Following on from my BYBI post, we’ve established that sustainability is more than just having recyclable packaging. This week on my Instagram we’ve had sustainability week, where I shared eco-friendly brands in my collection. Of course there are far more brands than just what is in my collection, so here are some of beauty’s sustainable brands and some that have made a good start but have room for improvement.
You’ve read my article about BYBI, you know they’re fab. If you missed it (you can find it here), they focus on responsible sourcing, clean manufacturing and packaging in recyclable materials. They definitely do more than most brands and have a very strong focus on sustainability (they even do monthly summits on the topic called Susty Summits and have their own in-house sustainability manager!). For Black Friday, or should I say Green Friday, BYBI are offering discounts on a variety of their products, but for every bundle bought, they will be planting 10 trees.
If you haven’t heard of Sjö Skin, they’re a small Swedish brand that focus on honey based products. Each product is made with less than 6 ingredients and their honey is sourced from a local farm in Sweden where the bees pollinate wild flowers in the forest.. Their products are handmade in small batches, which makes the manufacturing portion of their supply chain super eco-friendly. Their packaging is largely glass (with a very small amount of plastic – dropper squeezer, lid)
REN sustainably sources their ingredients (though there’s no extra info than that…) and makes sure that their packaging is eco-friendly. Their bottles are made from ocean plastic, while their tubes are made from post-consumer recycled plastic that is made to be recycled over and over again. They also work with organisations that clean up plastic from beaches, waterways and oceans. On top of this, REN have pledged to be zero waste by 2021, so all their packaging will be recyclable, recycled and reusable.
All of Herbivore’s products are apparently handmade using sustainably sourced ingredients (though not much more info is given about this). All of their jars and bottles are made of glass. They are always looking at their supply chain to decrease their carbon footprint. Their team vets ingredient suppliers to ensure that they are all ethically sourced and sustainably harvested. The majority of their ingredients are sourced within the US, meaning their carbon footprint would be lower the closer to home they can source the ingredients.
Youth To The People
YTTP have glass packaging on all their bottles and jars and focus on creating clean formulas. They use a lot of natural, superfood ingredients but also make sure to comply with the EU’s list of banned ingredients in cosmetics, despite being a US based company. The FDA has only banned 11 ingredients, compared to the 1,300+ in the EU. They also work with a number of non-profits and activists to build a more just world and to save the planet!
Tata Harper are famous for growing all of their ingredients on their special farm in Vermont and making and packaging their products in glass bottles and jars. When they do use tubes, the plastic resin is made from corn, rather than from petroleum, which is a renewable source. On the cardboard boxes, there is a label from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative that confirms that the material comes from a responsible source instead of unethical sources (e.g. illegal logging processes). By manufacturing all their products in house and by hand, they are able to have greater control over the sustainability surrounding the process. It is probable that they use much less energy and water by hand making the products and are able to have much more control over their energy sources (aka ensuring it’s renewable).
Paula’s Choice actively seek to source their ingredients in a sustainable way wherever possible. Palm oil, which is often sourced in ways that harm the rainforest and it’s animals, are instead sourced from a Malaysian company certified for sustainable production. While they use plastic packaging, all parts including the caps are suitable for recycling. No additional, unnecessary plastic packaging is used – products are not wrapped in an additional plastic wrap and PC prints all their info directly onto the bottle.
WowYou’s packaging is all recyclable and they also have a refill program. On top of this, their HQ uses only energy from renewable sources and offset their carbon emissions by planting trees. This *Green* Friday, the brand will plant a tree for every £5 spent to further offset emissions and help to restore habitats. They’re supporting the Eden Reforestation Project who work with locals in Madagascar to reforest areas that were destroyed, impacting the ability to farm the land and displacing native species.
The Body Shop
This has to be one of the original pioneering beauty brands when it comes to sustainability. They ensure that all their sourcing has no negative social or environmental impacts and launched ‘community trade’ all the way back in 1987 to ensure fair trading with suppliers. They were the pioneers for fair trade within beauty and currently have 31 community trade suppliers in 23 countries. They have empowered these communities, particularly women, and helped them achieve an independent income as well as building schools and enabling access to safe drinking water. They do still use plastic, but they believe that it used responsibly then it can be sustainable. They work with a community trade project in India to source recycled plastic – helping to tackle the plastic problem while also working with plastic pickers who have access to all the amazing benefits I mentioned above. Working with a Plastics for Change and local NGOs allows their waste pickers to receive a stable income, better working conditions and more opportunities.
This one should come as no surprise to anyone. Lush use as little packaging as possible where possible and nearly half their products can be taken home without any packaging. Where packaging is unavoidable, they try to use recycled materials. Around 90% of their packaging can be recycled currently and they’re working on that last 10%. Sustainable sourcing is also high on their list – they do not use palm oil at all in favour of more eco-friendly oils. Their website hints that they only collaborate with suppliers that respect the environment, animals and people living there. When it comes to manufacturing, they’re aiming to reduce energy and water consumption and specifically do not purchase energy from fracking companies. Lush accepts that sustainability is something that can always be improved on and in turn they want to use their buying power to drive change. I find it really interesting that it’s the most eco-friendly brands that make reference to the fact they aren’t perfect but are always trying their best, when other brands are trying much less and don’t talk about it.
They are always working to make their packaging as eco-conscious as possible. They use plant-based inks (Earthinks®) which are one of the most eco-friendly inks on the planet. They also use recyclable and recycled board in all their cartons. It’s a good start but it would be great to know a little more about their sourcing and manufacturing. As Beauty Pie tend to work directly with labs in various different countries, it would be really interesting to know how much they know or can influence sustainable policy when it comes to manufacturing. Because they do work with these international labs, there will be a fair amount of carbon emissions involved in shipping to the UK and US, so it would be great to know a bit more about what they’re doing to combat this.
Beautylish’s offering in the realm of affordable skincare is a line of a largely single ingredient products. All their bottled products come in glass packaging which are obviously much easier to recycle than plastic. They are starting to have a greater focus on their sourcing. The affordable skincare from Beautylish recently launched their Rosehip oil which was sustainably grown and hand-picked from the Patagonian Austral of Chile. By working directly with the growers, the brand can ensure that all parties are treated fairly and with respect, while also eliminating any markup from middlemen.
How to tell if a brand is sustainable
As consumers, we’re really reliant on brands sharing their sustainable policies. If they don’t share it, we can’t assume they’re doing it. Some companies share much more than others (BYBI, Body Shop) so we have a lot more insight into the brand and their practices. Personally I think brands should share what they’re doing and should want too as well! If brands have a particular focus on the environment, there is often a dedicated page for it on their site. If you Google the brand followed by sustainability, you might find the info you’re looking for. There might be info about it in their ethos, mission or on their about us page. To find out about ingredient sourcing, you can try each individual product page. If this information is missing completely… well you can guess what that means. Now that you’ve read all about brands that are doing the most, it will become very clear when you see brands doing the very least.
This list is by no means definitive. I’m sure there are many more brands that have sustainable sourcing practices, but they may not be as well known or well publicised.
In the coming years, I think sustainable sourcing, manufacturing and packaging will become a staple for all new brands coming to the market, but it will take quite a long time for the bigger brands to make this change. In my mind, this is fairly comparable to cruelty free products – every new brand that emerges now is cruelty free but the conglomerates are much slower to react. Just because a brand has recyclable packaging doesn’t make them eco-friendly. As the founders of BYBI said, it is the very least that any brand should be doing. People are starting to question eco-policies deeper and it’s only through this questioning that things will really change.
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