We are constantly bombarded every day with advertisements for products meant to “correct“ different parts of our body that are deemed ”imperfect“. However, what about when you realize the state of perfection is merely a fallacy, and you simply want to make sure you are caring for your body in a sustainable way? Bring in Aveda’s hydrating lotion, from their botanical kinetics line.
I do think that there a lot of things that Aveda is doing right. The different initiatives they’ve taken up and steps they’ve made in the right direction is promising. However, I think that because they are such a large organization, as much as they say sustainability is integral in their company, they should be doing more. One particular thing that struck me as odd is the fact that their latest Sustainability Report was in 2016, and surely, as an organization touting the commitment to the Ceres Principles, that include “Informing the Public” and “Audits and Reports”, they would have a newer report? The product in and of itself however, I do for the most part approve of. While I believe that it is vegan and all of the products are derived from nature, there were definitely a few that I think deserve at least a blurb of an explanation on the bottle. If you want to tout transparency as one of your values, then you need to be transparent with consumers, and not in a tiny print where it avoids catching their eye.
Typically, when you pick any product up and see a long list of ingredients, it is not an indicator of an ethical product. However, when running your gaze down the list of the many extracts in this lotion, there is a lot of instantaneous recognition for where the ingredients are coming from, such as the aloe plant, jojoba seed oil, fruit oil, water, sea salt; a long list of “naturally-derived ingredients”, all of which can be seen on the 100% post-consumer PET bottle itself when simply turning it over in your hands. However, though all of the products are vegan, it is difficult to see where they are being sourced from relative to where they are used in manufacturing and distribution.
Aveda boasts loudly about their products being made “cruelty-free” since their inception in 1978, in addition to their products being “vegan”, “100% wind and solar-powered manufacturing”, as well as being made out of “100% recycled bottles”. While all of this sounds nice initially, I had some concerns, as it did sound a bit too good to be true. It turns out (as they do say in a much smaller font on their website) that it is only the primary manufacturing facility that is 100% wind and solar powered. Furthermore, it is considered 100% only because of the many renewable energy, as well as carbon, credits that they purchase. If you’re unsure what that is, fear not, you’re not alone. Essentially, the credits allow the company to be producing the same amount of emissions, but their money is going towards initiatives whose impact pushes forward sustainable economic and environmental progress further. To me, it feels a little too close to the line of greenwashing, though they do say that they purchase these offsets “for our manufacturing and other North American operations while striving to be more energy efficient, work with suppliers to reduce the carbon footprint of our supply chain, work with NGO partners and other businesses to advocate for urgently needed policies, and educate the professionals in our retail, salon and spa network and their guests on actions they can take to make a difference”. While all of this sounds great, I had to search far and wide on the website to find even this, and think that it should be a bit more accessible, especially for prospective customers who are unfamiliar with the website.
Putting aside the concern that any company could be purchasing the offsets to assuage some guilt, the good that the projects themselves do are not something to be discounted. Additionally, over 85% of their “skincare and hair styling contain 100% post-consumer recycled plastic”, which is exactly what it sounds like; a good majority of the bottles of their products are made of plastic that would have been otherwise thrown out. Customers are also encouraged to “Please recycle” the post-consumer PET bottles Furthermore, “83% of waste generated at our primary facility is re-used or recycled”, which speaks a bit to a circular economy, and allows the consumer to recognize the influence natural cycles has had on this company. However, their commitment to the environment is nothing new. Aveda has a history of supporting environmentally-forward legislation and policies, including being the first to sign the CERES (Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies) principles in 1989, created after the Valdez Exxon oil spill. And June 2, 2017, they proclaimed that they “support Climate Action to Meet the Paris Agreement”. Additionally, they have events wherein well-enough-known people in the beauty industry speak to Aveda’s audience about how sustainability factors into their involvement in the industry. For instance, on February 3, 2021, they are having “Arizona Muse’s Sustainable Beauty Masterclass”, which to me signifies that their pledges are not without merit.