AESTHETICS OF SUSTAINABLE BEAUTY

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How beauty brands are responding to the ugly face of the industry through their packaging
The twenty-first century has almost reignited the importance of environmental responsibility for consumers, corporations, and governmental authority. In 2015, there was a whopping 141 million tonnes of global plastic waste from packaging, and 37 million tonnes of waste from consumer and institutional products polluting our environment. Ironically, the beauty community is perceived to have had an ugly influence over these figures; Zero Waste reports that the global cosmetics industry is responsible for over 120 billion units of packaging produced every year, a lot of which are presumed to be non-recyclable or single use plastics.

In seeing these figures, it is no wonder why consumer consciousness has largely swayed toward sustainable options. In fact, two-thirds of consumers consciously choose to avoid specific brands or items due to environmental concerns. This growing demand for sustainability in fashion and beauty widened the market for small businesses to inject these industries with attainable, sustainable products.
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River Organics Bare lip balms
Let's have a look at what these small beauty brands are doing in response to this demand.

River Organics
, an independent beauty company in America, was founded on the principle of providing premium quality cosmetics, without the environmental cost. Their zero-waste concealer, mascara, and vegan lip and cheek sticks are packaged in post-consumer recycled paperboard, which gives the products a sleek, modern look.
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Everkind natural deodorant



Everkind
is a beauty company in New Zealand which was founded on the similar principles of enhancing the safety and naturality of the beauty industry, and this too is reflected in their packaging. Everkind's organic deodorant is encased in a similar home-compostable tube, which establishes a homely feel. This kraft-esque aesthetic brings connotations of DIY culture, which makes these products feel more personal, and perhaps more intimate, than their plastic competition. Plus, as a consumer, you are likely to feel a sense of pride with these purchases, as your financial and cultural support is shown to directly fulfil a positive environmental initiative.
Aside from these subconscious pulls, the appearance of compostable packaging is satisfying. Amidst the twenty-first century saturation of bright, lurid advertisements and gimmicky packaging, this simplistic, neutral aesthetic is noticeably refreshing. This shift toward minimalism is no surprise; in art and architecture, minimalism has been a consistent trend from the mid-twentieth century to now, appearing as a sort of rebellion against the overt visual stimulation of psychedelics, street art, modernism, and postmodernism.

Many large corporations have recognised this consumer appetite for minimalist aesthetics alongside the increasing support of environmentalism, and they too have tapped into this aesthetic of compostable packaging.
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La Roche Posay Anthelios sun cream in paper tub


L'Oréal have recently launched a paper-based tube for their La Roche-Posay Anthelios sunscreen line, in an attempt to fulfil their commitment to tangible, long-standing environmental change.
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Tarte Amazonian clay smart mascara
Tarte has engaged with this environmental aesthetic throughout the years through its deployment of its Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara, and its The Buffer Airbrush Finish Bamboo Foundation Brush, which both idealise the use of bamboo as a sustainable casing material.

Evidently, the issue of sustainability in the beauty industry has become, not only an ideological trend, but an aesthetic trend throughout the years. This is brilliant for raising awareness to the extent of avoidable non-biodegradable waste in the beauty industry, and it urges corporations away from the use of virgin plastic, but it is important that we do not get lost in these visuals. Many corporations often use these visuals as a distraction from their truly poor environmental practice (aka greenwashing). Now more than ever, our power resides in our purchase. It has never been more rewarding to indulge in sustainable beauty and fashion choices. By supporting sustainable brands, you are not only rewarding them but yourself and, most importantly, the environment.
Article by Samantha Rainsbury
Main image by Ika Dam