By  on July 6, 2007

LONDON — The beauty industry keeps turning over a new leaf by introducing "green," ecologically sound business methods.

Aveda, a beauty brand owned by the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., for instance, switched its major manufacturing plant to wind energy in September 2006. London hairstylist Louise Galvin made her business "carbon neutral" in 2004. And Titanic Spa, a treatment center in Huddersfield, England, was developed from its birth in 2006 to have its production make as little environmental impact as possible. And those are just a few of the beauty companies going au naturel.

"Who hasn't seen 'An Inconvenient Truth?'" asked Anna Hooper, associate director of The Communications Store, a London public relations firm that formed a "green team" last June to contribute to environmentally friendly activities. She was referring to the Oscar-winning documentary by Al Gore about climate change.

"I think beauty companies have an overwhelming responsibility," said Dominique Conseil, Aveda's president. "Beauty has to be good. If it's not good, it's not beautiful."

Going green has become less onerous in recent years. Galvin, who introduced her Sacred Locks hair care line in 2003, recalled when she decided to offset the carbon emissions generated by her brand, it was a burdensome task. "The move was unprecedented in the beauty industry," she said.

Now, companies such as Clarins are designating an executive to oversee sustainable development.

At The Communications Store, employees take everyday measures to lessen their environmental impact, including using environmentally friendly taxi services and printing on both sides of paper. Hooper noted that while progress was being made in the beauty industry on the environmental front, there was still a long way to go. "[Being environmentally friendly] should be second nature for all of us — whether you're a natural, organic greener-than-green brand or a doctor's cosmeceuticals brand," she said.

Taking ecological issues into account can initially be costly — Galvin said her efforts cost several thousand pounds, for example — but it can pay dividends in the long term. "Those cost savings are passed on to our clients," said Hooper. "Aveda believes profit and ecological goals are not mutually exclusive," added Conseil, noting environmentally oriented projects saved his firm $230,000 per year between 1996 and 2004. "We go further — and think they're synergistic."

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