Most packaging today is designed to be used once and discarded. Once the contents of the container are all used up, they end up in landfills or in the oceans.
As more and more people are realizing the harmful effects of this practice, they’re demanding eco-friendly alternatives.
For cosmetics, this translates to formulating eco-friendly products and creating sustainable packaging. However, transitioning to sustainable packaging is easier said than done.
So, we’re covering 5 sustainable beauty brands to inspire you and putting out tips to create a sustainable packaging design.
5 sustainable beauty brands to inspire your packaging ideas
Here are some of the best sustainable beauty brands you can take inspiration from to create attractive packaging for your brand.
Herbivore began with the idea of making sustainably packaged, vegan, and natural skin care products easily accessible to the masses. The brand takes a sensorial approach to packaging and ensures that every aspect of the product, from scent to color to its benefits, is enjoyable.
It’s one of the best examples of sustainable beauty brands that started with minimal investment — Alex, the brand’s co-founder, claims that it started with a $50 investment — without skimping on sustainability.
The brand first started with a range of soaps and slowly expanded to include other beauty products like baths, body salts, etc.
All of their products come in glass jars that can be reused to hold jewelry or carry your morning shakes and tea. Even their ingredients break down into the soil, making Herbivore an example of a truly sustainable brand that’s mindful of what it sells to its customers.
Apart from glass jars, the brand also uses sustainable materials like GMO-free soy wax and recyclable plastic. Even their printing inks are sustainable.
Since the brand started with soaps, an item which requires minimal packaging, they didn’t have to do much to get started with sustainable packaging.
It’s only when they started selling items like serums that they had to reinvest their revenue into creating sturdy but sustainable packages for their products.
So, if you’re starting out, you might want to go down the same route and begin with products that require minimal or no packaging.
“Create a cosmetics revolution and save the planet.”
According to Heather Deeth, the company’s Head of Buying, that’s Lush’s mission. To achieve its goal, the brand has created four pillars for the sustainable packaging strategy, namely:
Refuse: According to Deeth, refusing packaging means converting the product itself into a package.
For example, the company offers a shampoo bar that comprises a solid puck that creates lather when it comes in contact with water. Therefore, it doesn’t need to be packaged in a bottle.
Plus, the company has only offered hand bars and not soaps as the brand wants to keep products package-free as much as possible to even reduce the possibility of creating wastage.
Reduce: When it comes to reduction, Lush seeks to thin out all packaging while keeping it structurally stable and designs packaging with the end of life in mind to recycle it easily.
They also seek transparency in their supply chain so they can go back and retrace their steps to measure their carbon footprint and find better ways to reduce it further.
Reuse: While not all of Lush’s products are without packaging, the ones that need packaging have reusable options like knot wraps made from recycled PET bottles or organic fairtrade cotton.
The brand also uses aluminum tins containing 40% recycled materials and according to Ms. Deeth, Lush is also experimenting with the use of ocean plastics.
“It’s a really challenging material to work with,” she said. “However, we know that we can use up to five percent of ocean plastics in our black pots and still maintain the integrity of the packaging.”
Recycle: As a part of its recycling strategy, Lush is using 100% recyclable plastic for its containers. It even allows members to get a free face mask when they return five containers.
TL;DR: Lush uses packaging only if it’s absolutely necessary. Ask yourself if you can also transform your product into packaging.
Living Organic Loving Ingredients (LOLI)
LOLI is the very first completely zero-waste organic beauty brand. It was started in 2014 and was built upon the philosophy of “whatever nurtures us inside should also nurture us outside.”
As a result, most of LOLI’s products contain superfoods as their main ingredients because these are believed to be important for skin care.
When it comes to sustainability, LOLI goes all in and only uses food-grade glass packaging so you can reuse the containers and fill them with food or beverages when they’re empty.
As for shipping materials, the brand only uses the ones that are compostable or recyclable. Plus, for every product sold, the company cleans two pounds of plastic for recycling, making it plastic-negative.
When the brand started selling the products at ULTA, one of the requirements was that they create external packaging for their products. But instead of using recycled paper, the brand took a more innovative approach.
They found a vegan meat substitute producer who grew mushrooms into packaging and found another supplier who upcycled hemp fiber to make the paper they were going to wrap the trays in.
Thus, the biggest takeaway from LOLI is to always look for innovative alternative solutions when it comes to creating sustainable packaging.
Alice Kindred Wells and Jennifer Black were tired of all the plastic packaging and harsh chemicals that the industry used.
So, they started Kindred Black — a line of simple and effective oils and toners for the face, body, and hair packed in plastic-free, hand-blown bottles and vials sealed with waxed corks.
The idea was to create a line of heritage bottles that people would be more likely to hold on to and reuse as they found them aesthetically appealing.
And they were correct in believing that putting greater care into the appeal and structure of the packaging would foster sustainable behaviors.
When you first test the products, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy the elegance of each bottle and wonder what it could hold next once it’s empty before delving into the magic inside.
So, the biggest lesson to learn from Kindred Black is to put more thought into creating packaging to encourage more people to reuse it.
All of Aesop’s packaging must be useful, modest, and environmentally friendly to stay true to their ethos.
But unlike other brands, some of their bottles are constructed from plastic rather than glass. It may seem counterintuitive but the brand claims that this was a practical decision rather than a hasty one as it solves their packaging issues — reduces the carbon footprint — by recycling plastic rather than making a glass bottle from scratch.
The majority of the plastic Aesop uses is recycled PET, which consists of at least 97% recycled plastic that comes from leftover plastic in households.
5 tips to design sustainable packaging
Creating sustainable packaging is easier said than done. So, here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Make use of recyclable materials: Reconstituted plastic, paperboard, cardboard, and other materials can be used to make new things. But before you begin production, consult with your packaging manufacturer to determine which materials will match your budget, demands, and values and if the product itself will last long in a sustainable container.
2. Consider uncommon materials: Innovative or high-tech materials like the mushroom packaging , using inks created from foods or milk proteins, and edible plant-based packing peanuts are just a few examples of how your packaging choices may help the environment.
3. Keep it natural: Sustainable packaging has grown in popularity in recent years as corporations have recognized that environmentally friendly-materials appeal to a consumer base that’s only increasing in number by the day. Natural materials, such as recycled, virgin, or dye-free paper, have a lower environmental impact.
4. Cut down the excess waste: Waste occurs in substantial quantities at the warehousing and retail levels. One way to avoid this waste is to create minimalistic packaging.
This type of packaging must have a sleek, clean design that appeals to customers while distinguishing you from heavier-packaged competitors. Consumers may flock toward your goods if you place less attention on bulky packaging, believing it offers a better value.
5. Reconsider the packing: Although not always practical, several firms have developed inventive ways to minimize the size or shape of their products in order to lessen or eliminate the need for packaging without compromising on product quality.
For example, you can condense liquid formulae, embed packaging into the product, or arrange products in innovative ways to make space for more products within the same package.
How to use an artwork management tool to speed up your package creation process
Most modern packaging is single-use, and the empty container’s contents wind up in landfills or the ocean. This has prompted the need for eco-friendly products and sustainable packaging.
However, coming up with a sustainable package design is easier said than done as the process gets complex, especially with multiple stakeholders.
This is where Artwork Flow comes in. Artwork Flow is a label management tool & brand asset management software that streamlines your creative design and packaging management process and makes collaboration a breeze.
You can inject accountability into the package design process from the get-go with workflows and checklists and track the progress of your projects to discover bottlenecks with ease.
When it comes to feedback, Artwork Flow displays comments from all stakeholders in a single place. This way, it isn’t lost in endless emails and your team doesn’t have to go through multiple revisions to incorporate all of it.
It also provides a central repository of files so you can search for digital assets quickly and track all the changes that were made to them.
The cherry on top is the compliance and proofreading tools which help you determine if your package label meets compliance requirements.