Sustainability and being green is not only about the environment, but also about leading a healthy lifestyle. Personal care products are something we all use every day, whether it is a soap, shampoo, deodorant, mascara or makeup powder. By being aware of product ingredients and how they were produced, we can make a difference and push cosmetic companies to act more sustainably.
The list of the ingredients in beauty and personal care products is usually long and contains complicated chemical names that a lot of us cannot even pronounce. Those toxic components have influence both on the nature and our body, they are linked to serious diseases and they can have negative impact on the environment.
Less is More: Our first suggestion is to follow the principle of less is more. Use the products that have fewer ingredients, therefore minimizing the possibility of using hazardous chemicals. A product with 6 ingredients is a better option than one that has 16 ingredients.
Ingredients to Avoid: The list of ingredients to avoid is long and includes one that are bad for the environment (not biodegradable) and bad for your health (linked to tumour growth and skin irritation). Parabenes, phthalates and fragrances are only few examples of ingredients found in many beauty products that have harmful effects. For further information, you can try the ThinkDirty application which shows you the ingredients of the products and information about its safeness. Another option is to simply cross-check the ingredients with this Chemicals Of Concern Database.
You can find a lot of products saying it is “bio”, “eco” or “organic” and many of us believe those labels as fact without clear evidence of real environmental consideration. Greenwashing is “when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact”. The cosmetic industry is mostly self-regulated, therefore it is common for companies to label their product organic or green when it has only a very small fraction of certified organic or natural ingredients.
Avoid General Expressions: Do not trust the common words such as “natural” and “green” since many companies use those general terms only for marketing and it’s easy for companies to make those claims without any proof to back up their statements.
Check for the Certification: In order to not get greenwashed, check for a genuine certification on the packaging. Certifications like Ecocert, COSMOS or EWG are provided by independent reviewers who provide an objective rating of a products environmentally friendliness. Because these organizations are independent, their sticker of approval is one thing that cannot be misinterpreted or biased.
Use your Voice: In the age of social media, there are many places where you can leave your comments and thoughts about companies and their green policies. Let them know that you are aware of their actions, both good and bad. You can vote for green products with your wallet. You should also take the important step to make sure companies take responsibility and know consumers want them to act more sustainably. Soon we will release a GreenAdvisor application, where you can share your review for the benefit of others.
SUSTAINABILITY OF COMPANIES
Choose wisely the company you buy the products from. It is not only about finding healthy products but also about finding the companies who are responsible of the manufacturing of these products in more sustainable ways.
Cruelty-Free: Make sure the product is not tested on animals. There are many companies who use the “not tested on animals” logo however they are ordering other companies to do it for them or buy ingredients from the suppliers who use animal testing. By using animals to test products at any step in the manufacturing process, a company shows disrespect to the nature. Put your support behind companies who have respect for the environment and the creatures in it. You can find the list of cruelty-free companies from here.
Social Responsibility: Make yourself aware of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities and how they give back to society. These actions could be support for green initiatives or help for those in need. There are some good examples world-wide, such as Avon fighting cancer and Yves Rocher planting trees for greener planet.
Green Policies: Find out also about the company’s environmental practices. It can be as obvious as their packaging; using recycled materials or paper instead of plastic are good indicators of environmental practices. You can also do your own research on your favourite companies to find out if their manufacturing process is transparent, if their distribution system is efficient and reducing carbon-output and so on.
It’s an unfortunate reality that there are many hazardous chemicals in the products we use every day. However, if you consider these eight items, next time when buying a shampoo or deodorant you will be able to make wiser decisions, support the companies who care for our planet, and push for environmental change!