In 2020 I will be pledging to become more conscious of the products I purchase and how they are sourced. Like most of us, I am guilty of buying unsustainable products: I use a lot of toiletries and cosmetic products like perfume, makeup and hair serums. I will try to choose products that are made purely from natural ingredients, and ones which have certifications to support their “natural beauty” claims. Using natural ingredients is crucial in preventing toxic chemicals found in beauty and care products, some of them carcinogenic, from seeping into our environment’s ecosystems and into our bodies.

The beauty and personal care industry has had immense impacts on the environment but recently, with increased awareness of the issues, measures have been taken to combat these. For example, in June 2018, the UK government’s ban on microbeads came into effect and a ban on cotton buds is set to follow in April 2020. 

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Whilst this is a good start, it is not enough. Microbeads are one small part of a much larger issue: the excessive consumerism of beauty and personal care products leading to vast amounts of wastage and toxic pollution. Other damages include plastic packaging with limited recyclability, the carbon footprint of transporting cosmetic goods, harmful toxins in products that are washed down the drain into marine environments, the water wastage in manufacturing processes, and the use of palm oil. 

I want to buy from brands that produce sustainably from the offset, in both interior content as well as their packaging. Companies like Wearth sell glass large glass bottles to dispense bulk-bought or homemade shampoo and conditioner and LUSH offer zero-impact packaging products like shampoo bars which claim to reduce your carbon footprint: one lorry load of shampoo bars delivers the same amount of hair washes as fifteen lorries of liquid shampoo. I will try to ensure that any plastic or material packaging that I do buy is fully recyclable.

This pledge will present some challenges for me in several ways. I have only recently started to consider what is really in the products I buy and how they affect the environment. I am not used to reading ingredient lists, let alone understanding what most of the chemicals actually are. Finding affordable alternatives (on a student budget!) that do not sacrifice sustainability or quality might prove difficult, especially as there are certain products that I use daily that I love. But homemade alternatives to products like body and lip scrubs, are a good way of saving money, whilst also using more simple and natural ingredients.

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