The Beauty Industry is Leaving an Ugly Mark on the Environment. We can Fix it

30 June 2021
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The words ‘beauty’ and ‘waste’ couldn’t be farther apart in meaning, but in reality, they’re pretty close. You see, the beauty industry creates 120 billion units of packaging every year, a lot of which is plastic (in 2018, almost 7.9 billion units of plastic were created for beauty products in the U.S alone).

This blog explores how you, as a consumer, or retailer, can make better choices without compromising your beauty routine, or bottom line. First up…

Think Before you Buy
We’re all for a great skincare routine. That skincare routine does not, however, need to consist of 8 different steps with 8 different products. Focus on what’s essential for your skin and try limiting your skincare routine to just 3 items (choosing products with fewer ingredients in them). An essential part of the circular economy is reducing what we consume, and by extension, reducing the amount of waste littering the earth. As a retailer, consider the lifecycle of each piece of single-use plastic that comes with each product you put on your shelves. Be intentional when choosing products for your store. Next…

Support Brands who Support the Environment
At this point, there’s really no reason not to. There are so many eco-friendly beauty options available now, from affordable, to high-end. There are well-known brands like Garnier, who’s Green Labs Serum Cream Collection is made in renewable electricity facilities powered by 59% renewable energy, or Paul Mitchell, who’s Clean Beauty collection offers 11 different hair care products packaged in Brazilian sugarcane.

Then there are newer brands, like Loli Beauty, where you’ll find products with ‘the purest, most potent, food-grade ingredients, hand-selected and responsibly sourced’ and who make their packaging with plants and fungi. How about stocking XO Balm in your store, a beauty brand that claims to have ingredients that are ‘as safe for the environment as they are good for the skin‘?

A quick internet search and you’ll find the green version of exactly what you’re looking for. Now, if you’re shopping for your beauty products online, support sites that offer plastic-free packaging options. If you’re a retailer with an e-commerce site, team up with companies like Loop or RePack (we’ve covered these companies a few times before) to make sure your products come in resilient and reusable packaging.

Reuse, Refill, Recycle
Choose Dove’s 0% aluminum refillable deodorant, and you help reduce 30 tons of plastic waste. Stock Colgate’s infinity toothbrush and you reduce 80% of the plastic in your customers’ toothbrushes. There are plenty of big brands offering simple and easy ways to help reduce waste. Check out Kiehl’s Recycle and be Rewarded program. All you have to do is bring your empties back to any Kiehl’s store and you’ll receive points per empty container. They also make it super easy if you don’t have a store near you by offering a collection service. This is the perfect example of making recycling convenient for consumers. Then there’s Back to Mac. Same premise, different prize (bring empty makeup packaging back to the store, get a free lipstick!).

Now, we know recycling can be tricky and time consuming. The best thing to do as a consumer, is read product labels and determine whether the packaging can be recycled using your curbside recycling bins. Do your research and check with your local recycling facility if you’re not 100% sure, or if the information on the label isn’t clear enough (while you’re at it, let the brand know that their labeling isn’t good enough. Use your voice for positive change!).

‘Return’ Responsibly
Did you know that around 8% of products bought in store are returned? That number goes up to 25% when products are bought online. Of that percentage, 22% comes from the beauty industry. Regardless of the reasons why these items are returned (mostly damaged or broken items, or incorrect product information), the outcome is the same. Those products cannot be resold, and usually end up in landfills.

As a retailer, you can choose software like Returnly to manage your post-purchase services. Returnly offers a Green Returns solution that uses data to make policy decisions when an item can’t be resold. Essentially, you can refund your customers by letting them keep the unwanted product (eliminating the need to ship it back to the warehouse, saving on carbon emissions, and keeping it out of landfills) and get in-store credit to buy a new product.

Our planet’s plastic waste crisis is everyone’s problem. It’s up to all of us to choose products in reusable or recyclable packaging. To take advantage of refill schemes and recycling initiatives. And, to buy less in general. Remember, when it comes to beauty products, less is more.




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