Skincare and beauty products are two of my favorite things about which to get bloggy. I am also a big mouth when it comes to being as natural as you can be within the confines of your life and budget. Many of the “eco-friendly” tips out there involve a lot of money on the front end…composting, water saving toilets, solar panels, even gardening. I wanted to try to compile a list of things you can do that are either free, or relatively inexpensive on the front end. Saving the Earth is hugely important, but for most of us, feeding out family comes first. You may not be able to save up, or put by for an electric car any time soon, but you can…
- Check the Package- When shopping for beauty products, even if you don’t always go with eco-friendly companies, you can still seek out eco-friendly packaging. Look for companies that use cardboard and paper, washi (paper) tape instead of shrink wrap (like yours truly), or hemp, jute, or burlap bags. If your favorite brand uses plastic or compound packaging, take a moment to separate it, and place the paper and cardboard in the recycling. (this goes for TP tubes, pill bottles, applicators, and empties as well.) You might even consider putting a small recycling bin in your bathroom if, like at my house, the walk to the kitchen is just too much of a hassle.
- Avoid Micro-beads- I am all for exfoliating, but not at the cost of clean water. Microbeads are polyethylene spheres used in tons of beauty products like face scrubs, nail polish, and even toothpaste. They are so small that they cannot be filtered by water treatment plants, and that is causing some huge problems. As an alternative consider scrubs that use salt, sugar, or ground nutshells. There is a rising trends of scrubs with “micro-crystals.” The eco-jury is still out on these. Some companies use sodium, which is fine, but many are using ultrafine silica, which is non-biodegradable, does not dissolve in water, and may end up being just as big of a problem as microbeads. Read your labels, folks.
- Cup-Up– This one goes out to all the ladies… Imagine a life without tampons, pads, and the tons upon tons of packaging/trash that they create each year. Seriously– it is possible. Menstrual cups have been around for eons, but due to cultural shame, some brilliant ad executives, and a whole slew of other social neurosis, they have fallen out of favor. Thanks to the upsurge in environmental consciousness, they are making a creeping comeback. They can range in price anywhere between $10 at the low end and $40 at the high end. But there are a lot of in-between options, and considering that they last for years, the price is beyond worth it. Confused by pricing and sizing? There are even groups and websites devoted to helping you learn how to use alternative products, love your body, and join in the dialog with other women who may have issues or questions similar to your own. It might not be for everyone, but if you’re interested those are some places to start. If a cup seems like too much of a change for you, there are also companies like Glad Rags that offer reusable pad options, or there are some pretty great DIY tutorials out there.
- The Soap Cycle- Soap. Americans are obsessed with it. At my local Target, there are literally 4 1/2 isles dedicated to soap and soap-like products. It is madness. Once again, the sheer volume of packaging, plastic, and waste that goes into this business is absurd. Here’s a tip to save money, and be more enviro-conscious. Find a soap bottle that you love, and buy it. I’m not talking about a fancy West Elm block of cypress hollowed by blind monks that’ll run you $80 on sale. I mean one of the foamer-topped plastic ones that you get at the drugstore. Target had these gorgeous Orla Kiley bottles last year. You want the tops that make the foamy goodness, like the ones on the bottles with the green leaves, and the pears. Find a soap smell that you like. I am partial to Target’s Method brand. Get a large bottle, or refill pack of that soap. When you run out of your foamy soap, unscrew the lid, pour in 1/4 a cup of the refill soap, fill the rest with water, screw the lid back on and gently tilt to mix. Huzzah! A whole new bottle of foamy soap for a fraction of the cost. Yeah, foamy soap is basically just regular soap with a ton of water added, and a special top. Feel kind of cheated? I did too…but now you know! (And I hear that “knowing” is about 50% of the fight…or something like that.)
- The Spatty– I am not in love with the name, but I am in love with the product. This is basically a pastry spatula that allows you to get the entire product out of every nook and cranny of your cosmetics jars and bottle, and at only around $10, it pays for itself pretty quickly. It’s one of those things that, once found, you’re like…how did I deal before this came into my life? You know, like melatonin, or Tazo Focus tea. It saves you money, reduces turnaround time on packaging since you are buying less frequently, and sets you up nicely for….
- Reuse It- Once your jars and bottles are fully emptied, give them a rinse, and find a way to reuse them. There are literally hundreds of ways for upcycling your glass and plastic bottles and jars. WARNING: Having many fine ideas and aspirations can quickly lead to a hording like situation…I mean, that’s what I have been told…it’s not like there is a corner of my kitchen filled with odd bits and ends and sundry… ahem… moving on…
- Get the Funk Out- Let’s talk about just how easy it is to make your own household cleaner, shall we? First, grab one of the bottles you’re gonna reuse. Make it a spray bottle if possible. Don’t have one? They sell them at every Dollar Store on earth. Then go pick up a gallon of white vinegar at the grocery store. While you’re there grab distilled water, your favorite citrus fruit, and a box of baking soda. The grand total for this haul should be in the neighborhood of $6-$11 (depending on your local economy.) Fill your spray bottle 50/50 with distilled water and vinegar. Add in 3 tbsp fresh squeezed citrus of choice. Slice rind into strips and drop into bottle. (these will infuse into the mixture so it gets stronger as it sits.) Gently swish to blend. Poof! Cleaner. Use this on basin, tub, tile, shower, toilet, floor, windows…wherever. If you’re feeling fancy and you have them lying around, add in some essential oils, but they aren’t necessary. Now get your baking soda (1 cup). Use vinegar and 1 tbsp. citrus juice, added in slowly to create a paste. (SLOWLY because the vinegar will cause the baking soda to foam. Remember your third grade volcano.) Voila! Now you have a pasty, scrubby thing akin to Comet. Use this on tough to clean areas.
- Face It- Have you seen those microfiber cleansing cloths at the store? They’re great. They really are. They are also foolishly expensive, and basically made of t-shirt material. So, the next time you clean out your closet, give those old t-shirts a new life. Cut them into 6×6 or 7×7 squares (remember that the edges will roll a bit). If you’re crafty you can surge or sew the edges. If you’re not, that’s just fine too. They’ll work either way. Use these, especially on your face, to save delicate skin. If you have curly hair, or hair prone to breakage, use t-shirts to dry your hair.
- Bare It- This option is not for everyone, especially people like my mother who cannot stand visible labeling on packages, but if it is something you can tolerate, it can save you money, and eliminate waste in the process. Bare shelving, aka, shelves without doors, can allow you to really see what you have and what you’re out of. If you are an impulsive beauty shopper, like me, this can really help you curb your grabbiness. There are even a ton of ideas like this that can even help you stay accountable of the little things. Oh, those little things.
- It’s About Time– Do you have a timer? If you have a cell phone, the answer is, “yes.” Use it when you shower. Why? Because the shower is the birthplace of the time warp. Everyone showers longer than they think they do. The optimum shower time for the greenest among us (obviously on low groom days only) is two minutes. Two minutes?! Yep. And it can be done. For higher groom age days, see if you can pack it in in 5-6. I am not exactly low maintenance, and I can manage to shampoo, condition (or co-wash), body wash, and shave in six minutes flat. Try to top it. I double green dare you.
It’s not exactly DiCapprio-level earth changing. But it is a beginning, and everyone has to start somewhere.