Are Vegan Beauty Products Better For The Environment?

By Anett Rannamets. Published: December 2022.
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Unfortunately, many beauty products still contain unnecessary animal-derived ingredients. Not only do they involve a cruel manufacturing process but also threw our environment and climate out of balance. 

Our health and our environment are one of the most important things in life. More and more people are paying attention to the foods they eat and the products they put on and near their skin. As the awareness grows, more people also make decisions based on planet-friendliness. So, let’s learn how vegan beauty can be better for the environment.

How Can Vegan Beauty Be Related To The Environment?

The vegan beauty world is connected to the environment through our shopping behaviors and the choices we make. By choosing a product for which no animals have been slaughtered or their by-products used, we leave a mark with our point of view.

When somebody mentions the word “vegan” it is primarily associated with nutrition. However, broadly, veganism is a worldview and a social justice movement. Its main goal is to end the use, unfair treatment, and killing of animals. 

Simply put, a vegan is a person who does not consume meat, eggs, dairy products, or other animal products such as gelatin or honey. But the word “vegan” does not only cover food, it is broader. 

For example, vegans do not consume products that are even partially derived from animals. Like leather, wool, silk products, household chemicals, as well as beauty products. You may be surprised how many common ingredients in beauty products are, for example, slaughterhouse waste.

So, vegan beauty and the environment are linked precisely through animals. Raising those animals requires a lot of resources. It is also one of the big reasons we are now talking about climate change. And global warming has plenty of consequences that many still do not take seriously.

Is Vegan Beauty Better For The Environment?

The short answer is yes, vegan beauty products are more environmentally friendly than products that contain animal components. However, some aspects of this topic are a bit difficult to see at first.

Vegan beauty products contain only plant-based or synthetic ingredients that have not harmed any animals. In addition, vegan beauty is very often organic, clean, and natural. But not always. So, let’s take a look at all the aspects where vegan beauty can really be more environmentally friendly.

No Animal-Derived Ingredients

Vegan beauty products do not contain any animal-based components. This means that by purchasing a vegan product, we are not supporting animal farming. But why is this important? Because animal farming is resource-intensive and has direct effects on the environment.

UN reports confirm that animal farming contributes the most to climate warming, as a result of which, in addition to a large amount of carbon dioxide, both methane and nitrogen oxide are released into the atmosphere.

By the way, as a result of animal digestion, billions of tons of methane (CH4) are released into the environment, which contributes to climate warming 23 times more than carbon dioxide.

Moreover, animal farming produces 13% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases. For comparison: cars, airplanes, trains, and other means of transport together emit 13% of greenhouse gases.

As much as 30% of all land is used for raising agricultural animals — either for pasture or fodder production. Livestock farming is one of the main causes of deforestation, especially in Latin America, where the most extensive deforestation occurs.

Every year, thousands of hectares of rainforest are cut down to make way for farmland. It is estimated that nearly 20% of the Amazon rainforest has been cut down and burned, and every second an area the size of a football field is destroyed.

But rainforests are vital to our planet. They produce over 20% of oxygen and remove millions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere by storing it in the ground. Rainforests are home to 50 percent of the earth’s animal and plant species.

For example, polar bears, penguins, lemurs, gorillas, orangutans, rhinoceroses, parrots, tigers, etc. are endangered. In addition to exotic species, intensive agriculture also threatens local biodiversity.

In addition to greenhouse gases and rainforest destruction, livestock farming causes irreversible and direct damage at the local level by polluting the environment with animal excrement. Animal feces pollute groundwater and deteriorate the condition of soils.

Yes, it may seem like vegan beauty is the smallest place to help in all of this. But really, every small step counts. And many beauty products today still contain animal-derived ingredients.

Even though some of these beauty ingredients are derived from slaughterhouse waste (eg keratin, collagen), i.e. animals are not killed only for these ingredients, we can still make a difference and leave a mark with our purchasing decisions.

Clean Composition

It is important to note that vegan beauty products, by definition, may contain ingredients harmful to the environment and health. Since “vegan” primarily refers to the reduction of animal suffering, vegan products can sometimes contain toxic chemicals or ingredients that have not harmed the animals but may harm the environment.

Fortunately, most vegan beauty brands are conscious and want to make a difference in every field. This means that they care about the health and the environment in addition to animals. Conscious beauty brands avoid toxic substances and often use organic and natural materials.

Although organic beauty and natural beauty are not the same as vegan beauty, they often go hand in hand. That’s why you can see a lot of organic or natural vegan beauty products on store shelves and on e-shops.

Packaging

Is Vegan Beauty More Environmentally Friendly Recycle

As already mentioned, vegan products may not always be natural or “clean”, as some people would say. Similarly, vegan beauty brands may not think about recycling or upcycling. However, conscious companies do. So when it comes to packaging, with a high probability, vegan beauty brands have also thought about how to cause as little damage to the environment as possible.

Many vegan beauty brands use recycled materials. You can often see glass containers or recyclable packaging. Many have also come up with the option of refills. When it comes to shipping the products, brands are often using as little plastic as possible and choosing, for example, paper tape instead of plastic.

However, this is not always the case. Still, if the packaging is important to you, you will definitely find options among vegan beauty brands that meet your expectations. Always check the vegan brand’s website for their manufacturing and packaging policies. It may come as a surprise how many actually bring up planet impact and explain how they try their best to produce responsibly.

Supporting Environmental Organisations

Many conscious vegan beauty brands also support non-profit organizations and projects. Making a difference with charity is actually very popular with vegan beauty brands. Among the associations, you can often find organizations that deal directly with environmental protection.

For example, one of the popular vegan skincare brands Youth To The People supports plenty of nonprofit organizations in the climate space. Or the conscious vegan brand Acure supports a student-led movement that is committed to educating people about environmental issues.

FAQ About Vegan Beauty And The Environment

Are vegan beauty products better for the environment?

Yes. Vegan beauty products are better for the environment. Vegan beauty products contain only plant-based or synthetic ingredients that have not harmed any animals. And animal farming is one of the main reasons for climate change. In addition, vegan beauty is very often organic, clean, and natural. Most conscious vegan beauty brands think about reducing their plastic use and a lot of them support non-profits in the climate space.

Summary

With vegan beauty, you can take care of your own health and the environment at the same time. By not using beauty products with animal ingredients, consumers are taking a stand against factory farming.

The use of animal materials is not only ethically a catastrophe, but animal husbandry must also be drastically reduced to not harm our planet in the long term. Vegan beauty products are definitely the better alternative to doing something good for our environment.

The use of vegan beauty products is a first step in the right direction and should therefore not just be a short-lived trend. All animal ingredients can be replaced by plant-based or synthetically produced yet effective components. So no animals have to die for our nail polish, face cream, or lipstick.

See also: 100% Vegan Skincare Brands

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Sources:

  1. IPCC (2007). Climate Change 2007: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Link: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar4/wg3/
  2. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (2006). Livestock is a major threat to the environment. Link: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/media/links/p90/environmental-disaster.pdf
  3. The Green Providers Directory. Protecting The Rainforests. Link: https://www.green-providers.co.uk/protecting-the-rainforests/

Anett is a passionate journalist, writer, and magazine editor with almost 7 years of experience. Through engaging articles, she brings kinder and more environmentally-friendly choices closer to everybody.