At In Cosmetics Global this year there was a lot of talk about how the beauty industry is dealing with sustainability and I kept hearing the phrase ‘do more with less’. So in this week’s blog I want to go a little deeper into the sustainability challenge and look in detail at why you should do more with less and how you can encourage your customers to do the same.
Sustainability is THE biggest challenge we face as an industry and each and every one of us, regardless of our size or revenue MUST do all we can to reduce our impact on the environment and help and guide our customers to be more green. There has been a lot of talk around these topics at events over the last few years but this year at In Cosmetics there was much more urgency to the debate. The time for talking is most certainly over and it is very much the time for action and results.
When we look into the future we are facing increasing scarcity; scarcity of water, scarcity of ingredients and scarcity of materials. All of these are a result of global environmental issues and will affect each and every one of us, according to Seymour Powell a global design and innovation consultancy who gave a talk at In Cosmetics. As founders of beauty brands you need to start thinking around these issues now and working out how you can innovate and adapt within your business to deal with the challenges and help alleviate their impact.
Let’s have a look at each of these areas of scarcity and see how you can do more with less and make a difference.
Right now around 783 million people don’t have access to safe water and by 2025 it’s estimated that one in 2 people will live in water stress. Shocking right?! The beauty industry has traditionally been water heavy but that has to change. Unilever, L’Oreal and Proctor and Gamble have all made a commitment to reduce their water usage. As Formula Botanica point out in their informative blog, waterless beauty is impossible, but water responsible beauty is definitely an option. As indie founders you need to be thinking about how you can formulate products that don’t use a lot of water to produce and that can be used without excessive amounts of water.
You can also do your bit to educate your followers on the water crisis and encourage them to do what they can to limit their usage. Colgate recently used a prime time advertising slot during the Super Bowl to highlight the need to switch off the tap when you clean your teeth.
and a number of brands and magazines have got behind campaigns to turn the shower off while you shave or share a shower with your partner and even urinate in the shower!
During Seymour Powells talk they put this slide up highlighting that we don’t actually shower just because of cleanliness now days. We actually shower to help us relax, switch off and get comfortable. Gets you wondering how much water we waste doesn’t it?
(Apologies for the quality of the pics in this blog. They are hastily grabbed shots of slides as they appeared during the presentation at In Cos. Their message is just too important not to include though.)
How can you be doing more with less water?
Issues around water and unsustainable farming methods mean ingredients are going to become more limited. As beauty founders you are also responsible for the carbon footprint of your ingredients. Should you really be using that nut that has to travel thousands of miles from Brazil? Isn’t there something equally as good available locally?
The challenge facing you as a founder of the future is to reformulate your products to include ingredients that are farmed sustainably and produced locally while still maintaining the quality and efficacy your customers adore. You have to think about doing more with less! One way Seymour Powell suggested you could do this was to design formulations that shock and surprise your customers into feeling they are getting more. Innovation, sustainability, efficacy and originality are the new focus of formulation.
I’m talking packaging here. Our industry is a huge producer of single use plastics and it has to stop. You have a responsibility to get creative with your packaging and encourage recycling, upcycling or just get rid of it all together.
Here are a few ideas of how you can do more with less packaging;
Lush have a packaging less oil bar. When you buy it they simply wrap it in a small sheet of paper.
Consumer desire for less packaging can be clearly seen in the rise of the bar soap. What was considered unfashionable and unhealthy just a few years ago is now seeing sales on an unprecedented level. L’Occitane sold around 2 million bar soaps in the UK in 2018 and Lush a whopping 9 million. Many heritage and prestige brands such as Chanel, Tom Ford, Jo Malone and Sisley have added bar soaps to their range.
Can you get rid of some of your packaging?
You could also offer a circular packaging scheme like Awake Organics, where your customers can return empty bottles and jars for you to clean and reuse. I recently interviewed Melissa, the founder of Awake on Indie Beauty TV. It’s a fabulous episode and Melissa speaks openly and honestly about exactly what you need to do to set up a similar scheme. In fact she states that she wants people to follow her lead. The power comes and the difference is really felt when everybody takes action. Melissa shows that this kind of scheme is achievable for every brand now matter your size, revenue or budget. Melissa has worked out that if she recycles 500 units of packaging in a year she will be reduce CO2 emissions be a whopping 4.5 tonnes. That’s the equivalent of 4 acres of forest absorbing CO2 for 12 months. And let’s be clear here that’s just 500 jars! Now I want you to stop for a moment and imagine the impact if you and every other brand in our industry implemented one of these schemes. How many thousands of jars could we recycle and how many tonnes of CO2 emissions could we cut?
Our industry has never faced such great and urgent challenges before. As indie brand founders you have the passion, the agility and the innovation to change this business. You can become the vanguard, the mavericks, the changemakers. You have the power to influence the legacy brands, force change and make a difference.
So my challenge to you today is how can you do more with less?!
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While you’re here why not check out some of my other blogs. Here’s one to get you started.