I would undoubtedly be a much more eco-friendly human if I didn’t add cosmetics to my regular consumption of products, but it’s one thing I haven’t yet been able to give up. I have done a lot of research on which makeup products are the healthiest for my body and which companies have sustainable sourcing and production practices. But the makeup removal part of the equation is just as relevant in my quest to reduce my consumption of manufactured products. After all, how many are made in the form of disposable wipes that get one use and then are dumped into the trash can? And also of concern, how many makeup remover products include chemicals that are irritants or hormone disruptors? A lot of them! I should know, I feel like I tried them all over the years.
For the past few years, I have used something for removing eye makeup that I’ve discovered to be as effective as the complexly formulated products sold in stores. Coconut oil. A swipe of it over my eyes removes the makeup and, bonus, moisturizes my under eye area. I already had a container of organic coconut oil in my kitchen for baking recipes, making granola, greasing baking pans, etc. Now, I also keep a container in my bathroom for removing mascara at the end of the day.
Although the product itself could not be more simple or natural, using cotton balls to apply the coconut oil (and witch hazel for astringent that I use daily) felt wasteful. 1-2 cotton balls per day doesn’t seem like much. But I pictured every cotton ball I’ve used in my life piled up in a landfill, and decided there had to be a better way. So one day, as I was retiring some bath towels that had become faded and thin, I decided to sub them in for cotton balls. I cut the towels up into little squares, about 3” x 3” and quickly settled into a new routine. Each night I use a mini towel square to apply the coconut oil to my eyes. Because the oil is solid at room temperature, I rub the towelette onto the oil rather than dip it. One gentle swipe on each eye and my makeup is gone and my eye is moisturized! Then I fold over the towelette and use the other side to apply witch hazel to my whole face. I throw the little towelette in with the rest of my laundry and, voila! Reusable makeup remover wipes.
Do you have any DIY hacks to cut down on consumption? I’d love to hear about them!
How many plastic bags do you use in an average week? It may be more than you realize. Think about buying green beans or apples at the grocery store — what do you put that loose produce in? How do you bag your groceries when you leave the store? And if you bring grapes or crackers to work, what do you put those in? It’s so easy to use lots of plastic bags for food without noticing it. But cutting back on that excess plastic is completely doable with reusable alternatives.
Let’s start with the source — produce at the grocery store. Hopefully you’re eating lots of fruits and vegetables (they should be taking up half your plate at every meal!). For a while, I was going to the grocery store and farmers’ markets and feeling really good about the large variety of vegetables and fruits I’d bought for the week, yet feeling badly that everything I bought was in lots of separate plastic bags. What a waste! I did try to reuse them as much as possible, but they often got wet or sticky or tore apart. Reusable produce bags are a game-changer. These sheer mesh bags hold all the produce that I buy, and I never have to worry about throwing them out and creating waste. When they get dirty, just throw them into throw washing machine with the laundry. You can buy sets of them online at retailers like Amazon.com.
For grocery bags, recyclable paper bags are certainly preferable over non-biodegradable plastic bags. But even better are reusable tote bags. It’s pretty easy to accumulate these. They’re given out at special events all the time, or you can buy them from grocery stores. The tough thing is remembering to use them. Try to keep them by your front door, or in the trunk of the car where they are easily accessible when you’re going on a grocery run. After a few times of remembering them, it will come ingrained in your memory to bring them into the store.
I’m also a big proponent of bringing lunch and snacks to work. It saves so many dollars and calories compared to buying over-proportioned and over-priced meals out. But after munching on those carrot sticks or trail mix, the zip-locked baggies get immediately tossed in the trash. What a waste of plastic to use something for a few hours and then send it on to a landfill! Luckily, there are a lot of companies that now make reusable snack bags. My favorites are Lunchskins and Itzy Ritzy. And lots of Etsy stores sell these reusable bags. I wash these in the laundry or dishwasher after each use.
So try cutting back on plastic with reusable bags. It will keep heaps of plastic out of landfills, and will save you money in the long run!