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The recent Environmental Media Awards, 2016 was packed with celebrities supporting the environment. Hosted by Nicole Richie, guests included Jaden Smith who said

I will not stop this mission. I will not stop this initiative until we are sustainable and running on 100 percent renewable resources… I am dedicating my life to this.

There’s a problem with beauty products: we have too many of them, and too many of them are toxic. That’s not the way things have to be. The public is waking up to the health risks posed by cosmetics and personal care products, and now they are becoming conscious of the environmental fall out too.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind when you walk down the beauty aisle

  1. Avoid Microbeads
    These plastic balls in face scrubs have found their way into water, fish and even us. The US recently passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act, which bans their manufacture by 2017. Look for products with jojoba wax instead – a plant-based ingredient that is biodegradable.
  2. Recycle Through the Brand
    Some companies have created programmes that make recycling easier than ever. The incentives include discounts and freebies.
  3. Look for Refillable Containers
    Reusing the same container eliminates even the energy it takes to recycle. Don’t just think about bottles… consider the packaging as well. Many companies use sustainably sourced materials to make their boxes, which double up as storage and last for ages.
  4. Be Water-Wise 
    The UN has estimated that 1.8 billion people will live in regions with complete water scarcity by 2025. Fortunately, there are balms and serums capable of penetrating your skin without the use of water. Avoid products that have water listed as the first ingredient – you will be helping the world more than you know.
  5. Check the Seal 
    Look for labels that say Ecocert, Cradle to Cradle, Fair Trade Certified or Rainforest Alliance. This means that the products went through a third-party vetting process to prove they meet sustainability guidelines.
  6. Choose Biodegradable
    Products like cleansers and cleansing wipes eliminate the need for water. Since they are biodegradable, they can be binned once you’re done using them.
  7. Be Careful with Glass
    In theory, glass can be recycled, but different colours don’t always get sorted. Also, transporting them can increase carbon dioxide fumes. Buy items with longer shelf lives. Fragrances, and products made in small batches are great examples for minimising waste.
  8. Plastic Isn’t Always Bad
    Since plastic is light-weight, transporting it releases fewer CO2 emissions. Often, a portion of many plastic bottles contains post-consumer recycled content (PCR), and some brands even use 100% PCR plastic recovered from the ocean.
  9. Myth: Natural Is Always Better
    If the only way to get the natural version of a product is by schlepping to some far-flung place – using more energy and releasing more CO2 emissions – it could make more sense to use a synthetic version. When you do opt for a natural product, look for local, sustainably grown ingredients.
  10. Support Safe Cosmetics
    There are numerous options available that will leave you feeling beautiful without comprising the environment. Do some research to find brands that are cruelty-free, organic, or vegan, and once you find products you enjoy, shopping for cosmetics becomes fun, easy and guilt-free.
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