As a responsible e-commerce platform, we at ‘Sustainable Organistry’ try to keep our consumers updated with various sustainable products in the market, latest brands, give more information to try and show the differences between the ecofriendly and non ecofriendly products , their effects on humans, animals, plants and the planet itself and helping the customers to shop responsibly and guilt free. The least we can do, if not completely turning 100% sustainable is atleast giving it a try. Your every small effort towards sustainability is a greater step taken to a more cleaner and greener planet. You can still enjoy life with your loved products without harming anything. So today’s blog is on one of the most common essential item we all use- the shampoo. So is Shampoo bad for the environment? Yes and you will know why by the end of this blog. It will help you choose wisely a much greener and sustainable hair wash product. For the past few years activists and environmentalists have been going on about the much hyped word ‘pollution’ be it in water, air, noise, almost everything. The first product or rather material, is the biggest villian going by the name ‘plastic’. Many companies were targeted and attacked, especially those in the food and soft drinks sector. The reason being that their products, especially plastic bottles, plates, cutleries were all the highest contributor to pollution. Well, when we talk of plastic bottles those are not the only ones, it also includes cosmetic bottles, cleaners, medicine, etc. Targeting these giant companies, they ignored other culprit products that contribute towards plastic pollution. One such product is the shampoo and conditioner bottles made of plastic . 1. Plastics ending in landfills
From the time plastics were introduced into this world in 1950 till now, more than 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics have been produced. More than half of these were produced between 2005 and 2020. The discarded plastic waste has been enormous with most of it ending in landfills or dumped in the oceans. Plastics don’t decompose which you all know, and takes about 450-1000 years to break down into smaller micro plastics, which is even more dangerous. Due to their minuteness they can easily be carried in air and water causing breathing and other respiratory issues along with posing a threat to marine life too. These microparticles can sometimes end up as food for small marine plants and animals such as plankton entering the food chain and posing danger to humans consuming it. Every year in the US alone over 552 million bottles end up at landfills, which can fill 1,164 football fields. I wonder what it would take to fill the garbage from the whole world? what would be the size of land required for landfills or if dumped in the sea the extent of damage it can cause? Small size bottles too add to the pollution. Such as the travel size shampoo and conditioner bottles in hotels around the world, that are replaced with each new guest (now some hotels are going sustainable and using dispensers). Usage of plastic bottles especially single use has become too much of a problem and in staggering amounts. Larger the landfills, larger the incineration, more the production of methane gas, toxic compounds such as dioxins (linked to cancer), and other heavy metals which all add to the significant climate challenges facing us. Plastics also absorb toxins from the environment, making it even more lethal to any wildlife consuming it. 2. Difficult for many to recycle Some of us might say that we are aware of what’s going on, so we are disposing the plastics the right way or for recycling. But come on let’s be honest how many of us dispose off our shampoo bottles sustainably. Very few. In some countries there is no segregation of waste. In many countries people still throw rubbish on the streets without separating the waste as compost, recyclable, etc. It’s not just the bottles that are adding to the pollution and carbon emission but also the packaging and transport too. From the recyclable plastics only 9% is recycled. So still the 91% is left there somewhere adding to the pollution. Another thing is every plastic cannot be recycled. The bitter truth is that according to a data from a 2016 census by Euromonitor it states that only 50% of all plastic bottles are collected for recycling, and only 7% of those bottles are actually recycled into new bottles. They also state that a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number is projected to jump another 20% by end of 2021. By 2021, annual plastic bottles sold is projected to increase to 583.3 billion. That means, approximately 93% of the 480 billion plastic water bottles sold in 2016 ended up in landfill or in the ocean. one study has suggested that by 2050, there might be more plastic in the sea than fish. Just one act will help recycle more and that is to wash the bottles before disposing. Not many do it though. only 1 out of every 5 people consistently recycle items from the bathroom. This proves that recycling is not enough. That’s with the bottles……so what’s it got to do with the shampoo? How many of you’ll know what is shampoo made of? 3. Shampoos contain harmful chemicals
In brief, shampoos contains alkyl sulphate which is also used in household cleaners and detergents. These sulfates help to create a lathering effect in order to remove oil and dirt. If your shampoo has more of lather, then there is a 100% chance it contains sulphates. Sulphates can cause skin allergy and remove natural oil from hair making it dry. The other commonly used ingredient is parabens which is used to increase the shelf-life of the shampoo and prevent bacterial and fungi growth. It is mainly a preservative in water-based products. It can increase the risk of cancer. Cetyl Alcohol is used as an emulsifying agent to bind the water and oil together. This will make your hair dry and brittle. There are various other 10 – 30 ingredients which are used, such as conditioning agents, foam boosters, thickeners, modifiers, special additives, water and synthetic dyes used for color, which are obtained from petroleum and coal-tar sources. All are toxic and harmful to humans, plants and animals, sometimes resulting in death, illness or genetic mutations. For instance ‘phthalates’ are commonly used in shampoos to get the gel structure. It has been proved to interfere with hormones, leading to metabolic syndrome, male genitalia defects, damage to liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system. The phthalates are not chemically bound to plastics, and, hence on using they are released into the environment resulting in human exposure. It is a cause for concern as phthalates are widely used in children’s products and fragrance oils too. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), about 75 % of perfumery products listing “fragrance” in their ingredient contains phthalate which is used to make scents last longer. Now let’s talk about Siloxane, a group of chemicals that are, derived from silicone, typically used to soften the hair, smooth out frizzy hair, to moisturize and dry quickly. They belong to a group of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). After using, these compounds evaporate quickly in the air. When in contact with sunlight it triggers these VOCs to react with nitrogen oxides and other compounds to form ozone and other particulate matter, which effects the air quality and human health. When compared in magnitude it is equivalent to the emissions of major components of vehicle exhaust. When we thought all this while that traffic fumes were bad for health, this is worse. According to a Research done by Coggon and his colleagues and Patrick Veres, a NOAA scientist found that transport emissions have actually declined but it was these VOCs from various personal care products that were contributing to the environment pollution. That is why, it is at its high during peak hours when people are travelling the most using their personal care products. This includes products such as perfumes, deodorants, lotions, household cleaners, paints, and pesticides. All these are a cause for air pollution. When these particles degrade, they become a cause for respiratory problems and is linked to more than 29,000 deaths in the UK alone each year. The main reason being a particulate matter called PM2.5, which is a Fine particulate matter , an air pollutant. When these particle levels are high in the air, it reduces visibility and causes air to appear hazy. How companies are combating sustainability? Since the time the first shampoo was made and produced it has gone through many advanced technologies such as various smell, consistency, designer containers, color and attractive packaging. With all this we failed to realise that it was taking us to the brink where we are standing now and facing it. Far away from the natural and safe way. We were going step by step closer to destroying the planet and one step away from the safe and natural environment. Many companies who claim they are recycling their products are not doing it 100% or rather cannot do it. For example a company ‘A’ manufactures shampoos. You have bought the product and you do your bit disposing it but how sure are you that it has reached the company for recycling. Not just that the cost of collecting your one bottle would be way too much for the company. Another thing to consider is that the recycler's to sell their recycled product too becomes very difficult. They have to compete in the market with other virgin plastic manufacturers or else send it to the landfills. Due to such uncontrollable market conditions this can become challenging. So it’s better it is solved at the source. Instead if the companies find ways to fill the shampoo in a biodegradable container and packing, there will be no need of recycling, collecting or other pollution issues. Many companies that say they are contributing towards sustainability are in reality manufacturing ‘n’ number of products that are not sustainable or they are greenwashing. While their recycling may not even be 1/10 of the product they are manufacturing. There is no doubt about it that they have started going sustainable and are moving in the right direction but not at the speed they are expected to. They need to be more honest with their advertising and marketing. Your shampoo or conditioner bottle showing a picture of fruits, vegetables or tropical islands or marine water plants does not mean the products have anything natural in them. Companies can avoid animal testing, stop using harsh chemicals and scents and use something that is more in tune with nature. After all our ancestors never used all these modern day products but still managed to have smooth, silky and lovely long tresses. With the sustainability pressure falling on companies many are finding new ways to tackle the problem. Either by sustainable and natural alternatives or by reusing marine plastics in the manufacture of new items. Just to name a few:- Adidas has manufactured 7,000 pairs of trainers from these materials, Pharrell Williams has used them in the manufacture of his G-Star RAW clothing line Ecover made limited edition bottles from marine plastics and canals of Amsterdam. P&G expected to produce 170,000 special edition bottles working with TerraCycle and have already made bottles for Head & Shoulders shampoo, partly manufactured from plastic waste that volunteers have collected from beaches in France. Bernie Craven a former Australian hairdresser to protect marine fauna and flora from ocean plastic, started recycling shampoo bottles to make 3D printed arm prostheses. In certain cases they cannot use the plastics, as the exposure to UV has caused plastics sourced from seas and beaches to be unusable, and the degradation of the plastic means that they are not very suitable for making new items. Benefits of using the shampoo and conditioner bar?
Now as we come to the end of the blog, you must be so wondering what to use? There’s no need to worry as we have alternatives. There are many sustainable zero waste shampoo and conditioner bars made by new startups built on ‘green values’ which concentrate on zero waste, going non plastic, trying to reduce carbon footprint and less packaging to nil. They’re all-natural, chemical-free and palm-oil-free. It is similar to the liquid shampoo except that all the ingredients are vegan and there’s no testing on animals either. Being dry they don’t require any packaging, but if so then the wrapper are totally biodegradable, compostable and made from plant fiber. If packaging material can be avoided then you will be helping stop one more product from reaching the landfill. So you can switch to shampoo bars. There are single use shampoo drops too. These are single use shampoos which are environmentally friendly, water-soluble and plastic-free such as the one by the brand name NOHBO’s shampoo drops. This shampoo drops dissolve in water and therefore generate no waste. The shampoo is plant-based and paraben-, sulphate-, and chemical-free, it leaves no polluting residue in the wastewater. Brands such as ‘Twenty’ sell tablets which you can mix and shake it in water in any of the reusable bottles at home and vola! You have your liquid shampoo! Another advantage of using bars are less application compared to the traditional ones where unlimited amounts are used. You can use it to your desired lather hence bars last longer. Conditioner bars take a bit longer to lather but have the same benefits. Also bars are lighter, easy to carry and more compact in luggage bags, etc. Takes less space in your cupboard or shelf. Since most liquid shampoos contain 95% of water, minus the water is minus the waste and so no messy and leaky liquid from bottles. Even shipping and transporting is easy with less carbon footprint. Without the weight of the water it makes it more energy efficient and carbon conserving. As supporters of sustainability one last advice to you all is to look out on the list of products ingredients and make sure they are ‘grey water friendly’. This ensures any remnants in the waterways will not harm any flora or fauna. Just incase you are disposing of your old shampoo bottles please make sure to rinse them thoroughly and recycle correctly as advices by your local council. Let the large scale polluters know that you have decided to go green no matter whether the manufacturer is big or small. Though it may be hard for a start but you can be happy that you have helped save your planet it your own small way. If many follow your example we are all at least moving in the right direction. Like Bernie Craven you too can come up with many useful ways to recycle the available plastic, so it does not end at landfills and as food for marine plants and animals. So go on and do your bit to ‘SAVE THE PLANET’. Finally keep in mind to refuse plastics, reduce in ways possible, reuse if you can, repair if you must. and then recycle. The only mantra for saving all from plastics. Go on and choose your best sustainable shampoo bar.
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2) https://www.businessinsider.in/science/environment/scientists-have-found-that-shampoo-is-a-source-of-the-same-dangerous-form-of-air-pollution-made-by-cars/articleshow/62948002.cms https://www.businessinsider.in/science/environment/scientists-have-found-that-shampoo-is-a-source-of