An Easy Guide to incorporate Zero Waste Beauty Routine

Irene Aguirre 2021-03-17 7 min

We've all heard about Zero Waste. But, have you heard of Clean and Green beauty?

Clean beauty is an approach that is heavily associated with its push for non-toxic ingredients and transparent ingredient lists. Cosmetics safety is important to many people not only because they are trying to care of the environment but also of their bodies.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has only banned 11 toxic ingredients while the European Union has banned more than 1,300 harmful ingredients. So in our country it basically relies on us to be safe,

Green beauty on the other hand turns its attention to the environmental friendliness of beauty products. Green beauty entails not only eco-friendly ingredients but takes the entire production process into account: low-waste or recyclable packaging, minimal shipping materials, ethical workplace practices, etc. More of a Zero Waste approach.

Zero Waste

I´m pretty sure you’ve heard about the Zero Waste movement. It’s all over. But what is it exactly?

So Zero Waste is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health. It basically aims to nothing in a landfill. Needless to say, the key is the three Rs system.

Of course, this sounds overwhelming, but by making a few changes in your lifestyle you can make a great impact.

Since everything starts with us, being conscious about our daily self-care routines is a good way to start.

The beauty and cosmetic industry are one of the biggest pollutants around the world. And we as consumers have the power to demand better products for our health and for the environment. The global cosmetics industry produces 120 billion units of packaging every year, according to a report by Zero Waste Week. A considerable chunk of this packaging waste is non-recyclable.

So here are a few reasons why you should embark on this journey. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

First, we have to understand the impact our actions have and how much zero waste habits help the environment.

Toxins in cosmetics damage the environment after they are washed down our sinks. These chemicals might not hurt our bodies, but some of them don’t break down and they just build up in our oceans and rivers. Water purity and life in it is not the only one that suffers. When that chemical-filled water evaporates it eventually comes back to the soil as rain contaminating our soils.

I know that is very hard to hear that we are constantly damaging our environment and that we are running out of natural resources. But the only way to get out of this pickle is by being more conscious. And that’s why I’m here!

But hey! Look at the bright side, you have the power to make a change. A real change. And since the purpose of Zero Waste is to move to a sustainable way of life it is a great answer to the problem we are facing.

Zero waste is a viable solution because it involves a lot of benefits such as protecting the environment, benefiting communities, and supporting local businesses.

And Here is how Zero Waste Works:

Having a zero-waste lifestyle reduces climate impact. Since it is all based on the three Rs system, reducing, reusing and recycling play a huge part in reding greenhouse emissions and fighting climate change. Since you’ll be using less, reusing more and recycling you would be playing a key part in the battle.

Zero waste also contributes to conserving natural resources and helps to minimize pollution. As we are now, we are using way more than we can, since the consumers are buying, the industries are providing and that ends up in an unsustainable way of treating the resources. Going zero waste (or trying) reduces significantly pollution from extraction, manufacturing and disposal.

It also promotes social equity and builds community supporting marginalized groups (which most of the time are the ones paying the bill for climate change).

It brings money! The zero-waste approach supports local and circular economy creating jobs and promoting a community-based economy.

So now that we know what it is, are you ready to get started?

And don´t worry, this is teamwork so if you don’t do it perfectly it’s ok. The important thing is that you are trying.

Where do we Start our Zero Waste Journey?

Well, how about starting at the beginning of your day. Your self-care or beauty routines are a big part of your day right? And creating habits is easier when you have consistency and a plan. And this does not mean you have to start over, throwing anything you have on your bathroom cabinets to get a non-chemical replacement. It just means you can make a real impact on the environment by rethinking a few things.


Here is how to get there:

  • Use less. Do you have a full bathroom cabinet that never seems to shrink? Well if you do, that means you are buying a bit more than what you are actually using. Sometimes is very hard to refuse to buy the deep cleansing oil that will make you look 25 forever. But we gotta look through the marketing sham and get only what we need. Before purchasing another cream, shampoo or anything else check if you have something that will work instead. Use that first and then replace it.
  • Refuse single-use. This is a great and very cheap way to reduce your impact. Replacing the single-use items you have, meaning the things you use and toss such as makeup removal wipes, cotton swabs, and gum flosses, with products you can reuse. You can use a cotton cloth for makeup removal for example.
  • Think about the box. The packaging is a really big part of this. There are 77 billion units of plastic packaging per year, so zero waste beauty is a good way to avoid that. There are a lot of watts to get a package free cosmetic product like in the Package Free’s physical locations, they offer bulk “fill stations” for oils, deodorants, dry shampoo, and toothpaste, among other things. But since not all of us have one near us what you can do is take the time to pick a cosmetic that comes in a recyclable container.
  • Read the ingredients. So after you chose your recyclable package, flip it and read what is actually in it. Chemicals can be very harmful to your body and to the environment. Here is a guide that helps you figure out what to be looking for.
  • Buy local and if you can shop in person. By doing this you will be reduced significantly not only the shipping cost but its footprint. Also, you can ask for no bags, so less packaging to recycle.
  • Recycle everything. Don’t throw anything in the trash bin. If your products come in recyclable paper, compost them. For plastic, aluminum, steel, or glass options, it’s all about recycling.

Now that your mindset is changing, let’s dive into some sustainable options.

Mouth Care

Silk dental floss. You know the floss we regularly use is mint flavored plastic, and it doesn’t decompose in a long time. Switch over to a compostable silk dental floss, check out this woman-owned company that is 100% recyclable floss, Dental Lace.

Wooden-based toothbrush. Optin for a bamboo toothbrush you are eliminating your plastic waste and trading it for something that biodegrades.

Homemade toothpaste. Sounds hard but is not that bad. You can follow these simple steps to make your own.

bamboo toothbrush

Body Care

Plastic-free soap. By purchasing a cardboard package soup instead of a plastic-packaged one you are opting for a more sustainable option.

Sugar or coffee scrub. Microplastics are a real threat to sea life and water. So instead of buying a chemical-filled one, you might try to make one with elements you already have in your kitchen. Here are some ideas.

Stainless steel razors. Just go old school and enjoy the long shelf life of this product. You can find one in many beauty stores.

Choose multi-purpose products

Reducing the number of products we buy and use means reducing the amount of packaging we consume as well as our waste.

body cream


Instead of using a plastic bottle shampoo, sitch it and get a shampoo bar. Not only this is a non-plastic zero waste option but they also last longer. If this is too intimidating for you to start with, check out our post on how to find the perfect natural shampoo.

Menstrual Supplies

Menstrual care has an enormous amount of plastic. You can switch to a reusable silicone menstrual cup and menstrual panties for your waste to be completely eliminated.

menstrual cup
Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

And lastly, get plastic-free toilet paper. Look for TP that’s made from eco-friendly materials like recycled paper or bamboo to make your purchase even more sustainable. Who Gives A Crap offers a subscription service.

Thanks to the consumer’s power companies are stepping up their sustainability game, prioritizing the responsible sourcing of ingredients, implementing earth-friendly manufacturing processes, and experimenting with inventive recycling programs. So make sure you look hard for these brands and choose mindfully.

Irene Aguirre

Copywriter, nature lover and feminist activist

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