Pollution from E-wastes : E-waste Problem in Singapore

It is update time! So, in our previous posts, we shared about e-wastes, as well as how it leads to pollution. Today, we will be sharing about the extent of the e-waste problem in Singapore.

Extent of the problem

According to a National Environmental Agency study, it founded that Singapore generates 60,000 tonnes of e-waste a year (NEA, 2018). This is equivalent to the discard of 70 mobile phones by each individual. Such high rates of disposal can be linked to our high spending power, as well as the constant invents of new technologies and products (Towards Zero Waste, 2020). Indeed, experts have cautioned that the rollout of fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks could spell the demise of 4G gadgets and lead to mass disposal.

While the replacement of electronic products is not wrong as most products can be refurbished, repaired or recycled, the problem arises when unwanted electronic products are discarded – as in most cases of Singapore. This is because e-waste contains harmful substances such as cadmium and lead which pose as a threat to our health and the environment when disposed at landfills or when incinerated (Towards Zero Waste, 2020). (See our previous post for a detailed explanation).

Teh (2019) notes from a survey of 347 youths aged 18 to 25 that only one in 10 young Singaporeans recycle their e-waste. Of those who attempt to recycle, 34.1% do it wrongly. This is a concerning trend that should be reversed, especially in a land-scarce Singapore. As articulated by the then-Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, “We should recycle right, and save and extend the lifespan of Semakau by putting just a little bit into the landfill. Semakau is a very expensive resource, and if we need to build a new Semakau, that will cost us billions of dollars,”. More than environmental considerations, there are also economic implications for tiny Singapore when a large number of wastes, including e-waste, are constantly generated. Hence, there is a strong and urgent need to improve our waste reduction and recycling efforts.

Check back in next week to find out what we can do or have done to mitigate this issue in our next post!



Choo, C. (2019 September 3). Trash Talk: A toxic trash pile grows when gadgets become waste — in a year or less. TODAYONLINE. https://www.todayonline.com/features/trash-talk-gadgets-designed-become-waste-year-or-less-toxic-trash-pile-grows

NEA. (2018, March 6). NEA To Implement E-waste Management System For Singapore By 2021. https://www.nea.gov.sg/media/news/news/index/nea-to-implement-e-waste-management-system-for-singapore-by-2021

Teh, C. (2019, March 4). Only one in 10 young Singaporeans recycles electronic waste: Survey https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/only-one-in-10-young-singaporeans-recycle-electronic-waste-survey

Towards Zero Waste. (2020 September 15). Electronic Waste. https://www.towardszerowaste.gov.sg/ewaste/#:~:text=Singapore%20generates%20about%2060%2C000%20tonnes,technologies%20constantly%20replacing%20old%20ones.

Pollution from E-Wastes

Hello! Welcome back to another post on E-Wastes. From the previous post, we have discussed the various types of E-waste. Now, this blog post will focus on how exactly does E-Waste pollute the earth. This can be discussed in two themes: how it is harmful to humans, as well as how it is harmful to the environment. Ultimately, the production and consumption of E-wastes contribute massively to Environmental Pollution.

How is it harmful to humans?

Health risks may result from direct contact with toxic materials that leach from e-waste, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Toxic minerals include lead, cadmium, chromium, brominated flame retardants, or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). It is harmful when humans inhale the toxic fumes, and the environment with the accumulation of chemicals in soil, water, and food, which can ultimately affect the food that we eat. Studies have shown this global e-waste pollution has not only detrimental effects on the people that work with the e-waste but also the people that live around it. In fact, in developing countries, the risks are exceptionally high because some developed countries send their e-waste there. Because of this, a proper recycling process needs to be put in place to protect us and future generations, most especially those who are vulnerable to large dumps of e-wastes.

How is it harmful to the environment?

While above ground, modern electronics are safe to use and be around. However, most electronics contain some form of toxic materials, including beryllium, cadmium, mercury, and lead, which pose serious environmental risks to our soil, water, air, and wildlife. When e-waste gets buried at a landfill, it can dissolve in microscopic traces into sludge that permeates at the landfill. Eventually, these traces of toxic materials leach into the ground below the landfill. The more E-waste and metals at the landfill, the more of these trace toxic minerals get leached in the groundwater. The problem is that the amount of e-waste pollution is just massive, and all the trace amounts have ballooned over the years. That toxic water under the landfill doesn’t stop below the landfill. It continues to the groundwater and the sources to all the freshwater in the surrounding area. Not only is this bad for anyone using a natural well, but it hurts the nearby wildlife. That, in turn, causes the wildlife to get sick from lead, arsenic, cadmium, and other metal poisonings due to the high concentration of these minerals. Mentioned from above, this will also affect our food chain and the food that we eat, as we can get metal poisoning.

Heavy metals are the most persistent pollutants in the environment because of their resistance to decomposition in a natural condition (Ra et al., 2013). When heavy metal levels exceed from their permissible limits, they become toxic. Under certain environmental conditions, heavy metals might accumulate up to toxic concentration levels, and pose negative impacts not only in an environment but also on human health (He et al., 2017).

Pollutive Aspect?

  • Companies keep producing and manufacturing
  • Consumers keep buying! This is linked to the phenomenon ‘designed for the dump’ or Planned Obsolescence which we will talk about in our next post!


Gangwar, C., Choudhari, R., Chauhan, A., Kumar, A., Singh, A. and Tripathi, A. (2019). Assessment of air pollution caused by illegal e-waste burning to evaluate the human health risk. Environment International, 125, pp.191–199.

Pollution from E-wastes : The Big Picture

What is E-waste?

E-waste refers to all types of waste containing electrically powered components. It is short for e-Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) (Josh, 2015). The term is often used to describe electronic products that are unwanted, not working, and nearing or at the end of their “useful life.” Common electric products include computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines (Great Lakes Electronics Corporation, n.d.).

What are the types of E-waste?

Given the presence of a large number of e-wastes, there have been efforts in categorising e-wastes to facilitate disposal. The below highlights the types of e-waste, as well as examples.

  1. ICT and Telecommunications Equipment: laptops, PCs, telephones, mobile phones
  2. Office Electronics: calculators, photocopying equipment, electrical and electronic typewriters, telephones and fax machines
  3. Large Household Appliances: refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, air conditioner appliances
  4. Small Household Appliances: vacuum cleaners, irons, blenders, fryers
  5. Consumer Equipment: video and audio equipment, musical instruments
  6. Medical Equipment: all medical equipment with the exception of implants
  7. Toys leisure and sports equipment: electronic toys, models, sports equipment
  8. Monitoring devices: detectors, thermostats, laboratory equipment

Adapted from (Paul’s Rubbish, 2018; Marius Pedersen, n.d.)

Of course, these types and examples are non-exhaustive especially when new technology is constantly being invented. But given some ideas of what e-wastes are, check back in next week to read our post on how e-wastes causes environmental pollution!



Great Lakes Electronics Corporation. (n.d.). What is E-waste? Definition and Why It’s Important. https://www.ewaste1.com/what-is-e-waste/

Josh, J. (2015, August 27). Types of e – Waste. https://www.jagranjosh.com/general-knowledge/types-of-e-waste-1440681505-1

Marius Pedersen. (n.d.). E-waste collection and transport. https://www.mariuspedersen.cz/en/about-marius-pedersen/services/58.shtml

Paul’s Rubbish. (2018, July 23). 7 Types of E-Waste. https://www.paulsrubbish.com.au/7-types-e-waste/

[Mitigation] Pollution from Domestic Cleaning Agents : An Alternative

No one can avoid exposure to toxic chemicals altogether, but it is possible to reduce it significantly.

How can we do this? As a first step, we should assess which cleaning products are really necessary. Next, we should also make sure to check the label on the back of the product to make sure the ingredients do not contain harmful chemicals or toxins that could potentially harm us and the environment. Make sure the ingredients of the cleaner are easily biodegradable and breakdown quickly in the wastewater treatment facilities. For this, it’s best to look for products that are 100% natural or all-natural, and certified by an independent institution like NEA, for Singapore’s case. Lastly, we tend to use more of the cleaning and or laundry products than strictly necessary, because using more product will ‘clean better’. However, this is not usually the case! We should stick to the directions of use on the label and thus this minimizes the amount of cleaning products ending up in wastewaters because the effect of cleaning will not be greater by using more cleaning liquid or laundry detergent. It is also important to check the labels of the products you use and follow the instructions to make sure you handle and store them in a safe way, also to minimise unnecessary exposure to the environment or the house.

Alternatively, we can make our own cleaning agents!

Do-It-Yourself Cleaning Agents

Worried about the potential VOCs and other chemical toxins inside store-bought domestic cleaning agents? Here are some recipes of cleaning agents you can make at home to clean safely and cheaply:

Basic sink cleanser — Combine ½ cup baking soda with six drops essential oil (such as lavender, rosemary, lemon, lime or orange). Rinse sink well with hot water. Sprinkle combination into the sink and pour ¼ cup vinegar over top. After the fizz settles, scrub with a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse again with hot water. (From The Naturally Clean Home, by Karyn Siegel-Maier.)

Oven cleanser — Put a heatproof dish filled with water in the oven. Turn on the heat to let the steam soften any baked-on grease. Once the oven is cool, apply a paste of equal parts salt, baking soda, and vinegar, and scrub. (From Super Natural Home, by Beth Greer.)

Bathroom mildew remover — Good ventilation helps prevent mildew and mould. When they do occur, make a spray with 2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon each of tea-tree and lavender oil. Shake first and spray on trouble spots. The oils break down the mildew so there’s no need to wipe it down. (From Green Interior Design, by Lori Dennis.)

Carpet shampoo — Mix 3 cups water, ¾ cup vegetable-based liquid soap, and 10 drops peppermint essential oil. Rub the foam into soiled areas with a damp sponge. Let dry thoroughly and then vacuum. (From The Naturally Clean Home.)

Laundry soap — Try “soap nuts” made from the dried fruit of the Chinese soapberry tree. Available in natural groceries and online, the reusable soap nuts come in a cotton sack that goes into the washing machine with clothes.

Dusting — Skip the furniture polishes. Instead, use a microfiber cloth. Made from synthetic fibres that are then split into hundreds of smaller microfibers, they capture dust more efficiently than regular rags. If necessary, a little olive oil makes a fine polishing agent.

All in all, we should be actively involved in our decision-making process and read all labels on cleaning supplies and household products before we buy them. Choose products that do not contain or have reduced amounts of VOCs, fragrances, irritants and flammable ingredients and try to avoid using air fresheners altogether. As a safer cleaning alternative, warm water and soap with a generous helping of lemon often will do the trick, especially at home. Baking soda is good for scrubbing. A mix of vinegar and water can clean glass. When using cleaning or household products, keep the area well ventilated by opening the windows and doors. Do note to also never use cleaning products in a small and enclosed space.

[Mitigation] Pollution from Domestic Cleaning Agents : International Countries’ Regulations

International Countries’ Regulations

United States of America

In the journal Science, De Gouw and others report that the amount of Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs emitted from household and industrial products is 2 to 3 times higher than official US estimates suggest. The result is surprising as only approximately 5% of raw oil is turned into chemicals for consumer products, with 95% ending up as fuel (MacDonald et al, 2015).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 2.1 million janitors work in the US (U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, 2020). About 6% of janitors experience workplace injury from chemical exposure brought about by domestic cleaning agents. Moreover, anyone in the building can breathe in the VOCs from these cleaning products. At levels of typical use, the risk of adverse health impacts from domestic cleaning products is pretty low. Still, reducing potential hazards is an integral part of chemical management safety. Certain chemicals may irritate skin, eyes, or throat. Some commercial-grade products may be hazardous in concentrated forms. Cleaning products enter the environment during the course of regular use by getting rinsed down the drain or evaporating into volatile compounds. Residue can linger on surfaces and cleaning tools.

The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA has also issued regulations limiting the volatile organic compound (VOC) concentration in various institutional and consumer cleaning products. Products that may contain regulated VOC’s include (but are not limited to) bathroom and tile cleaners, disinfectants and sanitizers, furniture cleaners, laundry starch and detergents, fabric refresher (linen spray), hair styling products, shaving gels and air fresheners (room spray).

United Kingdom

In the EU, there are different regulations to ensure the safety of domestic cleaning agents for household use. For example, the CLP Regulation, it is a regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals, regulating the way that chemicals and products containing them are labelled and packaged. If the product contains hazardous chemicals, it must be labelled with a pictogram and an explanation of what it means. This helps consumers to handle the product safely and gives advice on what to do in case of an accident.



McDonald, B.C., et al. (2018). Volatile chemical products emerging as largest petrochemical source of urban organic emissions. Science, [online] 359(6377), pp.760–764. Available at: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6377/760.

U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS (2020). [online] Available at: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes372011.htm.


Pollution from Domestic Cleaning Agents : Environmental Impacts

Welcome back to our blog! Having understood what constitutes domestic cleaning agents and the chemicals commonly associated with them, we will be sharing more about how toxins in domestic cleaning agents harm the environment in this post.

Recall, nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonia and VOCs are present in domestic cleaning agents.

Aquatic pollution

When domestic cleaning agents are used, they are often rinsed down drains or flushed down toilets after the cleaning process. As these cleaning liquids head to the sewage, the nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia present in them go down together. While it can be argued that wastewater is treated before being discharged to open water bodies, these three chemicals are NOT removed by the waste treatment process. This is very concerning as nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia are dangerous water contaminants in large quantities (Davis, n.d.).

Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB)

The most prominent consequence of nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia being washed into water bodies is eutrophication. Excess nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia over-enrich the aquatic ecosystem with nutrients (Carpenter, 2005), thereby resulting in Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB). The occurrence of HAB poses a threat to the aquatic ecosystem as it causes oxygen depletion of surface waters, leading to massive fish kills. The release of toxins by algal death further pollutes the water and render it useless.


Air pollution

The emission of VOCs through the use of domestic cleaning agents pose a risk to human health as exposure to VOCs could lead to carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, teratogenicity, as well as the irritation of the eyes and nose (Ciccioli, 1993). This is especially concerning given that these VOCs is likely to concentrate within the household environment due to poor or inadequate ventilation. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies found that there are 3 to 5 times more common organic pollutants inside homes than outside (EPA, 2019).

In addition to human health, VOCs pose a risk to environmental health as well. VOCs are precursors to photochemical smog. When VOCs are mixed with nitrogen oxides (NOx ) and irradiated by ultraviolet (UV) light, a complex chain of reactions converts them into products generally indicated as photochemical pollutants (Ciccioli, 1993), creating a brown haze above places referred to as ‘smog’. Here is a chart to visualise the formation of smog (EPA, 2004):

The way forward

Given that the use of domestic cleaning agents poses a variety of environmental problems, there is a need for us to search for alternatives or employ ways to mitigate these problems. More on mitigation will be discussed in our next post!




Carpenter, S. R. (2005). Eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems: Bistability and soil phosphorus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0503959102

Ciccioli P. (1993) VOCs and air pollution. In: Bloemen H.J.T., Burn J. (eds) Chemistry and Analysis of Volatile Organic Compounds in the Environment. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi-org.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/10.1007/978-94-011-2152-1_3

Davis, J. (n.d.). How Does Household Cleaner Affect the Environment? https://homeguides.sfgate.com/household-cleaner-affect-environment-79335.html

EPA. (2019, August 1). What are volatile organic compounds (VOCs)? https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/what-are-volatile-organic-compounds-vocs

EPA. (2004, March). Photochemical smog: What it means for us. https://www.epa.sa.gov.au/files/8238_info_photosmog.pdf

Pollution from Domestic Cleaning Agents : The Big Picture

What are Domestic Cleaning Agents?

Domestic cleaning agents are effective at getting rid of the dirt at home, germs and other microscopic, harmful organisms. However, some of these domestic cleaning agents that are used to sanitize, whiten and wash clothing, surfaces, dishes and bedding are also harming our water and air, causing massive Environmental Pollution, especially indoor pollution, especially in our homes where we spend arguably our most time in.

The chemicals in many cleaners are common pollutants that contribute to smog, reduce the quality of drinking water and are toxic to animals.

Who are these ‘Chemical Culprits’?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia and chemicals grouped under the term “Volatile Organic Compounds” or VOCs as the worst environmental hazards in domestic cleaning agents (US EPA, 2018).

According to the Canadian Labour Environmental Alliance Society, dishwasher detergents are approximately 30 to 40 per cent phosphorus. Moreover, ammonia is a multipurpose household cleaner that is found in many cleaning products that do everything from sanitizing and removing allergens. VOCs are found in a wide range of cleaning products. They whiten your clothes, remove oil from dishes and disinfect as bathroom cleaners, amongst other uses. Nitrogen is found in glass and surface cleaning products and even in floor cleaners as well (US EPA, 2019).

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Phosphorous – P
Ammonia – NH3
Nitrogen – N

Common domestic cleaning agent supplies containing VOCs and other toxic substances can include, but are not limited to (American Lung Association, 2020):

  • Aerosol spray products, including health, beauty and cleaning products;
  • Air fresheners;
  • Chlorine bleach;
  • Detergent and dishwashing liquid;
  • Dry cleaning chemicals;
  • Rug and upholstery cleaners;
  • Furniture and floor polish; and
  • Oven cleaners

Household cleaners, paints and perfumes have also become substantial sources of urban air pollution as strict controls on vehicles have reduced road traffic emissions, some scientists say.

Researchers in the US looked at levels of synthetic VOCs in roadside air in Los Angeles and found that as much came from industrial and household products refined from petroleum as from vehicle exhaust pipes.

The compounds are an important contributor to air pollution because when they waft into the atmosphere, they react with other chemicals to produce harmful ozone or fine particulate matter known as PM2.5. Ground-level ozone can trigger breathing problems by making the airways constrict, while fine airborne particles drive heart and lung disease.

Globally, the greatest source of volatile organic compounds are plants and trees, but the natural background levels are exacerbated by vapours released from hairsprays and perfumes; cleaning products and pesticides; paints and substances such as formaldehyde, which is used in glues, plywood and other building materials. Yet more synthetic VOCs come from burning fuels such as gas and wood (Sample, 2018).

The next post will discuss in detail how toxins in domestic cleaning agents harm the environment.


US EPA (2018). Sustainable Marketplace: Greener Products and Services | US EPA. [online] US EPA. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/greenerproducts [Accessed 5 Jan. 2019].

US EPA (2019). Nutrient Pollution | US EPA. [online] US EPA. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution.

American Lung Association (2020). Cleaning Supplies and Household Chemicals | American Lung Association. [online] www.lung.org. Available at: https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/cleaning-supplies-household-chem.

Sample, I. (2018). Cleaning products a big source of urban air pollution, say scientists. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/15/cleaning-products-urban-pollution-scientists [Accessed 9 Nov. 2020].

[Mitigation] Pollution from Beauty Products : Sustainable Beauty Routine

Having followed our posts over the past week, ‘lowkey‘ conscious of the various beauty products you have been using? I hope you are not actively trying to avoid dolling yourself up just because of what we mentioned because… There are ways to look pretty and be environmental-friendly at the same time! You can do so by establishing a sustainable beauty routine.

But what is sustainable beauty? Sustainable beauty is about adopting eco-friendly choices and purchases for our beauty routines. As such, you should look towards supporting ethical and sustainable beauty brands who that pride themselves in sustainable products. With increased environmental consciousness, many beauty brands have taken an increased interest to be more environmentally friendly (if they are not already). Some brands that you can explore to turn your beauty routine into one that is eco-friendly and sustainable include MAC, L’Occitane, Kiehl’s, Aveda, The Body Shop, Innisfree, Armani Beauty, Clarins, and Burt’s Bees (Ghura, 2020) – stay pretty while helping Mother Earth stay healthy!


In addition to beauty care products, you could also ‘green’ your beauty routine through the use of reusable items such as reusable cotton pads, makeup remover pads, and cotton swabs. This way, you will avoid throwing out tons of single-use cotton rounds which contributes to environmental pollution. Remember: it takes a lot of water to grow cotton, and even more to turn them into usable products. The reusable options are not only eco-friendly, but it can help you save a bunch of money too (Balsamo, 2020)!

Of course, we do not just stop at purchasing sustainable products. It is a routine sooo, it is an enduring process of being eco-friendly.

What do you do with your empty product containers? Throw it out in the bin? Hold up! Instead of trashing it out in a domestic waste bin, recycle it. Many beauty brands have been actively encouraging container recycling by providing customers with incentives. For instance, at Innisfree’s Play Green Campaign, customers can recycle their used bottles at stores and get rewarded. To date, between 2003 and 2015, a total of 12,524,850 empty bottles have been recycled in Innisfree Korea. Similarly, M.A.C’s Back-2-M.A.C take back program encourages customers to return six empty makeup containers and get a new product in return. The empty containers are then recycled or converted to energy, reducing the amount of packaging that ends up in the landfill.

But what happens in the unfortunate event where your newly bought beauty product is not to your liking and you can’t recycle it since its pretty much unused? Anything but throwing it out. You could consider gifting it away to friend and family, or even donate it! I’m sure most people would not mind receiving a barely used product. This way, not only does it reduce purchases by others, but it would also prevent the products from being wasted.

So, what are you waiting for? Join me on having a sustainable beauty routine today!




Balsamo, L. (2020, October 21). 9 Best Reusable Cotton Rounds to Replace Your Single-Use Wipes. Cosmopolitan. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/beauty/g34329071/best-reusable-cotton-rounds/

Ghura, P. (2020, July 6). How to build a sustainable beauty routine. https://www.prestigeonline.com/sg/beauty-wellness/beauty/sustainable-beauty-routine-guide/

















[Mitigation] Pollution from Beauty Products : Alternative Packaging

Pollution from Beauty Products : Packaging

Welcome back to another blog post regarding the pollution in the Beauty Industry! This time, we will touch on the efforts done to mitigate the problem, specifically how brands and corporations deal with packaging pollution. This is tied to our previous blog above titled, Pollution from Beauty Products: Packaging.

Because of all the problems arising from the unsustainability of the packaging used in the beauty industry, there is a dire need for alternatives – seeing as the beauty industry is recession-proof and that the industry is only going to earn more money in the coming years. With the ban on “rinse-off” microbeads in the US, it’s now important to focus on the container. With packaging accounting for approximately 40% of total plastic usage but only 14% being recycled, it is important for us to look at other alternatives to ensure the sustainability of products in the industry (Plastic Oceans, n.d.).

Beauty Brands in the Spotlight

This is where it is important for us to be rational and responsible consumers. For one, it is important for us to still properly recycle the products that we use. However, we also have to mindfully switch and embrace brands that are doing what they can to reduce their pollutive impact. There are a variety of different factors you can look into: You can look for products with recyclable/refillable packaging or alternatives like makeup removal towels. You can also buy from brands that have recycling programs. Here are some brands that we can appreciate for their eco-friendly alternative packaging:

#1: Kevin Murphy

Picture from: Kevin Murphy Website

Australian haircare brand Kevin Murphy evidently ‘closed the loop’ on its plastic consumption by partnering with Pack Tech, a Dutch packaging brand. Kevin Murphy products are entirely packaged in recycled plastic recovered from the oceans. Not only is it made from plastic wastes, but it is also recyclable. Making the switch to Ocean Waste Plastic (OWP) is Kevin Murphy’s way to take the first step in the beauty industry to move towards sustainability.

#2: MAC Cosmetics

Information from MAC Cosmetics Singapore Website

MAC Cosmetics have a recycling program called Back to MAC initiative whereby customers could trade-in 6 MAC lipstick tubes (finished, and to be recycled) and receive one free lipstick in return.
#3: Dove

Picture from: Unilever

In line with Dove’s parent company, Unilever, to become more sustainable, Dove has switched up all of its Dove, Dove Men+Care, and Baby Dove packaging in North America and Europe to 100% recycled plastic bottles at the end of 2019, with plans to expand globally by the end of 2020. This initiative stands to reduce “the use of virgin plastic by more than 20,500 tons per year.”The brand also announced that it is working on plastic-free Beauty Bar single packs and stainless-steel Dove deodorant sticks that will be reusable and refillable.
#4: Ethique Beauty

Picture from Amazon

Ethique Beauty uses recyclable paper packaging, not plastic, for all its products — from shampoos and conditioners to body washes. Since launching in 2012, the company has stopped more than 3.3 million plastic bottles from being made and disposed of into landfills. Additionally, 20% of their annual profit goes to charities focused on the environment.
#5: Āether Beauty

Picture from Aether Beauty

Āether Beauty created the first-ever zero-waste and 100% recyclable eyeshadow palette! After removing the eyeshadow pans, one can throw the palette into the recycling bin.
It is very clear that the beauty industry needs to reform, and the sooner brands like the ones above find success, the sooner we are able to save our oceans and the Earth.

Johnston, I. (2017). Microbeads ban: Government to outlaw microplastics in cosmetic products. The Independent. [online] 21 Jul. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/microbeads-ban-bill-uk-cosmetic-products-government-outlaws-microplastics-a7852346.html.

Plastic Oceans (n.d.). Facts . About Plastic . Help – Plastic Oceans Foundation. [online] Plastic Oceans International. Available at: https://www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/ [Accessed 4 Nov. 2020].


Pollution from Beauty Products : Hairsprays

Following makeup, skincare, and even body care products, you may be wondering what other beauty products are you going to talk about today. Well, its haircare products! Specifically, how the use of hairsprays contributes to indoor air pollution.




For the stylists, hairsprays are arguably indispensable because it not only allows you to keep your nicely styled hair in place all day, it can also help with taming your frizz, add volume to your hair and so on (Petal Fresh, 2019). Given its usefulness, hairsprays are widely used.

Yet, the myriad chemicals present in your little handy spray bottle constitutes chemicals that are not environmentally friendly. For instance, propellants are included since hairsprays are often supplied in an aerosol container. The chemicals used to make propellants include Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) (Matthews, n.d.) – which plays a significant role in the formation of smog (Environmental Protection Department, 2019). Therefore, every time we do a spray, we are also releasing polluting chemicals.

As hairsprays are mostly used indoors in households or studios, it contributes to indoor air pollution especially with poor or inadequate ventilation as pollutants can accumulate to harmful levels (EPA, 2020).


Indoor Air Pollution

Wait, what?! There is pollution indoors? Yes, in fact, the average home can be up to five times more polluted than the outdoors (Greer, 2019). Despite so, the awareness on it is low since it is less visible to the human eye. However, what you can’t see doesn’t mean it is not there. Its presence needs to be identified and mitigated. This is because indoor air pollution can have adverse health impacts on dwellers.

Exposure to pollutants can lead to immediate effects such as the irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Persons with pre-existing respiratory problems may also be triggered such as asthma. Other health effects such as respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer could also be the result of long-term exposure to pollutants (EPA, 2020).

Find out more about indoor air pollution here.

So, what now?

Quickly open up your windows and doors to increase the ventilation of your space!



Environmental Protection Agency. (2020, August 14). Introduction to Indoor Air Quality. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/introduction-indoor-air-quality

Environmental Protection Department. (2019, May 2). Volatile Organic Compounds and Smog. https://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/environmentinhk/air/prob_solutions/vocs_smog.html#point_2

Greer, M. (2019, February 7). 11 Sneaky Causes of Indoor Air Pollution. https://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/health/causes-indoor-air-pollution/

Matthews, M. (n.d.) What Is Harmful to the Environment That Is Found in Hairsprays? https://homeguides.sfgate.com/harmful-environment-found-hairsprays-78516.html

Petal Fresh. (2019, April 26). Benefits of Using a Hairspray to Style Your Hair https://petalfresh.com/benefits-of-using-a-hairspray-to-style-your-hair/