The best zero waste and sustainable beauty brands to shop now

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  • Saving the planet never made us look so good…

    In the words of Kermit the Frog, ‘it’s not easy being green’. But we have to start somewhere and it might as well be with a zero waste, plastic-free face cream. And when better to start than on an eco landmark such as Earth Day or Zero Waste Week?

    Thankfully, like sustainable fashion, that’s a lot easier to do today than ever before.

    Green beauty has finally hit critical mass. Proof that planet-friendly credentials and quality products needn’t be mutually exclusive. It is also appealing to a powerful new consumer who believes in ethical living but is still a sucker for luxury products.

    ‘Buyers are savvier than ever before,’ says Victoria Buchanon, a trend analyst at The Future Laboratory. ‘Millenials, in particular, see nature and tech as living together. They read ingredients or notice if packaging is not recyclable and they will call brands out on it.’

    A New Era For Green Beauty

    On Earth Day, even premium beauty buyers were purring with delight at the latest eco-friendly offerings from brands like REN Clean Skincare. It already seems to have done the impossible by housing the dreamy-smelling Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Anti-Fatigue Body Wash in a completely recycled bottle, containing 20% reclaimed ocean plastic.

    So it should come as no surprise that UK sales of certified organic and natural beauty products rose by 23% in 2019. According to the Soil Association*, 79% of people are more likely to buy a product if it says ‘organic’. 64% of consumers said they were looking for products with recyclable packaging.

    All of which makes beauty’s role even more relevant on Earth Day and Zero Waste Week.

    But the biggest turnaround comes from big name, high street brands. For instance, you’ll now find the Soil Association’s logo on L’Oreal’s Garnier Organic Skincare in recognition of its green credentials.

    Something that was unthinkable at one time.

    * Soil Association 2020 Organic Market Report for Beauty & Wellbeing

    Why You Should Care About Zero Waste and Recycling Your Beauty Products

    Zero Waste Week have reported that over 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the cosmetics industry. Much of this is not recyclable.

    Of the product packaging we can recycle, four in 10 of us don’t. This means aerosol cans and the cardboard boxes your face cream come in end up in landfill.

    So apart from scanning the ingredients list for sustainable ingredients, what other small changes can we make?

    ‘Invest in a bathroom recycling bin for starters. And choose both glass and aluminium over plastic packaging,’ says Rachelle Strauss, founder of Zero Waste Week. ‘Both can be recycled over and over again without loss of quality.’

    They also stand a better chance of actually being recycled.

    ’75 per cent of aluminium ever made is still in circulation, thanks to it being the most cost effective material to recycle. 60 per cent of our glass bottles and jars are also currently recycled,’ adds Strauss.

    You might find our guide for how to recycle beauty products also helpful.

    Refillable Beauty – What You Need To Know

    Refilling, rather than recycling, saves the energy needed to sort, process and transform materials into something new.

    Founded by the creator of Terracycle, Loop is a global shopping platform that works with retailers to reduce recycling and single-use plastic by ensuring that when you’ve finished with a product, it is returned to them for refilling and delivered straight to your doorstep again.

    Fragrance brands have also entered the refillable beauty space, which makes sense as you can now top up your signature scent for less.

    Perfume containers are notoriously difficult to recycle locally – but that won’t be a problem from now on.

    For added ease, Lancôme Idole is refillable — so you can re-up your fragrance in the same pink flacon at over 200 Lancôme counters.

    Lancôme Idole Eau de Parfum, £76.50 for 50ml, Lookfantastic

    Earth Day

    Buy it now

    While Giorgio Armani has just launched My Way, a warm sunny scent with jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose, vanilla and cedar wood, in a bottle that is not only refillable but made of different recyclable parts.

    Giorgio Armani My Way Eau de Parfum, £76, Armanibeauty.co.uk

    Adria Arjona

    Buy it now

    According to Armani, the 50ml My Way bottle and 150 ml refill bottle use 32% less cardboard, 55% less glass, 64% less plastic and 75% less metal than their traditional spray bottle counterparts.

    The Best Planet-Friendly Beauty Buys

    Whether you’re new to sustainable beauty brands or unsure where to start looking for zero waste products, these are some of our favourites…

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