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Profile: It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green

By: Leslie Benson
Posted: March 5, 2008, from the March 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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For starters, Kapsner has been expanding Aveda’s collection of organic essential oils. With jojoba oil as a staple ingredient in many products, he hopes to focus more fragrances around organic bases. “[Thus far], 90% of the essential oils and 89% of our herbs are organic,” he says.

“Organic” is a term Kapsner does not loosely throw around. His knowledge of organic regulators in the food industry encouraged him to help found similar standards certification committees for the health and beauty industry, including the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and NSF International. He’s also a founding board member of Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards (OASIS). Whereas European organic food regulators such as Ecocert and the Soil Association have developed private cosmetic standards, OASIS is leading the way in launching standards for the U.S. market.

As for the term “natural” in the beauty industry, Kapsner questions the label. “‘Natural’ is completely unregulated and is used, misused and abused by the industry as a whole,” he says. “The sourcing for the ingredient itself is from a plant source, but the specifics aren’t regulated.”

So Kapsner chooses to enhance Aveda products by more organic standards.

“We look for materials that have the most sustainable base, so we go to the food industry for vegetable oils, sugars, proteins and those types of things,” Kapsner says.