Ethical Gold and Post-Consumer Cotton: How Global Brands Become Sustainable

    22 Aug 2021

    There are so many ways to save nature: sponsoring ocean-going expeditions to protect the ocean, biodegradable cream formulas and 100% botanicals, recycled materials and sustainable precious metals etc. Let’s check Forbes Life’s review how fashion and beauty brands are increasing their resilience.

    The fashion industry accounts for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions – more than any airline and marine company in the world. In addition, 20% of water pollution can be attributed to the dubious merits of the fashionable market, and if the industry does not radically change course towards environmental friendliness, by 2050 it will account for 26% of the global carbon footprint as a whole.

    At the same time, research shows that 88% of consumers are willing to choose brands that will help them become greener themselves. 64.1% of Europeans want to buy goods made from environmentally friendly materials, and 30.1% are willing to spend more on them – and these are numbers that are difficult for companies to ignore. While some brands are just mastering the ecotrend, others have already got their hands on in this business and, long before the pandemic, have relied on sustainability. Forbes Life talks about sustainable initiatives from established brands.

    Clarins and zero carbon footprint

    One of the sustainable beauty brands, according to the Forbes opinion, is the French company Clarins, which develops this direction in two main aspects: “Caring for people, caring for the planet.” In the next five years, the brand sets serious goals: first, 100% of employees will receive at least one special training every two years and will receive training on social diversity, fairness and inclusion; secondly, the brand promises to ensure the transparent and 100% responsible origin of the ingredients; third, to support fair trade programs and health and child care projects.

    Clarins’ journey to sustainability began a long time ago. Back in 1999, the brand became the first cosmetic brand in France to abandon the use of plastic bags. “In 2020, we were able to achieve zero carbon emissions through various offsetting measures. Going forward, we are committed to maintaining carbon neutrality and reducing our company’s already carbon footprint by an additional 30% by 2025,” said Olivier Courten-Clarence, CEO and President of the Arthritis Foundation. The company is committed to 100% biodegradability in its sunscreen and water rinse formulas – by controlling the origin of herbal ingredients. For this, in 2016, the company acquired a plot of land in the Alps. “This was a logical step in our quest for sustainable agriculture, transparent sourcing of ingredients and short production runs. Thanks to him, we plan to double the amount of organic ingredients by 2025,” says Courten-Clarence.

    Today glass and recycled paperboard make up 63% of all Clarins packaging, according to the company. 100% of the cartons are made from wood from sustainably managed forests. 90% of glass jars and vials contain at least 25% recycled glass. By 2025, 100% of Clarins care packages will be recyclable, 50% will be made from recycled materials. In addition, Clarins recycles 100% of its production waste.

    Ocean Defense Suite

    The Swiss watch brand Blancpain, known for its diving watches, is leading the global Blancpain Ocean Commitment project in support of scientific sailing expeditions. The initiative started 15 years ago, during which time the brand, as a founding partner, supported the Pristine Seas Expeditions, was the main partner of the Gombessa project under the leadership of marine scientist Laurent Ballest and achieved tangible results. “The Blancpain Ocean Commitment has doubled the area of ​​marine protected areas around the world by 4 million square kilometers,” says Blancpain President and CEO Marc A. Hayek.

    Since 2012, the brand, together with The Eсonomist, has also been a founding partner of the World Ocean Summit, a global summit that brings together leaders of international organizations, research and production associations and universities. For Hayek, research is a key step towards preserving nature: “When you look closer at the oceans, you realize that people in their entire history have visited only a very small part of them and do not know many things. Thus, research is critical. What many do not know is that the oceans are fundamental to the well-being of people around the planet.” Including, the oceans regulate our climate, determine weather conditions and reduce the impact of climate change by absorbing 25% of the carbon dioxide released from human activities. Blancpain has spent more than €10 million to support ocean initiatives over the past decade.

    The Rolex watch brand is also focused on exploring the world around it, and has been supporting explorers on adventurous expeditions since the 1930s. Thanks to the company’s support since 2014, the number of marine protected areas has grown from 50 to 130. The brand works closely with the National Geographic Society and shares with it the desire to preserve the natural environment of the Earth, including oceans and mountains. The list of participants in the program included researcher James Cameron, underwater photographer and researcher David Dubile, and renowned marine biologist Sylvia Earl.

    The Mission Blue brand project calls on communities and governments to protect endangered marine environments with Hope Spots, which are designated areas to preserve certain species of flora and fauna. They are extremely important due to their biodiversity and are habitats of endemic, rare or endangered species. In this way, all Mission Blue members are contributing to the global movement to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. At the moment, only 8% of the ocean is protected.

    French cosmetics brand La Mer has also partnered with Sylvia Earl to release an inspiring video for International Oceans Day.

    In it, a National Geographic oceanologist tells and shows how he dives, explains how flora and fauna of the oceans is changing – how corals are disappearing and what happens to seals. La Mer has been contributing to environmental protection since 2005 through charitable donations and partnerships. In addition to collaborating with National Geographic, the brand launched its own Blue Heart Oceans Fund in 2014, which helps fund marine research for a sustainable future.

    Ethical gold and post-consumer cotton

    Environmental protection is not the only indicator of the sustainability of a modern company. A brand needs to be transparent in all its production processes and comply with specific requirements regarding working conditions (in particular, the prohibition of the use of child labor), social development, and environmental safety. By announcing in 2018 that the brand will now produce jewelry and watches from “ethical” gold, Chopard became the first major luxury jewelry brand to make a statement to use only environmentally friendly precious metals in its production.

    Back in 2017, Chopard joined the SBGA to provide broader support for initiatives to improve the working conditions of the cooperatives and increase the volume of gold mined in a socially responsible manner. This closed-loop operating model enables traceability of the origin of gold in the supply chain. “When it comes to luxury, many modern shoppers want to be sure they are buying a product that has been produced with the best working conditions and social responsibility,” says Chopard Creative Director Caroline Scheufele.

    Among fashionable luxury brands, investment in research is also becoming the rule. Ralph Lauren invested in the manufacturer Natural Fiber Welding, Inc. (NFW), which specializes in the recycling of natural fibers. NFW was founded in 2015 to make recycled cotton more recyclable. “Investing in scaling innovative solutions is a key part of our sustainability strategy,” said David Lauren, Deputy Chairman and Chief Innovation Officer, Ralph Lauren. With the investment in NFW, Ralph Lauren will expand the use of post-consumer cotton. The brand is committed to sourcing 100% of its primary materials from recycled materials.

    What is Post-consumerism?

    Post-consumerism is a view or ideology that well-being, as distinct from material prominence, is the aim of life, often suggesting a growing willingness to assert such. Post-consumerism can also be viewed as moving beyond the current model of addictive consumerism. This personal and societal strategy utilizes each individual’s core values to identify the “satisfaction of enough for today.” The intent and outcome of this basic strategy to date have “reached people where they are rather than simply where we are.” Therefore the campaign “is promoting this intriguing question” regardless of the answer: Do I have enough stuff for now?

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