Zero waste beauty: How to make your beauty routine eco-friendly

Read Time:   |  21st June 2019

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Say goodbye to bathroom plastic and find out how to go eco with your beauty routine.

zero waste cosmetics

When you start out on a vegan journey, you often find yourself evaluating how all aspects of your life are impacting the planet. You’ll no doubt have already switched your beauty products and make-up staples to cruelty-free brands, but have you considered the environmental side?

The beauty industry is a big offender when it comes to waste. In fact, according to charity Zero Waste Week (, 120 billion pieces of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry.

From aluminium-lined tubes of toothpaste to plastic make-up palettes and shampoo bottles, the packaging is often hard to recycle and – according to recent research by Garnier – 50% of bathroom items are thrown into the bin for convenience.

zero waste cosmetics


It’s not always easy working out what can and can’t be recycled, but TerraCycle ( is a good place to start. Here you can find out what resources are available and sign up to the free recycling programme. It’s also worth visiting your local council’s website, as every town and city has different rules.

Vegan beauty blogger, Nicole Whittle has advice for all those unwanted items, too. “We all buy products which just don’t work for us. Try setting up a WhatsApp group with family, friends or coworkers and offer up any reasonable quality products you no longer use. This way you can trade products between each other. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

But how can you stop accumulating this packaging in the first place? “Replace your plastic items (shampoos, face wash, etc) with zero waste alternatives when they run out. Quick switches to start with include; replacing disposable razors with a safety razor, use a period cup instead of tampons, and switch out face wipes for a flannel or cloth.” says Nicole.

Shampoo, conditioner and shower gel are easily refilled from local health food shops (find one in your area at, or switch to cleansing and haircare bars that can be ordered online.

zero waste cosmetics

Lush ( have been leading the way on this for years now (if you haven’t tried them yet – do – they really work) and other brands are starting to follow suit. You can also now buy Ethique beauty bars in the UK at, or visit

Also, start to look for natural, chemicalfree brands that use glass packaging, such as Neal’s Yard (, or biodegradable materials like sugar cane as seen at BYBI (

Of course, you can always try making your own skincare products with kitchen staples like coconut oil, oats, avocado, bananas, cacao and essential oils. Pinterest is a great place to find recipes for everything from body scrubs and face masks to sun screen, mascara and toothpaste.

zero waste cosmetics


So what about make-up? Well, this industry is still in its infancy but we’re excited to see what will happen over the next year or two. Choose cardboard, bamboo or glass packaging over plastic – brands such as Neek (, Kjaer Weis (available at and Zao ( are a good place to start. Wearth London ( also have a fantastic range – they stock everything from bamboo make-up brushes and refillable mineral powder foundation to reusable cotton pads for make-up removal.

zero waste cosmetics

Nicole also suggests that make-up doesn’t have to be an everyday essential. “Start wearing less, going without some days or just ditch it all together!” she says.

Reducing your waste isn’t always straightforward, but every change you make will help lessen the landfill load and drive the demand for plastic alternatives. Swap tips with other eco warriors and spread the word. Together we can make a difference!

zero waste cosmetics


  • 6 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 4 tbsp shea butter
  • a few drops of essential oils such as tea tree or lavender
  1. In a bowl, mix the shea and butter and coconut oil with a fork until they form a creamy consistency.
  2. Add in the arrowroot and baking soda and mix thoroughly until a thick but malleable paste forms.
  3. You may want to add more arrowroot for thickness, or coconut oil for creaminess.
  4. Finally, mix in the essential oils and store in a plastic-free container at room temperature.

zero waste cosmetics

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Vegan Food & Living

Vegan Food & Living is a magazine dedicated to celebrating the vegan lifestyle. Every issue is packed with 75 tasty recipes, plus informative features.

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