Get Clean on What Sustainability Means in Beauty

Truly the new buzzword in beauty is sustainability. In the science world, sustainability is described as the long-term environmental, social, and ethical use of natural resources. But in beauty, just like the terms ‘natural’ and ‘clean’, there is no legal definition, and claiming that a beauty product is ‘sustainable’ leads to a lot of assumptions.

🕵️‍♀️ Let’s break down what goes into creating a truly sustainable product. Sustainability is a long-term systematic process that includes all of the steps a company takes to create a product and the impact that each of those steps has on the long-term health of our planet. Sustainability goes beyond recyclable packaging – it’s the entire footprint of a product from start to finish. It begins with how the ingredients are grown, processed, and manufactured — factoring in environmental impact, including animal welfare — and ends with whether the ingredients are biodegradable as they travel back to our soil, water supply, and oceans.

🌱 Achieving environmental sustainability requires many moving parts, and one of the most critical is maintaining soil health. The USDA describes soil as “an intricate symbiotic ecosystem (that) can be managed to support plants and animals.” This fragile living ecosystem can be destroyed by the use of toxic and synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other harmful chemicals, which are currently used in non-organic conventional farming. By contrast, organic farmers follow approved, sustainable production methods and do not use toxic agrochemicals, which helps to maintain a healthy soil ecosystem.

🌱 Beyond farming, the methods in which plant ingredients are obtained and produced can have a long-term impact on the environment. Palm oil—which is used in almost half of all consumer goods—is causing widespread rainforest deforestation and forcing the extinction of many native animal species. At Nourish Organic, we have chosen not to use palm oil or its derivatives because of its unsustainable origins.

🌱 Biodegradability is another key factor that is paramount for the protection of the environment. We have already seen the harmful damage that sunscreen ingredients Oxybenzone and Octinoxate (now banned in Hawaii) have afflicted on our delicate coral reef ecosystems. Other toxic chemicals that severely damage our aquatic and soil ecosystems include silicones, synthetic fragrances, and synthetic preservatives (including Phenoxyethanol). Certified Organic ingredients, on the other hand, are minimally processed and are biodegradable in water and/or soil.

Thoroughly sustainable brands aim for these eco-labels 👉 recyclable, biodegradable, cruelty-free certification from Leaping Bunny, certification for good business practices (like Fair Trade or B-Corp), and USDA or NSF Organic Certification – all of which require brands to comply with strict guidelines that create a true corporate sustainability ethos.

Striving to be 100% sustainable is something we at Nourish Organic are very passionate about. Our 3rd-party certifications provide transparency to our sustainable ingredient growth and production practices. And although our current packaging is 100% recyclable, our goal is to fully incorporate biodegradable plastics and paper into our packaging by no later than 2024.

The adoption of all of these strategies is critical to maintain true sustainability. All companies have the responsibility to make sure that the products we create for beauty also respect and protect the beauty of our planet. 🌎

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