The beauty brand with a conscience, The Body Shop, has taken up arms yet again, this time fighting for the planet and its people. With the launch of its first Community Trade recycled plastic initiative, the company has resolved to tackle more than just plastic pollution-hoping to drive social change and help empower people at the same time.
Over the last 50 years, plastics have saturated our world, and although the wonder material has made our lives so much more convenient, it comes at a terrible cost to the environment.
With more than 40% of plastics being used just once, less than a fifth of all the world’s plastic is recycled globally. Every day, approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans. The global cosmetics industry alone produces 120 billion units of packaging every year, most of which ends up being piled up in landfills or strewn into our oceans. Closer to home, Sri Lanka has been ranked fifth in the list of countries that release plastic and polythene waste to the ocean.
While the devastating effects of plastic pollution have now come to the forefront of our conversations, the human element to the crisis is less known.
Almost half the planet’s population lives without a proper waste management system, and this has given rise to an informal waste picking economy where some of the world’s most marginalised people have to pick untreated waste to try to make a living. While the work these waste pickers do is vital to stopping plastic from entering our rivers and oceans, many of them -mostly women- often live below the poverty line, work in appalling conditions, and are shunned by society.
For this reason, The Body Shop is committed to tackling the plastic crisis differently. Already renowned for its many initiatives to ensure ethical practices at every step of its production and supply chain processes, the company has now partnered with Plastics for Change to launch its first ever Community Trade recycled plastic; the beauty brand’s own bespoke and independently-verified fair trade programme.
In its bid to take plastic pollution head-on, the high street beauty chain has announced it will purchase 250 tonnes of Community Trade recycled plastic from Bengaluru, India, to use in nearly three million 250ml haircare bottles by the end of 2019 -including its bestselling Ginger Shampoo. This, The Body Shop has pledged, is only the start of the wider goal of introducing Community Trade Recycled plastic across all PET plastic used by the company within three years.
Furthermore, the recycled plastic purchased by The Body Shop for the initiative is sourced via a local non-governmental partner called Hasiru Dala, which fights for the rights of waste pickers in Bengaluru. The brand hopes that by using the abundant resource of recyclable plastic that already exists, it will not only tackle the existing plastic problem, but also help to empower waste pickers by giving them greater access to sanitary working conditions, a fair wage, and the respect and recognition they deserve. The new scheme means workers will also get help in accessing services such as education, financial loans and healthcare. Over the course of three years the programme will scale up to purchasing over 900 tonnes of Community Trade recycled plastic and help empower up to 2,500 waste pickers in Bengaluru.
More importantly, through the company’s fair-trade recycled plastic scheme, The Body Shop allows for customers too to lead the charge in fighting the world’s plastic problem, and help improve the lives of waste workers in the process. Buying from The Body Shop means that you don’t just cater to your own wellbeing, but help make a considerable difference on a much larger scale.
Shop the Community Trade recycled products from The Body Shop flagship store on Bagatale Road, Odel in Alexandra Place, the Kandy City Centre, and their newest store at the Colombo City Centre.