Is Sustainability Possible in the Beauty Industry?
2050 appears to be the year of no return for the world as we know it according to experts. Research suggests that unless we do something drastic collectively in the next 10-15 years, we will cause irreversible damage to the planet never seen before.
With the world looking at itself in the mirror and deciding how we can all play our part in climate change, the question gets asked around capitalism the most… is it possible, likely, or even necessary for a capitalist society to be sustainable?
There are so many layers to this question because you firstly must trace the source of each industry’s raw material make up and then decide, almost based on math alone, to determine if it’s possible for such an industry to exist in the next 100-200 years. Taking the timber industry as a short example, if a tree is cut down the general assumption is that more are planted in its place and successively being planted, but what if the demand for timber sales goes up and there’s a global surge to supply more, what then happens? Do timber companies acquire more land to plant more trees, do they raise the price of timber overall or do they simply say we don’t have it, leaving their competitors to mop up any business crumbs. The truth is, no situation is ideal for that business without compromising on something, whether that be financial or moral. The question is, what would they chose to do?
The same can be said for the beauty industry. The last decade has seen a boom in the more ‘conscious shopper’ where we’re taking more time to check our morals before checking our purse strings when buying products these days. Is this healthy for my skin? Was it tested on animals? Is this plastic packaging ever going to decompose? What’s the carbon offset for this product? Some of the questions we’ve been asking ourselves over the past few years as the climate debate brings us more home truths.
With the natural/green side of the beauty industry set to reach an estimated $22 billion globally in 2024, more businesses are being created, as well as more demand for natural ingredients and packaging and delivery resources. As moral as it may seem for more consumers to become more ethically aware, the drive in the market could also encourage brands that are less worried about their environmental effects and more concerned with taking a piece of the profit pie. Does success to the industry mean poorer and more demanding working conditions for the female workforces crafting shea butter by hand? Or more plastic production of packaging that could path roads all over the world because it will never disintegrate?
In short, we think yes, there is a chance for sustainability in the beauty industry and all other industries for that matter, but there must be accountability on behalf of the planet that cannot speak our language. Caps may need to be put on certain businesses on how much can be mined. Scaled back hours of production to give the world time to recover. Governments bringing down the price of inflation across the board for those changes to have a lasting effect on a workforce that would struggle to live if they can’t afford to cut hours. There are way too many possibilities and even realities of what can make a critical situation worse but there are also many solutions to these issues, they just need to be considered first and agreed upon by most of us. We all have a part to play in these decisions, even if it’s a small part, we all live on this planet so should have a say.
We at Earth to Earth Organics will try to make as many of those planet-friendly decisions on our side as we can for a brighter tomorrow.