The stats surrounding plastics in the beauty industry are not pretty, but we must educate ourselves and change our ways to start a new plastic-free #ReuseRevolution!
What’s So Bad About Plastic?
Plastic revolutionised every industry from beauty, electric, food and so on, by providing a cheap material that would last infinitely. That radical element of plastic has been taken for granted and is now a big downfall of the material.
To put it into context, plastic is made using fossil fuels and every piece of plastic ever made still exists. Recycling plastics is a great solution, yet the infrastructure isn’t in place to dispose of plastics properly. It’s a system governed by market demand, price determinations and local regulations (as is the case in the United States too).
More than 600 million tons of plastic will be produced on Earth by 2025 (only a few years away…) and waste-management companies and recycling systems are unable to cope with that amount of plastic. In reality, only 9% of plastic is recycled globally, 40% is dumped in a controlled manner, 14% is burned in a controlled manner and 32% ends up in the environment as plastic pollution.
It’s What’s Inside That Counts Too
Many major beauty brands continue to add microscopic plastic particles and liquid plastics to their cosmetic products – often as cheap fillers. Through our showers, baths and sinks, microplastics in our everyday products (laundry detergent, skincare and so much more) flow into sewage systems, slip through the filters in water-treatment plants and reach our rivers and oceans. Once they are there, they become a part of the plastic soup. The plastic breaks down further and further. Marine animals mistake these microplastics for food, and the particles end up on our plates because we are part of the food chain… it’s a vicious cycle.
If we continue to use and produce plastic at the same rate we do now, there will be more plastic in the ocean, tonne for tonne, than fish by 2050. In other words, the effects of plastic are devastating. And, on land, the soil on which crops grow is 4 to 23 times more polluted with microplastics than the ocean.
So, What's the Answer?
It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom though; we just need to alter our approach to sustainability – including with our use of plastic bags, coffee cups and single-use plastic – and put more emphasis on the 'Reduce and Reuse' part of the equation! It’s why Beauty Kitchen created its Return • Refill • Repeat programme so we can wash and reuse our packaging and, in turn, create less discarded plastic for true sustainability and for a circular, Waste Zero approach.
Education is Key!
It’s not always easy to work out whether a product's packaging includes plastic or has microplastics in it. Some products that appear to be ‘clean’ do not contain sustainable ingredients. There’s now a free to download app ‘Beat the Microbead’ by the Plastic Soup Foundation that does all the hard work for you. This digital tool uses machine-learning software to detect more than 500 different microplastics from a product's ingredient list.
You can also support sustainable businesses by looking out for the ‘Zero Plastic Inside’ logo to see which products are 100% microplastic free (like ours!).
“When it comes to plastic-free beauty, we need to think about the product in its entirety. This means the environmental impact of a product's ingredients as well as its packaging must be considered. It’s not enough to stick a ‘recyclable’ logo onto a product but not consider the thousands of microplastics inside that are just as damaging to the environment.” - Jo Chidley, Founder of Beauty Kitchen.
It’s up to us to say no to plastic products and banish microplastics before they eliminate our planet. Make a stance and join the Reuse Revolution today!
Words and images by the Beauty Kitchen Team.
See our full collection of eco-friendly accessories for hands at Bower Collective.