Sustainable skincare isn't simple.
So are “natural products” in “eco-friendly” packaging automatically better for the environment? Unfortunately, no.
To be honest, I feel this is an area where "green beauty" has been naïve, and it's time to do better, especially since being perceived as "green" is completely mainstream now, and an easy way to catch the consumer's eye.
Sustainability, which should be at the heart of "green beauty" (which I consider to be the very small, independently run cosmetics companies), encompasses more than packaging choices, a virtuous-looking INCI list and a website with a bunch of flowery pictures..
It would be so cute and simple if that were the case, though!
I’ve touched on packaging before (shimmy on back to the post about glass for some of that info), and how it’s essentially the bane of my existence because there’s no simple answer when it comes to sustainable packaging, especially for small business. None of the options are a perfect solution, IMO. Nope, not even aluminum which has a huge beginning of life footprint. Nope, not cardboard (ugh, they're gross to use, are usually coated in plastic and are often made of virgin material). Nope, not even bio-plastics, which have been shown to break down in the soil as micro-plastics. (More on this later? I suspect so. Much to say about it.) And going package-free is great in theory, but not possible for every type of product, and rarely perform as well as their packaged counterparts. And let's face it, package-free doesn't suit everyone.
Unsustainable plant sourcing is a major issue in the cosmetics world. Think of how many companies use “exotic” ingredients, proudly state how rare a plant is, or ingredients that are harvested once, ending its lifecycle. And what about wild-harvested... can that be a sustainable option, on a large scale? Not likely.
Oils from certain parts of trees, such as frankincense, rosewood, sandalwood and more, are nearing extinction because of the cosmetic industry's squeeze.
Entire farms are created just to meet skincare demand, farms that don't rotate crops, that use monoculture practices... doesn't that seem precarious? So many plant extracts have become adulterated over the years just to meet demand…such as rose essential oil. There are massive farms in Bulgaria dedicated to growing roses, that have existed for many generations, but the truth is that there's more demand now than ever, and with climate change, this leads to "cutting" rose oil to keep up with the market.
In my 10 years, I’ve seen ingredients come and go, simply because of over-demand. And have heard of suppliers getting stressed about the lack of ingredients when the beauty industry suddenly (and sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere) creates a huge crazy for it, such as Blue Tansy.
And it goes on. Nothing is all that straight-forward about being truly sustainable, and not just making it an empty marketing angle.
How Stark is managing sustainability:
First of all, we understand that sustainability is a moving target, and we don't have to get everything right to make an impact (and neither do you!)
When we can (and more and more) we choose ingredients that are "bio-waste" of other industries (food, agriculture and Canadian lumber), such as rice bran, meadowfoam, sugarcane, some berry, tree and citrus oils, etc. We choose plants based on the sustainability of their cultivation and measurable positive effects on human skin, not on their "exoticness".
Our glass bottles and jars are easy to recycle at every level: amber jars are one one of the most common, and therefore easiest, materials to recycle in most recycling facilities globally.
The PET plastic that we use is the only type of plastic that can be recycled nearly infinitely. It also has a smaller carbon footprint while shipping than glass.
The paper and stickers we use to wrap our products has 0% virgin materials, and can be recycled (and is biodegradable).
We are also part of the CarbonClick climate action movement, reducing the environmental impact of e-commerce. You can choose to add a small contribution with every purchase, to compensate on carbon emissions.