Can I just take a quick sec to say that I am SO happy you’re here?! Maybe you clicked on this article because you’re already on a sustainability journey. Maybe you’re curious about how your everyday choices make an impact on the environment. Maybe you’re just bored at work and are looking for a distraction.
No matter the reason, I’m glad you’re here because I love our Earth and I want to share some of the ways we can make sure she’s around for a long time because she, like every woman, is beautiful and fierce and deserves more respect than she’s getting right now.
Why Should I Care about My Impact on the Environment?
According to UN Environment, we produce 300 million tons of plastic each year worldwide and half of that is single-use items. Yes, recycling plastic can help offset waste but the sad reality is that more than 90% of plastic ends up in a landfill or in the environment.
Plus, with the average American producing 4.4 pounds of waste each day, according to the EPA, we definitely have some room for improvement on limiting how much we toss – especially when it comes to our daily routines.
One note before we dive in: this post is NOT supposed to make you feel bad or guilty or send you into an existential crisis. But I do hope that it gets you thinking and, most importantly, excites you to make some small changes to your routine that can have a HUGE impact on our environment!
Check out these 5 ways to reduce waste and single-use plastic in your health and beauty routine, and discover part 2 when you’re ready to keep being the environmental hero goddess warrior I know you are!
Ditch: Makeup Remover Wipes
While makeup wipes are one of the most convenient parts of our nighttime routine, they aren’t doing the environment any favors. In your lifetime, you will contribute appropriately 24,455 makeup wipes to landfills (between the ages of 13 and 80). And because most makeup wipes are made with fibers that aren’t biodegradable, they are gonna be sitting there for a LONG time.
Switch: Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
Make the switch to reusable makeup remover pads. All you have to do is apply a natural makeup remover to the pad, take off your makeup like you normally would and then instead of throwing the pad away, you’ll put it in a laundry-safe bag. At the end of the week, they get washed and ready to reuse the following week.
Ditch: Tampons and Pads
Omg, hi! You’re still here! If I had read the headline above last year, I would have immediately exited out of this article and muttered something along the lines of: “are you f$%king kidding me, you crazy hippy?!” But just hear me out.
According to Stanford Magazine, “In the United States alone, approximately 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are discarded each year.” And, while the majority of those end up in a landfill, there’s another percentage that end up clogging sewer lines or wind up in our oceans.
And if that stat doesn’t convince you, having used tampons and pads sit in your trash until trash day is hella gross.
Switch: Reusable Menstrual Cups
It sounds scary, but a menstrual cup has a positive impact on the environment AND your body. With a reusable menstrual cup, you never have to worry about running out of tampons. You’re also doing your body a solid by not sticking anything in it that you have no idea what it’s made out of.
Because cotton and rayon are such absorbent fibers, pesticides and heavy metals in the soil can seep in and remain there throughout the production process. These chemicals can end up in your body. While there are ongoing studies about the impact of these chemicals in your body, it’s worth it to take a step back and consider the research. (And of course, read up about it on your own!)
On the other hand, menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone and last about a decade. You can wear them for 12 hours with no leaks and you don’t have to worry about toxic shock syndrome (TSS) like you do with tampons.
Ditch: Shower Loofahs
Okay can we just agree that shower loofahs are kinda gross? Something that scrubs your dirty body day in and day out and spends its life in a moist (ew) environment carries a whole host of germs and nasties. Plus, loofahs are made out of non-recyclable materials and should be replaced every two to three months, which means the average person will go through more than 250 loofahs in their lifetime – all of which will end up in a landfill.
Switch: Soap Saver Bags
Soap saver bags are made out of sustainable fibers like agave, sisal and hemp and extend the life of your soap. If you’ve ever used bar soap, you know how frustrating it is to keep it in your hand while trying to wash your body. And when it gets down to a little nub, it’s hard to even do that! A soap saver bag allows your soap to lather like a liquid body wash and saves all the little tiny pieces of your soap so you get the most out of each bar.
Also, they last forever and are biodegradable. Win-win.
Ditch: Liquid Soaps
I’m just gonna say this: I love liquid soap. I do. It’s so easy. And I will say that most soap containers are recyclable at this point but most of the nozzles and pumps are not. The biggest problem with liquid soaps, however, is that even if you can recycle the bottles, they require “five times more energy for raw material production and nearly 20 times more energy for packaging production than bar soaps do,” according to Conservation Magazine.
So there you have it! Bar soaps are better for the environment. They are also better for your wallet. Don’t believe me? Keep reading!
Switch: Bar Soap
By switching to bar soap, not only do you ditch the plastic and reduce your carbon footprint, you also will go through less soap than if you were using liquid soap, saving you $$$ over time.
In addition to switching from liquid hand soap and dish soap to bar soap, you can also try out shampoo, conditioner and body wash bars. It can take a bit to get used to, but you’ll end up falling in love with the simplicity of it all! Bonus points if you purchase your bar soap with zero packaging AND buy it locally.
Ditch: Plastic & Disposable Razors
According to Statista, 163 million consumers in the U.S. used disposable razors in 2018 and I think it’s safe to say that pretty much all those razors ended up in a landfill because most plastic razors are not recyclable. Plus, as I’ve mentioned above, the energy needed to produce plastic products, including razors is higher than other materials. Not to mention, it’s a pain in the ass to buy razors over and over again – especially when they seem to get dull within a few weeks.
Switch: Metal Razors
As Hilary Duff once sang: Let’s go backkkk, back to the beginninggggg! Back before plastic became all the rage, metal razors were the norm and now… they’re back! The cool thing is that once you buy a metal razor, it’s yours for life! You’ll never have to buy another one – just the replacement blades. By ditching the plastic, disposable razors, you’ll be able to save money and reduce your carbon footprint over time.
How are we feeling after reading this list? Inspired? Overwhelmed? Guilty? Hopeful? No matter how you feel, all I ask is that you have taken away at least one thing to incorporate into your routine; especially when it’s as easy as changing one purchasing habit. No real work required. 🙂 Let me know in the comments what swaps you’re making or DM me on Instagram at @theabbeynormalblog. And, make sure to check out part 2 for more sustainable swaps for your health and beauty routine!
Zero Waste / Sustainable Companies to Support
Wow, that was a lot of information! If you’d like to check out some awesome, zero-waste/plastic-free/eco-friendly companies to support in your quest for sustainability, click the links below!