Earth Day Every Day: 7 Waste-Reducing Beauty Hacks

You're not just doing the earth a solid, you're saving money, too.
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Publish date:
August 18, 2014
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beauty hacks, DIY, cotton balls, eco-friendly, hacks, Q-tip, saving money, spin pins

I never gave much thought to my beauty waste, or the effect that it has on the environment, until one day when I was taking out my bathroom trash and the bag ripped. As my cat came bounding over to investigate the contents, I noticed that my trash was about 80 percent full of used cotton balls.

Given the fact that cotton crops are heavily sprayed with pesticides--and may have negative effects on water quality in surrounding areas--my trash bin was a metaphorical toxic waste dump.

It wasn’t exactly a life changing discovery, but sometimes you don’t realize how wasteful your daily routine can be until your cat whack-a-moles you out of your mindless, cotton ball-using zombie stupor.

Since that day, I’ve learned a few tricks to cut down on the amount of waste that I produce. I've made it a priority to treat every day like Earth Day, primarily by using these eco-friendly beauty hacks.

1. Cut Q-tips in half

For beauty-related tasks, I rarely need to use both sides of a Q-tip. So why throw away a thing that's only half-used? I cut my Q-tips in half so I can get FULL use of them before they hit the trash. And I find that the shortened stem is still easily manipulated between the fingertips.

I may or mayn’t be the only person with this problem, but whenever I try and cut Q-tips with scissors, the stem just slips down the straight blade. By using cat claw clippers, which have a notched blade, the task becomes much easier. Regular nail clippers work great as well.

2. DIY Reusable Makeup Removal Pads

Wendy wrote a story on the cutest reusable cotton rounds, and it inspired me to repurpose some microfiber towels I had tucked away in my linen closet. I cut the towels into little squares and use them to wipe off eye makeup.

3. Use a Spray Bottle

I read on Byrdie that a simple way to reduce the amount of cotton balls is to swap in a spray bottle for toners. I can definitely get behind this lazy girl's eco-friendly hack.

4. DIY Spin Pins

I'm pretty hard on hairpins. Often I'll wear U-pins out of shape trying to get the perfect updo. Instead of throwing them away, I take my old round-nose pliers and bend them into miniature spin pins. These buddies are perfect for securing a small bun or anchoring a braid crown.

5. Cut Pump Bottles in Half

There's no need to violently shake a container or balance it upside down to capture that last bit of product. A few seconds of scissor action and the bottle is severed neatly in two and you're free to scoop the leftover product into a smaller container.

6. Save Empty Containers

I recently found out that Origins has a nifty policy on cosmetic containers: you can return ANY empty container (regardless of the brand) to an Origins retail store for recycling. Kiehl’s has a similar policy for Kiehl’s product containers only, with little incentives ranging from free chap stick to full-size products. Return six empty MAC lipstick bullets to the brand and you get a free lipstick.

7. Save Old Toothbrushes

I always save old toothbrushes to use as brushes for hard-to-reach crannies, or to pull hair out of my drain. I once had to stop a friend from brushing with my “cleaning toothbrush” because she thought it was a spare. But, like, who brushes before asking anyway?

Let's add to the list! What are your beauty hacks and tips for reducing waste and being eco-friendly?