Burt’s Bees is known for their natural ingredients. While their glosses are not community sourced like their beeswax lip balms are, they include natural ingredients and the packaging is recyclable. This company stands for environmental justice and equity as well, and they show transparency through their sustainability reports. Despite being bought by the company Clorox, they seem to still stand for the same core values and are taking great steps towards protecting the environment.
The key ingredients are avocado oil, beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter, sunflower oil, vitamin E and mineral pigments. The full ingredients list includes some compounds such as oleic/linoleic/linolenic polyglycerides, polyhydroxystearic acid, glyceryl behenate, polyglycerin-3, alumina, and linalool. The first of these comes from sunflower oil. Sunflower oil does not damage or pollute the environment, as long as no pesticides are used in the production process. However, it does require a lot of water and carbon dioxide to produce refined sunflower oil, so depending on how they obtain their sunflower oil this may leave a larger carbon footprint. Polyhydroxystearic acid is a natural wax that has not been seen as an environmental toxin, and the rest of the ingredients likewise have been deemed safe for use in cosmetics.
This ingredients list appears true to Burt’s Bees’ claim that all of its formulas are at least 95% from natural sources. They also do not use phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) in their products as these chemicals can cause health concerns such as exposure to carcinogens.
Burt’s Bees products are made in a factory in Durham, North Carolina. For sourcing ingredients, they define some guidelines for responsibly sourcing materials, including considering the environmental impact and location, through an initiative that they call Community Sourced. This initiative includes the beeswax used in their popular lip balms, which comes from Uyowa, Tanzania. The ingredients contained in their Lip Gloss with Avocado Oil does not appear to come from a community source like the one in Uyowa, as they state it as a future plan to get oils, waxes and butters to come from community sources. While this sourcing plan seems good, there will be some more emissions resulting from shipping materials from Tanzania to North Carolina, so a local source would be more sustainable.
One thing I loved is that their packaging is completely recyclable, and they reuse post-consumer recycled content for their packaging. Overall, their products are designed to use as little plastic as possible, which is something all brands should be doing.
Also, the company sends zero waste to landfills, which is great but it is worth noting that means they send some waste to be incinerated instead. Incinerators generate pollution that can be bad for the environment or human health if people live nearby.
Burt’s Bees was founded by Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby, who are said to live low-impact, sustainable lifestyles and sought to bring that out with their products. While their values page on their website lists ways they are being sustainable, there are also links to sustainability reports with the slogan “progress, not perfection.” Their impact report includes information about worker diversity, with percentages on how many minorities, women, and workers of different races are employees. They have also are sponsoring and participating in the Diversity and Equity in Environmental Programs (DEEP) Collaborative, which is a workshop for companies. They seem to genuinely care about environmental justice.
Controversially, Burt’s Bees was acquired by Clorox. However, Burt’s Bees states in their FAQs that this does not affect their values. While it may be controversial to work for such a large company with large impacts, this may be a good thing because Clorox acquired Burt’s with the intent to become a greener company and it has taken steps to be more sustainable since then, possibly because of their acquisition.