In the year since we launched the world’s first zero-waste eyeshadow palette, we’ve seen a major shift in consciousness around packaging and waste. Consumers, companies, and government are starting to ask questions and take action with movements like #plasticfreejuly. And that is a great step in the right direction!
We’re here with tips and truths for your Plastic-Free July (and beyond). Keep reading for:
So far we’ve created 8.3 BILLION metric tons of plastic around the world. And 79% of this is sitting in landfills or filling up the ocean. The plastic-heavy cosmetics industry alone makes up 1/3 of this landfill space and produces over 120 billion units of packaging every single year!
Just think about your average lipstick, mascara, or eyeshadow for example. Each one is encased with an unrecyclable hard plastic case and another trash-bound box or plastic sleeve. That’s 2 items headed to the landfill for every beauty product you have (multiped by the 40+ products you buy regularly). Then think about haircare, skincare, cleaning products, food, and drinks. It’s a truly stunning amount of plastic when you think about it.
Because of our reliance on plastic, it’s predicted that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic waste than fish. When our young children become adults, they’ll be swimming in a trash can ocean. And the effect on sea life will be catastrophic.
“We as a society need to consider whether it’s worth trading off some convenience for a clean, healthy environment,” –Roland Geyer, Industrial Ecology Professor, University of California.
Most of us have good intentions – we try our best to recycle everything we think can be repurposed – plastic, paper, glass, cardboard. The truth is though; recycling rates are still at only 9% in the US. And the bigger problem? Most of the 9% being recycled still ends up in the landfill!
How is that possible? Well, a little backstory: up until a couple of years ago, we were selling most of our recycling to China. Millions and millions of tons of it. When the shipments landed in China, low-paid workers sorted, cleaned, and repurposed the materials into new consumer goods.
A couple of things have changed recently:
The truth: after decades of consuming and disposing, there’s nowhere left for our waste to go. We only have so much space on this planet, and soon we’ll be living alongside our discarded wrappers and plastic cups.
Considering that even recycled materials are now winding up in landfills, we need to make a change as consumers:
Keep reading for tips on how to reduce your plastic usage + recycle plastic that’s still in your life.
Saying goodbye to plastic will take some planning ahead and a few extra items to bring with you, but it’s a small price to pay for a clean planet.
To start, take an inventory of all your everyday items and decide where you can eliminate plastic and waste. And for the next month, track how much waste you are creating. Get a small bin and challenge yourself to limit your waste to just that bin. And then keep reducing further as you go!
Start with food, drinks, and shopping bags:
Next, review your bathroom and makeup collection:
Around the house:
Rethink your closet:
A surprising fact: about 60% of our clothing is made of fibers that come from plastic including nylon, acrylic, and polyester. When washed, these fabrics shed plastic microfibers that end up in our waterways and oceans. What you can do to limit this:
The biggest way to reduce your plastic use overall is to consume less. Get more intentional about what you’re purchasing – buy fewer, higher quality, sustainable items that you need or just truly love.
While the ultimate goal is #plasticfree, it’s a process and can take time. So while we’re making the switch, it’s super important to know:
Here are some tips about plastic recycling at home/work:
Even if all individual components of an item are recyclable, unless they're taken apart before going in the recycling bin, that item ends up in the landfill.
An example: our Eyeshadow Palettes are 100% recyclable, however, you still have to remove the metal eyeshadow pans from the palette before recycling. Also, any leftover shadow must be cleaned out.
Why? Different companies collect each raw material: metal, plastic, paper, etc., and there is no one separating items to their individual components. So, if the item goes in the bin without being separated, it goes straight to the landfill.
What you can do: separate components where it’s possible to do so. And try to purchase single material products/packaging whenever you can.
These post-market buyers won’t take recycled material that is dirty or “contaminated”. If they have to clean it, it goes to the landfill. China, for example, is now only accepting materials that are 95% contamination-free.
What you can do: wash all plastic containers before recycling. For paper food containers, you cannot recycle them once there’s food residue on them. You can compost them, however!
If you look through the average household (or workplace) recycling bin, you’ll find countless unrecyclable plastics inside. There are many different types of plastics and only a few are recyclable. Also, if an item is made up of multiple different plastics, and one of them is not recyclable, this renders the whole item trash.
For example, the pumps you see in cosmetic and skincare products are made of several different plastic compounds and so cannot be recycled. Avoid products with pumps wherever you can - it might be less convenient, but it’s one less piece of waste!
All plastics are labeled with a number from 1-7, usually on the bottom of the container. These numbers tell you if the item is recyclable or not. Look for them when you’re shopping and try to avoid the unrecyclable plastics:
#1 - Water bottles, soft drink bottles, juice containers.
#2 - Milk jugs, cleaning & detergent bottles, shampoo bottles
#3 – PVC, vinyl, food wrap, fruit trays.
#4 - Plastic wrap, plastic bags, bread bags.
#6 - Polystyrene (styrofoam, toys, disposable cutlery, insulation)
#7 - Consumer goods made with thicker plastic (sippy cups, multi-gallon water jugs)
#5 - Disposable cups and plates, certain cosmetic containers.
There are some cities and recycling programs that will accept #5 plastics. Your best bet is to call your local program and check on their policies.
Terracycle is a recycling company that specializes in difficult-to-recycle items. They work with cities, individuals, manufacturers, and businesses like Credo Beauty to reuse, upcycle, or recycle items that would otherwise be landfilled. An extra incentive: you earn rewards for your waste, which can either go towards buying products or to a charity of your choice.
This program is a beacon of light in the world of recycling - participate in one of their already established programs or start a collection point of your own!
While there's still a long way to go, there has been some definite progress in the last few years. Governments in Canada, the EU, and India are in talks to ban single-use plastics in the next 2-3 years. Many cities in the US have partially or fully banned plastic straws, San Diego has banned all styrofoam products, and the US government has plans to clean up plastics in the ocean.
Let's celebrate these steps while working for more in our own lives and encouraging companies, governments, and our friends to bring plastic pollution to an end.
Thanks for reading and contributing to a #plasticfreejuly and world! Leave your questions or plastic-reducing tips down below <3
-Āether Beauty xo
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New Moons are a time for recharging, resetting, and planning for the month ahead. It’s a time of new beginnings and direction changes. With Capricorn in charge this month, we’re inspired to #makeithappen, achieve our goals, and lay the groundwork for our future.
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