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Every little helps – but can we do more? How the zero waste movement is stepping up a notch…

Earlier this year we wrote a blog about the rise and rise of the zero waste movement. We touched on how that Blue Planet documentary had woken us all up to the devastating effects that the throw away culture we live has on the environment and how it seems the industry has been listening. As more government policies get put into place, ongoing consumer demand and more transparent and eco-friendly supply chains continue, manufacturers, brands and retailers are continuing to step up to the plate.

Just this week we reported that African beauty brand Nokware Skincare has committed to switching to sustainable bamboo packaging in a response to growing consumer desire for zero waste packaging options. Meanwhile in a meeting of bigwig minds, L’Oréal China has joined forces with Alibaba in an agreement that will see the pair commit to environmentally-friendly packaging options in China, while Henkel has forged an alliance with Mondi, Borealis and APK to improve packaging sustainability.

And, in perhaps the biggest news this week, Unilever Australia announced its commitment to more environmentally-friendly packaging, stating that 25 percent of its product packaging will come from post-consumer recycled plastic. Proving that the big guns are stepping up and continuing to better educate, inspire and do. And it’s about time too, as reported by Vogue, ‘it is predicted that there will be up to 12 billion tonnes of plastic in landfills generated by the beauty industry alone.’ Ouch.

However, that’s what the industry giants are doing on a grand scale. What about closer to home in terms of helping consumers do their bit too? Do we as an industry that contributes so much to the problem therefore have a responsibility to better educate buyers on how to recycle and reuse our beauty-industry plastic packaging? Should brands be shouting about cheap cheats that consumers can do to reuse beauty packaging? Diffusers out of old fragrance bottles and washing old facial wipes are just some of the great suggestions by Vogue.

But is it the responsibility of the brands to educate on these matters? In my opinion, yes. Of course there are some companies more forthcoming than others in navigating consumers in the right direction. While MAC’s parent company Estée Lauder may not be cruelty free, the cult beauty brand does do its bit in engaging consumers in the mvoement. Finished your latest Lady Danger lippy? The company is very vocal that you can save up six empties of your favourite item and in return get a brand new product. Likewise Neal’s Yard uses only recycled glass, and Lush is well known for using its ethical stance on zero waste packaging as part of its inherent brand message – consumers can’t escape it.

Perhaps while the big manufacturers and parent companies consider their large back-end campaigns, they should also pay attention to better educating from the front. For example, marketing campaigns aimed at generating better consumer awareness about how to implement a zero-waste movement at home. In the words of Tesco, every little helps.

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