are made with these regulations in mind helps to reduce waste and support the health of the planet – and you!
When it Comes to Skincare, What Does Zero Waste Mean?
When it comes to skincare, zero-waste means conservation of all resources – including packaging, manufacturing, and the ingredients in the actual products. Choosing zero-waste skincare is an opportunity to make a decision that will positively impact the planet.
What are some things to look out for when looking for zero-waste products?
- If they are plastic-free.
- If the product is cruelty-free.
- What ingredients are in it and were they sourced sustainably?
- If the company has a container recycling program.
- If you personally would reuse the container.
The beauty and skincare industries are historically pretty wasteful. There have been minimal regulations around ingredients and packing. Even companies that tout natural products may not have the most sustainable packaging or practices
So you may have a natural skin care routine, but that doesn't mean it's a zero waste skincare routine. Crazy, right?
That confusion, combined with the messaging that you constantly need to buy more to fit a certain standard of beauty has led to a whole lot of waste.
That’s why it’s pretty revolutionary that so many companies are pushing to change the status quo to push for zero-waste skincare.
Importance of Zero Waste for The Planet
Zero waste isn’t just a trendy term, it’s one of the easiest ways to combat climate change. Climate change has so many different levels to it.
While your individual choices matter, so do the ones of companies and industries. The more individual consumers push for zero waste products, the more companies will respond and create them.
That being said, most of the responsibility does fall on the industries and companies that are creating products. Every company that starts to lean for zero waste creates more and more momentum and influence so that others can follow suit.
While most products that are produced on a large scale are probably aren’t completely zero waste, every little bit counts. But what are the actual benefits of it for the planet?
Reduces Energy-Related Emissions
Everything that is created takes energy. If you break it down into individual steps, there are so many ways that energy is used to bring that jar of moisturizer into your medicine cabinet.
According to the World Nuclear Association, “Over 40% of energy-related CO2 emissions are due to the burning of fossil fuels for electricity generation.”
While there are other ways of producing energy like solar-powered, nuclear energy, and hydropower, fossil fuels are the main source of energy production for the world at this time.
It’s pretty simple when you cut back on the number of things that need to be produced, you also cut down on energy-related emissions.
Recycling and practicing zero waste saves the amount of energy used to make new things. When you recycle packaging, it takes less energy to make the product, in turn cutting back on emissions.
There are a lot of incentives for creating zero waste products for companies and consumers, one being that they’re more cost-effective.
Once companies have an efficient system in place, the less they use, the more they’re saving. Energy consumption is not only harmful to the environment but expensive as well.
For individuals, the less packaging and plastic waste they’re creating, the more money they’re saving. If you buy less, you spend less. This is a great incentive for your wallet and your moral obligation to take care of the planet.
Some cities are pushing for “Pay as You Throw Programs.” This is an incentive-based system that treats waste the same as other utilities like water and electricity. Programs like this allow households to pay less if they recycle more, have fewer trash bags, or smaller trash cans.
Programs like these along with curbside recycling can reduce more greenhouse gasses per dollar spent. So now only are you spending less on the products in the first place, you’re also saving money when you dispose of them.
The other way that zero waste is cost-efficient is that it supports the economy. This kind of production creates jobs in a more sustainable way.
In many metropolitan areas, around 20% of municipal budgets are spent on waste management. If less waste is produced, these funds can be used for more beneficial projects.
Take the automobile industry, recycling can increase the job market demand by 120%. Zero waste creates opportunities for jobs to be created in the areas of reducing, reusing, and recycling. These products aren’t going to do it themselves! They need humans to move things along.
Reduces Carbon Footprint
A big component of conservation and environmentalism is reducing your carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gasses that are produced by your actions. This includes electricity you use to power your devices and heat your home, the gas you put in your car, and the energy that goes into the products that you use.
Reducing, reusing and recycling can help prevent deforestation and land-use changes that account for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a huge percentage in the reduction of the total amount of waste emissions, all thanks to zero-waste products.
Preventing deforestation is also critical here. Not only do we need trees for life on Earth, but they are also a critical part of combating climate change.
Trees and other plants take carbon dioxide from the air and transform it into oxygen.
These super-beings not only give us one of the key building blocks to life, but they also are essential for maintaining the health of the planet and counteracting the damage that humans have done.
Although carbon footprint is typically thought of on an individual level, all of our carbon footprints work together to either harm or help the health of the planet.
Humans aren’t the only beings on this planet. When products are created, the manufacturing process can potentially harm wildlife and the ecosystems they inhabit.
You’ve probably seen pictures of turtles and other marine mammals tied up in plastic from six-packs or drinks, or seen birds mistaking plastic waste for food.
Reducing your consumption of plastic packaging and waste also helps preserve wildlife. Every little bit of plastic-free packaging you use helps prevent an animal from being harmed by it.
Choosing plastic-free skincare products that are made from sustainable ingredients like squalane and coconut oil means less impact on the environment and the wildlife that lives there.
You can even take things a step further and opt for products that are certified cruelty-free, meaning the products don't harm or kill animals anywhere in the world.
Importance of Zero Waste for Your Own Health
The health of the planet is mirrored in our individual health. Every decision you make that benefits the planet also tends to be better for your personal health, and vice versa.
How can opting for a zero waste skincare routine help benefit your own health?
Improved Physical Health
Zero waste isn’t just what the product comes in, it also has to do with the ingredients in the product itself. Unfortunately, many of the products we use are full of toxic chemicals and ingredients. This includes cleaning products, building materials that we live in, and of course – your skincare.
Your skincare products don’t just sit on your face. Your skin is your body’s biggest organ, and it’s porous.
When you use products that are made with harmful ingredients, they can seep into your skin barrier and bloodstream, potentially leading to issues down the road, or leading to more skin irritation.
Clean skincare products made without ingredients like parabens and sulfates can help reduce the number of toxins that your face and skin encounter, no matter what your skin type is, as well as the amount that you breathe in.
Simply put, sustainability and skincare go hand in hand. Your individual choices impact the world at large. It feels good to make choices that support your health and give you peace of mind about the products that you’re using.
One of the biggest ways that creating a zero-waste skincare routine can benefit you personally is by improving your overall well-being. Your self-care routine is an opportunity to boost your physical, mental, and emotional health. These all feed into how you feel at the end of the day.
As we mentioned, buying lots of products can put a big dent in your budget. Leaning towards a zero-waste lifestyle reduces unnecessary spending and helps you think about your actions as a consumer.
When you feel better in one area of your life, it feeds into the others. If your physical health is better, then your mental health tends to be better. If you feel healthy overall, then your wellbeing is improved.
If your breathing is improved thanks to the trees and a decrease in chemicals, then your mental health will also be better. The possibility of a cleaner, healthier future improves mentality and morale.
It feels good to be part of something that’s bigger than you. You are an integral part of this planet and the choices you make matter.
Not only that, but you can create an influence on the people in your life. When your friends and family see the choices that you make to support your health and the environment, it starts to rub off on them.
Do you see how all these things feed into each other? That’s a holistic approach to skincare and life.
Simplify Your Routine
When it comes to the health of the planet, it may seem like you have to do all the things, right now. But it can take time to adapt to a zero-waste and plastic-free skincare routine.
To get you started, try choosing sustainable, eco-friendly, zero-waste skin care brands and products as you run out of ones you already have.
You may even start to reevaluate what products you do have, and if you can simplify your routine a bit.
Even the best zero-waste skincare brands and products still have some impact on the environment. All it takes is a few clean products with natural ingredients, recyclable or compostable packaging, and a desire to make a positive difference for the planet and your health to keep your skin healthy and feeling great.
TLDR: Sometimes less is more. For you, and the planet.