Between supermarket bans, the recycling crisis, and that whale who died after consuming 80 bags of the stuff (yikes), plastic sure is giving sugar a run for its money in the race to become 2018's least popular organic compound.
(Also, all three actors who played The Plastics in Tina Fey's musical adaptation of Mean Girls were robbed at the Tony Awards. It is truly a bad time to be polymeric material.)
Plastic is out of fashion. Yet, as skinny jeans have taught us, just because something goes out of fashion (or, you know, is actively damaging the earth) doesn't mean it can instantly be removed from your life.
Most makeup drawers are full of plastic. While some smaller (and exxier) makeup brands package their wares in more sustainable products like wood, glass, or recycled aluminium (check out Antonym's bamboo palettes, available at Sephora), the overwhelming majority of cosmetics still come in plastic. And once you've dutifully chucked out your products after their 12-month expiry (right?) those cute boxes and bottles do a great job of jazzing up the pile of landfill they are doomed to spend the rest of their existence amongst.
But, what if, when you finished your foundation or blush, there was no packaging to chuck out?
Packaging-free is the new frontier in environmentally-friendly cosmetics. The basic premise is thus: take something that is traditionally liquid and put something in it to make it solid.
It's happening to a variety of products: bottle-free shampoo (AKA a bar of soap for your hair) and body lotion (AKA... just a regular bar of soap?) are already on the market.
Last month, UK cosmetics brand Lush released a 40-shade, packaging-free foundation range called Slap Sticks; a skintone spectrum of egg-shaped bars made with ethically-sourced Indonesian coconut oil.
The bars, which are available in Australia via their online store, come dipped in a peelable wax to give you something to hold onto, and can be applied using a brush, your fingers, or just directly onto the skin.
"Making foundation, a staple in many people's daily routine, solid, is a major leap forward to reducing plastic packaging without compromising on quality or effect," Lush co-founder Rowena Bird said in a statement.
Other brands, too, are reconsidering how much packaging needs to be used in a cosmetic product, and whether that packaging can be reused.
Later this month, Australian sensitive skin brand MooGoo will host a "re-fill day", where customers can re-fill their used bottles of product (with a 30 per cent discount).
The Body Shop's international director of campaigns and corporate responsibility, Christopher Davis, says the brand is currently undertaking a "comprehensive review" of sustainable packaging options.
It aims to remove fossil fuels from 70 per cent of its product packaging by 2020, as well as ditch cartons from three ranges by the end of this year.
"Our long-term vision is that packaging will not harm people or the environment and can be repurposed," says Davis.
"All our solutions need to be truly sustainable. In the shorter term, we are working hard to increase the percentage of PCR (post-consumer recycled) content in our glass jars and plastic bottles. Plastic is the current ‘bad guy’ but we are looking at a broader vision that focuses on taking a responsible and circular approach with all materials and not just plastic."
Of course, there is a quite obvious problem with taking all of the packaging off cosmetics: how do you store them hygienically. Lush are selling their foundations in recyclable cardboard boxes, while shampoo bars made to be kept in your soap dish.
For all of their faults, plastic bottles are a pretty good way of keeping things sanitary. Would moving to a makeup drawer full of bars be bad for your skin?
Dr Adrian Lim, fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, says public concern about the bacteria that exists on bars of soap is generally unfounded.
"Bacteria found on soap are are usually the commensal (or harmless) type of skin bacteria found on normal human skin," he explains.
Even though this isn't soap, Dr Lim still says the chance that makeup bars could lead to infection is quite minimal, noting that it is "perfectly fine" to apply makeup directly using your fingers.
"The human skin is very effective in screening out germs and, unless you are immunosuppressed, the skin immunity will prevent germs taking hold even when it lands on the skin."