| NUDE Team

The impact of the cosmetics industry on the world’s oceans

When we think about ocean pollution usually we think about heavy industry, cargo ship oil spills like the most recent one off the coast of Mauritius or Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The images from all around the world are showing that the marine wildlife is literally choking on plastic. Despite the fact that many countries finally put in place stronger environmental policies, major hazards are sometimes hiding in seemingly innocent products.

In the past few years, the eyes of more and more conscious consumers are turning towards slightly lesser known polluters and among them is the beauty industry. The beauty and personal care product industry is one among many that damages the environment, marine wildlife, and contaminates the human food supply chain. Today we would like to bring your attention to this urgent problem, show you how we, as a part of the industry, are dealing with it. Most importantly, we are asking you to join our efforts before it’s too late. 

Main dangers:


Micro-plastics usually are in the form of a micro-bead or a plastic fibre. These particles are found in clothing, cosmetics, cleaning products, and personal care products, such as toothpaste, soaps and most particularly body scrubs and exfoliants. 

Water filtering systems are not designed to sift elements smaller than five millimetre. Therefore, the particles contaminate water in oceans and end up being consumed by fish, birds, and marine animals, and then, us. Eventually, we will end up eating the same plastic that we are feeding the oceans… 

Many countries have already banned the use of micro-beads and China will probably join the list by the end of 2020.  

Many product manufacturers have used loopholes to avoid the production ban of their products by changing the plastic particles to biodegradable plastic. Biodegradable plastic is environmentally friendlier, as it eventually degrades. However, it is a very lengthy process, and the particles still get consumed by marine life. There is a multitude of natural alternatives to micro-plastic such as:

  • Seeds
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Oatmeal
  • Ground coffee
  • Ground fruit kernels

You don’t have to ditch your weekly scrub session — grab our lovely soaps based on oatmeal or coffee grounds or make your own scrub using our recipe shared before.

Excess packaging

Plastic envelopes, bubble wrap, cellophane, polystyrene, plastic bottles. Manufacturers love to pack their products in endless layers of wraps to protect their products from the damages during the logistics process but sometimes simply to increase the price. Sometimes it’s not easy to avoid plastic during the delivery process. However, any necessary plastic packaging should be reusable, recyclable, or compostable if made from bioplastic that can disintegrate over time. 

We know that online shopping is convenient but please consider buying from brick and mortar shops as often as possible. 

A bottled body wash has a carbon footprint about 25% larger than bar soap, because of the energy used in processing and packaging as well as the likelihood for a person to use more liquid soap per wash than bar soap.

At NUDE, we always try to keep our packaging to the minimum and use environment-friendly alternatives whenever possible. Come and visit us at our next market if you’re around!

Harmful ingredients 

Annually, around 14,000 tons of sunscreen collects in the world’s reefs each year and that’s just a fraction of the chemical waste from the beauty industry that’s washed out to the ocean, but it’s proving thus far to be the most dangerous. Why?

It’s because one of the beauty industry villains is an ingredient called Oxybenzone - a chemical often found in sun creams, which is extremely harmful to coral reefs and oceanic ecosystems (whether or not the ingredient is toxic to humans is still unknown). Earlier this year, Hawaii ruled to ban the sale of sunscreens containing Oxybenzone throughout the state as of January 2021. Actually, even the 'reef safe' sunscreens aren’t guaranteed to be harmless when they leach into underwater ecosystems because the term ‘reef safe’ doesn’t have an agreed-upon definition, and therefore isn’t strictly regulated. This means sunscreen manufacturers aren’t required to test and demonstrate that such products won’t harm aquatic life. Moreover, we truly don’t know the long-term impact of many of the chemical ingredients found in cosmetics, both for us and for the environment. 

Scroll to the end of this article to find out more about dirty secrets hidden by the beauty industry. 

Unexpected culprits…

And then there are face wipes, wet wipes and our beloved sheet masks… According to recent studies, 47% of us regularly use them and many varieties are virtually indestructible. Think twice before buying a new pack of those and follow the simple advice: if you can’t reuse it, refuse it.

We know that it can be overwhelming to apply all of these recommendations at once but protecting the planet doesn’t have to be dull. Here, at NUDE, we strive to do our best to make the zero-waste fun and even more enjoyable than the traditional beauty products. It's not an easy job, but someone has to do it! 

Every little step counts, so let’s do everything that’s in our power to protect our oceans. For starters, we would like to invite you to the Green Initiatives movie screening taking place on October 15 at Education First (see the poster for more details). After the screening, we will talk more about harmful ingredients and how to avoid them. Join us for a meaningful discussion. 

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