The Environmental Cost of Beauty, And Brands Who Are Glowing Green

Mon, 22 Jul 2019
The most ironic thing about the beauty industry is that it contributes to ugly mountains of plastic and chemical waste. The good news is, as sustainability and environmental issues are getting more attention, more and more beauty brands and innovators are listening, joining the cause for sustainable beauty.

Sustainable beauty will be a significant trend in coming years, so, what exactly, is it? Simply put, products created with sustainable beauty in mind, have minimal impact on the environment, starting from the sourcing of ingredients product. These stricter requirements typically result in more costly products for both consumer and businesses, which is likely why we haven’t seen a faster shift towards sustainable beauty from mass market beauty brands. Having said that, there are brands that are making waves in green beauty, that are definitely worth taking a look at. We’ve included some notable brands, read on to find out more!

A Planetary Crisis

The UN has stated that our earth is in “a planetary crisis”. This is caused by our indiscriminate use of plastics, such as single use water bottles, cups, straws, bags, and packaging, resulting in piles of plastic waste that overflows into our oceans to beaches. This not only harms to marine life, it also contributes to the spread of infectious diseases and food chain contamination. If we don’t clean up our plastic addiction, it is predicted that by 2050, our oceans will carry more plastic than fish.

Zero Waste Week estimates that the US$800 billion global cosmetics industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging (mostly non-recyclable) annually. This not only includes makeup and skin care packaging, but also the bottles your everyday essentials come in, like shampoo, body wash, makeup brushes, and applicators. More eco-conscious beauty brands use recycled plastics for their packaging, and refillable systems. Loli, for example, avoids plastic altogether, opting to use glass and compostable packaging instead.

Microbeads, are another form of plastic waste from the beauty industry. These little plastic beads are used in face and body washes, to help exfoliate dead skin cells, and eventually end up in our waterways. Not only are they an environmental hazard, they are also a potential health hazard. Entering our food chain from the waterways, microbeads can make their way onto our dinner tables, proving that what we sow is indeed what we reap.

As microbeads readily absorb pollutants, they have been linked to cancer and developmental problems in humans. To protect their waterways, the US has banned the use of microbeads in all personal care products since 2017, with many countries around the globe looking to do the same.

Brands Championing Green Beauty

Cosmetic giants such as Lush, are pushing the green beauty message, with campaigns such as #passonplastic and #waterless beauty. In January this year, Lush went “naked”, and is one of the first beauty brands to move away from packaging.

Rather than completely abandoning packaging, Seed Phytonutrients, has created the first shower-friendly paper bottles, made of 100% post-consumer recycled paper and plastic. In doing so, they have reduced their plastic use by 60%, compared to their traditional shampoo bottle.

Denttabs Toothpaste Tablets is also a plastic-free product with the idea of “the best possible dental care using the least amount of chemical ingredients”. Conventional toothpastes are not only packaged in plastic tubes, they also contain 50% water. These tablets eliminate plastic and reduce water usage, by just chewing, and a wet toothbrush.

Glow Green Now

Just like these companies, you can help the environment too! Try your hand at making your own body washes, moisturisers and scrubs - there are endless simple recipes online. If you don’t have time for DIY, look for brands that support sustainability and zero waste.

Purchasing sustainably sourced daily use items such as bamboo toothbrushes and straws, and multifunctional products, eg. a soap bar for face, hair, and body, also helps reduce your plastic output. The most minute steps that you take could help push companies into developing more sustainable products, ensuring a cleaner planet and future for our children.

 Written by
 Chloe Yeo
 BioMed-Chemist, Formulator, Fitness Freak & Full-time free spirit
 Dedicated to helping people find their best self through nutrition and positive vibes.
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