Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Endangered species. Women’s rights. Access to education. Childhood diseases. I think we all have causes we are drawn to. I’ve got a few, which is why I try to make donations to different organizations when I can. One of the world problems that has always been important to me is the state of our environment. From a young age, I have been a big recycler and have tried to do my part to consume less and be more green (and I don’t mean by wearing green eyeshadow on occasion). There are a lot of things you can do that don’t cost a dime–and actually save you money–that are also kind to our planet.

What the hell is this post doing on a beauty blog, right? Shouldn’t my causes be more like helping you learn about mascara or reviewing red lipsticks? I do those kinds of posts and will continue to. But this one is going to tie into the beauty aspect of your life, I promise.

The idea for this post happened when I realized that I do a few earth-friendly things that are related to my personal beauty regimen and/or my makeup artist work. But I will also include some tips to green-ify (I don’t care, I think it’s a word) other areas of your life too. None of these are very hard, and I do believe that especially if a lot of people do even some of them, it will make a positive impact on the environment. You know, that place where we all live?


  • Turn the water off when washing your face and brushing your teeth. Normally, the only times you need water when washing your face is to emulsify your cleanser and to rinse it off. And when brushing your teeth, you only need the water on right before or after you put the toothpaste on your brush and when you rinse. You don’t need to leave the faucet running while you are massaging cleanser in or cleaning those chompers. It’s a waste and you know it. Clean water is something most of us take for granted, but it’s not a given in many parts of the world. Bonus: Using your water only when you need it will lower your water bill.
  • Don’t use makeup remover wipes. I mean, seriously, is it that hard to wash your face? Unless the wipes are biodegradable, like Josie Maran’s Bear Naked Wipes, your laziness is adding to landfills. Sorry to be harsh, but someone needs to give it to you straight. Bonus: You will be less likely to break out. In my experience, makeup wipes don’t fully remove makeup. If you go to bed with some of your makeup still on, you are increasing your chances of waking up with a blemish or two. Serves you right. : P
  • Use towels instead of paper towels or tissues. Whether it’s to dry your face after cleansing or to wipe makeup off your hand, a towel is a much more earth-friendly option than a disposable item. Bonus: You save money on Bounty and Kleenex.
  • Re-use cotton balls for eye makeup remover. In my experience, cotton balls are the best option for removing eye makeup. Towels and re-usable cloths tend to absorb eye makeup remover, causing you to waste product. They are also often too rough for the delicate eye area skin. Tissues tend to fall apart when wet, which leaves fibers on your face. Cotton balls are like the Baby Bear of eye makeup remover vehicles–they are just right. And unless you are removing an eye makeup-heavy look or have an eye infection, you can usually use the cotton ball a few times. Bonus: You save money on cotton balls and don’t wake up looking like Courtney Love in 1994.
  • Recycle your empty used makeup products and packaging. A lot of packaging and shipping materials are recyclable, so check yourself before you…wreck the environment. MAC Cosmetics offers a great incentive program called Back to MAC. Return any six primary packaging containers and receive a free lipstick. Bonus: You clear some space in your makeup drawer/bag while helping the environment. And if you do the Back to MAC thing–free lipstick!


  • Recycle everything. You’ve got a bin, right? Find out what your city/town accepts and throw it in there. Don’t cry about it if you need to rinse out a glass jar, just do it. It will take two minutes–you can find the time. Bonus: You save money on trash bags.
  • Turn off the water when you are scrubbing your dishes. You don’t need water running the entire time. I haven’t had a dishwasher in any of my homes in ten years, and at family holidays and dinners, I often take on the role of the dish washer–a time consuming task at Italian holidays and three course family dinners. When you’re scrubbing away at a pan, you don’t need the water on. Bonus: Your hands won’t be robbed of as much moisture if they are not immersed in hot water for long periods of time. Also, the thing about your water bill again.
  • Re-use plastic utensils. Stop looking at them as disposable and start looking at them as re-usable. Once they break, rinse them off and recycle. I keep some clean ones in my car and some at my office so I am always ready for peanut butter or soft serve if the opportunity presents itself. Bonus: You’ll double your utensils collection.
  • Shut those lights off. If you are not in a room, why does the light need to be on? There is no good answer to this question. It’s a complete waste of energy. My father is horrible at this–I can trace his path in his house by seeing which rooms have lights on. My mother is the opposite–my father calls her “The Mole”–which hopefully balances him out. Bonus: You save on electricity and lightbulbs. More money for makeup.
  • Turn the heat down. Winter sucks, I know. But keeping your heat at 75 degrees while you are gone all day is a pointless silent protest of the season. Whenever I leave my house for the day (or days, as it often is), I turn my heat to 60 degrees. (I normally don’t turn it lower than 60, as that can make pipes freeze in cold weather.) Bonus: If you pay for your own heat, this will save you money. My landlord pays for mine–ah, the joys of being a tenant–but I still do it to save energy. I also think that if I jacked the heat up and left it like that November-April, he might decide it was too expensive to pay for it himself and either raise my rent or make me pay for it the next year. So I may also be protecting Future Allison’s bank account.
  • Unplug what you are not using. Microwaves, hair dryers, phone chargers–all things that consume energy even when they are not being used. I’ve made a habit of unplugging pretty much everything except my clock when I leave for the day. Bonus: More electricity bill savings. And you’ll never burn your house down with the flat iron you left on…
  • Use paper towels sparingly. I use rags instead of paper towels to wipe up spills and clean counters. Rags can be washed and re-used instead of thrown out after one use. Bonus: This is a great way to re-use old clothing and socks (just wash and cut into different sizes), and it will save you money on paper towels.
  • Give away items you don’t use. That’s recycling too! I constantly give away clothes I no longer wear, as well as books I’m done with, household items I don’t use, decor I’m no longer into, whatever. I offer items to my friends first and if I don’t have any takers, I donate to the thrift shop at my mother’s church (you can donate to places like that or Goodwill locations in your area too). Bonus: Instead of adding to a landfill, you are giving away things you don’t use that someone else will. That’s gotta make you feel warm and fuzzy.
  • Tote a re-usable coffee mug. If Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or your local coffee shop is your second home, try bringing a re-usable mug when you get your coffee or tea fix. I’m not sure about the policies at different places, but when I used to frequent a local coffee shop, I bought a mug from there and they would fill it up. Or, if the disposable cup they give you is recyclable (some are), you know what to do. Bonus: Tag your mug up and no one will accidentally drink your coffee at a work meeting. And let’s be honest, a person with a good coffee mug looks more legit.


  • If you live close enough to your work, trying walking or biking when weather permits. I know this isn’t an option for a lot of people, but if you can, it’s worth doing whenever possible. Bonus: You save on gas and mileage or public transportation costs. And you burn calories. That’s called a win-win.
  • Try to only print necessary things. Some documents don’t need to be in your life in hard copy form. Save them to your hard drive or in your email. Bonus: If you work for yourself, you will save on paper and ink costs. If you are an employee, your boss will be glad you are saving the company money. Maybe that can go towards a well deserved raise for you? I also think that having less paper around you can make your tasks seem more manageable. A desk stacked with unnecessary papers could very well add to the “Holy shit, I have a lot to do!” feeling.
  • Only print the pages you need. I have to print receipts and statements for my bookkeeper, but I am always careful to only print the pages that have information I need. Many receipts include a second or third page of crap that doesn’t have relevant information. Bonus: Same as the one before this.
  • Re-use paper. When I’m done with a piece of paper, I use the blank space or other side to write down notes or lists. If it’s an 8×11 sheet that has only been used on one side, I print documents that only I will see on the blank side. I keep a file in my desk where I put scrap paper for easy access. Bonus: See the last two.

That’s all I got! I realize none of these are new ideas, and I won’t lie to you and tell you I do them all 100% of the time. But I do make a conscious effort to do them more often than not. I’d like to think they make at least a small impact on the world. If you have any tips to help me be a better earth friendly person, I would love to hear them.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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