Beauty shopping can sometimes be a little daunting, given the wide variety of brands and products that are on offer. So, how can you tell which packaging is doing its bit for the environment? A great place to start could be to check whether the packaging helps to reduce environmental impact in any way. By doing this, you’ll know that the brand you’re supporting is doing its bit to help reduce their carbon footprint.
In a recent survey we conducted about ethical buying habits, we found that 61% of shoppers struggle to tell if their hair and skin care products have eco-friendly packaging. So, continue reading to discover our advice on how you recognise eco-friendly packaging on your next beauty shop.
What makes packaging more eco-friendly?
The most eco-friendly packaging would ideally be no packaging at all, however there are some packaging solutions which are more eco-friendly than others. For example, packaging that is made from recycled materials and can also be recyclable itself, such as glass, plastic and paper. Essentially this type of packaging is one that has reduced environmental impact and ecological footprint. There are lots of different criteria that contribute to packaging’s sustainability, but the main factors that are assessed are the type and amount of materials used (important for circularity) and impact of production on the environment.
When it comes to the actual materials used in packaging, the general rule is the less material (especially fossil based material such as virgin plastic) and the more recycled materials, used the better. And even though plastic gets a bad rep in sustainability, it does have clear advantages. Plastic is strong, durable and safe, and it’s also lighter compared to other materials such as glass, which has an effect on transportation emissions. However, plastic should be reused: when choosing products, it is not only important to favour packaging made from recycled plastic, but also to recycle that same plastic after it’s been used. This is because we need true recycling circularity in order to avoid plastic ending up in landfills or oceans.
This idea of ‘recycling circularity’ is based on the concept of keeping resources in use for as long as possible and therefore extracting their maximum value. Recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life also ensures that these resources are consequently fed back into the circular economy, allowing the cycle to continue. For this reason, a circular economy is a much better alternative to a ‘linear economy’, where products are made for single use and then made obsolete immediately after. And even though finding recycling facilities for plastic bottles can sometimes be tricky, in recent years there has been a noted global effort in making it even more accessible and readily available.1
How can you tell what packaging is more eco-friendly than others?
Now that you know what it means for packaging to be considered more ’eco-friendly’ or ’sustainable’, you may be wondering how you’ll be able to recognise it when you are actually in a beauty shop. We don’t all have the time to be checking or looking up what each product’s packaging is made out of or its production process – so what’s an easy way to spot the sustainable packaging from the not so sustainable packaging?
Luckily, for the main part there should be easy-to-spot logos on most brand’s packaging that will tell you more about the origins of the product and its packaging. We have learned how it’s easy to look for cruelty-free beauty or vegan products by looking for the certification logo. But with packaging it’s not always so simple.
Watch out for the universal recycling symbol of three arrows chasing one another in a triangle – this can indicate a number of things. This little triangle is formally known as the Mobius Loop and is mandatory is some countries to describe the type of material the packaging is made out of. However in the UK it is best recognised as indicating if a product’s packaging is recyclable or made out of recycled materials2.
If it is being used as an indicator of recyclability this will normally be written next to the Mobius Loop. In some cases, there may also a percentage number in, on top or below the Mobius Loop to signify the amount of recycled content in the packaging.
The FSC certified label (which is a little tree with a tick) is also a great logo to be on the lookout for, as it identifies products which contain wood from responsibly managed forests3. Then finally, the Fairtrade International is another sustainable certification which ensures that all the ingredients inside a product meet a certain level of social, economic and environmental standards.
What other eco-friendly labels and certifications should you watch out for?
Just like with Leaping Bunny Logo, there are also some international bodies that certify if a product (and its packaging) meets a certain level of environmental excellence and consequently provide it with an ecolabel. The most well-known and trusted of these bodies is the The Global Ecolabelling Network, which consists of 34 different third-party ecolabel organisations throughout the world4. Given that specific ecolabels may differ depending on which you country you are in, it may be a good idea to do some research and familiarise yourself with local ecolabel organisations so that you can spot the label when you are next out beauty shopping.
Our approach to eco-friendly packaging at weDo/
All of our products’ packaging at weDo/ are designed to be recyclable and are made from up to 94% recycled plastic or no plastic at all (such as our No Plastic Shampoo Bars). On top of this, we have also launched refill pouches for all of our liquid sulphate-free shampoos, silicone-free conditioners and silicone-free hair masks in an effort to help reduce waste, reuse plastic containers and recycle more easily. Not to mention that the refill pouches also contain 80% less plastic per ml compared to our regular 300ml bottles. In general, weDo/ products are a great place to start if you want to reduce plastic in the bathroom, as we want to promote ethical buying habits and help people transition towards a lower to zero waste hair care routine.
This is a subject weDo/ are passionate about, which is why we support the “fight against ocean plastic" in partnership with Plastic Bank. For every weDo/ product bought, 8 plastic bottles are collected from the environment and consequently recycled.