Is part of your 2021 New Years Resolutions to be more environmentally friendly with the products you buy? If yes, fantastic! This is a great goal to have for 2021.
For this goal, you may have already thought about buying from sustainable clothing brands or cutting down on the amount of meat you purchase this year. These are great ways to be more eco-friendly but have you considered the benefits of going green with your shampoo?
Move away from plastic shampoo bottles
It’s not something that everyone thinks about, but start thinking about how many bottles of shampoo you go through. This is a product that is often such a part of our lives that we don’t think about the impact it can have on the environment.
Once you know how often you wash your hair, you can work out how fast you go through your shampoo and then how many bottles you’re potentially sending to landfill. The sad fact is, even if you put it into the recycling bin it doesn’t mean it will be recycled.
So much of our plastic waste ends up travelling overseas, and the plastic that stays in the UK sometimes just can’t be recycled. The best way to reduce the impact of plastic is simply not to use it.
There has been an explosion of plastic-free hair care in the UK. Before you were looking at having to buy online or finding a local Lush, but now you’re spoilt for choice. Boots, Superdrug, and the big supermarkets all have shampoo bars for you to try. Even in a lockdown, you can still go plastic-free.
What to expect if you do switch to a solid shampoo?
Before you buy a bar make sure to use up what shampoo you have before going to purchase more, there are no benefits from buying more than you need.
When you’re ready to switch to a solid shampoo bar you’ll need to do some research before you dive in.
Shampoo bars will respond to different water hardness and give you different results depending on your hair type. It’s worth bearing in mind that they can become quite harsh on your hair if they don’t have any conditioning qualities.
It is a process to switch from liquid shampoo to a solid bar, so definitely take the time and look up specific advice for your hair type. It can be a challenge, and it will take time to adjust but if you really want to cut down on plastic waste in the bathroom this is a good option to explore.
Choose cruelty-free products where you can afford to.
As with make-up, it’s important to choose products that are ethically made without cruelty to animals. We’ve done a separate guide on why ethical make-up matters if you’re looking to start switching your products.
It’s well known that animals bred for meat contribute to climate change, but so do the animals unnecessarily kept for testing chemicals before they are introduced to us in our beauty products. While this may not be the biggest factor in choosing to switch to eco-friendly shampoo, it’s certainly an important one.
Cruelty-Free does not mean expensive or difficult to find. One of the brands that we love is the Superdrug cruelty-free range of haircare. There’s something for the majority of hair types and it’s reasonably priced. If you’re looking to spend a bit more on your haircare why not try Function Of Beauty? They’re an entirely online store that specializes in customised hair care just for you.
As with anything we recommend, this is a change you can make gradually. Do some research to find the perfect cruelty-free and (hopefully) plastic-free shampoo for your hair type that’s in your budget.
If you can’t afford to make a change to your beauty routine right now, that’s fine too. Why not spend some time getting in touch with companies and letting them know that they should be taking steps to be greener and stop using chemicals tested on animals? Using your voice to let companies know that they need to change to meet consumer demands is a big way to help if you can’t necessarily vote with your wallet and is a perfect way to make a difference.
Greenwashing is not a new trend by any means, it’s been around since consumers first started to challenge companies to adopt greener practices and reduce their impact on the planet.
However in 2021, with more eco-friendly practices becoming mainstream (as they should be!) there are going to be companies that engage in this type of marketing to profit from people’s desire to be better for the environment..
So, what exactly is Greenwashing?
Cambridge dictionary defines Greenwashing as the following:
Greenwashing is a symbolic gesture. Companies engaging in this practice are either directly misleading consumers that they are eco conscious or they are exaggerating how green their products and practices are for profit. Regardless of which it is, nothing about greenwashing is good or ethical.
There is nothing wrong with companies exploring green options and making changes to reduce their impact on the environment, it’s something we truly love to see!
For some people this is the first time they’ll be making green changes and these products can often create conversation that is important to the green movement. However it’s important to be aware that while these can be a great start, these small additions to product lines aren’t always as green as they claim to be.
An unfortunate example of this is the “Garnier Micellar Reusable Make-up Remover Eco Pads”. While these seem like a great way to cut down on single use cotton pads, the Garnier alternatives are not what they seem.
They’re made of 100% polyester which will not break down when they reach the end of their lifespan. They even say on the product description “Eco Pads cannot be recycled. After 1000 uses, please dispose in the bin.”. It’s also worth considering that they will shed microfibre plastics every single time you wash them.
At first glance these look like a great way to reduce waste in the bathroom, but in practice there are far better alternatives out there.
For example, we are still loving our bamboo face pads from My Little Eco Shop. They are even cheaper than the Garnier ones. The My Little Eco Shop ones work out at approximately £1.25 per pad while the Garnier ones are £2.99 per pad*.
Greenwashing is not always that easy to spot.
A less obvious form of Greenwashing is where companies will offer greener alternatives but make no effort to contribute to ending the cycle of over consumption or changing their business practices to be more eco friendly.
A perfect example of this is H&M. This company has most definitely taken steps to be more environmentally friendly, introducing recycling schemes and promoting their conscious collection.
You would not be wrong to be taken in by this and believe they are a more ethical brand to purchase from on the highstreet, especially when there are so few green brands on the highstreet to compare their practices against. However, they ultimately still promote the fast fashion model which as we know is unsustainable and one of the biggest contributors to climate change.
Unfortunately, with eco friendly products and practices becoming more and more popular there are companies that will seek to profit from this without doing the hard work to change their businesses.
It’s important that we take the time to consider just how green the companies we purchase from are and to make sure we are not listening to the marketing hype.
As we see with the face pad example, often the eco friendly options can actually work out cheaper than sticking with the big brands we know that aren’t changing fast enough to make a real impact.
For 2021, let’s take the time to really do the hard work and consider how ethical and green our purchases really are and make the effort to purchase as green as possible when we can.
*based on non sale prices displayed on 01.01.2021.
It’s impossible to not notice all of the plastic when you shop. Vegetables wrapped in plastic. Snacks wrapped in plastic often inside more plastic with a plastic tray. All of this is brand new material and most of it won’t ever be recycled.
While there are instances where plastic packaging is beneficial for the produce, for example the shrinkwrap on a cucumber extends product life by 14 days, we do not need individually plastic wrapped oranges and melon pots.
Around 40% of plastic is used in packaging, and the UK generates around 2.4 million tonnes per year of packaging waste. It may not be the most obvious thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, but making a few changes to how you do your weekly shop are some of the easiest ways to cut back on the amount of plastic being sent to landfill.
If you can, shopping at a local market with local produce is the best thing you can do. You can choose produce that is in season, isn’t wrapped in plastic and often for a great price.
Many local markets will have bulk options for those on a budget. The trick is to shop around and compare prices and only buy what you will use up. It might be tempting to stock up on all the fresh fruit and vegetables but there is no sense in buying something for it to go to waste. That is swapping a plastic problem for a food waste problem.
It’s the most obvious solution but avoiding plastic where you can is the best way to prevent it entering circulation. Choosing products with cardboard, recycled metal and glass over single use plastic sends a message to companies that plastic is not the way forward.
When shopping always choose recyclable materials where you can or choose products made using recycled materials.
If you can’t choose eco products then it’s still important to recycle whatever you can. With only 50% of plastic bottles and just 12-15% of mixed plastics actually being recycled, repurpose what you can too. Glass jars can be reused round the kitchen and decorated for use around the home and large plastic juice bottles can be used as airtight containers for cereals and grains.
Remember your canvas bags
Bags for life were sold as a sustainable way to reduce plastic waste while you shop because there would be no more single use bags going into landfill. However, in the UK we are still buying bags for life which means more plastic in circulation. A study found that UK households are getting through 54 ‘bags for life’ each year suggesting that they are being used as a bag for a week. This makes them a poor option if you’re looking for an eco alternative as these bags will take even longer to break down because they are “sturdy”.
While cotton tote bags aren’t the most environment friendly option either because of the process of manufacturing and harvesting cotton, they will last a lot longer and are a far better option for the weekly shop. If you want to make fabric bags even more eco friendly, why not thrift some cotton material or turn an old t-shirt into a produce bag.
Being able to make changes to how sustainably you complete your weekly shop is a privilege. There are those who set up unrealistic expectations that state everything must be plastic free, organic and this is the only way to shop.
With food desserts, poverty and food banks becoming the normal thing for many people across the world, being super green while you shop is not always a possibility. If you cannot afford to do these things, don’t stress about it.
If you can make a change these are some great ways to cut down on plastic and reduce your individual carbon footprint.