ETHICAL IS BEAUTIFUL!
Seeking sustainable and ethical hair and beauty products can be difficult. The overwhelming amount of labels and organisations behind those labels can be confusing. Oftentimes customers will purchase products unsure of what they are purchasing. While the label might say “Vegan” they could still be using palm oil as an ingredient. If you are purchasing a “Cruelty-free” product, it does not necessarily mean that it is Fairtrade. Below we discuss the importance of each label and what it represents along with what it means to have an ethical and sustainable business practice.
What does ethical and sustainable business practices mean?
Ethical and sustainable business practices involves the understanding of where your products are coming from. It is understanding the supply chain and ensuring all work is fair. It involves the process of knowing where the products are coming from, how they are being created, how they are being packaged and whether those packages can be recycled. All these factor into whether the business practices are ethical and sustainable.
What does having ethical and sustainable ingredients mean?
The well-known certifications for “vegan, cruelty free and organic” tend to be the labels buyers are looking for. However, the “Palm Oil Free” is a certification that is not as recognised, yet just as important. When purchasing products that have those three labels, this does not always mean that the process of obtaining the products was ethical or sustainable. To have ethical and sustainable ingredients, it is more focused on the manufacturing of the product. How was the product created prior to going onto the shelves?
The labels placed on each product are determined by certain organisations. Unfortunately, many of the organisations only require a signed statement confirming whether or not the products are ethical and sustainable. The issue with this is that ethical and sustainable have such broad terms. What one person thinks is ethical, the other may disagree. This is why the regulations these organisation determine must be policed in order to avoid businesses using and abusing unregulated labels.
The Vegan label can often be misinterpreted for sustainable sourcing. The label “Vegan” is referring to containing no animal ingredients or by-products and voiding animal ingredients and by-products in the manufacturing process of the product. It means it has not been tested on animals.
Organic refers to no use of synthetic fertilisers or pesticides. It is simply an organic process involved in all the ingredients that are used. It can also display labels such as “Natural, “Quality” and “Gourmet”.
The Cruelty-free label is included on any products that do not harm or kill animals. It is not tested on animals, similar to the vegan label. However, the manufacturing process may not be vegan as animal by-products could be included.
PALM OIL FREE
The Palm Oil Free certification trademark on packaging refers to the added assurance to customers that products carrying this trademark are clean of palm oil.
SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL
Sustainable Palm Oil refers to particular standards and criteria providing good social and environmental practices. These standards to reviewed and renewed every few years to ensure they are still being met and to raise the standard to increase the long-term sustainability.
ETHICAL TRADE AND FAIRTRADE
These trading movements were put in place to protect workers. This refers to ensuring that in the process of creating the product, the business maintained ethical practices; paying workers fairly, ensuring the working conditions were monitored and any hard conditions were brought to life.
Recycling and Recycled Materials
Businesses do incorporate recycled materials in their packaging to increase their sustainability. Producing recyclable packaging also minimises the environment footprint the business is making.
All of these labels are important to look out for when purchasing products. By ensuring that the organisation providing those labels are reliable and honest organisations allows for more ethical and sustainable practices. Another thing to consider is that when a brand claims itself as “Vegan” this does not mean that all practices are necessarily “ethical”. Understanding what each of these labels means is important so you are able to make purchasing decisions that aligns with your values.