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Zero Waste - How We Do It

Zero Waste - How We Do It

May 08, 2019

Hello Beautiful People!

Today we're diving into the Āether to show you how we created the industry's first fully sustainable, #zerowaste eyeshadow palette. 

Why does this matter? Waste and plastic pollution is a massive problem in every industry, but did you know that the cosmetics industry alone takes up 1/3 of all landfill space and produces over 120 billion units of packaging?

That’s why at Āether Beauty, we feel that packaging is JUST as important as clean and sustainable ingredients. Read on for all the details of our zero-waste palette!


The Palette

All Āether Beauty Eyeshadow Palettes are made of 100% recyclable, FSC-Certified paper. FSC-certified means: the paper is sourced from wood suppliers who “prevent pollution, protect habitat, plant more trees than are harvested, and avoid displacing native peoples, and harming wildlife.” 

What are most palettes made of?

Most cosmetic compacts and palettes are made of a combination of ABS/PE/PP plastics, metals, and unrecyclable hard plastics. While some of these materials are recyclable on their own, they are not recyclable when combined.  They must be separated to their individual components before a recycler will accept them (which is impossible to do by hand). So, this packaging ends up in the landfill despite the good-intentioned consumer who tries to recycle them.

What happens then? The only way for plastic to break down is through photodegradation. When it's exposed to sunlight, it slowly breaks down into smaller pieces of plastic. In a landfill however, the plastic is buried deep in a pile and is rarely exposed to sunlight. Meaning, it may never break down completely. 

The plastic that doesn't wind up in a landfill ends up in the oceans. Plastic plus other waste has created what is known as Garbage Island, a pile of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean nearly 600,000 sq miles in size. These floating plastics leach toxic chemicals into the water, get ingested by sea life, and cause massive destruction to the ocean ecosystem.

The Pans

Our individual palette pans are made of recyclable aluminum. The advantage of aluminum is that it can be recycled and repurposed over and over indefinitely. Plastics on the other hand, when recyclable, can only be reused 2-3 times as the quality degrades with every reuse.  

Glass is also infinitely recyclable so it's a great option to choose for your beauty products.  

The Ink

Ink is an essential and often overlooked factor in recyclability. Without looking at ink, an otherwise totally recyclable product would end up in the landfill. Before committing to our design, we met with paper suppliers to ensure all our inks were completely recyclable.

What determines if ink is recyclable? 
  • The color – certain ink colors are never recyclable. Ours are chosen specifically to ensure recyclability.
  • The formula – are inks are all water-based soy formulas. They are completely recyclable and eco-friendly. 

The Tarot Card

Every Āether Beauty Palette comes with a keepsake Tarot Card. We include these cards to give you some extra inspiration! To help illuminate your inner wisdom and awaken you to your unique purpose.

Once you feel this card has served its purpose in your life, either pass it on to a friend or recycle it. Like our palettes, these tarot cards are made of FSC certified paper and water-based soy inks.


The Box

Just like the palette itself, our box is made of FSC Certified paper with a water-based-soy ink. No plastics, no mixed materials, and nothing that will end up in a landfill. 

The Packing Materials

Our quest for zero-waste includes the materials we pack and ship our products out to customers in. Separate the materials and recycle the box it came in! 

  • FSC Certified cardboard box - fully recyclable
  • Sugar-based sticker -biodegradable


A Mirror

  • Mirrors are made by applying a reflective coating to glass. That coating makes the glass nearly impossible to recycle.
  • In my years as a Lead Product Developer at Sephora, I found that consumers and makeup artists alike rarely use their compact mirrors, especially the long thin ones in eyeshadow palettes. Not worth the extra waste in our eyes.
  • Also, when people travel with their palettes, the mirrors often shatter. 



  • Magnets are used in palettes to hold them shut. All magnets are completely unrecyclable.
  • Magnets are made from ‘Rare Earth’ elements, and their processing involves huge amounts of carcinogenic toxins. These toxins are pumped into bodies of water, often near city centers or local communities. In Baotou alone, 10 million tons of toxic waste are produced every year from rare earth processing. 

What we use to hold our palettes shut: an elastic. How can you make use of this after your palette is empty? Use it as a hair tie! We know we’re always looking for an extra one.


Sustainability means looking at the whole picture, including ingredient sourcing and selection. We only use sustainably sourced, organic, and fair-trade options wherever possible.  

Where sustainability begins in cosmetics: Palm Oil. Did you know that nearly every cosmetic product contains some sort of palm oil or palm oil derivative? In order to grow palm oil, growers burn down forests to clear the land. Animals lose their homes, communities lose their natural land, and air pollution levels rise from the smoke. Not to mention the worker exploitation and labor abuse that is rampant.

All our palm-oil derived ingredients are certified sustainably sourced. They include an RSPO certificate to validate that no deforestation, land burning, or exploitation of workers or local communities were involved. 


So why does anyone use palm oil? 

When grown sustainably, palm oil is a super-efficient crop - it's easy to harvest and has a low carbon footprint. It would be harder on the environment to replace with a different ingredient in all of the countless products it's used in. 

Along with any palm-oil derived ingredients, the rest of our ingredient list is sustainably sourced, organic, and fair-trade wherever possible. 

Coconut Oil - Fair-trade & Certified Organic 

Shea Butter - Fair-trade & Certified Organic 

Rosehip Oil - Certified Organic 

Mica - Sustainably Sourced *read our full blog on mica*

Prickly Pear - Certified Organic  

Sea Buckthorn Oil - Certified Organic

Moringa Oil - Certified Organic

Lavender Oil - Certified Organic

Sustainability means that we give back too.

We've partnered with different charities for all our Āether Beauty product launches to give 1% of product sales directly to the cause. These charities were chosen for each of the elements: earth, air, fire, water, and aether. 

Our charitable partner for the future is 1% For The Planet – this organization works with non-profits doing essential work worldwide in the areas of climate, food, land, pollution, water, and wildlife. 




We hope this post was helpful in your journey to #choosebetter beauty and lessen your impact on our earth. Your everyday decisions can have big impacts on this planet we call home. All the <3 to you all! 

-Āether Beauty xoxo 

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