Almost always, the first ingredient listed on your beauty products’ ingredient lists is water. As the beauty industry’s most commonly-used ingredient, there have been many concerns that this use of water might not be sustainable. And it’s not just the amount of water that is present in your products, but also the amount of water that is used in the manufacturing process. As a titan in the beauty industry, L’Oréal is aiming to reduce the environmental footprint of its plants and distribution centres by 60 per cent by 2020, including water consumption and carbon dioxide emission. And when it comes to animal testing for countries like China, L’Oréal has been working alongside the authorities to push for alternative testing methods so as to reduce and eventually eliminate animal testing. For example, it has opened an Episkin Centre in Shanghai in 2014 to manufacture reconstructed human skin models that can be used for product testing.
Every June, in association with World Ocean Day, La Mer launches a Blue Heart Limited Edition Creme de la Mer to raise funds for its Blue Heart Ocean Fund. Set up over a decade ago, the Blue Heart Ocean Fund has been working with advocates, explorers and scientists to support ocean conservation efforts around the world. Most recently in 2018, the Fund focused on the protection of the Azores Islands, Grenada and the East China Sea.
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Beyond being purveyors of fresh, handmade beauty products, the company has long been an advocate of reducing waste and recycling, including introducing “naked products”, which uses zero packaging. The company also has an ethical buying policy, supporting Fair Trade and Community Trade initiatives and ensuring that suppliers they work with pay fair wages and have safe labour practices. And in the process of manufacturing, the company maximises resources used, doesn’t use genetically modified ingredients and does not practice animal testing. Lush Cosmetics also commits to using green transport, minimising air-freight of products wherever possible, and choosing trains over planes for staff transport when feasible. They’ve also pledged to use green energy suppliers where available and buy energy-saving equipment to optimise the company’s energy consumption.
For many of us, we regard many Australian beauty brands as leaders in natural and organic beauty. So it comes as no surprise that many of them are also pioneers in being sustainable. Jurlique, for example, has long been proud of its bio-dynamic farm in Adelaide, where it employs farming practices that wholly respect the natural balance of the elements, hence eliminating the use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers. But its efforts do not stop just there as it aims to reuse water and use solar power so as to achieve a reduction in emissions, water and energy.
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Known for its apothecary-like aesthetic, Aesop is an Australian skincare brand now widely available in cities all over the world. More than its effective formulas, Aesop also credits its growth to its brand philosophy of transparency. The FAQs section of the brand website contains answers to dozens of questions about ingredients the products contain. For example, while some of their products contain palm oil, they use only sources that are certified sustainable. The products are also formulated without colourants, mineral oils, silicones and parabens while it uses recyclable materials in their packaging. The company also does not conduct animal testing and only works with suppliers who are cruelty-free.
Neal’s Yard Remedies
Since its launch in 1981, Neal’s Yard Remedies has been adopting sustainable and ethical business practices. From becoming certified organic, being carbon neutral and giving back to local communities where ingredients are sourced, the UK-based brand has been a leader in sustainability. It works with organisations like World Land Trust and Makira Project to protect nature reserves and endangered species. All paper bags it uses are made of 100 per cent recycled paper and moving forward, it has also pledged to use only recycled plastic by 2025.
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If you notice, Dior has reduced the amount of packaging used in its products, including removing excess cardboard and paper leaflets. Not only does that directly reduce waste, it also enables more effective shipment of products as the size and weight of cargo are now reduced. Water consumption has also been reduced by 71 per cent in seven years and nearly 70 per cent of waste produced is now recycled. In addition, Dior also sources 90 per cent of its resources used in product packaging from forests that have been certified sustainable by PEFC, an international certification body that promotes sustainable forest management.