Makeup and skincare aficionados know — we’re living in an exciting time. An abundance of new brands, innovations and products to play around with out there can feel like the ultimate wonderland for a beauty lover. But there’s a price to pay. The caveat of having that many options is the waste that occurs as a result, especially when so much of it ends up in the ocean.
The ban on microplastics and the introduction of reef-safe sunscreens over the years have undoubtedly helped decrease the damage done to our oceans. But there’s so much more that makes an impact, and it might not be as obvious until we really step back and take a long look. For example, imagine all the beauty products sitting in thousands of stores and on the shelves and in cabinets of hundreds of thousands of people. Then visualize the packaging it’s housed and wrapped in, especially if it happens to be made from plastic. As Zero Waste Week reports, upwards of 120 billion units of beauty product packaging were produced globally in 2018. That’s an incredibly vast amount of mascara tubes, lipsticks, and jars of face cream just hanging around on the planet.
According to a recent assessment by the UNEP (UN Environment Programme), plastic pollution in oceans and other marine areas could more than triple by 2040. Considering that the report also states that plastics account for 85 percent of marine litter, the revelation is terrifying. Which is why Blue Beauty, a movement from the beauty industry that focuses on protecting the oceans, brings a glimmer of hope.
Read ahead to learn more about Blue Beauty, and what you can do to support it.
About the Experts:
The concept of Blue Beauty was born in 2018 by Jeannie Jarnot, the founder of Beauty Heroes, as a way to highlight the beauty brands who went beyond green beauty by finding ways to lessen the impact done to oceans and the environment.
As Christin Powell, the co-founder and CEO of Kinship, explains, “Blue Beauty is a sustainability movement specifically focused on reducing the negative impact of beauty products and packaging on our oceans and marine life. It's about cleaning up our oceans by using reef-safe and ocean-safe ingredients, adopting a zero-waste policy and offering refillable and reusable packaging options.”
The good news is, more and more cosmetic brands are committing to Blue Beauty. Aside from using safer formulas and refillable packaging, some are even implementing more sustainable manufacturing practices.
Though Blue Beauty and Green Beauty are similar in that they are oriented towards sustainability and have a nature-first approach, Blue Beauty has a heightened purpose. “While green beauty focuses on using clean, sustainably-sourced ingredients that are better for our skin and our environment, blue beauty focuses specifically on the impact of beauty ingredients and packaging on our ocean life and marine systems,” says Powell. “Both are intimately connected to our personal health.”
If it isn’t obvious from all the data out there about the environment, Blue Beauty is something that should be on the forefront of all of our minds. “I believe that to be truly green you must be blue,” says Joshua Onysko, founder of Pangea. “As we move forward as an industry we must hold ourselves accountable to making the best choices for the earth. The earth is the start and end of all supply chains and it requires us to produce products with respect for that understanding.”
Ultimately, the brands and corporations have the biggest part to play in helping to reduce the harm being done to marine life. But there are things that we can all do to support the Blue Beauty movement. Onysko says the first thing is to truly go plastic-free. “We now know that plastic recycling is for the most part not solving our plastic problem, as many plastics are not actually recyclable,” he explains. “We should also choose to support brands that have strict ecological practices in place when they are harvesting ingredients from the sea. And lastly, choosing organic ingredients in products ensures our streams, rivers, and lakes are not impacted by industrial agricultural run-off (which all ends up in our oceans).”
Powell suggests educating yourself about sustainable packaging. “Each person’s actions make a huge difference cumulatively. Purchase packaging that is recyclable or re-usable or biodegradable, and be mindful of overconsumption. Many brands are starting to offer larger size options that can help us purchase less plastic,” she says. She says that political action is extremely important: “We need to call on our government to set legally binding targets to radically reduce single-use plastic production and the use of plastic bags, and have an independent watchdog enforce the targets.”
Izzy launched early this year with its debut product, the world’s first zero-waste, clean, and vegan-friendly mascara, which comes in a 100 percent recyclable stainless steel tube. The brand offers a membership option for customers to mail back their empty mascara tubes to get cleaned and refilled for the next customer.
Kinship is another beauty brand that had Mother Earth in mind from the get-go. The brand’s mission is to raise awareness about the connection between health and beauty through sustainable products and experiences, and to educate people so they can make informed choices and collectively, change the future of our world. As part of Kinship's commitment to sustainability, they use a minimum of 50 percent recycled plastic (PCR), and are working towards 100 percent. They also use plant-based ingredients (instead of harmful chemicals like mineral oil, microbeads, silicones, and PEGS, as well as reef-safe ingredients in their sunscreen, and FSC-certified (sustainably-forested) and/or 100% recycled materials in its packaging. Finally, Kinship has a goal of becoming climate neutral certified by the end of this year.
All of the ingredients used in Pangea’s products are plant-based and organic, and its packaging is 100% sustainable and infinitely recyclable (aluminum and glass). They believe that every product they create must serve a purpose in creating a positive impact, for consumers, the industry, and the earth. With the launch of their new Pangea Bodycare collection in sustainable packaging this year, they created a seal called #lifeafterplastic that includes a turtle icon, and is 100% free to use when your packaging contains no plastic. Pangea’s goal is that the industry adopts this seal to make it easier for consumers to choose plastic-free products.
Mara Beauty is inspired by the ocean, so it only makes sense that it would be focused on saving it. Blue Beauty. The brand uses recyclable packaging components, has an eco-conscious manufacturing process, and also uses ingredients that are both safe for consumers and the planet.
Since its launch in 2005, the skincare and makeup brand has been a pioneer of eco-conscious beauty. The majority of its packaging uses sustainable and recyclable materials, and the brand is currently converting all plastic bottles to recycled plastic. Additionally, all products are manufactured in the US and 75 percent of its Organic Farm is solar-powered, with plans for the entire farm operation to be soon.
The skincare and bodycare brand is aimed at conserving and protecting the oceans through zero-waste packaging and Blue Biotechnology, which allows them to use marine ingredients that are reproduced in a lab without having to harvest from the sea.
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