We’ve all seen the picture of the seahorse with its tail entwined in a single cotton wool bud. A depressing reminder that at the rate we’re going, by 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. But when it comes to sustainability, banning, reducing and reusing plastic is only the beginning. We’ve got to consider all of the world’s natural resources, from its forests and fuel, to its air. That said, here is a great place to start.
BEWARE OF GREENWASHING
If you’re unfamiliar with the practice of greenwashing, here’s a primer: brands package themselves as being green, or greener, in order to appeal to more conscious consumers.
Yes, beauty brands love to shout about how great they are, whether it’s that they’re clean or green, natural or vegan. But often these claims are misleading, a result of fudging facts, finding loopholes and being purposefully ambiguous. There’s not much to stop them, either. A brand can say it’s ‘vegan-friendly’ so long as some of its products are kind to animals, not all of them. Meanwhile a product can claim to be organic just because it has one organic ingredient in it, never mind the other 99. To us this is like getting an A in an exam you cheated in. Or claiming a four cheese pizza is vegan because it’s got spinach on. Yeah, exactly.
These terms are open to vast and varied interpretation, which is why we wanted to have clear, shoppable categories, so you don’t get caught out. Rest assured that all of the brands in ours, have been vetted and then some.
Brands are having to work hard to change the mindset of consumers who associate luxury products with posh packaging. It goes without saying that velvet pouches, plastic spatulas and reels of cellophane are a blight on the environment. In this instance, less really is more.
So what’s considered ‘good’ packaging? Well, glass isn’t necessarily better than plastic, because although it’s endlessly recyclable, it’s heavier, and therefore has a bigger carbon footprint. Swings and roundabouts, see. That said, there’s no excuse for single-use plastic anymore. Not when post-consumer recycled plastic exists, which can turn an old milk carton into a new shampoo bottle – part of it, anyway. Best of all though, is plant-based packaging made from materials like sugar cane, which is used by clever Aussie brand Inika.
[SUB] RECYCLE AND REFILL
Before you recycle empties, make sure they’re cleaned out properly. No dregs in the bottom of your shampoo bottle – your local council will not appreciate it (or you). Also consider the components of what you’re chucking. Pumps for example, have metal springs in them and must be disposed of separately, in your regular non-recycling bin.
Refillable products are a great way to cut down your plastic consumption, the thinking being that you have one 'forever' bottle, that can constantly be topped up. They’re great for everything from shampoo and conditioner, to body lotion, hand soap and cleaning products, and brands like La:Bruket and Tincture are leading the charge. You’ll notice that fewer brands offer refills for skincare, this is because the majority of formulas contain active ingredients, which need to be kept stable, i.e. not exposed to air and light.
From being aware of greenwashing to considering what your products are made out, and how to dispose of them properly, these points lay the foundation for more conscious consumption. Shop our edit of brilliant products below.
Shop Our Sustainability Edit
With bamboo sourced from trusted farming and tips made from organic cotton, these buds are as eco-friendly as they come.
Nuddy Ultra Volume Blow Dry Shampoo Bar, £8.95
This acai berry and peach shampoo bar nourishes and repairs hair, and as its name suggests, it’s completely plastic free.
A lightweight oil full of vitamins, antioxidants, and powerhouse botanicals brought to you by the UK’s first carbon neutral brand. Cool, eh?
With eco-friendly packaging made from sugar cane, this oil-absorbing primer blurs pores and keeps make-up firmly in place.
Formulated with pink sea salt, spray this on damp hair to coax textured, beachy waves.