Now this invention is pretty neat. The Bellabeat LEAF is a wellness tracker that can be worn as a necklace, bracelet, or clip. However, this is no ordinary activity tracker; on the outside, the LEAF is designed to look just like a normal piece of jewelry. On the inside, it is equipped with activity, sleep, and menstrual cycle trackers. Bellabeat is a tech driven wellness company designed by women to empower women to become their best selves by being mindful of their bodies and minds, and gaining insight into how to improve self awareness. Personally, as a woman who enjoys being active and finding my inner peace, but is also often stressed, anxious and tired most of the time, a tracker—designed by women—that understands what my body is going through and works to relieve it through various methods of exercise and self-care techniques, is a product of great value. Bellabeat strives to create and ship ethically-sourced, beneficial (and stylish) products all over the world...even just reading this goal relieves some stress! The LEAF’s overall score remains relatively low due to inefficient labor and manufacturing practice ambiguity, but with goals to create more leadership roles for women around the world and utilize more sustainable materials in their products, they could easily increase their rating with a few tweaks and greater transparency for their consumers.
The LEAF is made of a minimal amount of materials to ensure limited environmental impact. It is built using vegan-friendly silicone, stainless steel, a coin cell battery, and wood composite material for packaging. There are a few concerns with these materials, but overall they are more efficient than their fossil fuel-dependent counterparts. For one, pieces of the LEAF as well as its packaging is composed of a wood composite material. This is a more sustainable solution than timber or plastic hands down, as it can be made from wood scrap material and can be made from smaller trees than timber. Unfortunately, there are some environmental impacts from producing wood composite material. For one, it is dependent on petroleum-based polymers which are nonrenewable and energy-intensive substances. Because Bellabeat does not explain in detail the process of obtaining these materials, it is difficult to distinguish whether they are produced sustainably.
Silicone is another piece that could be substituted for a more sustainable material. The manufacturing process of silicone uses materials derived from petroleum, as it is a synthetic polymer. However, there is a sustainable alternative--using plants! Made of coconut, castor oil and sugar cane, LexFeel is a plant-based silicone alternative that is just as efficient as regular synthetic silicone. LexFeel is in the process of attaining their Ecocert certification, an independent and impartial certification which assesses the conformity of a product with social and environmental impact standards. This is a rigorous process, so if LexFeel can earn this certification, Bellabeat would benefit greatly from transitioning to this natural silicone substitute.
Bellabeat originated in Croatia, but has expanded its offices across the world. Factories are found in San Francisco, London and Hong Kong, which aids in reducing transportation costs of materials and shipments. However, besides these few details, Bellabeat does not clarify how or where they source their materials from, so it is difficult to determine exactly how much of an environmental impact the overall production process creates. The LEAF’s most commonly used materials can be manufactured in these four locations (stainless steel, silicone, wood composite), so it is possible for the process to be localized, thus decreasing transportation emissions. Overall, for consumers to understand the sacrifices it took to create the product they’re purchasing, Bellabeat should be much more transparent on how their products are made.
For a company that prides itself on creating opportunities for women, Bellabeat does not do a stellar job of providing evidence on how they do so--specifically in the workspace. Consumers’ knowledge on labor practices is surface-level, as Bellabeat generalizes the workspace as a “friendly environment, multinational team, and flexible working hours.” What exactly does this mean, though? The answer is subjective, and the company can do a better job of expressing their successes within the workspace. Bellabeat does, however, provide information on their employers: large corporations that illustrate themselves as upholding excellent labor practices. In reality, that is not the case. One of Bellabeat’s major employers is Coca Cola, a company that has been found using unfair labor practices and deceptive sustainability claims. Regardless of what they sell, a company under Coca Cola cannot be sustainable. For Bellabeat to overcome this dirty image, a new pathway for them could possibly be to break off from Coca Cola as their employer, and pair up with a company that is transparent with their consumers and stays true to their sustainability and labor goals.