A seemingly typical start to Saturday morning had my 4 year old waking me up to the sound of "Mummy, can I have my breakfast now?" resonating in my ears.
Reluctantly, as I prepared his favourite brand of cereal with a banana and looked around at the flat I knew I needed to clean the place up before the day kicked in. The bin collection had just been on Thursday so I knew I needed to get the recycling bags and blue bin ready for the pending collection. I made my way around the kitchen, folding and packing all that I could see and slowly ventured around the rest of the flat.
As I entered the bathroom of my two bedroom apartment, I noticed my cosmetics cupboard staring at me - knowing that it hadn't been emptied for some time, with reluctance I started pulling out my cosmetics, shelves of dried foundation and emptied shower gels that I'd been too lazy to move for months! Containers, bottles of all shapes and sizes crammed into the bag...wow! For a small bathroom, there sure was a lot of stuff hiding away in those cupboards! It got me thinking, why was there so much plastic in there? How could I reduce the amount of packaging heading into this bag each week? Do companies know how much plastic they're actually producing? Do they even care? Fast forward a few hours and I was scouring the internet for eco-friendly alternatives to bathroom essentials, feminine care and cosmetic products, just to see if there are any brands out there that care to save the amount of toxic waste being produced and then dumped into landfill and our precious oceans. Fortunately, I was able to find them. Why didn't I think about this before? Why had I only noticed this now? A pang of guilt consumed me as I realised that as a consumer, I had been a willing contributor to a wider problem and not a part of the solution.
I'm not saying that this seemingly typical Saturday has radically changed my life, but I can confess that it has changed my perspective on my own bad habits. This is why I've jotted down just a few ways that we can work together, support the brands doing the right thing and make small changes to our daily routines, that collectively might give us a chance at making our planet a more habitable and sustainable place for our loved ones and many generations to come, of whom my son is an integral part.
Here are 5 simple ways to change your cosmetic buying habits for the better
1. Ditch single use plastic
This was an obvious one when I thought about the kitchen and the office, but when it came to my bathroom I was making the same repeated mistakes. Look out for companies that provide refills for your make-up bottles! It's an easy way to hold on to your bottles for longer so they avoid that blue bin more often. Scrutinise your makeup cupboard, drawer and bag and look out for those cheeky shampoo and body wash bottles.It's unbelievable how easy it is to just pick them up during a casual shopping trip. Take a look online first for alternatives to your every day products and plan your purchases ahead of time, so that you don't leave it to the last minute and end up doing a 'grab and go' whilst in the supermarket.
2. Look out for companies using compostable, recyclable and zero waste packaging
It's amazing to see so many brands now taking a proactive stance to reduce the amount of packaging they use with products. Look out for Vegan brands - even if you're not vegan as in addition to being cruelty-free they're often some of the most conscientious when it comes to assessing the full life cycle of a product and will provide sustainable packaging for consumers.
3. Avoid non-recyclable packaging
Now this was a new one for me, as I was under the impression that all plastic could be recycled! Unfortunately, this is about as true as an Aesop's Fable (hope I'm not showing my age here!) Look out for the triangular recyclable symbol and have a real think about what you're going to do with it once you're finished, if you do go ahead and buy it. Guilt free shopping shouldn't just end with the price of a product. Make sure you can dispose of the product responsibly before you commit to bringing it into your home.
4. Ditch disposable make-up wipes
Confession time! With a severe skin condition that had me obsessing over the removal of my makeup each night, I found a problem hiding away in the back of my cosmetics cupboard that day! At least 2 packs of half opened make-up removal wipes had gone dry over time having had been exposed to the air. Obviously, when I noticed they had dried out, I simply opened a new pack and would start using those instead. The new me, would simply wet them with water, ready for re-use, however the new me also now knows that most of these wipes end up in landfill as they're not biodegradable. Make the switch to re-usable wipes - there are literally loads out there that you can throw into the washing machine after use. Invest in a few, so that you can use them throughout the week without falling victim to a sneaky purchase of disposable ones if you (like me), can sometimes feel too lazy to put the wash on.
5. Spread the word and share your journey with your friends
You'll be surprised at how many of us share the same challenges! Share your story and encourage your friends and family to make these small, similar changes and slowly but surely, we will begin to change the psychology of how we plan our days and consume our day to day essentials. The journey shouldn't just be limited to our food packaging - the bathroom cupboard has it's own set of dirty secrets hiding away too and it's only when we talk about it, that we can begin to make a difference.