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The Green Report: The Question Begs the Answer

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: August 7, 2007, from the August 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

Read more company specific questions and answers.
More Green Talk

The best ideas are worthless if they are not or cannot be implemented—regardless of how concise, logical or noble they may be. Ideas make for good copy, but action changes the world.

Going green has long been a great idea, and there is no shortage of compelling stories explaining why. It hasn’t been until very recently that stories of green action have taken center stage.

At a recent Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) Newsmaker Forum, Coty CEO Bernd Beetz noted that, “The green movement is a total challenge and opportunity. I think we have to open up our minds to translate it into concepts and products.”

GCI magazine recently asked a panel of industry experts about where they think things stand with the move toward green.

Meet the Panel:
Martha Basanta, Marketing Manager, drom Fragrances

Darrin C. Duber-Smith, President, Green Marketing, Inc.

Anthony Gentile, Director of Art & Marketing, Xela Pack, Inc.

Sundeep Gill, Pharm.D., Vice President R&D, Sun Deep Incorporated

Amarjit Sahota, Director, Organic Monitor

Markus Schiek, Head of Global Marketing, drom Fragrances

Robb Zurek, Business Development Manager, Continental Packaging Solutions

Where does the beauty industry, in general, stand in meeting growing demands for natural and sustainable products? How effectively is the industry greening?

Robb Zurek: The move toward natural ingredients is the most prominent thing happening in the beauty industry. The greater consumer demand for products that are not tested on animals, that are made from natural extracts, etc., has generated a shift away from petroleum-based moisturizers and the like.
The contradiction continues to lie in the packaging, however. Overall, the percentage of truly sustainable packaging used for these natural products is quite small.

Sundeep Gill: We are finding suppliers on a weekly basis that have new, innovative ways of harvesting products that leave little to no ecological footprint on the environment.

Anthony Gentile: The beauty industry seems to be doing a decent job of meeting the demands for natural and sustainable products. However, [it] surely [doesn’t] seem to be leading the cause or pioneering many huge breakthroughs. The beauty industry has always been closely tied to the luxury market. And, in many cases, such as fur, the luxury market seems to be immune to such ideas as stewardship to animals and the earth. However, it should be noted that there are some major beauty product companies that seem to be hugely committed to the cause. Hopefully they will set the benchmark in the industry.

Darrin C. Duber-Smith: The industry, in general, has been woefully slow to demand more sustainable packaging and natural/organic ingredients [also seen as more sustainable] from suppliers. The availability of supply severely affects what companies can do. Consumers demonstrate a healthy demand for more sustainable products from more sustainable organizations, so it is interesting to see that only a handful of companies, including Aveda and its parent company, are moving beyond simple compliance into the realm of sustainability. Engaging in such behavior reduces costs dramatically in many ways, and addresses a growing target market that demands more sensitivity to health and the environment.