When I started my career in beauty, getting glamorous new products was the culmination of my work. And while getting my hands on the newest serums, foundations and conditioners is still exciting, I now have an over-awareness of the waste that results from the whole process. For example, when I asked for a brand a product for testing, they sent me three extra products that i could not even use because they do not fit my skin type. And don’t make me start with all the packaging.
I realize that I can not change the beauty industry – and product testing will always be, in a way, part of my job – but I can change my practices. After spending two weeks watching my trash and consulting a sustainability expert on how I could change my habits, I found some tangible, workable ways to do better.
1. Manage my warehouse
Even if it were not my job to write about beauty, I would probably still have too many products. But adapting to my waste habits has made me realize that I need to be more prudent about how many * things * come into my collection — which means no to samples. I already have a fairly stable inventory, which I can be better at shopping for both my personal use and inspiration for articles. For beauty-loving colleagues out there, it is important to stay on top of what you have and make sure you do not keep more that you can actually use (beauty products eventually run out).
I am in the unique position of having to try products quite regularly and admittedly not everything I try is a permanent place on my shelf. However, thanks to sustainability expert Jhánneu Roberts, I now know I can be more creative with the ways I use these products. For example, a face cream that I have used a few times but have not used love can be reused as a hand cream, lipstick can be the perfect creamy blush, and the remaining shampoo and conditioner are A + shaving cream alternatives.
2. Get rid of the excess in the right way
Some elements of my beauty routine will inevitably end up as waste, but now I know there are smarter ways to handle excess.
There are some consumables in my schedule that I can not part with — such as tissues, makeup sponges, and swabs. Instead of using the traditional versions of these things that go straight into the trash when I’ve finished using them, I realized that switching to recyclable options allows for a more sustainable alternative: composting.
Before the challenge, I already used paper towels made from recycled paper and cotton swabs without plastic, but I always threw them in the trash. Now, I decided to put the trash can under my toiletry bag strictly for compostable items such as cardboard, paper towels, cotton swabs and compostable beauty sponges. Not only that, it keeps these items separate from my real ones Rubbish so that I can easily add them to my kitchen compost pile (which I compost through SmartCompost.nyc), but it also makes me more aware of how much real garbage I create and to keep cutting.
Then there are the licenses. I have known for a long time that city centers can not recycle most beauty containers because they are made of mixed plastic, but that retailers like Nordstrom and Credo Beauty have programs that allow you to leave gaps for proper disposal. Instead of doing this, though, I usually leave them in my closet … which is better than throwing them in the trash, but still not great. My waste experiment, lasting 2 weeks, set me on fire after all get rid of it the right way and the process was incredibly easy. As soon as I got to my local Nordstrom, I found the BEAUTYCYCLE box in the beauty department and left my gaps.
3. Staying careful
The most important thing I learned throughout this process is that being more sustainable depends on awareness. Although it is impossible to do completely zero waste (for me at least), paying more attention to my habits has made a real difference in the amount of waste I generate. And while the choices I make will not change the world on its own, it is a small step to make it better.
My beauty track record and finding ways I can change it was really impressive and made me realize better where I can improve in other aspects of my life. If you’re interested in doing the same, I promise it will be worth it.
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