It’s 2021, and for many people, the environment is top of mind. Some people have opted for a minimalist lifestyle, paring back their belongings to the bare minimum, or chosen the waste-free route (and they have my utmost respect and admiration). But the majority of us are just chugging along, trying to do our best to make environmentally friendly choices whenever possible on the daily.
Are you doing as much as you could be? Upping your eco-friendly game doesn’t have to be complicated or happen all at once. It’s simply about developing new habits. Here are some ways to minimize the amount of waste you create, specifically when it comes to beauty and self-care.
1. Use Face Products on Your Body
We’ve all been there: You see a product everywhere online, the ingredients are exactly what your skin needs, and its texture looks divine. You buy into the marketing or simply can’t resist its beautiful packaging, and hit “Add to Cart” and “Checkout” faster than you can get through your evening skincare routine. But once you’ve used your shiny new product once or twice, you realize you don’t love the scent as much as you thought you would, the texture isn’t your vibe, [insert personalized skincare complaint here].
That’s no reason to toss it, though! Face serums, toners, and moisturizers can be used on your body—whose skin will benefit from any hydrating, brightening, or anti-aging actives. I like to keep serums I didn’t love near my computer with my hand creams and face mists, and use it on my hands while I work. And I just realized I should do the same with sunscreens!
2. Buy in Bulk
With more and more specialized shops popping up, buying in bulk is no longer limited to food. Nowadays, you can purchase everything from household cleaners and hair care products, to toothpaste, and in some cases, even skincare and makeup. Some brands also offer refill options, which are worth looking into.
3. Go the Extra Mile to Recycle
By now, most of us know the basics of what can and cannot be recycled. But some types of packaging are more ambiguous, or require some prep work before being placed into the recycling bin. Don’t be lazy! Make a habit of checking labels and packaging, and looking up how to recycle them online if you’re still unsure. Oftentimes, local guidelines can vary, so get acquainted with the rules where you live. It’s worth it!
4. Share With Friends!
Maybe you got a little overexcited making your last online order, or maybe you were gifted an extra of your favorite skincare or body care and you’re afraid you won’t have time to use it up. Sharing is caring—and I’m sure you have at least one friend who would appreciate a freebie. I most often give away beauty products, but the same principle applies for clothing and items you may have around the house that are no longer being used. It’s crazy how sometimes something you’ve been holding onto for too long can prove useful to someone else. And it’s a great way to minimize waste, declutter your home, and connect with your besties.
5. Get the Most Out of Your Things
The older generation in my family used to cut up old bed sheets and clothing and use them as kitchen rags. Why not do the same with old towels and use them to make a bed for your pet or a bath mat? There are tons of tutorials online for how to reuse everyday items and minimize waste. For example, you can clean out an old tub of moisturizer and use it as a plant pot. Actually, gardening seems to be an area where there are loads of ways to repurpose old things.
6. Donate Items You No Longer Use
It can be mind-boggling to see how much stuff you accumulate. (Moving homes has a way of revealing just how many objects we surround ourselves with. Thanks, consumerism!) But the reality is that not everyone lives surrounded with so much abundance. Food banks, shelters, and even some secondhand stores will accept donations of everything from furniture to clothing and unopened beauty products. It’s simply a question of finding where the nearest drop-off point is from where you live and getting into the habit of donating.
But be mindful: If something is too worn out or stained for you to wear, chances are someone else won’t be able to make use of it, either. Stick to donating items that are still in good condition, and keep your things organized to make it easier for others to sort them out.
7. Join Facebook Trade or Donation Groups
Many of these are local, and they’re a great way to find treasures and/or a new home for things you no longer use. Websites like Marketplace and Craigslist are great for pocketing a bit of money while offloading items you’re not as enthusiastic about anymore. But if you’d simply like to help others from your neighborhood or city, it’s easy to find Facebook groups in your community (check the Buy Nothing Project for available communities around the world) where you can post what you have up for grabs for any interested parties to see. You’d be surprised at how many people may be interested in your stuff and how efficient the process of letting go of it can be!
8. Get Creative!
With all the time we spend online and how we are constantly connected—from our electronic devices to our homes—it can sometimes be a struggle to find an activity that doesn’t involve a screen or the internet. Why not try DIYing a home décor project by repainting an outdated piece of furniture, or unleashing your inner artist and creating ~something~ (a sculpture? A painting? A craft project? It doesn’t have to be beautiful!) from objects that are obsolete? Kids can also get involved and provide ideas you may not have thought of.
Have you found innovative ways to repurpose items in your home? What are your strategies for minimizing waste? The comments are open!