We live in a world in which unsustainable practices are so ubiquitous many people don’t even think about them. We just grab our plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner, plastic-wrapped foods, and plastic containers of lipstick and eyeshadow off of shelves where nearly everything is packaged in (you guessed it) plastic. Nearly all (70%) that plastic ends up in landfills or water.
In fact, the problem is so severe that plastic is expected to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050. And according to Zero Waste, the cosmetics industry contributes 120 billion units of plastic to the problem every year.
But as bad as the plastic problem is, it’s not the only way conventional beauty products contribute to unsustainable practices. Here’s why sustainable beauty matters.
The beauty industry often focuses more on fancy packaging than sustainability or even utility, generating a huge amount of waste each year. As we mentioned before, much of the waste is plastic, which makes its way into waterways, polluting the environment and posing a hazard to animals. It’s also problematic for people. According to Conservation International, seafood is the principal source of protein for three out of seven people worldwide. When fish and other marine animal populations suffer, so do the people who depend on them.
While you may think of animal testing as more of a cruelty than sustainability issue, it turns out that animal testing is also extremely resource-intensive, with the average research facility requiring 10 times as much energy as a standard office would use. Plus, the chemicals tested on animals find their way back into the environment when the bodies of the animals are disposed of. Additionally, the sourcing of the animals themselves is unsustainable, with many, like long-tailed and rhesus macaques, being taken from the wild.
Many of the ingredients that go into cosmetics are harmful to the environment, other species, and us. For example, parabens, triclosan, and oxybenzone are endocrine disruptors, and oxybenzone is linked with the destruction of coral reefs. Other chemicals like sodium laureth sulfate, BHA, and BHT reduce plankton populations and negatively impact the biochemistry of aquatic animals.
Deforestation and Exploitation
Whether for packaging or ingredients, the beauty industry is responsible for a great deal of deforestation and exploitation. For example, the demand for palm oil has led to a huge amount of rainforest deforestation. Sadly, orangutans, who depend on rainforest habitats for survival and are already endangered, are killed at the rate of 1,000 to 5,000 per year to make way for palm oil production. And other ingredients, like mica, which is used to make eyeshadow and other cosmetics shine, put members of our own species at risk. Mica is frequently mined by children, who suffer respiratory conditions from inhaling the dust, and, all too frequently, die when mines collapse.
We only have one Earth, so we need to carefully use its resources without harming the environment, animals, or people with whom we share it. That’s why we don’t test on animals and never use harmful chemicals or plastic packaging. Instead, we use biodegradable and recyclable packaging and natural ingredients that are easily renewed, like Longsheng Rice and bamboo. And we pay close attention to sourcing, including paying a 100% markup for our Longsheng rice so growers won’t feel the need to engage in unsustainable practices to make more money.
We all need to do our part to make a sustainable future, so we hope you’ll join us in making sustainable beauty choices. Learn more about our commitment to sustainability here.