Will 2018 go down as the year that the world got woke about the impact our beauty regimes are having on the planet? Sure, products containing microbeads were declared public enemy #1 last year but it’s only May and we’ve already seen wipes, glitter and sun cream slammed for their distinct lack of green credentials.
Yes, whichever way you spin it, it looks like our beauty regimes are an environmental disaster be it building a fatberg, bleaching coral or turning our oceans into plastic soup. And with a new scandal breaking seemingly every week, it’s my opinion that as an industry, instead of wasting energy disputing it, we need to collaborate and innovate to address these issues. And we need to do it now.
That’s why we were delighted to hear of L’Occitane and TerraCycle’s new recycling program, which incentivises shoppers to recycle their beauty empties by offering a discount to those who bring their bottles into store. Yes, they aren’t the first to encourage recycling in this way – both MAC and Lush have been giving freebies for a set number of empties for a while now while Garnier runs an annual Rinse, Recycle, Repeat campaign – but it is encouraging to see a retailer offer this kind of incentive for empties from any brand.
Equally Lush’s focus on sustainable and packaging-free beauty is laudable and we’re encouraged to see several major FMCG manufacturers, P&G and Henkel included, jump on board the post-consumer plastic bandwagon. Let’s hope the momentum builds and elements that make it hard for consumers to do the right thing such as caps and pumps made of different, non-recyclable materials to the bottle are phased out completely.
But let’s face it – there is such a myriad of issues, so many factors to take into consideration and so many unknowns in the purchasing decision equation, it is virtually impossible for even the most informed consumer to work out which is the most environmentally friendly product. If we are to take the health of our planet seriously, we also need to look at ways to help consumers make informed choices.
The UK food industry has its traffic light system to help shoppers understand the health implications of the food they are buying (albeit still a voluntary scheme). And, as my colleague Louise mentioned last week, Sephora is set to usher in its ‘clean at Sephora’ stamp to help consumers navigate ingredients at a glance. But there is no equivalent for sustainable products. Should we bring in a green rating for every consumer product? There is no denying that the traffic light system has prompted the food industry to do better with several of the major players ditching sugar, salt and fat left, right and center. It’s also interesting to see who has fought against it… After all, as the old adage goes, if you’ve got nothing to hide…
I think a labelling system that rated every beauty product on a sustainability scale for ingredients, manufacturing and packaging would be a huge step towards to turning our beauty routines green.