top of page

a guide to a zero waste beauty routine

A Beginner’s Guide To A Zero Waste Beauty Routine


Until a few years ago, I wasn’t an environmentally-minded person. I wasn’t aware of the extent of human-induced pollution and I was completely ignorant to the damage that our lifestyle was creating. But something clicked when the news started talking more and more about climate change and the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on global warming, and I became more interested in the impact of humans on the environment. I began questioning my daily choices and how damaging they were to the Earth and its ecosystems. As a reaction, I decided to educate myself and learn how to lead a more eco-friendly and sustainable life.


*サステイナブル = 持続可能であるさま。特に、地球環境を保全しつつ持続が可能な産業や開発などについていう。

Oftentimes, we overlook our responsibility as individuals thinking that our impact is very limited and won’t harm the environment that much. However, once you start summing up all the single footprints you’ll realise that we collectively cause an immense production of waste and pollution. The scale of the problem is so massive that it can be difficult to know what to do about it, and I was fascinated by people that contrary to the majority of us, produce a very limited amount of waste and are still able to lead a normal life. I was particularly interested in the idea of living a zero waste lifestyle which means not creating any waste that goes to the landfill. This seems impossible, but it is: by reusing, reducing, recycling, composting and upcycling.


*ゼロ・ウェイスト = ゼロ・ウェイストとは、無駄・ごみ・浪費 をなくすという意味。 出てきた廃棄物をどう処理するかではなく、そもそもごみを生み出さないようにしようという考え方。

**アップ・サイクル = 廃物をそのまま再利用するのではなく、商品としての価値を高めるような加工を行うこと。古布や廃材を用いて、しゃれた小物を作るなど。

Even though at first the change might feel overwhelming, a small few adjustments in our daily routine can have a big impact. This doesn’t mean that we have to give up our habits nor that we should throw away all of our old products to start from scratch (that would be particularly counterproductive) but there are some alternatives that can gradually be implemented in our daily lives. Because of this, I decided to share a list of waste-free or more eco-friendly swaps of products that we use every day, that I think can be easily adopted by everyone.


Plastic toothbrush: it’s made from a mix of plastic materials that combine elements of rubber and crude oil. Oftentimes the packaging contains additional plastic and some cardboard. Because recycling a plastic toothbrush is very expensive and can’t be burnt as it would end up releasing more hazardous chemicals, toothbrushes either end up in the landfill or worse, they end up getting washed away into the ocean. Not only do plastics pollute water, but they also disrupt the whole marine ecosystem. In fact, aquatic creatures like fish and shellfish, but also turtles and birds, consume the microplastic which results from the breaking down of plastic into smaller pieces and because of such ingestion they suffer from several digestive tract and liver problems. Dentists normally advise to change a toothbrush every two to three months because of the bacteria that build up in the bristles so, if you make a quick calculation, we collectively consume and waste tons of plastic which is not recycled.


*マイクロプラスチック = 海洋などの環境中に拡散した微小なプラスチック粒子。プラスチックごみが紫外線や波浪によって微小な断片になったものや、合成繊維の衣料の洗濯排水に含まれる脱落した繊維、また研磨材として使用されるマイクロビーズなどが含まれる。

The alternative: a Bamboo toothbrush is normally composed of a bamboo handle and nylon bristles; this product is often sold in a plastic-free packaging namely cardboard, which is 100% biodegradable. The handle too is completely biodegradable and compostable, and the bamboo will break down only in a few years. On the other hand, the nylon bristles can only be disposed with plastic recycling. Still, compared to a whole plastic toothbrush, the waste is considerably reduced.


*生分解性 = 物質が微生物によって分解される性質であること。また、土中や水中の微生物が、高分子化合物を分解して無機物にすること。

Toothpaste: interestingly enough, I found out that toothpaste wasn’t sold in a tube until the late XIX century when Colgate & Company Dental Cream inspired by paint sold in tubes, decided it would be a practical idea to store toothpaste in a tube. Before that, the paste was sold in ceramic pots. Nowadays, toothpaste tubes are mostly made out of a mix of different plastic materials. For a toothpaste tube to be completely recycled, each of its components must be processed separately. Because such process is extremely costly, the tubes normally end up in the landfill. Moreover, the toothpaste tube is not the only element that harm the environment: the chemicals like parabens and triclosan inside the paste go down the drain and can disrupt animal endocrine systems and the overall ecosystem.


*パラベン = 食品・医薬品・化粧品の防腐剤として使用される有機化合物の総称。 正式名称は、パラオキシ安息香酸エステル。

**トリクロサン = 医薬部外品の薬用石鹸、うがい薬、食器用洗剤、練り歯磨き、脱臭剤、手の消毒剤、及び化粧品など、様々な場面で使用されている、一般的な家庭用の抗菌剤である。

The alternatives: in the past few years, companies started selling toothpaste made out of more natural and safer ingredients in aluminium or glass containers, meaning completely plastic-free packaging. Another alternative is toothpaste in the form of tablets, a solid alternative to paste which doesn’t contain toxic chemicals like the ones present in conventionally sold toothpaste. Another less costly option is to DIY your own toothpaste and store it in a metal container or a glass jar. There are countless recipes online and you can mix different essential oils to create different flavours. I still haven’t tried a lot of recipes, but by far this is definitely my favourite: Trash is Tossers "Zero Waste Toothpaste"

歯磨き粉の代替案:過去数年の間に、数々の会社がもっと安全で自然なものから作られた歯磨き粉を、アルミニウムやガラスの容器に入れて販売し始めました。つまりプラスチックフリーということです。もう一つの代替案として、錠剤の形の歯磨きがあります。これは今主流となり、販売されているチューブに入った歯磨き粉に含まれている有毒な化学物質を含みません。他には、より安いオプションとして、自分で「DIY」という形で自分自身の歯磨き粉を作り、金属の容器やガラスの瓶に保存することも可能です。オンラインで数え切れないほどの歯磨き粉レシピがあり、様々なエッセンシャルオイルを混ぜて色々なフレーバーを作り出すことができます。私は、まだたくさんのレシピを試したことがありませんが、今までの中でTrash is Tossersのこのレシピが私のお気に入りでした。(英語のみ)

Disposable plastic razor: much to my own surprise, I discovered that plastic razors may be the most wasteful products we use in the bathroom. Their life is extremely short and they usually last 2-3 weeks; because the bulk of a disposable razor is non-biodegradable and made out of a mix of plastic materials, the plastic breaks down into billions of pieces of the hazardous waste which ultimately end up in the landfill.


The alternative: unlike disposable razors, safety razors are built to last a lifetime and only the blades need to be replaced and recycled. Because they’re typically made out of steel or a chromed zinc alloy, they are fully recyclable and eco-friendly. Buying a safety razor might be more expensive at first but in the long-term, the investment is totally worth it and you’ll only need to buy blades which cost less than a single disposable plastic razor.


Makeup remover wipes and cotton pads: makeup wipes are the perfect example of modern convenience because they are easy and fast to use. However, they are incredibly harmful because they are made from a combination of many non-biodegradable elements which include polyester, polypropylene, cotton, wood pulp, and rayon fibres. In addition to this, because makeup remover wipes must have a long shelf life, they oftentimes contain preservatives such as formaldehyde-releasing chemicals (commonly present in many cosmetic products). Even though formaldehyde pollution is not considered to have a big impact on the global environment, the chemicals present in formaldehyde were proven to be extremely dangerous to our own health to the point that in the past decade, government regulations were implemented across the world in order to limit human exposure to formaldehyde.


*ホルムアルデヒド = 有機物が不完全燃焼するときに発生し、またハムや薫製品を製造する際の煙の中に多く存在する。大都市の大気の中にもしばしば見出される。粘膜を刺激し、有毒である。

The alternative: reusable, washable cleansing microfibres pads and cloths work just as well as their non-eco-friendly version. Removing makeup is just as fast and you can wash them in the laundry or boil them in hot water to remove the old makeup and reuse them hundreds of times.


Deodorant: conventional deodorant comes packaged in a plastic container with a plastic lid which are not biodegradable. In addition to this, many researches showed the dangers of deodorant due to the presence of chemical ingredients which are harmful to our health. Among these chemicals, the best known are aluminium, a metal which works as an antiperspirant and increases our cells’ tendency to mutate once absorbed through the skin; and triclosan, a chemical antibacterial (also used in toothpaste), which similarly to aluminium increases the risk of cancer.


The alternatives: fortunately many companies have started producing natural and organic solid deodorants that are sold in metal containers or glass jars. Similarly to toothpaste, you can also easily make your own deodorant at home: this option not only considerably reduces waste, but it’s also less costly. Usually, I buy my zero waste deodorant from a local shop in my hometown but I found this DIY video from the blog Trash is Tossers to be very interesting and very easy to recreate.



私は普段、地元のお店でゼロ・ウェイストのデオドラントを買いますが、今回Trash is TossersというブログからDIYビデオを見つけ、デオドラントを自分で作ることは、とても興味深く簡単だということを学びました。

This is just a short list of products that I’ve introduced in my daily routine that have helped me transition to a more zero waste life. I’m still learning and educating myself and I’m sure that there are many other things that can be done in order to reduce our individual impact on the environment, so if you have any suggestions please share it with us.


The worldwide climate strikes of last March which were mostly led by students, made me confident that we’re progressing towards a new awareness with regard to human-induced pollution and I’m hopeful that a cultural change is underway. As a result of the protests, many governments were pressured to commit to new measures with regard to climate change; this will also hopefully introduce new limitations to big corporations which are responsible for the production of tremendous amounts of waste. Despite having a long way ahead, we have already started taking action and fighting for our environment.



National Geographic - "We Know Plastic Is Harming Marine Life. What About Us?"

Recycling Works - "Disposable Razors in the Landfill"

Safe Cosmetics - "Formaldehyde And Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives"

American Cancer Society - "What is formaldehyde?"

Scottish Environment Protection Agency - "Formaldehyde"

Made Safe - "Deodorant"

Vox - "One of the largest environmental protests ever is underway. It’s led by children."

Vox - "Photos: kids in 123 countries went on strike to protect the climate"

Image by Elisa

Illustrations by Lola Rose

English Edited by Kiara

Japanese Translated by Hikari

bottom of page