When I moved to Italy, for the first time in my life, I realized that I needed to increase my zero-waste efforts. On one hand I got to enjoy the luxury of living on my own. Like everyone else in my area, I would take out my plastic waste once every two weeks for recycling. Never before had I collected my rubbish for such a long time though and that’s when I realized the astounding amount of plastic a single person can generate. 

What makes matters even worse is I’ve been environmentally conscious for the longest time. I shop for produce in reusable cotton bags, I travel with a set of utensils and a metal water bottle, I decline any leaflets, I buy second hand, etc. 

Still, I needed to put in extra effort to reduce plastic consumption once I saw the waste being created. It is burdensome because many products are unnecessarily packaged in plastic.

Here are 8 easy zero waste swaps for beauty products and tools:

1. Reusable Makeup Remover Pads

Cotton rounds have so many uses besides removing your makeup: cleaning your face, spreading some tonic, removing nail polish, etc. This is why it is a great idea to purchase some reusable makeup remover pads. 

Contrary to what you would expect, they are easy to wash. You can hand-wash them right away or throw them in the washing machine. Either way, there will be no stains from your lipstick or mascara. 

A reusable cotton round can be washed up to 1,000 times! This equals almost three years of daily use. 

2. Sustainable Cotton Swabs

The little plastic holder of cotton swabs looks so unassuming and harmless. Like 50% of all plastic, it will serve a single use and then remain on Earth for several decades. Plastic decomposition in a landfill takes about 1,000 years.

Nowadays, there are various alternatives on the market. There are bamboo or paper-based cotton buds that do the job just as well. 

 3. Bamboo Toothbrush

Dentists recommend swapping your toothbrush every three to four months to avoid bacteria accumulation. Switching to a bamboo toothbrush might cost you a bit more (depending on what plastic brushes you are currently using). Yet, yearly the extra spending is negligible when considering the environmental impact. 

As you can see, bamboo is a popular substitute for many plastic tools. 

Despite its tree-like appearance, bamboo belongs to the grass family. It requires no pesticides and little water to grow. When cut, bamboo grows from the same stem, preserving the soil where it has been planted. Plus, it matures a lot faster than most trees. It can be harvested every three years while some trees need more than 30 years to grow fully.

Nevertheless, bear in mind that most bamboo is produced in China. No matter how sustainable a product might appear, its transportation also impacts the environment. Whenever possible, go for local products, especially those coming from small businesses.

4. Plastic-Free Dental Floss

On the topic of dental hygiene, most dentists also recommend regularly flossing your teeth to clean the area that is not accessible when brushing.

Standard dental floss is made of nylon (a type of plastic) and chemicals that help it slide in tight areas. According to studies, some of these chemicals (PFAS) can cause serious health issues.

Currently, you can find dental floss made of corn or rice fibers with natural vegetable wax for better glide. Some brands even add organic extracts, such as ginger, that aid with gum and tooth health.

 5. Plastic Free Shampoo, Conditioner, and Soap Bars

Buying soap bars versus using liquid soap is better for the environment as bars are often sold in minimal packaging or even without wrapping. Beware that some soap bars still come with a plastic cover. 

Shampoo and conditioner bars are less common, yet their popularity is growing because they are very convenient for travel. You won’t have to worry about the volume of your cosmetics nor their environmental effect.

6. Reusable Menstrual Cup or Reusable Pads

The conventional ways of managing your period are no longer the only option. Switching to reusable pads or a menstrual cup can significantly reduce your environmental footprint. You might think that these sanitary products are too small to make a difference. Yet, a woman creates about 150kg of waste related to her period during a lifetime. 

Conversely, a single menstrual cup can substitute all of the pads and tampons you’d use for two years. If you take proper care of your washable pads, they can remain sanitary and in good condition for up to four years. Imagine the difference you can make by switching to sustainable hygiene products.

7. Eco-Friendly Deodorant

Whether you’re using a stick deodorant packaged in plastic or a spray deodorant that releases chemicals aiding smog formation, you can make a better choice. There are various sustainable packaging options on the market: paper, glass, metal tins, etc. 

In addition, most brands that have turned into household names test their products on animals. At the same time, companies that make sure to provide environmentally-friendly packaging often develop cruelty-free non-toxic formulas. Check out the Natural Skin Guide to Best Toxin Free Deodorant.

8. Wooden Hairbrush

If your hairbrush is still in excellent condition, keep it. Going out to buy new things that you don’t need just because of the eco-trend is not sustainable.

Nevertheless, next time you need a brush, consider buying a wooden one. Wooden bristles are gentle both to your hair and your scalp. They pick up the natural moisture that builds up in the roots and spread it down to condition the rest of your hair. They massage the scalp and aid hair growth. Last but not least, they minimize frizz, which makes them an excellent choice for people with curly hair. 

As you can see, there are many benefits to a wooden brush aside from its eco-friendliness.

 Making Better Choices

When purchasing products, I’d like to encourage you to look into a few different things.

Firstly, of course, is whether the product has a plastic or sustainable packaging. Alternatively, it is also a great idea to support brands that use recycled plastic

Secondly, choose local products over items that have been shipped from thousands of miles away.

Thirdly, stay clear of chemical ingredients that might be harmful to your health or the environment. 

Hopefully, these last few pieces of advice, and this list of eight eco-friendly beauty products and tools will help you make better choices. These choices will benefit you and the environment. 

Author’s Bio: Eva Milano is an avid traveler, who is trying to raise awareness about environmental issues. She is also a yoga and meditation teacher, and blogs about it at Elevate Calm.

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