What “Sustainable Production” means and why it matters when growing naturals for the beauty industry
Sustainable. Green. Natural. All consumer buzz-words and drivers for beauty product positioning and differentiation. And, yet, all of these terms are not actually all that well defined in the marketplace.
What is Sustainable?
The word “sustainable” for instance means very different things to different people. In the naturals space where you add the growing environment and farming practices to the front end of the production supply chain some interesting choices have to be considered.
Some very popular naturals are produced in areas without enough natural rainfall to support their production. That presents producers of those products with an interesting “sustainability” challenge. We’ve all read about high water use needed in almond production. As a result many consumers voluntarily boycott almond consumption, choosing more water-wise alternatives when given the option.
Consumers also increasingly want products that are mindfully and responsibly sourced. They want to know about the growing environment, production and even delivery supply-chain, and they care about packaging choices and want to feel good about the overall global impact of the beauty care product selection choices they are making.
Soil Health, Emissions, Water Use and Bees
Are crops grown in a way that supports long-term soil health? Are farming practices minimizing the need for significant machinery that create carbon emissions in play? Are crops grown in natural climates that minimize water needs? Are they grown in ways that support optimal bee and other pollinator health while minimizing negative environmental impacts?
Lessons in Farming History
All these are factors that enter into the sustainability conversation when producing natural ingredients for beauty care formulations. These are important, not just in support of consumer demands for responsible sourcing and production but, also important in supporting the long-term viability of growing a particular ingredient. In North America, you only need to think back to the dust bowls of the 1930s to remember that farming practices need to leave the soil and the surrounding environment healthy enough to support optimal growing conditions for generations to come or suffer potentially disastrous impacts.