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Plastic Free Beauty 2
Illustration by Callum Abbott

6 easy product swaps for a plastic-free beauty routine

Ahead of Plastic-Free Beauty Day, learn all about the alternatives to single use plastic packaging and how you can make a difference in your routine

TextAlex PetersIllustrationCallum Abbott

As an industry, beauty is responsible for around 120 billion units of packaging every year, a large majority of which is single-use plastic or non-recyclable and ends up in landfill and the ocean. This is a serious problem because the Earth is generally not in a great state right now. Amongst other terrible things – the Great Barrier Reef being irrevocably damaged, losing an estimated 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest every day – the UN has predicted by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the fish and an estimated 99 percent of sea birds will have ingested plastic. 

In an effort to bring awareness to beauty’s contribution to these sobering statistics, and ignite change within the industry, in 2019 Yolanda Cooper founded Plastic-Free Beauty Day. Held every June 17, Plastic-Free Beauty Day is a call to action against the over dependence on plastic by beauty brands and the sheer volume of plastic produced by the industry. “Only 9 per cent of us recycle from our bathroom compared with over 50 per cent from our kitchen,”  says Cooper, who is also the founder of haircare brand We Are Paradoxx. “So the impact of packaging waste alone makes it critical that the beauty industry actively contributes to global sustainability efforts.”

Now in its third year, Plastic-Free Beauty Day is this year asking beauty retailers to make plastic-free beauty a shoppable category on their websites to help consumers make conscious choices. “Just like you can shop vegan and cruelty-free, we believe being able to choose plastic free is something consumers are asking for,” says Cooper. They are also turning their focus to education and will be holding a webinar in partnership with the British Beauty Council and Ocean Generation on Friday 11 June. Hosted by Cooper alongside  industry experts including British Beauty Council CEO Millie Kendall and Daisy Kendrick, a leading sustainability expert from Ocean Generation, the webinar will inform both brands and consumers about the environmental cost of not adapting existing practices, as well as offering alternatives to single use plastic packaging and sharing insights into sustainable options 

To help do your bit as a beauty consumer, Cooper suggests putting a recycle bin into your bathroom and remembering to clean out any bottles or tins prior to recycling. Below are some other suggestions for changes you can make to your beauty routine to go plastic free, and remember to sign up for the webinar on Friday to find out more.