Ingredient fear has made us excessively cautious about the cosmetics we use on our bodies. We’re increasingly choosing organic and natural over synthetic and seeking out the reassurance of ‘free-from’ labels and clean formulations. At the same time, environmental campaigns (recent ones against microbeads, non-biodegradable wet wipes, cotton buds and single-use plastic – straws, cups, water bottles) has made us hyper conscious about what our product consumption is doing to the planet.
As consumers, we have the power to effect change through our product purchasing. Every time we buy something, it comes with packaging – either directly – the cellophane and box; or indirectly: carrier bag, ribbon, tissue paper, till receipt. Online deliveries are packaged to withstand the postal system or courier handling and we all know just how much space those Amazon boxes take up in our recycling bins. And this isn’t even the bottle or jar or tube that actually holds the product, which has to be dealt with further down the line. If you’re feeling particularly activist-minded about this, you could refuse the bag and all the extra wrapping (tissue, ribbon, bag-closing stickers, the little folder they put the receipt in – ask for it to be emailed). You might even want to unwrap the actual product at the counter and ask for the store to deal with the waste (supermarkets are looking at placing large scale recycling bins at exits so that customers don’t have to carry packaging home, and fill up their recycling bins.) This tactic is especially apt now as the government is looking at changing waste-collection fees in a bid to put pressure on manufacturers to reduce packaging.
If a product washes off (shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, facial cleanser, etc) have you considered what happens when it goes down the plug-hole? The recent successful ban on microbeads in cosmetics highlighted how small pieces of plastic can end up in the food chain. The aftermath of what we consume isn’t just limited to the product itself and its effect on our body, but its afterlife (how it breaks down in water, how it affects the soil), and what happens with the packaging post-consumer: is it recyclable or is it going into landfill?
If you care about the planet, all of these things should be factored into your product choices. Look for labels that inform you of a brand’s environmental credentials:
Green Dot. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the packaging is recyclable, will be recycled or has been recycled. It is used in some European countries and denotes that the manufacturer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging in Europe.
Mobius Loop. This indicates an object is capable of being recycled, not that the object has been recycled or will be accepted in all recycling collection systems. Look for the % figure in the centre for an indication of how much recycled material is present in the object.
FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council logo which identifies wood-based products from well-managed forests independently certified in accordance with the rules of the FSC.
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