By  on August 10, 2007

Credit Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth or a vocal cast of high-profile greenies. Regardless of the source, the beauty industry has begun to heed the call of environmentalism. For beauty firms, many of which rely on botanicals as a main ingredient source, an obvious place to start is the large manufacturing plants that churn out their myriad creams and cosmetics.

Popular eco-friendly tactics for production include the purchase of wind power credits, sun-tracking solar panels and motion-activated lights. For some companies, it's an effort that begins with baby steps such as installing energy- efficient lightbulbs. For others, it's the foundation of their existence.

Some 70 years ago, a physician named Rudolf Hauschka decreed that entrepreneurial activity should serve mankind and the earth, rather than simply generate a profit, recalls Mirran Raphaely, chief executive officer of Dr.Hauschka Skin Care. Today, the company uses water power as the sole energy source for carbon-free production of its line. It also curbs energy consumption and pollution by giving preference to local suppliers of raw materials.

Prompted by a similar philosophy, Joshua Onysko of Boulder, Colorado founded his own ecocentric body care line, called Pangea Organics. The beauty firm has given rise to the Pangea Institute, a nonprofit consulting firm that works with companies from various industries on how to best implement environmentally-friendly business practices. In Onysko's view, "The true path to green is from the roots up" and ought to be outlined in a company's mission statement. He frowns on the practice of "green-washing," where a company markets itself as green solely on the basis that it purchases wind energy credits to offset its carbon output.

The ceo estimates that transportation for sourcing and shipping generally accounts for 80 percent of a company's energy usage. "Energy use is a rabbit hole—it keeps going down and down and down," says Onysko, who has called himself an environmentalist since he was 14 years old. "I've traveled in developing countries, where most of the manufacturing for U.S. products is done." In such outposts, he recalls, one can't escape the impact of toxic waste because it often ends up on the streets, as opposed to here, where it's carted off to a landfill miles away.

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