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How Beauty Can Help Navigate the Climate Crisis After COP26

How Beauty Can Help Navigate the Climate Crisis After COP26

the ingredients list

The Ingredients List – A breakdown of the what, where, and why of natural and environmentally-friendly beauty.

the ingredients list

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Is this product suitable for you? cruelty-free? Can I recycle this bottle Is this brand meeting my environmental standards? Beauty lovers are now more conscious of the environmental impact of beauty products before they make a purchase.

SustainableEthical and consciousBeauty has quickly become the gold standard in the industry. Independent and large-name brands alike are beginning to push sustainability to forefront. Partnerships with recyclingFrom Terracycle to month-long projects like Plastic Free July and moves to remove ingredients like palm oil in product lines, the beauty industry has undergone a major climate-focused overhaul.

As it stands, since 1950 only 9% of the world’s plasticRecycling has taken place. Around 12% is currently still burned, placing beauty –and all the plastic packaging that comes with it – firmly in the causation seat of an alarming majority of waste that ends up in landfills or out into nature (including plastic in our oceans). Due to this, cleaner, greener beauty has become an intrinsic part of the beauty industry’s future mandate. However, calls for more radical climate actions are growing. i.e the Climate Clock – conversations about sustainability and ‘cleaning’ up the industry desperately need to move beyond the ‘reuse, reduce, recycle’ line.

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Earlier this year, in an unprecedented effort to begin to ‘walk the walk’ and try to stem the impact of the global crisis that is climate changeNearly 120 world leaders gathered at Glasgow COP26. After the disappointing October G20 summit result, which saw leaders from the most powerful countries fail to agree on targets to end coal power, COP26 was hailed as a crucial stake in the ground for the fight to save the planet. Despite all the efforts of climate changemakers and grassroots activists, the outcome of the talks was less than reassuring. There was no immediate action taken and a lengthy wait on net neutrality. All in all, COP26’s lacklustre results were surmised by Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, as simply more, ‘blah, blah, blah.’

Since 1950 only 9% of the world’s plastic waste has been recycled.

Despite refillableParfums shampoo bar switches continuing to signify the beauty industry’s commitment to change from within, when put in context alongside COP26’s anti-climatic outcomes one message is clear: more needs to be done.

More than superficial greenwashing and temporary promises. A radical overhaul is needed that goes beyond promoting sustainable development. switchesFrom the top down. From the top down. In light of COP26 I think that the disappointment should fuel our change as brands. There isn’t one government or one organization that we can look at to solve the global climate crisis.

cop26 beauty industry

DANIEL LEAL

Woodruff says that instead, COP26 has served as a rallying call for a “continued effort and collaboration, looking into the science, because it is not a one-night-fix.” The founder says that the movement is both frustrating and a source of renewal for her brand. We need to work together with collectives like CodeRed4Climate in order to answer questions such as “How can we make it easier for consumers to make better choices about the environment?” When creating PLUS, Woodruff says they endeavoured to improve the eco credentials of one of beauty’s polluters – body wash.

Body washes can contain as much as 90% water. We thought about how to reduce this amount from a product perspective. waterIn ours? Woodruff says that by eliminating water from daily use products, a host green benefits were available. “Lesser product means less water and therefore produces fewer emissions in transit.” This also opened up the discussion about packaging. Since the product was dehydrated, we were able not to use plastic. This led to the creation of our FSC-paper dissolvable wrapper. Zero waste packaging that is ‘engaging, fun and magical and doesn’t feel like a compromise, or a sacrifice.’

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The practice of integrating sustainability from all angles is the best option for newly established beauty brands. However, it can be difficult to implement radical change in a more established brand. Chris Davis, Global head of Activism & Sustainability at The Body Shop says that systemic changes start with accountability. While we wait for regulation, brands can and should hold themselves accountable for doing more and better. He says that key stakeholders should be consulted, even if they are uncomfortable.

BCorp certification has been one of the ways that high street staples have begun to bridge sustainability gaps between customers and boards. After a thorough review, BCorp members must adhere to high standards. They must also be committed to profit and purpose. This concern and responsibility for the effects of their decisions affects employees, customers, suppliers and the community. It’s a step that Davis explains is just one part of the company’s commitment to ‘changing the system even if it equals more scrutiny about The Body Shops own practices.’

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Brands can and should hold themselves accountable for going farther and doing better.

A scaling up of change for big brands – who inevitability have a much larger impact on the current beauty waste production – is crucial for change within the beauty industry’s approach to the climate crisis. It’s a responsibility that Davis explains The Body Shop wont shy away from. “Our PET bottles, jars and other packaging now contain 100% recycled plastic. We have also increased the use recycled plastics to almost 30%. Plastics For Change, which uses recycled plastic from India that is Community Fair Trade, has also been partnered with the brand to help offset their impact. ‘Through this we’re supporting plastic “waste pickers” by providing better working conditions at a fair price.’

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PLUS, perhaps even more dramatically, says the brand’s Global Head of Activism and Sustainability, ‘By 2030 under Natura & Co’s Commitment To Life strategy, we hope that 100% of our packaging material will be reusable, recyclable or compostable and 50% of the plastic we use will be of recycled content.’

However, the unpicking and unlearning of our current beauty interactions won’t be an overnight change explains Woodruff. “I think there’s a very serious problem with the packaging in the beauty sector,” she says. The industry’s restructuring must be broad. ‘It’s on us as brands to continue to innovate, continue to do R&D and make it easier for customers to make better choices,’ she continues.

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It is no surprise that centennials have made it a point to make large-scale efforts to influence larger brands or businesses into changing their priorities. These efforts were led by activists Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate. Mikaela Lach, a UK-based campaigner. The Body Shop has also responded to this passionate call for change. During COP26, the brand held a joint event with B Lab -the organisation behind the B Corp stamp – called ‘Boardroom 2030’. The event’s aim? To show what it would be like for young people to be involved in decision making at board level. This is in preparation for The Body Shop’s announcement in 2022 of a Youth Board.

With unparalleled efforts from brands both big and burgeoning, change is clearly afoot and the future of beauty – sans ‘blah, blah, blah’ – is now.

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