Sustainability not a business program but a philosophy, Aveda

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sustainability

Sustainability not a business program but a philosophy, Aveda
CosmeticsDesign spoke to Chuck Bennett, VP of earth and community care at leading natural cosmetics player Aveda, who opened up about the company’s inspiring approach to sustainability.

Aveda has forged a name as one of the most innovative and far-reaching natural cosmetics players in the world and in line with this, the company’s approach to the issue of sustainability has been a thorough affair.

“The most important thing is to be serious about it. Sustainability is not a program but a philosophy of doing business. To be effective in become a sustainable company and supporting a sustainable future for society and the planet, requires taking a holistic look at your business and rethinking many of the ways in which you do business,”​ said Bennett.

Potential pitfalls can be avoided

But alongside any approach to sustainability, there are also pitfalls, which Bennett believes can be avoided if the right approach is taken.

“The biggest pitfall – potentially - is not fully understanding the breadth and depth of commitment needed and thus embarking on a pathway that you may not be fully committed to. If you do so and take a public position, and then not stay with it, you may create a serious risk for your brand equity.”

Bennett is due to give a key speech at the forthcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, to be held in New York from May 12 – 14. During the presentation he will discuss the key issues of the environmental footprint and the social footprint.

“The environmental footprint of a cosmetic, or any product, must account for the full ‘life cycle’ of the product. This includes many factors such as energy and water consumption, emissions to the environment. It can significantly misrepresent the actual footprint of a product if the focus is limited to, for example, manufacturing only,”​ Bennett said.

Likewise, Bennett will also be discussing the lesser known but equally important ‘social footprint’ as part of his presentation, of which he explained the principles.

“A product’s ‘social footprint’ relates to the effects that creating, distributing and using a product may have on individuals or communities that are a part of the life cycle of the product,”​ said Bennett.

Social footprint qualified in same way as environmental

For Aveda, the social footprint of a product is qualified in much the same way as the environmental footprint, that, for example, might measure carbon emissions, except using different metrics.

“The social footprint could measure the equity of the wages paid or working conditions where the product is manufactured. The focus of the environmental footprint is on the natural environment affected by a business, whereas the social footprint focuses on how the people are affected.”

Aveda’s environmental and social initiatives have numbered many projects, including the switch from ingredients sourced through traditional farming methods, to using suppliers who only employ organic farming methods.

Bennett pointed out that this switch has made a big impact on its own social and environmental footprint, reducing adverse impact on the environment by reducing the need for pesticides, in turn reducing the social impact such chemicals have on human health.

Likewise, the company has also focused on the manufacturing process, as Bennett explained: “We have implemented many practices to eliminate the environmental burden resulting from energy use or the elimination of wastes to landfills, which has meant an overall recycling rate of 85 percent of our primary manufacturing and distribution facility.”

For more details about Organic Monitor’s Sustainable Cosmetics Summits, please click here​.

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