I think that everyone has a different idea of what sustainable really means. But I've understood sustainability as the ability to be sustained over a long period of time. In order to be sustainable, a process or product must take everything into consideration, such as the environmental impact and the welfare of the people involved.
In the (almost) three years that I've been writing this blog, I've seen a shift in the green beauty community from focusing on the ingredients (which are still important) to focusing on the bigger picture. For something to be considered green beauty it's got to be made of clean ingredients and cruelty free, but those ingredients also need to be ethically and sustainably sourced.
What is Sustainable Beauty?
Sustainable beauty brands take everything into consideration when formulating their products. They find ways to source ingredients without harming the people or the planet.
Some of the ways brands can incorporate sustainable practices include looking for ways to source locally, reducing the environmental pollution involved in transporting goods. Brands can look for organic and quality ingredients, which are also often less harmful to the planet. They can ensure the people involved, from beginning to end, are paid fairly. They can use eco-friendly packaging, like compostable containers or glass bottles.
To put it more simply, sustainable beauty ensure that farms and communities are not destroyed. Instead, sustainable practices actually foster more healthy farmlands and vibrant communities.
How Can We Ensure Ethical + Sustainable Sourcing?
It may seem overwhelming to have to figure out which brands are sustainable. But I find the easiest way is to ask. Contact brands and ask where they source ingredients, how they source materials, and if they're certified in any way. If a brand can't help you, they're probably not the most sustainable brand out there.
Another thought is that if a brand incorporates sustainable practices, they're going to be proud of it, and they'll want to tell you. If you have to really search for the information, that's not the best sign.
There are also ways that you as a consumer can tell if something is sustainably sourced. Labels like organic and Fair Trade can give you more insight into the sourcing process.
What Green Beauty Brands are Sustainable?
I'd hate to give you all of these thoughts on sustainable beauty without giving you some brands to look into. This is by no means a thorough list of every sustainable beauty brand in the world, but these are some of my favourites, and ones that I really trust.
(Full Disclosure: I am an ongoing contributor at MMT. But that's also how I know a lot about their sourcing practices, from where they source ingredients to their fair trade labels. You can read my work here.)
All of their ingredients are fair trade or direct trade, and their argan oil is sourced from a woman's cooperative in Morocco. Read about their argan oils here.
Organic and fair trade Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible. If you're local to Toronto, you can also return the packaging, making UA a zero waste alternative to traditional beauty products. Read about their body balm here.
How are you including sustainable beauty in your every day routines?