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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You're not just doing the earth a solid, you're saving money, too.

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.

medicine cabinet beauty hacks

Small cotton ball, big ramifications.

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 

medicine cabinet beauty hacks

Even hack-ier: cut your Q-Tips with cat claw clippers. 

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

medicine cabinet beauty hacks

Save the earth AND save money on cotton 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

medicine cabinet beauty hacks

It’s really hard to look like you enjoy getting spritzed in the face.

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 

medicine cabinet beauty hacks

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 

medicine cabinet beauty hacks

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

medicine cabinet beauty hacks

If I ever finish this active charcoal mask, I know exactly where to return it.

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 

medicine cabinet beauty hacks

I may be a toothbrush hoarder, but I am the cleanest toothbrush hoarder ever!

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?