Happy International Women’s Day!
Words: Heleayner Davies
We thought we would celebrate all the wonderful things about women by offering you a how-to guide on how you can successfully live a waste-free lifestyle as a woman.
Being a woman is difficult, and don’t we know it? PMS, periods and keeping on top of our 10-step skincare routines. But what’s more is that our beauty routines can contribute to an insane amount of waste. According to citytosea.org, it is estimated that every single day in the UK 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million pads are being flushed down the toilet; blocking our sewers and making their way into the sea.
But being a waste-free woman is not as tricky as you might think. For instance, 28 year-old New York City based blogger Lauren Singer, who writes the No1 zero waste blog Trash Is For Tossers, has been living a completely waste-free life for over 8 years; making the switch to more sustainable options. Famously, she’s managed to reduce her waste so much that she managed to fit two years-worth of her trash into one small mason jar. I KNOW.
According to Singer, all it takes is baby steps to ensure that you are producing the least amount of waste possible; making small and simple swaps along the way. If she can do it, so can we! Right?
Keep on reading for our top 12 tips on how to live life as a waste-free woman.
Your beauty routine:
Switch to refillable beauty products
Recycling company Terracycle has revealed that the cosmetics industry produces a staggering 120 billion units of plastic packaging per year, and only 50% of this is being recycled according to Recycle Now. Refillable beauty is taking over the beauty industry and many brands (like us) are now making it possible for you to refill your empty shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles once they have been used to the very last drop. Here at The Conscious Beauty Co., once you have reached the end of your reusable aluminium bottle, simply head to our online shop to purchase your next desired refill pouch. Once your bottle is replenished, we will recycle the pouch for you! Just post it back to us using the recycling bag that comes with your first order and your bottle will continue to live on.
Zero waste toothpaste
“I haven’t bought toothpaste in years,” says Lauren in a blogpost revealing her own homemade toothpaste recipe. Not only is generic toothpaste packaged in harmful and non recyclable plastics, but Lauren reveals that “there has been a lot of controversy around the ingredients in conventional toothpaste,” saying that the ingredients Triclosan and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) are toxic and potentially carcinogenic. Her solution? Together combine organic coconut oil, baking soda and organic peppermint essential oil and you’ll have your very own homemade zero-waste toothpaste! Your pearly whites will be gleaming.
Of course, to use your homemade toothpaste you’ll need an eco-friendly toothbrush (duh). According to an article by independent.co.uk, 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are used worldwide, with the average person using 300 in their lifetime! However, 80 percent of these are ending up in the ocean and can take up to an astonishing 1,000 years to decompose. Instead, choose to save the marine life and their habitats by opting for a bamboo toothbrush. They’re biodegradable, antimicrobial and free of nasty chemicals contained in regular plastic toothbrushes.
Reusable cotton pads
We’ve mentioned this before, but we’ll say it again. According to the WWF, 20,000 litres of water are needed to produce just one kilogram of cotton, causing a huge loss in natural habitats for plants, fish and birds. Yes, cotton pads play an essential role in many beauty routines, however they are terrible for the environment as they are not recyclable or biodegradable. Reusable cotton pads are made from soft bamboo fabrics that are suitable for even the most sensitive skin. They are also designed to be used hundreds of times over, creating more bang for your buck. Once dirty, simply pop them into the washing machine with your normal load.
Natural deodorant used to have a bad reputation for failing to prevent sweat and odour. However, the generic deodorants that you find in the drugstore are often packaged in non recyclable plastic and contain harmful chemicals that can block the skin’s pores such as parabens and aluminium. Thankfully, you can now buy natural deodorant from many health-food stores or online that instead contain sweat-busting essential oils such as citrus, eucalyptus and skin-nourishing magnesium oil which naturally prevents odour. Or, if you’re feeling really fancy why not have a go at making your own? Lauren’s go-to is made from arrowroot powder, baking soda, coconut oil, shea butter and an essential oil of your choice! Go on, your armpits will thank you for it.
If you’re anything like me, you have about 5 different makeup removers in your bathroom cabinet. One for removing eye makeup, one for removing face makeup...the list goes on. Not only is this hard on your bank balance, but they are often filled with chemicals and synthetic fragrances which are harsh on your skin and the planet. The truth is, we don’t actually need all of these products to thoroughly remove makeup. The alternative? Try using a teaspoon of organic coconut oil, warming it between your hands and massaging it onto the skin as you would a cream cleanser, then rinse off with a washcloth. If you have oily/acne prone skin, try using jojoba oil instead as it is non-comedogenic and therefore won’t clog your pores. Additionally, using an oil won’t only melt away all traces of grease, dirt and makeup but you’ll soon notice that your skin will be less oily as the more oil you feed your skin, the less it will produce! A win-win.
Homemade body scrub
Let’s not neglect our bodies; they need some TLC too. Body scrubs are often overlooked as an essential part of any skincare routine, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of freshly exfoliated, shaved and moisturised legs on clean bed sheets, am I right? There are so many ways that you can make a homemade body scrub. Why not try upcycling old dried coffee grounds from your kitchen, some organic sugar/salt and coconut oil. Simply mix all of the ingredients together, put into a jar and pop it into the fridge to ensure that it stays fresh. The coffee contains vital antioxidants and it improves blood circulation whilst stimulating the senses. Also, a tip that I have learnt over the years is that body scrubs work best when applied to dry skin, before showering. You’ll be left with a much better result, and your skin will appear much smoother with a more even tone.
Shaving is an essential part of many women’s beauty routines. However, statista.com estimates that in 2018, 5.5 million people used disposable razors. With disposable razors designed to only be used 6-9 times before being thrown away, that’s a whole lot of money being spent and a tonne of plastic ending up in landfill. For years, safety razors have been favoured by men for their smooth-shave properties. But who said they were just for men? Now, many women around the world have been praising the numerous benefits a safety razor provides for your skin, wallet and the environment. Unlike disposable razors, safety razors are made from stainless steel and are built to last a lifetime; both the razor and the blades are 100% recyclable. Yes, they take a little while to get used to, but once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll be wondering why you hadn’t made the switch sooner. The average safety razor will cost you between £20-£30, but that’s a small price to pay for saving the environment and your wallet.
Homemade body moisturiser
Of course, after using your safety razor you need to ensure that your skin is well moisturised to prevent any sensitivity. However, as my skin is sensitive, I find that most generic body lotions and oils can irritate me. Not to mention the majority of them are packaged in plastic (sigh). One waste-free alternative that I like to use is raw organic coconut oil (can you tell that I’m a fan?). Not only is it great as a hydrating body oil, but also occasionally as a nourishing mask for your hair. You can also use other oils such as jojoba or vitamin e and add an essential oil to provide a lasting scent. Why not try adding some lavender essential oil to your base oil of choice to soothe the skin and calm the mind at bedtime? You’ll soon be off to dreamland.
Your period routine:
Favoured by Lauren herself, a menstrual cup is a small, reusable and flexible funnel-shaped cup that is often made of rubber or medical grade silicone that you insert into the vagina to collect period fluid. They can hold more blood than other methods and depending on the heaviness of your flow, you can wear them for up to 12 hours! Nowadays, there are many different sizes and brands for you to choose from, so you’re bound to find the one that’s right for you! But, make sure to wash your cup thoroughly after each use to prevent any unwanted infections.
Reusable sanitary towels
Reusable sanitary towels have become highly popular among eco-warrior women. According to actionaid.org.uk, most sanitary towels contain up to 90% plastic, releasing extreme amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to air pollution and global warming. Not only are reusable sanitary towels better for the environment, they are also better for your health as they are usually made from natural antibacterial bamboo and organic cotton, ridding you of the nasty chemicals and toxins found in the generic plastic ones.
Reusable tampon applicator
Here’s one for the tampon users. In 2019, as a result of billions of plastic tampon applicators being thrown away each year without being recycled, eco-friendly UK personal care brand, DAME, created the world’s first ever reusable tampon applicator. It is said to work with every size tampon and is BPA free, leak free, carbon neutral and will last you a lifetime. It is also self-sanitising thanks to its antibacterial sanipolymers which act as natural sterilisers, so all you need to do it rinse it thoroughly under warm water after each use. It also comes with 6 organic cotton tampons and a nifty travel wallet so you can be sure to have eco-friendly period protection wherever you go.