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Beyond the Gloss: The environmental and health costs of beauty products and what we can do about it.

by David James 22 Apr 2024

From lipstick to landfills, we now know there is a massive cost of the booming beauty and personal care industry. Estimated at $48.8 billion worldwide and continuing to grow, recent reports by the social justice platform TRVST, shows that beauty packaging alone contributes a staggering 120 billion units of waste annually, encompassing plastic, paper, glass, and metals, much of which is ultimately deposited into landfills. Furthermore, the production of many beauty products fuels a considerable demand for natural oils, resulting in widespread and intensive cultivation practices that impact natural ecosystems through deforestation, soil and waterways contamination and pesticides and fertilizers.

Also, consumers are realising that the chemicals we put on our body – whether it’s shampoos, cosmetics or fragrances – have an impact on our overall health and well-being. Indeed, recently new research reports that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products use or have traces of industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors.

When Thomas’s Marlborough decided to bring beauty and fragrance products into our world, we really set out to showcase the wonderful natural and New Zealand made brands that you might not see in the big chains, simply because they were better for you and the environment. In short, we only wanted to work with brands that reflected our values and standard of quality to ensure our customers we getting the absolute best.

With Earth Week April 22-28 upon us, we caught up with Jesse from womenswear to discuss some of the brands that we do stock and why it is so crucial for Thomas’s to be a part of the new movement for a sustainable beauty future.

So, Thomas’s has in recent years made its way into stocking beauty and fragrance, what’s so unique about your range here?

The majority, if not all of our brands are New Zealand brands. One of our biggest players is Emma Lewisham and also Raaie in terms of skincare. We also have a couple of fragrance brands as well. Abel are a New Zealand brand as well and have a massive sustainability focus.

When a customer's coming to you about Emma Lewisham, what are you telling their story, why are this brand so important now?

All Emma Lewisham packaging is designed to be refilled. Instead of buying a new vessel, you simply buy a refill pod or pouch, which have been proven to reduce carbon emissions by up to 74%. While many brands have started offering ‘return to recycle’ initiatives, Emma Lewisham’s big point of difference is that they prioritise refills over recycling. Through their global Beauty Circle programme, they offer complimentary returns so that customers can return their empty refills to be first and foremostly refilled, and anything that cannot be refilled they pay to have recycled through a specialised recycling partner.

Their natural formulations are designed to mimic the cellular processes of the skin, and are backed by extensive independent scientific testing that has proven they outperform industry leaders in their categories.


Is that really important to people these days?

Well, I think what people are starting to realize is your skin is your biggest organ of your body. Whatever you put on it, you're actually absorbing into your skin and into your bloodstream. You want to be conscious of what you're putting onto your skin.

For example, I think Nurture was Abel’s original product. And it was created when the founder was pregnant and she was doing a bit of research about what you should put on your skin when you're pregnant because that gets absorbed. And that was the starting point for her range.

We know that our customers care for the environment and our customer is willing to invest in product that's good for them, good for their skin, but also good for the environment.

Are you actually having customers coming in, going, "Is this natural? Is this eco-friendly?"

People do care about it more these days. And they love that there's the refill option – with Emma Lewisham for example. Rather than buying this beautiful packaging and when as soon as it's used, you throw that straight into the waste or into landfill, this allows you to keep that beautiful packaging, that life span of that packaging goes on. And your empty gets sent back to Emma Lewisham where they sterilise it, refill it, and it can go back into circulation.

Also, again, I think skin is one of those things that you really do have to invest in. When you're investing in your skin, you're investing in yourself. 80% of your aging comes from the sun and from environmental factors. When you're investing in a product like this that's quality, that's good for your skin. And as a side note, good for the environment.

Join us in celebrating Earth Week Monday 22 - 28 April, and do check out some of our amazing beauty and fragrance ranges:



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