Cosmetic Pollution- Sarah Hermosillo

Tainted is a campaign and exhibit about the cosmetics packaging pollution issue. I focused on channeling the urgency of sustainability specifically in cosmetics packaging. This project was designed to create awareness on this topic and how we can help reduce waste. “The beauty sector generates over 142 billion units of packaging each year - most of which ends up in landfills and ocean plus contributes to the loss of 18 million forest acres a year.” Worldwide, the beauty industry grosses over $250 billion a year. Cosmetics, skin and hair care account for most consumer expenses. In the United States, business is driven by demographics and marketing. Proctor & Gamble and L’Oreal are the largest cosmetic producers, supplying retail shops and over 82,000 local beauty salons. Beautiful packaging winks at you. It flirts from the shop shelves, luring you in with its stylish decadence. And the more attractive and Instagrammable it looks, the more joy we get from it. Just think of all the ‘unboxing’ videos online, hooked on watching tissue, luxury cardboard and ribbon being removed. It’s part of the reason we adore beauty so much.

Consumables are non-durable or soft goods because they must be replaced regularly because they wear out or are used up and then discarded. Companies and retailers make big profits by selling consumables. For years, we were told that the solution for this packaging waste was too recycle. But in fact plastics cannot be molded and mixed with other types because they may differ in types of material, chemical makeup, and even density and weight. Zero Waste Week, an annual awareness campaign for reducing landfill, reports that more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry. The cardboard that envelops perfumes, serums and moisturizers contributes to the loss of 18 million acres of forest each year. Solid Waste & Landfill Facts. About one-third of an average dump is made up of packaging material! Every year, each American throws out about 1,200 pounds of organic garbage that can be composted. The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year.

Out of every $10 spent buying things, $1 (10%) goes for packaging that is thrown away. Packaging represents about 65% of household trash. On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill, and $65 to $75 to incinerate it. The beauty industry generates a lot of $. In 1919, it was a $60 million industry in the U.S. By 1938, it was $400 million. By the 1970s, it was in the billions. In 2020 it is expected to reach $675 billion. In addition to releasing chemical toxins, the process of packaging and shipping cosmetics also contributes to the environmental impact. While it’s impossible to pinpoint with 100 percent accuracy the amount of carbon emissions associated with the shipment of cosmetics from manufacturer to store, we know carbon emissions decrease air quality significantly. Many commercial exfoliating products contain plastic microspheres which do not biodegrade. Because these microspheres are so tiny, ordinary sewer treatments cannot remove them from the water. When these spheres enter the ocean or even a nearby stream, marine life often unknowingly ingest them, and as these animals cannot digest the plastic, the spheres lodge in their intestines, causing blockage and eventual death. In addition, many cosmetics such as perfumes and nail polishes come in glass packaging. While the glass itself doesn’t damage the environment, the additional packaging needed to prevent breakage during transport leads to the cutting down of more trees or the use of styrofoam. While technically you can recycle styrofoam, many local recycling centers still lack this capability, leading to more styrofoam waste in landfills and the ocean.

Fortunately, the more the environmental movement continues to grow, the more companies seek to satisfy consumers by offering greener alternatives. Unfortunately, some companies strive to achieve a reputation as being environmentally-friendly while maintaining practices that do ecological harm. Be wary of labels. Manufacturers love to bill products as all-natural when in reality utilizing only a single ingredient as it exists in nature. Always take the time to peruse the ingredient list prior to purchase. If you can’t pronounce many of the words on the label, chances are, the ingredients within contain environmental toxins. If you have time and a touch of creativity, you can make your own cosmetics using natural ingredients. Natural oils, such as coconut oil, make for excellent moisturizing bases for cosmetic applications. A quick Google search reveals how you can quickly make your own mascara, foundation and more. No time in your busy schedule to DIY when it comes to cosmetics? Seek out organic cosmetic products made with sustainability in mind. You may join an online organic cosmetic club or simply seek out products with the organic label next time you shop.There is not a right way to solve this issue. But part of the solution can be to reconsider the nature of the products and packaging itself. Only recently have there been more options, primarily biodegradable and bio-sourced plastics, to plastic-free packaging or using recycled paper. Most of us are starting to recognize the importance of protecting our planet so that future generations may enjoy the beauty of our earth. By gradually adding greener, sustainable practices and products into our everyday beauty routine, we can protect the earth while putting our best faces forward.
Exhibition Booklet