These Beauty and Wellness Brands are Leading the Charge Toward Sustainability

Being the change they want to see in the world, some companies are thinking outside the box to come up with innovative ideas to make their products more sustainable.

For example, Oka-B, a popular spa footwear manufacturer, relies on closed-loop manufacturing, which means it’s reusing the same materials over again, conserving natural resources, and minimizing waste. “By using a bio-based recyclable material, we are able to grind up any scraps and make them into new shoes,” says Sara Irvani, CEO of Oka-B. “This recycling empowers us to eliminate more than 150,000 pounds of waste annually. Our innovation is deeply rooted in our values.” The shoes are also produced in the U.S., which reduces the company’s carbon footprint. In addition, customers are also encouraged to return old pairs to the company for recycling with an enticing discount off their next order.

The Noel Asmar Group, which manufactures spa uniforms, pedicure bowls, and more, is also striving to be more sustainable by making quality over quantity a foundational value. “We transformed the boxy smock in 2002, setting high expectations for quality uniforms in the workplace,” says founder and CEO Noel Asmar. “We replaced a very utilitarian-looking, low-quality, poor-fitting uniform that often only lasted five to six months. In 2018, we launched our first uniform collection made from fabric that is spun out of recycled water bottles. Since then, we have diverted more than 268,000 water bottles from landfills.” The company also launched a sustainability initiative, Hospitality Lifecycle, to help manage textile waste. It partnered with Debrand, which provides custom-tailored recycling solutions, to help spas recycle their expired textiles.


While serving on the sustainability leadership council for Sephora, Tiila Abbitt was shocked to learn how truly unsustainable the beauty industry was. “Of the 120-billion units of colored cosmetics packaging produced annually, none of it was being recycled through our system,” says Abbitt. “I visited numerous recycling facilities, attended sustainable cosmetic conferences, and talked to various packaging engineers in the space and found that with color cosmetics, specifically, they’re all using harder plastics, mixed metals, magnets, and screws, which unfortunately, render the products unrecyclable under our system, because nobody is sitting there taking these things apart. It was mind-blowing to me that products were being produced to just end up in a landfill.” Such revelations made her realize she could do better, which led her to create Aether Beauty, a color cosmetics line that is ethically sourced, cruelty-free, and vegan. “On the packaging side, it’s all fully recyclable, and I also do carbon-neutral shipping,” says Abbitt. “And on top of it all, I partner with 1% for the Planet on all sales.” It is an international organization whose members contribute at least one percent of annual sales to environmental causes.   

Valérie Grandury, inspired by a health scare, created Odacité, a California-based skincare company focused on using clean ingredients. “Since our inception 10 years ago, sustainability has been at the heart of everything we do,” she says. “This starts with our sourcing practice. Our formulas only use ingredients that beautify the skin without compromising the environment.” When it comes to sourcing, the company relies on wildcrafted, organic, non-GMO ingredients that have been grown without chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers. With its own lab, Odacité is able to control its manufacturing process to create zero waste. All products are handmade in small batches and use very little water. According to Grandury, 95 percent of packaging is made of recyclable glass, and her team is constantly searching for an alternative to plastic pumps. External packaging is also kept to a minimum. And if that isn’t enough, the company has pledged to plant 20,000 trees in 2020. 

Earlier this year, The Detox Market launched its Earth CPR Initiative, a sustainability roadmap to becoming carbon negative by planting at least 2.5 million trees and encouraging other brands to do the same by 2025. “To that end, we’re partnering with TerraCycle to turn our stores into beauty recycling hubs, planting a tree for every online order, rethinking our shipping practices and how we stock our offices, and designing modular retail displays to phase out the non-recyclable ones,” says The Detox Market founder Romain Gaillard. “There’s a lot in the works, and we’re thrilled to be making changes that yield tangible results, now and over time.”


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