Cover Climate Neutral’s CEO share insights on the next trend in skincare

Following Climate Neutral’s announcement of certified beauty and wellness brands, the non-profit’s CEO discusses what’s next in the pursuit of clean skincare routines

Vegan, cruelty-free... carbon neutral? According to the non-profit organisation Climate Neutral, brands that reduce their carbon footprint are increasingly important to consumers who want to go green with their beauty routines.

Since it was founded in early 2019, Climate Neutral has been certifying brands that reduce their carbon footprint to net zero. “We were inspired by other consumer labels that drive positive social change, such as USDA Organic,” says Austin Whitman, CEO of Climate Neutral. “The Climate Neutral Certified label is an exciting and approachable message brands can use to drive positive climate action.”

Given there is plenty of scepticism around greenwashing and other insubstantial “green” marketing claims, Whitman says he hopes the label can serve as a starting point of confidence for consumers looking for brands that are genuinely doing something good.

To date, Climate Neutral has certified more than 250 brands across 12 industries, including fashion, food and beverage, travel and transportation. This month, it will debut its list of beauty and wellness brands that legitimately reduce their carbon footprints, invest in a range of decarbonising projects such as renewable energy and improved land use, and direct reductions in emissions from manufacturing.

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The beauty and wellness brands that Climate Neutral has certified include Necessaire, plant-based skincare brand OSEA, period focused brand Blume and Prima, a CBD wellness brand that promises to “always prioritise human and planetary health”. In the last year, Prima invested in reforestation projects with Carbon Fund, a New York-based non-profit organisation that provides carbon offsetting and greenhouse gas reduction options to businesses, and ultimately offset more carbon than it used. 

Newly launched zero-waste haircare brand, Everist, which also received the certification, has chosen to focus on programmes that both sequester carbon and foster biodiversity, like planting trees and protecting natural ecosystems.

“Carbon neutrality in the beauty industry is an important next step,” says Whitman. From extracting minerals to manufacturing the products to shipping the box to your doorstep, it turns out there’s a long trail of carbon emissions attached to your favourite serums and scrubs.

As proven by extreme weather and freak natural disasters around the world, the threat of climate change is here, and it’s real. In 2019, an estimated record of 59 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions were collected in the atmosphere, compared to 5.5 billion tonnes in 2009.

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“In order to avoid continuing on this path and facing the tragic impacts of climate change, we need to reduce global greenhouse gases, starting immediately,” says Whitman. A key step, he says, is making it easier for brands to understand what can be done, and how.

“The tools in the market to help companies manage their carbon emissions are insufficient to tackle the scale of the problem. Existing options for measuring carbon emissions cost tens of thousands of dollars and offer little to no impact,” Whitman says, adding that the organisation provides brands with the resources and guidance needed on their certification journey. “Every company contributes to climate change, but every company can do something about it. Most companies are surprised when we’re able to break down this complex challenge into a series of manageable steps.”

So doom and gloom aside, the more consumers make choices that demand accountability from brands, the more carbon neutral products will become the norm rather than the exception in the beauty and wellness space.

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