Since the end of the 19th century, the temperature of the planet has – irreversibly – increased by 1°C. But global warming is more than just statistics in the abstract: it has devastating consequences, as we all witnessed during the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, where more than a billion animals perished, to cite just one recent example. Warmer temperatures have rendered our oceans 30% more acidic compared to the start of the 19th century, endangering micro-organisms like phytoplankton (which are responsible for up to 85% of the world’s oxygen supply). Glaciers are melting, rainforests are burning, entire species are disappearing; it’s a critical time in the history of our planet.
And beauty plays an undeniably important role in the conversation around sustainability. Take, for example, the issue of water scarcity: 1/10th of the world’s population has no access to safe water, with plastic pollution in water sources further aggravating this problem. Yet producing – and using – beauty products consumes huge quantities of water: just shampooing your hair uses, on average, 8 litres.
Then there is, of course, the issue of plastic pollution. Each year, 350 million tons of plastic are produced, of which 100 million tons are thrown away after use (with 40% disposed of after a single use). Only around a quarter enter a recycling stream, and according to the Ellen MacArthur foundation, 31% of mismanaged plastic waste will pollute our natural environment. These are alarming statistics, particularly when our beauty routines are a principal source of our own plastic waste, and where on the whole single use plastics remain the norm.
The world is facing a climate crisis, and sustainability in beauty is no longer just catchy marketing speak: it’s, rightfully, non-negotiable in 2021.
To launch the section, we’re honoured to be partnering with L’Oréal. With 1.5 billion customers across the world, the scope of their influence is difficult to overstate, and they have put this immense responsibility to good use with their L’Oréal For The Future (L4TF) programme.
“There are two motivations for L’Oréal’s more ambitious and radical approach to sustainability through L4TF,” shares Kiera Flynn, L’Oréal Australia’s Sustainability Manager. “First and foremost, we have a responsibility. L’Oréal always strives to be an ethical and engaged business; and as such, contributing to issues facing our environment and society remain a priority.
“Secondly, some of these environmental issues threaten the way we currently do business – which means we must adapt, or face not having a viable business in the future.”
In 2015, the Paris Agreement outlined the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels in order to combat climate change. Accordingly, L’Oréal have subscribed to a Science-Based Targets rationale, with an aim to meet this goal and transition towards a low-carbon economy.
L’Oréal have also formulated targets to respond to an increasingly resource-constrained planet, with goals specifically around climate, water, biodiversity, and natural resources. What this looks like in reality is that by 2025 all their sites will be carbon neutral, and they’re committed to reducing all their greenhouse gas emissions by 50% per finished product by 2030.
Over the next few months, we’ll be exploring in depth some of the incredible initiatives L’Oréal have created, including some exciting programmes they’re running to give back to Australians in need. We’ll also be sharing the best sustainable beauty knowledge, from zero waste makeup that’s a joy to use, to easy swaps to green up your beauty routine. As beauty lovers, our beauty routine plays a significant role in our lives; so if you’re looking to lighten your environmental footprint, it’s the ideal place to begin. And we’ll be seeking to continuously inspire you, no matter if you’re a novice or seasoned sustainability expert.