How Ethical is Ethical Beauty?
Ethical beauty first came into the spotlight with Anita Roddick, who created the Body Shop. It's gaining momentum again. It is generally being driven by those who care about preserving our planet, good health and animal welfare. It might not be a coincidence, that in a world gone mad and with Trump trashing every global initiative that has taken decades to build, ethics are a hot topic again.
Raconteur have published a piece called Savvy Consumers call out Unethical Beauty Brands. It includes an Ethical Shopping Guide, where brands are scored on such things as organic, nuclear power, animal welfare, political donations, irresponsible marketing, genetically modified, public record criticisms, ethical accreditation, environmental report.
These are some observations;
• Very importantly to my mind, it does not measure how they treat human beings. The people who work for them, the people who's raw materials they purchase, the children who might be working in their supply chain, instead of being at school. Nor are they measured on their record of supporting women in the workplace e.g. senior positions and equal pay. I think human welfare is just as important as animal welfare. Do you remember a while ago there was huge coverage in the media about fashion retailers such as Primark who have very young children making their clothes. The programme highlighted Syrian refugees, as young as 7 (!!), being forced to work a 16 hour day for less than £1. The TV programme followed some of those children and found many in a terrible state of distress. Marks and Spencer were highlighted, along with luxury designer brands, who claim to make inspections of these factories. Despite they often use their social responsibility as a selling point in their marketing efforts, they claimed no knowledge of these appalling conditions and lack of human rights.??
• The largest beauty corporations, who highlight in their annual reports and advertising to their customers about their endeavours, tend to have the lowest ethical scores . They also make the most profit, are least reliant on third party manufacturers because they have their own plants and are most likely to sell in China, where submission to animal testing is mandatory. Even if they do not test on animals, they have agreed to animal testing on their products being conducted. They spend a lot of money telling you what a great job they are doing in these area's and how they support small communities in Africa. They craft clever press releases that justify their actions e.g. why they sell in China or how beeswax is exempt because bee's dong get hurt.
• Adding to my post on natural vs. chemical, natural is not necessarily sustainable or ethical, nor does it mean your skin won't react badly and nor does it mean it is more effective.
When I started the creation of MERUMAYA, my brief was the following:
• Avoid over packaging e.g. carton linings (except where there is glass), carton base inserts that the product 'nests' in, cello wrapping, double walled jars etc.
We have further to go on this journey and we will endeavour to improve. The truth is, all ethical and sustainability efforts help however, the bigger the player (and country America!), the more of an overall difference it makes to our planet, animals and the worlds population. And yet, I find that the smaller brands are often held to much higher standards in this area, than the larger corporates. People are still buying brands that sell in China, where agreeing to animal testing on your products is mandatory or, from corporates who own brands that sell in China. Even brands that launched with a standpoint of being natural, sustainable, ethical. Why is that? Is it because they are an influencing revenue stream for magazines. celebrities and influencers, due to advertising and endorsement payments?
What do you think?