What is not sustainable: Chanel refusing to repair an 8-year-old handbag deemed ‘too old’ to restore. This was back in 2015, a mere 5 years ago, when I took my beloved Chanel tweed handbag (purchased at a highly discounted rate when working for the group) into the brand’s Bond Street flagship store. I asked if they could repair a small frayed patch of tweed which had been rubbed down to a threadbare state against my winter coats. The rest of the handbag was still in great condition, from the leather piping to the chain shoulder strap. But the look on the sales assistant’s face said it all: why would they repair ‘old’ bags (it doesn’t even qualify as vintage) when new season purchases are the main focus? I’m glad to report that my tweed handbag was restored to its former glory thanks to my mum who, with colour-matching threads and a needle, made it look as good as new. Of course there are plenty of services that specialise in renovating well worn but high quality handbags, and in the last two years many brands have stepped away from this chuck-away-and-buy-new attitude. This change is filtering through to beauty too, so to join the green movement, here are six sustainable tips you can bring to your everyday beauty habits.
1. Seek minimal packaging
From overly heavy glass fragrance bottles to unnecessarily big boxes, excessive packaging within beauty is gradually disappearing – or at least improving. There’s still a way to go but when it comes to packaging, one of the most planet-friendly formats you could choose is probably the humble bar soap, on which I posted in Bar Soap: The Most Sustainable Beauty Product? Not only is it long-lasting and preservative-free, it’s ultra light on packaging and carbon footprint-friendly (compact to transport). The solid soap is the perfect sustainable choice for your bathroom – mine is currently sporting Earth Kind’s solid shampoo, boasting a pH of 5 to 6 (same as skin and hair), ensuring its velvety lather is non-drying.
2. Opt for large formats
When it comes to beauty products, bigger is better. If you buy the same shampoo or body lotion time and again then you might as well pick the biggest size available. This means you buy less often, usually for a better price per ml, and a higher proportion of your spend goes on product vs packaging. Check out the likes of Love Beauty and Planet which offers body care in large 400ml to 500ml recycled bottles. Right now I’m using Caudalie’s Nourishing Body Lotion which comes in a 400ml pump dispenser.
3. Prioritise circular economy
Traditional consumption patterns go along the lines of: make, use, dispose. This throwaway culture touches most industries and has resulted in ever growing landfill sites and plastic pollution amongst other things. Plastic has been vilified in recent years, with its reputation for single use and the disturbing images of plastic waste in the stomachs of turtles and albatrosses. But what if it remained in a circular economy? This means materials are kept in use for as long as possible, reducing waste and the negative environmental impact. So a plastic water bottle for example, once emptied would be recycled, the material returned to the manufacturer to be made into another water bottle – or maybe a shampoo bottle. Tabitha James Kraan’s Clean Shampoo bottle is made from 100% post-consumer plastic bottle, and the quality is so good I didn’t realise until I read it on the bottle.
4. Look for certified ingredients and formulas
A certification can put your mind at ease on your beauty product’s green credentials. As well as the packaging it comes in, there’s also the actual formula to take into consideration. A certified cruelty-free product guarantees that no animals were harmed or killed anywhere in the world in the making of the product – this includes animal testing. For organic formulas look out for the Soil Association certification, the most popular logo found in the UK. This organisation has been certifying organic and natural beauty products since 2002 and is the UK’s leading organic certifier. This guarantees that the product not only contains a very high percentage of organic, but also sustainable, ingredients. The manufacturing process is very stringent: no GM, pesticides or herbicides are allowed. Fushi’s sea buckthorn oil is certified organic and cruelty-free, as are many of their oils which offer all sorts of skin benefits, from protection to rejuvenation.
5. Use multi-purpose products
This doesn’t just benefit the planet but also your wallet and bathroom cabinet. With beauty enthusiasts increasingly shunning complex skincare routines, it’s time to strip out the superfluous beauty steps and focus on products that deliver more. Alexa Sky Botanicals offers natural skincare featuring handmade products packed with organic oils, aromatic waters and active botanical extracts. One of its star products, The One Balm, qualifies as a true multi-tasker. So far I’ve used it to remove light makeup (wiping it off with a wet muslin cloth), cleanse skin, exfoliate, moisturise dry lips and elbows, and nourish cuticles. At this rate it could topple my trusty lipbalm off the desert island beauty product spot.
6. Pay attention to postal packaging
If you’re partial to online buying (and who isn’t?), it’s worth paying attention to how your purchases are packaged. Do they come in a recyclable – maybe even recycled – cardboard mailing box with shredded paper, or in a definitely not recyclable jiffy bag with bubble wrap and polystyrene chips (although nowadays you can find biodegradable options made of corn starch)? The likes of eco-friendly beauty subscription box Leo’s Box pays attention to every detail: cardboard box, unbleached shredded paper, 100% recyclable and biodegradable paper tape, and recycled paper leaflet. It’s the whole package that needs to be taken into consideration.
What sustainable habits have you recently introduced into your beauty routine? Please share your tips by leaving a comment below.
Features gifted product.