Welcome to the final instalment in this series of blogs focusing on sustainability by Business, Economics and Finance student, Debbie Andrews. In this blog Debbie focuses on sustainable toiletries a how small changes can create a big impact:
Have you ever considered the environmental impact your health and beauty products have?
For example, did you know in the UK we throw away 300 million toothpaste tubes every year. Due to the complex materials that the tubes are made from, recycling them is not easy, instead the majority go to landfill and take 500 years to biodegrade.
In researching for this blog, I have found that cosmetics and toiletries is a vast industry selling a huge range of products that can impact the environment in a number of ways, either in the growing of natural ingredients, during manufacture, as we use them or in the way they are packaged.
The range of impacts includes:
- Palm oil use
- Increased demand for ‘natural’ products that’s leading to increased use of pesticides
- Cruelty to animals in testing
- Use of artificial chemicals
- Water pollution
- Non-recyclable packaging use
One writer suggests that individuals trial products and change their buying behaviours one step at a time.
Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
Although the big brands and supermarkets ensure their toilet rolls are endorsed by the Forest Stewardship Council, denotating the sustainability of the forests used, they contain virgin paper, made from wood pulp. This means that acres of trees are cut down every year to make a product used only once.
Recycled toilet paper is available online, on a monthly subscription basis from companies such as Who Gives a Crap, in small or bulk orders from people such as Traidcraft or Ecoleaf or just in your weekly shop from your local supermarket.
So as Greenpeace puts it; ‘Stop flushing away forests’ and buy recycled paper toilet rolls.
With all the hand washing that we are being encouraged to do in the pandemic, my use, and probably yours, of liquid soap has grown. But according to Friends of the Earth the manufacture of this type of soap needs 5 times more energy and 20 times more packaging than block soap. So what are the alternatives?
Well, they suggest choosing natural soap.
Retailer Lush uses fresh, vegetarian ingredients to hand make a range of soaps sold in minimal packaging. But a trip down the health and beauty aisle at the supermarket will show that a range of alternatives are available at different prices, try choosing those wrapped in paper.
Showering and hair washing
We need not stop with hand soap as alternative environmentally conscious products exists for both showering and hair washing. Again, these can be bought in bar online and from stores in Worcester such as, again, Lush or Body Shop and Pack It In.
Returning to the toothpaste tubes problem we raised earlier.
Colgate operate a scheme through Terracycle that accepts any tubes from any brand and turns them into plastic pellets for use in the manufacture of a wide range of products such as outdoor furniture.
Alternatively, Colgate does sell one product that is vegan, predominantly natural ingredients and comes in easily recyclable packaging.
Another option is to use a different type of product. Two options to try are pastes and tablets. Pastes are organic, natural, mineral based and are sold online in glass jars. Tablets are vegan, and sold in a monthly use quantity in paper bags by Pack It In.
So that’s a few ideas for us to start our efforts to reduce our personal impact when selecting our health and beauty products.
I think I will start with the toilet rolls, what will you choose?