If you’re looking to get better connected with nature, then a brilliant (but maybe unexpected) place to start is with your cosmetic bag. Those tiny tubs of lotions and potions might seem irrelevant, but the cosmetics industry has a big role to play when it comes to protecting nature and our planet. Each year, the beauty industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging globally. Only 9% of plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. The rest? It’s incinerated, or dumped in landfills, or worse, dumped in natural environments, causing serious harm to nature and its wildlife. Horrified? (You’re not the only one). Keep reading to find out how you can transform your cosmetic bag for the good of nature.
What are cruelty-free cosmetics?
Going cruelty-free with your cosmetics is an easy way to be kinder to nature. But what exactly does cruelty-free mean? In short, cruelty-free beauty products are products that have been developed without any tests on animals. In the UK, testing cosmetic products on animals is banned. However, it is currently legal in other countries such as China and the United States, and these products make their way onto our shop shelves and into our baskets. These non-cruelty-free products are being tested on a wide range of animals, from rats and mice, to rabbits and guinea pigs, cats and dogs, farm animals, birds, and primates, such as monkeys and even chimpanzees. These animals live in dire conditions and are continually subjected to painful, invasive tests. We won’t give you all the grisly details, but if you’d like to know more, a quick search on Ecosia should fill you in.
To check if a brand is cruelty-free, look out for the cruelty-free badge (usually a content-looking bunny rabbit). Most cruelty-free brands are pretty loud about their
objection to animal testing, which we love because it makes mindful shopping a heck of a lot easier (psss all KiteNest products are cruelty-free as a blanket rule).
However, rather confusingly, not all “cruelty-free” products are vegan (although ours are). The cruelty-free label only refers to animal testing, so it is possible that your cruelty-free products contain animal-derived ingredients, such as milk, honey or gelatin. If a product has a “vegan” label, it means it’s made using only plant-based ingredients.
Why cruelty free is kinder for everyone
Cruelty-free isn’t just kinder for the animals. It’s kinder for everyone. The animal testing industry is a huge polluter. Testing facilities use large quantities of air as they require total fresh air exchange for ventilation. This results in high depletion of energy and very high carbon emissions. Testing facilities also incinerate animal corpses, releasing nasty toxins into the air. They regularly dispose of potentially hazardous chemicals, food waste and other supplies used in experiments. Between 2011 and 2013, waste from the National Institutes of Health’s animal testing facilities (USA) totaled 1.5 million pounds in weight.
The animal testing industry isn’t just guilty of putting toxins into the air and natural environments, but also into your cosmetic products. The understanding that animal tested products are safer is nothing more than a myth. Whilst the majority of cruelty-free products contain non-toxic, more natural ingredients, many big brands who test on animals sell products that are packed with harsh chemicals that can cause allergic reactions, irritation and dryness in your skin.
Boycotting animal tested cosmetics helps to bring an end to inhumane practices, whilst protecting your skin from all sorts of nasties, and protecting natural environments and habitats. However, be aware that it’s not just beauty products that are tested on animals. Cleaning products, such as anti-bacterial sprays, washing up liquids and laundry detergents (the list could go on) are often animal tested too. Opting for cruelty-free products not only in your cosmetic bag, but in all areas of your home is an easy way to lower your carbon footprint (and it means you get to try out some lovely new eco-friendly goodies).
The importance of careful consumerism
With the seasons getting increasingly warmer, and wildlife populations dropping by 60% in just 40 years, doing our bit to fight the climate crisis is more important than ever. Careful consumerism plays a big part in us all lowering our carbon footprint. Overconsumption is a big problem in western society, with constant flash sales, “3 for 2” offers, and “buy now, pay later schemes”. At times, these incentives can be hard to resist (we’ve all been there), but getting into the routine of stopping and reflecting on whether you really need this new item in your life is an important habit to develop.
When it comes to careful consumerism, perfection isn’t necessarily the goal. Start small. Swap out your plastic-bottled shampoo for a shampoo bar, or resist buying that red lipstick because you know (deep in your heart) that you already have several at home. Buying fewer products means less waste overall (and more pennies left over in your purse). Try to make “quality over quantity” your new mantra.
Watch out for greenwashing
Greenwashing is becoming a big problem in all industries, with the beauty industry being no exception. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, let us fill you in. Greenwashing is designed to make consumers believe that a company is doing more for the environment than they really are (aka, they’re trying to trick you into thinking they’re eco-friendly, when really they’re not). Lots of mainstream brands are guilty of this and it can be painfully easy to fall for.
Brands guilty of greenwashing tend to draw you in with big buzzwords. Words and phrases such as “eco-friendly”, “sustainable”, “green”, and “environmentally conscious” get thrown around a lot without any real evidence. A brand’s website often gives a lot away. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re being greenwashed, jump onto their website and check out how transparent they are about brand sustainability. Do they appear to have a genuine passion for nature and the environment, or are they just using their “eco-friendly” badge as a marketing tool?
You might think there’s not much you can do to protect nature as an individual, but even the smallest, simplest of actions can have a big impact. Buying (genuinely) sustainable cruelty-free products, opting for quality over quantity when shopping, and encouraging others to do the same are all brilliant habits that will bring down your carbon footprint and help to protect nature.