It's not easy being green
Posted on 3rd April 2020 at 14:53
Whilst Coronavirus consumes our thoughts for very good reasons, let's not lose sight of other important global issues.
Between 2006-2009 Dick Strawbridge (more latterly of ‘Escape to The Chateau’ fame) presented the reality TV show ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green' documenting the trials and tribulations of converting to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It was my favourite viewing of the time. Even earlier, Kermit the Frog was singing the same message - although most certainly for very different reasons! Fast-forward to 2020 and you’d hope that we would have cracked ‘being green’ by now but instead the environment has descended into crisis. We see heartbreaking news bulletins from Australia where the fires have caused mass destruction to people and wildlife and here in the UK where flooding has been equally devastating. We can no longer ignore plastic pollution and how it is impacting our oceans and yet ‘being green’ is still proving to be a great challenge.
Since producing my first skincare products 15 years ago I have tried to be as ‘green’ as possible. I have researched and tested glass and aluminium packaging, had a very brief foray into recyclable plastic (it definitely has it’s benefits in terms of cost, availability, ease of use and potential for kerb-side recycling), and encouraged purchasers to reuse wherever possible. The legislation regarding cosmetic products and their packaging is vast and, trust me, it makes it very difficult to ‘be green’.
Despite all the hurdles I have persevered and over the past 3 years I have been testing out biodegradable, home-compostable cardboard packaging and reviewing just about all the other packaging options available. I’ve even tried making my own, unsuccessfully I’m afraid! In the process I’ve ruled out a lot of vegetable/sugar-based options (only recyclable in specialist facilities which aren’t easily accessible), bioplastics (recycling potential is currently poor and most of it ends up in landfill), cardboard tubes from China (cheap but with unknown paper sources potentially containing illegally harvested rainforest wood), cardboard tubes from America (brilliant but prohibitively expensive, subject to high import duties and air freighted here – not good – in the relatively small quantities I require) and recyclable plastics which as a country we are shipping out as waste to developing parts of the world where they are likely to be burned rather than recycled releasing toxic gasses and contaminating water supplies. Experts estimate that 20% to 70% of plastic entering recycling facilities around the globe is discarded because it is unusable – clearly not a green option.
I’ve reassessed my use of glass and aluminium too. Both are infinitely reusable and recyclable BUT the recyclable aluminium lids contain EPE liners and you’ve guessed it, these are a form of plastic. Recyclable plastic yes, but needing specialist handling which is not easy to access… I’ve asked my suppliers if I could buy the lids with no liners – not possible I’m told and whilst I used to be able to guarantee that the glass and aluminium jars were produced in the UK or Europe, this is no longer always the case.
Last year I came across a UK manufacturer of biodegradable and home compostable cardboard packaging that conforms to the highest standards of production, and uses fully traceable FSC paper. I have been trialling their products since and pardon the pun, they tick all the boxes. The downsides (and inevitably there are some) are cost per item and minimum order quantities – both high for a small producer like myself, but as far as I am concerned there is currently no better option and I have been formulating new products that are compatible with this packaging.
Whilst packaging is obviously important from an environmental point of view, it’s the raw ingredients that go into the products that are crucial to get right. Not only are environmental issues important in this respect but so are the potential benefits to the skin and overall health. For the past year I have been working on a new range of products and Minimise will be launching soon. The formulas have been submitted for approval and as soon as these are finalised the packaging (which also needs to be assessed in combination with the products) will be ordered.
Minimise has been formulated to be kind to the skin and to the planet. Using minimal, high quality, beneficial ingredients that moisturise and hydrate the skin even when used in very small amounts, and minimal eco-friendly packaging, it is a skincare range for a brighter and more sustainable future.
Tagged as: Skin care
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