I remember sitting in my grade 10 science class (it feels like a lifetime ago!) just before the holidays when my teacher began setting up for a movie. What I had thought was going to be a fun day of class ended up becoming a major turning point in my life, thanks to none other than Al Gore.
That day my class watched An Inconvenient Truth, the former U.S. Vice President’s 2006 Oscar-winning documentary that followed him as he travelled across the United States raising awareness about the dire state of our planet’s health.
Though it’s been over 10 years since I first watched the movie, I still recall the feeling of shock as I realized the profound impact my daily actions were having on our environment.
I like to think of this as the moment that led me to a degree in environmental science, followed by years of working in ecology and community engagement. And although I’ve since transitioned away from that phase of my life, my passion for environmentalism has never faded.
I consider myself to be a fairly “green” individual, making efforts to shop local, switching to reusable containers, and avoiding bottled water at all costs, but there’s always room to improve on this front. Despite our reputation as tree-hugging environmentalists, Canadians are actually some of the worst offenders when it comes to trash, falling only behind the United States in global per capita waste production.
In Toronto alone, nearly two tonnes of garbage makes its way to waste management facilities every minute, so what’s a fashion and beauty loving-gal like me to do? The answer isn’t easy but it starts with making small lifestyle changes that add up over time.
I sat down to chat with Sarah Marcus, co-founder of eco + amour, a Toronto-based boutique that specializes in refillable beauty and home products. Her pioneering east-end store is changing the face of retail by encouraging shoppers to bring in their own vessels and filling them on site rather than buying pre-packaged products.
The concept isn’t new, with many retailers selling in bulk already, but the focus on products that are good for you and good for the environment is what sets eco + amour apart.
“We wanted to focus on premium brands in the green beauty space, so not only zero-waste from a packaging perspective but also what was inside,” she said. “We were able to pitch brands like Graydon, Bathorium, and LOVEFRESH and say why not offer your customers a way to buy your products a little bit more sustainably?”
With an estimated 120 billion units of cosmetics packaging sold in 2018, it’s high time that we all start doing our part to reduce the amount of plastic heading to our landfills.
“I think as consumers we have to start demanding less packaging,” shares Marcus. “It’s all becoming top of mind and we just have to keep doing our part right?”
As consumer demand increases for package-free products, more retailers are answering with beauty products that are sold with little to no packaging at all. Companies like Lush have championed their packaging-free bath and body products, with 35 per cent of their current range of products sold “naked.”
Other brands like Elate Cosmetics, Kjaer Weiss, and Aether Beauty are also making the beauty industry more sustainable with every product sold, using alternatives to plastic like metal, cardboard and bamboo packaging.
“There is a rising demand and it’s all about education,” said brand founder Kirsten Kjaer Weiss in a press release. “Organic, sustainable, and high performing, you can have all these things. You don’t need to compromise.”
Ready to dive into the world of plastic-free beauty? Have a look at our favourite products for a more sustainable beauty routine you can feel good about.
SHOP IT: Lush, $11
SHOP IT: Sephora, $77
SHOP IT: Hudson’s Bay, $45
SHOP IT: Goop, $76
SHOP IT: Well.ca, $6
SHOP IT: eco + amour, from $12
SHOP IT: Amazon, $14
SHOP IT: Nordstrom, $12
SHOP IT: The Detox Market, from $21
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