How cosmetics affect the environment


I wanted to spend some time looking at the environmental impact of the cosmetics industry.

As consumers, we are becoming increasingly aware of the health dangers posed by cosmetics and personal care products, but the environmental impacts of these products are less well documented.

According to a research done by Hannah Pumfrey, 90% of people recycle kitchen waste but 50% of people do not recycle cosmetics waste .


This means 2.7 billion plastic bottles hit landfill every year. 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry. The cardboard that envelops perfumes, serums and moisturisers contributes to the loss of 18 million acres of forest each year.


If this level of consumption continues, by 2050 there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastic in landfills, the equivalent to 35,000 Empire State Buildings.


The UN has declared our current situation a ‘planetary crisis’ and no industry is exempt from scrutiny, including beauty.
‘Natural’ as they may put it ,most cosmetics are now branded natural and yes there might be natural products added to the cosmetics but the amount of chemical also added to the cosmetics form the greater percentage of most cosmetics content.


Why use chemicals when they claim the products are ‘natural’? This is because chemicals give the products their long shelf life and allow for the various textures you find in traditional cosmetics.


The challenge with these chemical components is that they don’t break down and instead accumulate in our ecosystems.


Traditional cosmetics and toiletries do the most damage to the environment once they are washed away down our sinks. From our sinks the chemicals are released into our lakes, streams, rivers and public water systems, damaging wildlife and flora and fauna.


Sad right? If these chemicals in cosmetics are harmful to both plants and animals, are they really safe for humans?

By Phena Odoyo

4 thoughts on “How cosmetics affect the environment

  1. This is a nice piece of work. Hope the Kenyan government under NEEMA can do something about it to help conserve the environment.

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