How to Save the Earth and Look Good Doing it

Photographer Catherine Sedor

The Earth pays for a lot of the damage humans cause with the use of some everyday products and the beauty industry is one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste. 

According to National Geographic, “The amount of plastic packaging on U.S. products (not just on personal care items) has increased by over 120 times since 1960 – with almost 70 percent of that waste piling up in landfills.” 

Not only do numerous companies manufacture their products with single-use plastics, they also test on animals.

According to PETA, “There’s no ban on testing cosmetics or household products on animals in the U.S.”

Several companies like Maybelline, Victoria’s Secret and Benefit continue to test on animals to prove the products have been tested in the event of a lawsuit. Instead of changing their products, they pay off an affected customer and continue injuring animals.

The ingredients in many products are also damaging the Earth due to deforestation. Palm oil is a significant ingredient in most soaps, shampoos and makeup and it can only be harvested in rainforests from an African oil palm tree.

April Long, a writer for Oprah Magazine reports, “One of the most egregious examples is palm oil, whose derivatives appear in a whopping 70 percent of cosmetics.” 

The African oil palm trees are being reduced in masses due to the increasing use of palm oil, which then causes an abundant amount of carbon dioxide to be released and pollute the air.

For students it can be difficult to only purchase cruelty-free brands because of the price.

However, several companies are creating affordable products that are vegan, cruelty-free and reducing their plastic waste to help the environment.

Some of the drugstore brands like ELF, Wet N’ Wild, Burt’s Bees and NYX are all cruelty-free and easy to find in stores like Walmart or Target. They also have a low price point ranging from $1 to $20. 

“I like to shop at Target because they have a section in their store dedicated to natural beauty and helping the Earth is important to me,” Abbey Gingrich, a sophomore music education major, said. “I always bring my reusable bags, too.”

There are also more high-end brands that are cruelty free like Tarte, Glossier, Too Faced and Urban Decay that can be found online and in Ulta or Sephora. These brands have a higher price point ranging from $12 to $50. 

A few safe body product brands include Love Beauty and Planet and Lush Cosmetics. Both of these brands are extremely aware of their carbon footprint, the lives of animals and the general wellness of the Earth. 

Lush Cosmetics even shut down their website on Sept. 20 to march in the youth led Global Climate Strike with the popular 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

“We all share this planet, so we need to band together to sound the alarm and show our politicians that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option. The climate crisis won’t wait and neither will we,” Mark Wolverton, President and CEO of Lush Cosmetics, said.

Not only does it help to purchase these safe brands but using reusable, recycled, or package-free products also makes a large contribution. 

Lush Cosmetics also has a system that if a customer brings in five of their black pots from Lush products to be recycled, they can receive a free face mask. 

Some students have recognized the severity of the Earth’s state and have started implementing small changes in their everyday lives. 

“I have started to only buy cruelty-free products and even use less of them or recycle the bottles,” Miranda Canacci, a sophomore fashion merchandising major, said. 

Ways you can start implementing more sustainable beauty:

  • Switch out cotton pads for reusable cloth pads, bottled soaps for bar soaps, or disposable razors for reusable ones. 
  • Aerosol cans can be recycled, along with some plastic bottles if they are cleaned out. You can reuse glass jars for new products or even plants.
  • Send used makeup packaging to organizations that give back to the environment like the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge.
  • Companies like Terracycle will take the items that may not be able to be locally recycled and do it for you if you mail them in.  
  • Have left over or unused makeup? Take old eyeshadow, mix it with clear nail polish and now you have a new color. Or melt together old lipsticks to create a new unique shade.
  • Use a magnetic makeup palette for your powder singles to reduce package waste.
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