More than ever, brands are being asked to state – and act on – their ethical values and being called out on their flaws. It’s a positive move towards more responsible, sustainable consumer choices but, at the same time, I don’t feel that something must be either perfect or worthless. A product can be high-quality, cruelty-free, bee-friendly, aesthetically pleasing and made by a social enterprise scheme that directly benefits its vision-impaired employees (The Soap Co, for example), and naysayers will immediately call out its use of plastic bottles (it is working on alternatives) as though everything is now ruined. Conversely, a cash-rich megabrand will escape censure because it’s not even trying to be better.
I take the view that every gesture is a move in the right direction. I’ve also spent enough time writing about the beauty industry to know that if consumers don’t make ethical business practices profitable, then companies will cease to initiate them.
So I applaud a number of initiatives by huge brands that didn’t have to change their ways because no one expected them to. Simple – Britain’s biggest (in my opinion, best) cleansing wipe brand – last week launched a biodegradable version (£4.39). It’s a first step – by the end of 2019, every Simple wipe will have followed suit.
And last month, Dove was accredited by Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) as a cruelty-free brand. So now you can enjoy with impunity its best products – deodorant, gradual tan, non-drying hand soaps and the excellent Nourishing Care Oil Bodywash (£2.65). Dove’s parent company, Unilever, this year became a founding member of the UK Plastics Pact, meaning it has committed to eliminating problematic or unnecessary single-use plastic and to making all of its packaging reusable, recyclable, recycled or compostable by 2025. It is also collaborating with Humane Society International to end animal testing (illegal in the EU, mandatory in China) worldwide.
Finally, Primark joins Marks Spencer in being fully cruelty-free on all own-brand beauty products, including Maximum Moisture Hydration On-The-Go (£4), a little tube of hydration that goes well over makeup for that mid-afternoon skin drought.
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