Before we begin, I need you to check the label of your face wash, sunscreen, or any other product you use daily as a part of your skincare regimen. Does it mention parabens, formaldehyde, fragrance, nanoparticles, diethanolamine, or DMDM hydantoin? If your answer to any of these is yes, then your skincare routine is doing more harm than good. Not only to you, but also to the environment. To understand "how?" let’s start with unboxing, the influencer style!
The sleek and aesthetic packaging is surely Instagram-worthy, but have you ever thought of where they end up? Data shows that an estimated 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry, most of which are not recyclable. Scientists suggest that by 2050, about 12,000 metric tons of plastic waste will be in landfills or the natural environment. Upon disposal, plastic containers, wrappers, and rubbers are either incinerated or dumped into the landfills and oceans. Incineration emits greenhouse gases, and dumping at either site exposes animals, including marine wildlife, to them.
So, what to do?
- Make the switch to waste-free cosmetics.
- Buy consciously: There is no eco-sustainable way to dispose of plastic, and going plastic-free would be an unrealistic objective. As a result, it's vital that we buy only what we really need and are mindful of recycling programs initiated by brands. Remember that every container or bag that goes in the bin will almost certainly end up in a landfill.
- Reuse and repurpose most of the packaging. It’s time to be creative!
- Recycle all the boxes and paper bits.
- Support "made to order" products!
What are we doing about it?
At Amrutam, we understand our responsibility towards nature. We believe in the mantra, “Every action matters," and as a collective effort of the community, we’re pleased to introduce you to the Amrutam Recycling program. Through this initiative, you can request us to pick up 10 or more Amrutam PET bottles and jars, and we will have them picked up from your address and process these bottles to re-use 😊.
Now comes the pressing question: "Is your skincare product truly organic and sustainable?"
There are three things to look for to ascertain this.
- Does it contain any type of chemical?
- Was the raw material sourced ethically from renewable sources?
- Is it completely biodegradable?
And, if not, what are the health and environmental risks it poses?
Also Read: Revamping Modern Lifestyles: Sustainable Practices and Conscious Consumption
Health hazards of skincare cosmetics
Cosmetic goods we use on a daily basis contain substances known or suspected to be dangerous, such as endocrine disruptors, sensitizers, carcinogens, and neurotoxins. When you apply a smear of any cream or serum to the skin, it gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream. This is where it shows its adverse effects. Some of the most common ones are as follows:
Triclosan, a common antibacterial found in soaps, toothpaste, and deodorants, has seemed to find its way through the bodies into breast milk. According to a recent study, it also interacts with testosterone (primary sex hormone and anabolic steroid) function in the cells, and fluctuations of this hormone cause worrisome symptoms.
DEA is an endocrine hormone disruptor with weak evidence of carcinogenicity. It is also notorious for decreasing the body's choline levels (important for brain development). It can also be found as a contaminant in related compounds, therefore keeping an eye out for it is critical.
In humans, formaldehyde causes a number of negative health effects, including immune-system damage, respiratory irritation, and cancer. Yet, it is found as a contaminant or breakdown product of Diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternion compounds in baby bath soap, nail polish, eyelash adhesive, and hair coloring.
The term chemically refers to phthalates, which are again endocrine disruptors capable of causing reproductive impairment, obesity, and developmental injuries. An easy way to avoid all of these would be to use essential oils that are sustainably sourced, fragrant, and entirely organic.
Lead and mercury
Neurotoxic lead, sometimes cloaked as a naturally occurring contaminant of hydrated silica, may be found in certain cosmetics. An example is lead acetate detection in some types of men’s hair colors. Adding to that, the mercury present in the preservative thimerosal (used in some mascaras) is, linked to brain damage.
Cosmetics and sunscreens are increasingly incorporating nanoparticles capable of penetrating the epidermis and destroying brain cells. With nanoparticles of zinc and titanium oxide being the most dangerous of all. They are employed in sunscreens to make them transparent. It’s important to look for sunscreens that have particles of these chemicals that are larger than 100 nm in size, as there have been instances of misinformation due to incomplete label information.
Methyl, ethyl, propyl, and butyl parabens are ubiquitous preservatives. They are used in a wide range of cosmetics. Continuous usage of parabens can cause the skin to become brittle, damaged, inflamed, rashy, and cause a variety of other problems. It may even cause contact dermatitis and may even promote premature aging of the skin. A decreased sperm production count and European Union restrictions on its use in cosmetics are two compelling reasons for us to avoid them.
Environmental hazards of skincare cosmetics
The heatwaves of April 2022 are a stark manifestation of all the havoc our prior actions have caused. But that isn't the only issue we should be concerned about.
To begin with, toxic effluents, also known as wastewater, cause chemical buildup inside organisms and microfauna. As the food chain progresses, this poison gets biomagnified, meaning its concentration in each subsequent organism of the food chain increases, eventually reaching a level high enough to alter biological behavior or induce death. Since we are a part of the food web, you can now predict where this biomagnification ends. According to the report, marine plastic pollution, in addition to chemical pollution, has affected at least 267 species, including 86% of marine turtles, 44% of seabirds, and 43% of marine mammals.
Secondly, climate change and air pollution. Cosmetics are also contributing to ozone layer depletion! "Really?" you could ask. But, regrettably, it is a grim fact. CFCs emitted by aerosols such as deodorants and hair sprays are to blame. This can damage crops and trees in multiple ways. Ground-level ozone can diminish agricultural crop production and commercial forest yields, limit tree seedling growth and survival, and increase plant vulnerability to disease, pests, and other environmental pressures.
Lastly, deforestation. Our environment has been overburdened beyond capacity due to the excessive demand for "natural" and "organic." Tropical forests and flora are constantly being cleared to fulfill consumer needs with no attempt to create a balance. If this issue is not addressed, it will surely result in more dire circumstances.
Also Read: Rediscovering Ayurveda x Salila Sukumaran
So, what to do?
- Go Natural! Opt for products with zero chemicals. And remember, any type of natural "extract" is equally harmful.
- Repurpose! Did you know you can use expired shampoos, soaps, and body washes as home cleaners? eye shadows and pigments to make DIY nail polishes, dried lipstick for tinted lip balms, and so much more!
- Avoid sprays
- Boycott environmentally unfriendly brands.
- Say 'NO' to fast fashion and rapidly changing trends.
What are we doing about it?
The #AmrutamFamily has always tried to 'go green!' We recognize our social responsibilities and have always attempted to take one step forwards toward a brighter future. At Amrutam Vatika, we farm all of our raw ingredients with affection. Every excipient we use is 100% natural, to the point that all of our recipes can be used to fertilize the soil. We do not use artificial coloring for aesthetics, we are a fan of flower-derived colors instead! The garbage generated is composted and repurposed for agricultural uses and this is our little contribution towards preserving the magnificence of mother nature :D
Conclusively, we'd like to say that if our collective effort can make "fair & lovely" go "glow & lovely," we can surely restore our ecosystem together! This Earth day, let's be mindful of our actions and invest in our planet just as we do in NFTs.