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Beauty Products and the Environment

Posted on Monday, October 11, 2010 by Sustainability Committee by Jennifer Lefebvre


 Many of us have attempted to make small changes in our lives to combat the current climate situation, be more eco-friendly, and to support environmentally friendly movements.  Another area to consider is in our use of beauty products.

The thought of using chemicals on and in our bodies makes us really stop and think.  Organic and natural beauty products are on the rise.  An increasing number of beauty products are being created using natural plant extracts and oils which are gentler to our skin than harsh, artificial chemicals.  When shopping for beauty products, some things to look for are companies which avoid testing on animals, companies who use recycled materials, and labels which display full lists of ingredients.  Just like you would read a food label, make sure you are using beauty products which are labeled, as well.  Some ingredients to avoid include:  mercury, thimerosal, formaldehyde, and petroleum.  These are toxic not only to our bodies but also to the environment.  Be wary, however, as the beauty industry does not currently have strict labeling guidelines.  If a product says that it is natural because it contains flower extracts, it does not mean that it does not also contain other harsh chemicals.  In 2005 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognized certification for personal-care products but few have earned that status.  “If you want something that’s truly chemical-free, look for the USDA seal on the label,” says Joseph Smillie, whose private agency, Quality Assurance International, certifies organic products for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Fitness Magazine lists some of the best eco-friendly beauty products including shampoo and makeup.

Beauty product companies have begun to realize it is their social and environmental responsibility to be a part of improving our current climate situation.  In June 2010, Avon Products, Inc. launched its Hello Green Tomorrow Campaign.  Avon pledged to plant two million trees, helping to restore one of the most significantly endangered ecosystems in the world, the Atlantic Rainforest in South America.  “The two million trees we are planting represent the initial milestone in what will be an ongoing global environmental mobilization effort,” said Andrea Jung, Avon’s chairman and chief executive officer.  “This comprehensive Hello Green Tomorrow initiative reflects the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship and to doing our part to protect our planet for the next generation.”  Avon has partnered with The Nature Conservancy in support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Plant for the Planet:  Billion Tree Campaign.  The Nature Conservancy will plant and monitor the restored forest.  Avon also pledged the Avon Paper Promise, with the goal of purchasing 100% of its paper from certified and or post consumer recycled content within 10 years.

If purchasing environmentally friendly beauty products is important to you, shop around, and read labels.  These products may not only be good for you, but good for the environment, as well.




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