By Hanna Pumfrey
The clean beauty movement is booming, as more of us are asking questions like: ‘What’s in our products?’ ‘How were they made?’ ‘Are they vegan friendly?’ Consumers are getting wiser to green marketing ploys, and are voting for cleaner beauty products with our wallets. The beauty industry is fully aware of this, and increasing numbers of brands are striving for certifications that prove they’re non-toxic. But no matter how organic a cosmetic may be, it’s still not all that easy being green – particularly when it comes to packaging.
And packaging matters. For all the current media hype about limiting plastic use from drinks bottles, food packaging and carrier bags, it’s awfully quiet in the world of beauty packaging. A whopping 50% of Brits don’t recycle bathroom waste such as shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles simply because it’s inconvenient, which means 2.7 billion plastic bottles hit landfill every year. And that’s not all: the cardboard that envelops perfumes, serums and moisturisers contributes to the loss of 18 million acres of forest each year.
In total, 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry, most of which goes un-recycled. And that doesn’t even count components that are difficult to recycle even if you wanted to, like the springs in pump bottles, mixed-material lids and metal-lined plastic tubes.
Unfortunately, for many consumers, elaborate packaging is a sign of a product’s effectiveness – but that’s usually not the case at all! For example, did you know that many lipstick cases are weighed down so that they feel more expensive and to give the impression that there’s more product in there? Or that in many cases, the metallic compact foundations and blushers come in costs much more than the cosmetic itself? Silly waste, if you ask us!
Luckily, we’ve found some popular clean beauty brands with greener packaging – these labels are shunning exterior packaging, plastic and are even creating gorgeous, refillable compacts.
1. REN Skincare
One brand that is determined to tackle their waste problem is REN skincare. The British brand still uses plastic, but has pledged to become a zero waste company by 2021 – not too far from now. For Earth Day this year, they created a 100% recycled bottle containing 20% reclaimed ocean plastic, and to further reduce their environmental impact, the current pump of their Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium bottles, which now contain a metal spring, will be replaced with a metal-free pump.
Aussie cosmetic label Zao are also undertaking a journey to be carbon neutral. The popular clean beauty brand is well known for its refillable bamboo compacts and uses packaging crafted from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper, printed with eco-friendly inks.
3. Kjaer Weiss
The much-loved luxury makeup brand carries the name of the celebrity makeup artist who launched the label. Kjaer Weiss makes packaging that’s so beautiful, it practically motivates beautyistas to buy these natural cosmetics for that alone! Each compact is 100% refillable, allowing you to get a big discount on products after you’ve made your initial purchase.
Of course, the best packaging is NO packaging, and that’s what Lush aims for with some of its products, such as its bath bombs, soaps and solid shampoo bars. The company recommends storing the bar in a metal tin, but we’d prefer an eco-friendlier option, like a ceramic dish.
5. Tata Harper
This high-end skincare and makeup brand made the conscious decision to reduce their carbon footprint by nixing the use of any boxes or outer packaging and housing their products in glass, not plastic, since the former is more easily recycled.
Sure, there’s still a long way to go, but what’s clear is that it’s obviously time for the beauty industry to get serious about packaging, and brands that don’t will be left behind. The move to greener packaging is a natural progression for the clean beauty movement, and we hope that soon, refillable cosmetics and 100% recycled packaging could well become the norm.
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