Packaging is big news these days, and it’s about time! There is growing pressure to eliminate single-use plastic. As a society, we’ve reached a tipping point. The masses are now starting to realize that they have an impact and small changes from an individual household, multiplied by households across the globe could result in big changes.
With all of the recent focus on single-use plastics, the discussion is now rightly focussed on a product’s end-of-life (e.g. the bits that we throw away). Although the discussion and changes being made are nothing but positive, the discussion appears to be somewhat siloed. In my opinion, it isn’t yet embracing a holistic view, in other words, a product’s full life-cycle.
What exactly do I mean by the ‘full life cycle’? An assessment of all of the elements that go into making a product. This is required to understand the impacts associated with that product. Another common term is ‘cradle-to-grave’. What’s the big deal you may ask? Take, for instance, a bottle of lip gloss. The lip gloss’s environmental impact involves far more than just the container’s disposal. It’s also about:
- Primary supply chain: Were genetically modified ingredients used? What about artificial pesticides? Was the health and safety of people/communities put in harm’s way or ecological habitats destroyed during its excavation or cultivation? Were international labor standards or basic human rights breached in making these products? And what about air, land and/or water pollution in relation to the development of these products?
- the chemicals used within the products: Does the product contain artificial or natural chemicals that have been linked to human health concerns, including carcinogens or endocrine disruptors? Do the chemicals biodegrade in the environment or pollute our ecosystems (air, water, soil)?
- the manufacture of the packaging: What/how much energy is used to manufacture an aluminum jar versus a glass beaker versus a plastic pot? How much air and water pollution comes as a result of the manufacturing process? Are species displaced or habitat lost during the manufacturing process from the extraction of minerals to make the products (think large bauxite that are mines required to produce aluminum!).
These are some pertinent questions, which aren’t really being discussed.
The anti-plastic movement adheres to a tangible item, an item that is visual and easily linked to an obvious problem. On the other hand, when we look at a product’s lifecycle, aka “cradle-to-grave” we are often talking in abstract terms. We don’t look at the problem from a holistic viewpoint.
As a business owner, making a positive change includes going above and beyond the current view of simply looking at “zero waste and single-use plastic”. I feel that it is important to produce sustainable products with a conscience. This means taking a holistic approach to where we source our ingredients, how we design our products, to the formulation & after-use of our packaging.
This is important because, through this information, a business provides the consumer with data required to make an informed decision. Information is empowering; it provides the tools to propel change and the confidence to implement change.
So take a look at ON! Juniper and let us know what you think. Can we do better?
We’d love to hear your thoughts and get the conversation going towards more transparency within the beauty and personal care industry.