Ethique’s Brianne West Challenges Beauty Industry

Self-taught green entrepreneur New Zealander Brianne West launched the zero-waste personal care brand Ethique to challenge the clean beauty industry to live up to its name. The company wants to stop millions of plastic bottles from ending up in landfills.

Clean beauty is not as clean as it seems always because many big beauty brands sell “all natural” products in plastic packaging. Hence, in the pursuit of natural beauty goals, consumers are sending piles of plastic into the bin: 80 billion plastic bottles end up in landfills each year from shampoo and conditioner alone.

That’s before factoring in water waste and ingredient cultivation. When West heard those stats, it was, she says, a “lightbulb moment.”

“I always wanted to use my passion for environmental conservation to create positive change,” West says. “I didn’t know that it would be through beauty.”

At the time, West was a biochemistry student in university. In her spare time, she started looking into the inner workings of the beauty industry, teaching herself cosmetic chemistry. The more she learned, the more determined she became to change it.

“I realised up to 75 per cent of shampoo and even 90 per cent of conditioner can be water,” she says, “which is madness, when there is water in your bathroom.”

Ethique’s products range from solid shampoos and conditioners to solid moisturisers, serums and even men’s and baby products. Each of these products goes through a rigorous development process, required to meet all three of West’s criteria.

“We have three boxes each ingredient must tick,” she explains. “It must be sustainably-produced, and biodegradable (this means no palm oil or petroleum products for example). It must have no legitimate science-based health concerns and finally, it must not be tested on animals.”

Launched in 2012, the company claims to have already saved the world from over 500,000 plastic bottles. But West has even bigger goals.

“We’re on track to prevent one million plastic bottles from being created and going to landfill by end of this year,” she says.

Original article by Esha Chhabra, Forbes, June 27, 2018.

Tags: Brianne West  Ethique  Forbes  zero-waste