by Grace Claro
Let’s face it, sometimes being a responsible consumer can be hard. It can seem like every bottle of shower gel and shampoo is promoting its eco-friendly attributes. From “recyclable packaging” to “palm free,” to “plant-based cleansers,” cosmetics companies are using the language of sustainability as an attractive sales stimuli. But how can we be sure we are buying products that meet these criteria? Luckily for all of you Motley readers out there, I have put together this ethical beauty edit that will guide you in finding the best products for your money and the environment.
Before we begin, we should ask ourselves just what is it that makes a product ‘sustainable’? Even if the packaging is recyclable like PET and HDPE plastics, upwards of eighty grams of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere in the production of one 500ml plastic shampoo bottle. Ingredients like palm oil create havoc in the environment as a result of intensive monoculture in the global south, silicones’ petro-chemicals which form the basis of soaps and detergents seep into soils and water systems and take decades to break down, if ever. So, with these grim realities in mind, here is my list of five ethical beauty swaps that you can easily implement into your daily self-care routine.
My number one swap has got to be good old fashioned soap bars. Do away with plastic shower gel bottles and liquid soap dispensers, revert to a trusty bar of soap and you will be saving on resources and emissions. My personal favourites are the Palm Free soap bars from Zero Waste Irish Soap Ltd, a company based in Co.Clare who make vegan and cruelty free soap. I usually pick them up at Quay Coop, but I have also seen them in Horans Health Stores. You can also buy them from their online shop here.
Number two is solid shampoo and conditioner. I have tried many zero-waste hair care alternatives in my time and the star items for me would have to be the Honey I Washed My Hair solid shampoo, and the Jungle solid conditioner from Lush. They retail at around €10 each but don’t be put off by the price, these bars can last several months.
Number three is a really quick oil-based makeup cleanser recipe. Use a glass bottle or repurpose a plastic one and fill it with two thirds olive oil. Get yourself some organic castor oil (available in Holland and Barrett) and top up the remaining third of the bottle. Give it a mix around and you have an environmentally friendly, all natural makeup remover on a budget. I use a plain muslin cloth to remove the oil once it has broken down my makeup. I have been using this recipe over a year now and it is absolutely foolproof.
Number four is for my fellow menstruators out there. Natracare are a range of sanitary products that are made from organic cotton, cellulose, and bio-plastic. While ordinary sanitary towels have a plastic base which will take 400 years to biodegrade, these are 100% biodegradable and will break down in just a few weeks. Natracare products are available in Horans Health Stores and in the Quay Coop.
And number five, where would we be without our bamboo toothbrushes in 2020? It goes without saying that a bamboo handle is better than a plastic one. Colgate released their very own bamboo toothbrushes earlier in the year so there is no excuse but to get on the dental sustainability bandwagon…if there even is one.
It can be hard to associate carbon emissions and destruction of biodiversity with the items we use in the shower every day, but it is important that we inform ourselves in order to make better choices when we buy. Hopefully, these swaps will inspire you to do just that.