“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, designed or removed from production.” – Pete Seeger
These days, “sustainability” is a hot term and a common marketing strategy. There’s a whole movement dedicated to sustainable or green capitalism. But how do we know that companies and businesses actually care about sustainability? In fact, the biggest perpetrators of pollution and climate change are corporations, companies, and government sectors. There doesn’t even appear to be unanimous guidelines for companies to follow to be considered sustainable. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that under U.S. law, cosmetic products and ingredients do not need FDA approval before they go onto the market. It comes down to the individual companies and businesses to make sure their products are safe to use and are ecologically responsible. When Chinonye founded ILERA Apothecary, these are the exact concerns she had about the current products on the market. Because of this awareness around irresponsible business practices, ILERA has been able to cultivate a culture of sustainability within the company and throughout our customer base.
Here are some ways that ILERA Apothecary embodies principles of sustainability:
- High quality, ethically sourced ingredients
- Plant-based and cruelty free
- Non-toxic products that anyone can use
Sustainability also goes beyond taking care of our environment. Sustainable business practices also include paying your employees a living wage and engaging with the local community. ILERA Apothecary is deeply committed to community care, as demonstrated by our partnership with Jasper House Haiti. You can read more about that partnership here.
For me personally, sustainability involves a whole lot of intention and creativity. Working towards a sustainable lifestyle challenges me in the best ways! I'm constantly re-evaluating my lifestyle and practices to see where I can cut out excess and minimize harm. For example, I share a deep love for all living things, especially animals, which is why veganism is a part of my sustainability journey. My homeland and my tribe in Borneo is seriously affected by palm oil cultivation, so I also abstain (as much as possible) from buying products with palm oil as an ingredient. That being said, it’s important to note that sustainability is a process, and it isn’t something that can happen overnight. I sometimes still forget to check if certain products are vegan (did you know most wine is not vegan?) even though I've been vegan for 4 years now, and finding products that don't contain palm oil can be difficult and pricey. It can be easy to feel defeated in these situations, but it's important to remember that sustainability isn't about being perfect. I don't any sustainable lifestyle is perfect, or causes the less harm than another. The way I see it, one of the most valuable things about leading a sustainable lifestyle is creating a culture of sustainability. If there is a strong commitment to sustainability in our society, there's hope that governments, corporations, and large companies will follow our lead.
It can be extremely intimidating to learn about sustainability, and even more intimidating to try and integrate sustainable practices into your life. However, it’s important to keep in mind that sustainability isn’t an ending point-- it’s a journey that encourages growth along the way. If you’re wondering where to start, I’ve also included a list of sustainability issues in beauty as well as some general sustainability issues. It can also help to identify which sustainability issues resonate with you the most, and start there. When doing research about specific topics, you'll likely find that your issue is tied to another issue, and that issue is tied to another, and so on.
If any of this resonates with you, please check out the “read more” section at the end of this page for additional resources!