Although cosmetic and personal care products are created to make people feel beautiful, there’s an ugly side that comes with purchasing these items. With the growth of the beauty industry comes the increase of cosmetic waste.

According to Arnaud Meysselle, CEO of Ren Clean Skincare, 70% of the waste from the beauty industry comes from packaging. In 2017, Euromonitor’s global report on plastic packaging in the beauty industry found that there were 76.8 billion plastic packaging units. Those plastic powder compacts, lipstick tubes, eyeshadow palettes, and shampoo bottles – when not recycled properly – end up contributing to the alarming amount of ocean landfill.

Even discarding cosmetics that are hardly used can be unavoidable for some consumers. Customers now feel at ease to throw away their purchases in case they cause any discomfort, do not match their skin tones, or – worst comes to worse – cause an allergic reaction. The sheer number of alternatives in the beauty industry allows for these items to be easily replaceable.

A fresh start

A team of Filipinas are seeking ways to lessen cosmetic waste and give barely-used cosmetic products a fresh start. As students from Ateneo de Manila University, Julia Go and Angela Sia were inspired by a Christian volunteer group who collects personal care products for underprivileged women of Vancouver. In 2016, they reached out to create a Philippine chapter in partnership with TUGON Ateneo, an organization for sexually-abused young girls, by providing sanitized gently-used makeup for its beneficiaries.

“We were a group of students who wanted to give fresh purpose to our cosmetics,” Julia Go shared.

Three years later, the Foundation Foundation – Philippines (TFF-PH) carries on its work by holding regular city-wide donation collections. “We create care kits with the items – each with a lipstick, color pan cosmetic like eyeshadow or blush, shampoo, lotion or moisturizer, and other sanitary products,” said Tish Martinez-Catillo, TFF-PH’s lead convenor.

Recently, TFF-PH has expanded its collections into drop-off points at select Robinsons Department Store Beauty Sections in Metro Manila to meet with the sheer amount of people interested in donating their gently-used items.

Just last year, TFF-PH was able to create over 70 care kits distributed to its partner charities for women survivors of sex-trafficking: Wipe Every Tear, who provides shelter, education, and discipleship, and She W.O.R.K.S, a non-formal leadership training program.

Aside from repurposing makeup, TFF-PH also holds beauty workshops to continue to teach and empower women through makeup.

“Trafficking dehumanizes people. Years of abuse often leave survivors with emotional, mental and physical challenges. Providing personal care products and beauty workshops is our small way of helping survivors recover,” Tish explained.

According to the U.S. State Department’s Human Rights Report in 2017 around 400,000 women are trafficked in the Philippines.


More is more

The amount of makeup that TFF-PH receives was indeed surprising, shared Tish. “Many times, we’d receive unopened items or cosmetics that are still in the shipping packaging that they came in,” she continued.

Aside from the modern-day makeup user to be more discerning, Tish attributed the overwhelming amount of excess makeup from sales or promos that encourage bulk buying. Makeup brands – both international and local – have made their way to online shopping platforms who have made monthly sales and deals a norm. Customers are then enticed to purchase more than needed to make the most out of the discounts given.


Closing the loop

Some major personal care companies are beginning to listen to the clamors of concerned consumers and are seeking to close the loop through changing their packaging. On March 23, Unilever had opened its first series of refilling stations in major malls in Metro Manila for its shampoo brands Cream Silk, Sunsilk, Dove, and Tresemmé. Package-less groceries have also popped up all over the city that sell personal care products, from powdered toothpaste to reusable sanitary pads.

But for those looking to give a new purpose to their gently-used or unopened cosmetic items, TFF-PH is more than willing to accept them to give hope to these victims of sex trafficking one lipstick at a time.

Follow The Foundation Foundation – Philippines on their Facebook page for updates on their next drop-off event or workshop.

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