5 Min Read |
Let’s face it: in the year 2020, if you’re not already familiar with the concept of “Greenwashing,” it’s definitely time to catch up. Whether you identify most as a producer or consumer of beauty products, odds are you have a sense of who is doing it right—creating sustainable, ethically-made products that actually work—and who’s pulling the synthetic wool over our eyes.
But, unlike the fashion industry, beauty innovators tend to keep their secrets locked up, and are reluctant to share information about patents, formulas, and breakthroughs with their competitors. As our world grows hotter each day and the climate crisis deepens, we no longer have time for secret-keeping or allusions that prohibit progress towards our common goal. It is with this in mind that brands, particularly in this space, must share their sustainability innovations more than ever, not only without Greenwashing but also in a way that is transparent enough to help these practices become industry standards.
Fortunately, several brands already leading the charge on both fronts, sharing their environmental impact initiatives with excellent storytelling and continued product efficacy.
Did you know Dove has pledged to move to 100% recycled plastic bottle packaging across Dove, Dove Men+Care and Baby Dove products, and is cutting its use of virgin plastics by 50% before 2025? According to parent company, Unilever, this will reduce CO2 emissions by 27,265 tons per year. This change comes not only due to increasing concern about our climate crisis, but also is based on consumer feedback about supporting brands that prioritize eco-friendly packaging. Dove celebrated this initiative with a sustainable vending machine installation last month in Grand Central Terminal, where over 2,000 commuters exchanged single-used plastic containers for a bottle of Dove deep moisturizing body wash in its new 100% recycled plastic container. Putting both the desires of the consumer and the needs of the planet front-and-center certainly makes for effective and authentic storytelling.
Love Beauty & Planet
Similarly, Love Beauty & Planet was created with sustainability as part of the brand promise. Started just two years ago, this natural line of soaps and shampoos was created based on feedback from millennials who favored products that were not only eco-friendly, but also guaranteed results. With water at the forefront of its mission, LBP has hosted influencer beach clean ups in areas affected by household pollutants, and recently launched several new concentrated formulas which require less water use while providing the same quality results as other formulas. Having a mission that not only dictates the marketing narrative but also informs product creation is a win for both the earth and consumers.
View this post on Instagram
our Valentine’s Day plans? bubble baths, face masks and #smallactsoflove ???? made with 98% naturally derived ingredients and scented with ethically sourced French lavender extract, our argan oil & lavender bath bombs are the perfect way to pamper and prep for a night out – or a night in – all while keeping the ????in mind ✨ #lbppartner #regram ????: @ryanbpotter
Another generational-driven brand is Bathing Culture, which tapped into the wellness and self-care zeitgeist popular among millennials and gen-z consumers. Created by two outdoor adventures with day jobs in Northern California, this line of bathing essentials ranging from refillable bottles of soaps to ethically-sourced sponges and hand-loomed super absorbent towels, Bathing Culture products have become a bathroom staple among those who know it’s cool to take care of yourself and the world around us. Their website touts, “Our post consumer recycled plastic bottles are great. A glass bottle you never have to recycle is even better,” this growing brand offers refills at wellness boutiques across the country, as well as many natural food stores.
Attention Whole Foods Shoppers: You’ve probably come across Alaffia products in the beauty aisle on more than one occasion, but did you know that this mission-driven brand is based on a social enterprise model? Since its founding in 2003, Alaffia has been committed to providing safe, efficacious hair, face and body care while alleviating poverty in West Africa through the preservation of traditional skills and knowledge in the global market. It’s easy to see why this line of top-quality products paired with its inseparable commitment to giving-back is one of the top-selling beauty brands at Whole Foods.
Have you taken the #MyHairCares pledge yet? If so, you probably already know that this thirty-year-old salon-quality brand of hair products understands the negative impact of plastics, parabens, sillicons, and phthalates on our planet. In the first year of this campaign, Fekkai not only purchased 64 million grams of post-consumer recycled plastic, but also used it to transform their packaging to 95% domestically-sourced recycled plastic. Even the boxes and packing material used in every Fekkai order are 100% recyclable. Achieving great hair while doing good is a pledge any consumer should be willing to support.
Long before eco-conscious millennial and gen-z consumers wielded the enormous spending-power that they have today, Lush was walking the walk and talking the talk at the forefront of the sustainable beauty industry. Embracing the ethos that less is more, 35% of all Lush products are completely free of packaging—or as they like to say, “naked,”—and formulated with little to no water, so they don’t need any synthetic preservatives. In fact, Lush launched their naked Shampoo Bars in 2005 and have sold more than 41 million shampoo bars, saving 124 million plastic bottles from ever being produced. According to their website, that’s approximately 3,417 tons of plastic saved, or about the weight of 30 blue whales. This impressive stat becomes even more compelling—and easily shareable—in a 90-second social video.
So what are you waiting for? Now is the time to share your commitment to sustainability through authentic storytelling. Whether you’re an individual consumer, developing a new brand, or represent one of the biggest beauty companies on the planet, you too have the power to spread the word about substantive products and genuine sustainability initiatives that go way beyond the greenwashing of one-off collections or single-season campaigns.
About The Author: Jason Parkin is the Founder, President, and CCO of Compose[d]. A digital and creative services agency, servicing the top names in retail, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. Compose[d] works with natural and sustainable skincare and beauty brands in addition to helping large traditional beauty brands move toward sustainable practices.