Next time you take a shower, read the fine print on your plastic shampoo bottle after you’re done lathering up, rinsing and repeating. If that bottle happens to contain surfactants (chemicals that make the shampoo sudsy) or preservatives (chemicals that prevent its contents from getting moldy), it could prove a dangerous addition to the local landfill, potentially releasing toxic chemicals into the ground water and harming nearby aquatic life or even humans. Plus, if the bottle makes its way to Trash Mountain—552 million do every year—it may not fully break down until the year 2470.
Luckily, the beauty industry is in the know and is making a concerted effort to go green. L’Oreal, for example, is aiming to make 100 percent of its packaging reusable or compostable by 2025. Closer to home, three Saratoga companies have jumped on the green beauty bandwagon, offering healthy, eco-friendly products and practices to ensure that everyone has a sustainable tomorrow.
In Your Home
When Saratogian Suzanne Carpenter first came across the idea of household product refill stations in a news article, she immediately knew it was an important concept. “It turned out that they’d been mainly adopted in Europe,” she says, “but the further research I did, I was like, ‘This needs to be everywhere.’” So in July 2019, Carpenter, who manages the Kayak Shak during the summer, opened Conscious Refill, a refilling station for bath, body and household cleaning products, out of her home on Ludlow Street. Since then, she’s been selling eco-friendly soap, cleaning products, laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner in reusable containers, and has even been offering home deliveries within Saratoga’s city limits. Her products are all unscented, but for an extra dollar per fill, you can add an essential oil, in scents such as peppermint, lavender and lemongrass. “My focus,” Carpenter says, “is on the future of my children, what the planet is going to be like for them, and how I can teach them to live more sustainably.”
At the Salon
The beauty industry produces 877 pounds of waste every minute, and many of the products used in salons contain potentially harmful chemicals. Saratogian hairstylist Lisa Liptak took this to heart and tried to seek out green salons in the area where she could work, before quickly discovering that there weren’t any. “So, I was like, ‘I guess I’m going to have to do it,’” she says. “I know all these people that own salons, and they survive and know how to do it…why can’t I? And that’s how I opened Nurture.” That was in 2015, and these days, Nurture Green Salon & Spa is the only fully green salon in the Spa City, according to Liptak.
All products used at Nurture are cruelty free, vegan and free of damaging chemicals. Plus, the salon is certified by Green Circle, an organization that collects and recycles or repurposes waste from salons—everything from paper, plastic and metal to excess hair color and even hair itself. “I’m proud that I have a space where people can come in, and they don’t feel like they have to read labels,” Liptak says. “They can trust that what we have here is good for them, and they can leave their troubles or worries at the door.”
On the Road
Those miniature bottles of shampoo and conditioner that you get at hotels may be convenient to travel with, but they’re not so great for the environment. In 2019, California banned travel-size plastic bottles, and big hotel chains such as Marriott have done away with them completely. An alternative that’s both TSA-friendly and good for the environment? Mirage Waterless, a Saratoga startup that launched its shower-activated shampoo tablets in November. “First, I’m an eco-conscious person, so I’m always trying to reduce plastic in my daily routine,” says Delmar native and Mirage Waterless founder Lauren Leavitt. “Secondly, I was frustrated by the amount of chemicals in shampoo, and then found out that shampoo is 80 percent water and has to contain a lot of harsh chemicals to act as preservatives against bacteria growing inside the bottle.”
Leavitt, who works in the tech industry, put those two ideas together to create a water- and bottle-free shampoo solution. The old adage “just add water” certainly applies here: When a Mirage Waterless tablet comes into contact with water from the shower, it turns into a paste and can then be used like traditional shampoo, frothy suds and all. The tablets also come in a recyclable paper container. “It’s really great for travel, and that’s a really big market that I want to hit on,” Leavitt says of her product. But don’t pigeonhole this waste-reducing gem: “It’s great for every day, too.”