Cosmetic packaging takes up 1/3 of all landfill space, with over 120 billion pieces of packaging created every year. This stunning fact is what motivated us to change the equation - to create the world’s first 100% recyclable eyeshadow palettes (and fully recyclable cheek palettes, highlighters, lip crèmes, and our NEW Eyeshadow Singles).
But what about all the other cosmetic packaging out there – most of which is made to be landfilled? How can we as beauty buyers lessen the landfill load?
Well, the first most sustainable thing we can do is change our buying habits:
And the next best thing we can do: recycle. Keep reading for facts and tips to help you navigate the world of beauty recycling!
The average palette, compact, or case is created by layering and fusing together multiple materials like plastic, paper, and metal. While some of these individual materials are recyclable on their own, when combined, they become impossible to recycle.
Why? Different companies collect each raw material (metal, plastic, paper, etc.), and it’s impossible to separate the layered materials without highly specialized machinery that most facilities don’t have. So, these items go straight to the landfill.
Your most sustainable option: choose single-material packaging wherever you can.
Even if all individual components of an item are recyclable, unless they're taken apart before reaching the recycling facility, that item winds up in the landfill. For example, all our products are 100% recyclable but still have to be disassembled before recycling. More on that below!
To avoid adding to the cosmetic trash pile, separate components down to their recyclable parts.
The companies that buy your recyclables won’t accept dirty or contaminated materials – they must be 95% uncontaminated to actually be repurposed. To keep your empties out of the landfill, wash and dry everything thoroughly before tossing it in the bin.
Mirrors are made by applying a non-recyclable reflective coating to glass. This coating makes the glass nearly impossible to recycle.
And let’s be real – you’re probably applying your makeup in front of your own mirror anyways! It’s another addition we could live without for more sustainable packaging.
Magnets are the bane of beauty sustainability. While they’re convenient to keep products closed, they’re also incredibly hazardous to the environment and local communities. Plus, they’re never recyclable.
Magnets are made with ‘Rare Earth’ elements and are processed with harsh carcinogenic toxins. These harmful chemicals often wind up in local waterways, endangering people, wildlife, and polluting the environment.
What we use to hold our palettes shut: an elastic. And after you’re done with it, reuse it as a hair tie! We know we’re always looking for an extra one.
Because the conveyor belts in recycling facilities are black, the sensors can’t recognize and isolate black or dark-colored plastic. So, all dark-plastic pieces are landfilled from the get-go.
When you can’t avoid buying plastic, choose recyclable clear and white plastics. More on which plastics are recyclable down below!
Most applicators like lip gloss and mascara wands are made from unrecyclable mixed materials. In other words, most go straight to the landfill once empty. For less waste, either choose products without applicators or pick those with recyclable applicators!
The Āether Beauty Radiant Ruby Lip Crème (sold out, but coming back soon) applicator is 100% recyclable once you snip off and discard the small tip.
Most cosmetic pumps are made with multiple varieties of plastic, which are nearly impossible to separate without specialized industrial equipment. Another one of those oh-so-convenient, yet deeply wasteful beauty items. #justsayno
Zamac is a blend of metal alloys that’s often used in refillable cosmetic packaging. Zamac is entirely unrecyclable, and while refillable is definitely preferable to non-refillable, these products still land in the landfill once they’re worn out. Something to think about when shopping sustainable!
All plastics are labeled with a number from 1-7, usually on the bottom of the container. These numbers tell you that’s item’s recyclability. Look for the numbers and try to choose easily recyclable options when you can’t avoid buying plastic altogether:
Always Recyclable: #1 PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate), #2 HDPE (High density Polyethylene)
Not Recyclable: #3 PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), #4 LDPE (Low-density Polyethylene), #6 PS (Polystyrene), #7 (Other)
Sometimes Recyclable: #5 PP (Polypropylene)
Every city has their own unique recycling program that accepts different materials - call your local program to see what they will and won’t accept.
Now that you know the ins and outs of recycling, there’s just one more hurdle. Over 300 recycling plants have closed in the US since March last year, and as a result, many recyclables are being incinerated instead. Some areas have no access to reliable recycling, and the current pandemic is not helping the situation.
The solution for recycling-deprived areas: Terracycle, a company that specializes in reusing, repurposing, or recycling difficult-to-recycle items.
We offer the Terracycle service free to our customers even though all Āether Beauty products are easily recyclable in your standard recycling bin. Why? We want to make sure all our products stay out of the landfill – whether you live near recycling facilities or not!
You can also use Terracycle at home! Either purchase one of their zero-waste boxes, mail your items directly to them, or find a drop-off location near you.
If you have access to standard recycling bins (and there are reliable recycling facilities nearby), you can easily recycle your Āether Beauty products at home! Keep reading for instructions on how to recycle each product in our lineup:
Our Radiant Ruby Lip Crème is the first 100% recycled plastic liquid lip component that's also 100% recyclable! By using 100% PCR recycled plastic, we create 25% less carbon emissions than virgin plastic. How to recycle the packaging:
In case you haven’t heard, our NEW highly requested single-pan shadows have arrived! Three stunningly shimmery, crystal-infused shadows in super-wearable, yet statement-making hero shades. Buy them individually or treat yourself to all three in our Eyeshadow Trio Bundle!
These single shades mean LESS packaging and NO waste from shades you may not wear – a win-win for more sustainability in beauty. Formulated with sustainably sourced, skin-loving ingredients like Organic Rosehip Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Moringa Seed Oil, and Organic Prickly Pear Oil so your shadows can double as a skin savior – sustainability at its finest.
A warm yellow gold antique metallic shade that gleams like melted gold glistening in the sunlight. Infused with Topaz to release aging tension from the face and align your spirit with creativity and abundance.
A metallic rose gold with soft pink undertones – it’s like rosé at dusk with the glimmering sun reflecting off the water. Infused with amethyst and citrine for a skin soothing glow, and the purification of negativity from your life.
A sunset-inspired warm peach metallic hue with golden undertones from our Summer Solstice Palette. Infused with topaz to illuminate your skin and recharge your spirit, creating more room for high-vibe energies of abundance and creation.
Thanks for doing your part to ‘clean up’ the beauty industry’s impact on our planet!
- Āether Beauty xo
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A term coined by Jeannie Jarnot of Beauty Heroes, Blue Beauty is the new green beauty. It means safe, sustainably sourced ingredients PLUS ocean-safe ingredients and zero-waste packaging. It’s about limiting our impact on this planet and its inhabitants + actively contributing to a healthier planet.
To be truly blue, brands must consider A LOT of different aspects in their product lifecycle. Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to be blue in all these areas:
We’ve decided not to accept that summer’s ending, so to keep it going all year long, we created our Never Ending Summer Bundle! A deliciously warm, sunset-inspired, glow-giving collection that’ll take you back to those lazy beach days while adding a dose of fall luxury.
To celebrate this bundle (that’s only available for the month of September), we’re sharing our 14 favorite Summer Solstice looks created by all of you!
Are synthetics more sustainable than natural ingredients? The short answer: sometimes. The truth is, sustainable sourcing goes much deeper than natural vs synthetic – it’s a seriously in-depth process that’s A LOT to think about!
Keep reading to learn more about how we evaluate ingredients for sustainability, and why in some situations, a safe synthetic is the most sustainable option.