Beauty Store Business

AUG 2016

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26 August 2016 | beautystorebusiness.com United States—UPSTREAM—is doing groundbreaking work here. We'd love to talk to any companies interested in getting more involved. Plastic pollution is primarily a design flaw, much more than an issue of people littering. Ultimately, we all bear the costs of bad design through the increasing contamination of our food chain. Second, with respect to microbeads, I don't need to suggest to manufactur- ers that they discontinue using plastic microbeads because this is now a law; but I would recommend that companies take some leadership on educating their customers, and not simply try to sell through their "bad" inventory. We all depend on clean waters. And, as I mentioned before, we'd love to work with retailers on creative ways to get customers to bring back their microbead-containing products in exchange for discounts on [microbead- free] products. I think there are ways of doing this that could be a win-win. Finally, we'd love for people to get more involved—not only by not using plastic-microbead products and sending [them] back to us, but by sharing this with their friends and family, joining our action campaign and taking leader- ship. Our oceans and climate are under increasing ecological threats, and we desperately need more engaged citizens to get involved in activism. In terms of the greatest threat to our oceans and our marine life, where do microbeads fall on that list? Are they No. 1? Are they No. 5? I wouldn't say at all that they're No. 1. Some of the greatest threats to our oceans, in general, are climate change, acidification, overfishing, and now plastic pollution is recognized by global leaders as one of the big threats to our oceans. In terms of the primary culprits on the ocean environment, I would say it's more our single-use pack- aging dilemma—the single-use packaging that we design that's not recoverable, that's not really recyclable, that doesn't have a market value. So I wouldn't put microbeads as a No. 1 threat. What is dan- gerous about microbeads, however, is their size. They won't break down much further. They're perfectly round. They're smooth. They can withstand a lot of pressure from the ocean, and they're a size that is imme- diately attractive to marine organisms. They look exactly like fish eggs. But, you know, we can't really quan- tify this yet. People have come up with different guesstimates for how many beads are flushing into water. I've heard people say roughly 300 million tons in the United States annually. But we don't yet have real-time data from the ocean. Like I said before, it's only been a few years that we've known about this. We never thought to look for microbeads in our ocean expeditions before this; but we certainly will now. What really struck us with this campaign—all of the NGOs working together—is that grassroots organi- zations were able to effect national change and influence the design of prod- ucts produced by massive companies. It was a great win for the plastic-pollution movement, and one we all hope to replicate in the future. As we understand it, 5 Gyres has worked with LUSH Cosmetics and possibly other companies. How so? LUSH does a lot of philanthropic support of environmental causes, and it got behind our microbeads campaign mostly from a marketing standpoint. It gave us finan- cial support to push the campaign. It produced a fantastic video that's on our website to educate people and to educate its community. It did in-store education in all 250 stores across the country. All LUSH stores ran a campaign in April 2015 where its customers were educated. Its staff members were trained to talk about microbeads, and they directed customers to sign a petition. It was really amazing to work with a company that has a big marketing budget to really amplify our message. Has 5 Gyres spoken at any beauty-industry trade shows yet? We attended the Indie Beauty Expo in New York last year, and I was at the Los Angeles show [iBE L.A.] in May. Engag- ing with the beauty sector, in general, is something we're keenly interested in, as there are many products and companies out there that could improve their pack- aging design and footprint, as well as many eco-friendly brands that we'd love to engage with to do more. Anna, is there anything else that you'd like our readers to know? I guess to sum it up: Plastic pollution is a global threat, impacting our oceans, ecosystems and food chain around the world. The scientific proof here is over- whelming. It's a design problem that we humans created, and is a direct result of our short-term, profit-driven mind-set. If we are going to turn this around, we need engagement from industry—from compa- nies and retailers willing to take leadership on creating smarter products and better systems. And we need engagement from the public—from people joining action campaigns to influence companies, keep them accountable and design change where needed. It's either going to happen voluntarily or through legislation, which takes a much greater toll on all involved. We'd love to hear from anyone interested in getting more involved, and are always open to new ideas. ■ Manyesha Batist is a freelance writer and editor based in Denver, and a former editor at Beauty Store Business. (Above) Microplastics in a fi sh. (Below) Plastic bitten by fi sh in the North Atlantic Ocean during a 5 Gyres SEAChange Expedition. Images courtesy of The 5 Gyres Institute

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