Why Care About Sustainability?
3 MINUTE READ
Sustainability is a funny word.
It gets thrown around to mean green, eco-friendly, good for the environment. Yet, I’m not sure we really know what it means.
In my previous life as an energy analyst, we for sure had to know what sustainability meant for our energy company and how we produced and impacted our environment.
Sustainability is most often defined as: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
Sustainability has also emerged as a component of corporate ethics in response to perceived public discontent over the long-term damage caused by a focus on short-term profits. Here’s a really great source on corporate sustainability.
It’s most definitely a feature of a brand, to show they take action or at least have a plan to create a better world.What it shouldn’t be is a marketing term to earn favor.
The standard for sustainability can be either
- self-determined by a brand/company or
- a 3rd party assessment, if certification even exists in their field.
If a company cannot be certified, you may realize each brand/company has its own standards for sustainability. And without a standard everyone can define it as they see fit.
Q: What does COSM RESEARCH know about sustainability?
A: Co-founders come from the energy industry, as both energy engineers and analysts. We know first hand there's a relationship between how we influence the environment and how we are influenced by it.
Why would brands/companies choose sustainability?
There are many companies that really do incorporate it in their entire process, that take the time to consider and act in the most sustainable way.
- Consumer Demands: The 2 youngest generations today, Millennials and Gen Z, care about the social and environmental impact businesses have on the world.
- Code of Ethics: Brands that maintain code of ethics or don’t answer to (many) shareholders may have the opportunity to be more selective and sustainable.
- Differentiation: Sustainability is where many brands can innovate and become new and unique producers.
- Marketing: There is also a great deal of research that supports how companies that are “sustainable” are also more profitable.
- Expenses: It can be quite hard and expensive to pursue all 3 pillars of corporate sustainability: Profits, Planet, and People. Some industries can have difficulties working within the goals and staying afloat.
- There’s a great demand for sustainable practices, and producers really must balance the costs associated.
- Would you pay more for a product if there were higher costs due to sustainability practices? Many consumers say yes, but also look for transparency to be sure.
- There is also the cost of competition, if you are sustainable and higher priced and competitors are not, giving them ability to be lower priced. A company must adapt to the market within which they operate.
A: Many of us will experience the effects. The Allergic + Reactive skin type will likely experience the most immediate effects since they are already sensitized to the current environmental state.
1. Our packaging is not only recyclable but reusable
2. Our manufacturing is optimized to be as low impact as possible
3. We also choose ingredients that are not only essential and minimal for you to use but also reduce bioaccumulation in aquatic life.
What They Don’t Tell You About Sheet Masks
Single-use sheet masks generate A LOT of waste. Sheet masks are often made of cotton or hydrogel, which may be compostable as pure materials. However, the masks may also be saturated with preservatives, synthetic chemicals, perfumes, and other ingredients that make them non-biodegradable. Additionally, we can’t forget about the packaging, which is either plastic film, aluminum, or a mix of other materials, which typically cannot be recycled.[source]
According to the EPA, Americans throw out, on average, 254 million tons of “municipal solid waste.” 30% of that is containers and packaging. [source] Most sheet masks are sold individually, so the amount of packaging used to provide the convenience of single-use products is excessive. Is it worth it if we consider the waste produced from the mask, the packaging, and the masks’ plastic backing? In a world where cities are banning plastic straws, takeout containers, and plastic bags, how much longer will this mask disposable delivery system be acceptable?
The packaging is an issue in itself, but it’s not the only producer of waste in these single-use sheet masks. As we mentioned earlier, sheet masks are often made of cotton. Aside from being saturated in chemicals, there’s another issue. The amount of energy and water used to create these masks out of cotton can be excessive. According to WWF, it takes 2,700 litres of water to produce a single cotton T-shirt. Now a t-shirt does use more cotton, but unlike the single-use sheet masks, t-shirts are reusable.
Water is a renewable resource, yes. However, did you know the ocean holds about 97 percent of the Earth's water; the remaining three percent is found in glaciers and ice, below the ground, in rivers and lakes.[source] That means only 3% of the world’s water sources are freshwater. We can desalinate and purify salt water, but purifying seawater has historically proven expensive, especially when compared to tapping regional and local sources of freshwater. However, as advancing technology continues to drive costs down and freshwater continues to grow scarcer and more expensive, more cities are looking to seawater conversion as a way to meet this vital demand. [source]
For all of us looking to reduce the waste produced by sheet masks, we can start to create methods and materials that are reusable as opposed to recyclable. If you love using your sheet masks, try exploring alternatives to the single-use type such as serums+ a washable silicone mask. Who knows, it may be a game-changer for you!
As part of our sustainable series, we look forward to hearing all your own innovative solutions to waste in the skincare industry! Any other topics would you like us to consider?! Email us or message us @cosmresearch!