NATURAL AND ORGANIC
In Europe, the principal ecolabels for organic and natural cosmetics are the independent certification programmes ECOCERT and COSMOS. Both provide two certification programmes, one for 95 percent organic and natural, and one for 50 percent natural.
No cosmetic products are wholly organic. After all, mineral ingredients and water cannot be certified as organic, despite being natural products. So, although the percentage of organic substances in eco-certified bodycare products may seem low (often no more than 10 percent), an ECOCERT ecolabel still ensures that any plant material or plant derivative, such as herbs, honey or fruit, are organic. Natural ingredients are also no guarantee against allergens. Indeed, many natural substances can cause allergies.
To ensure skincare products are allergy-friendly, they should preferably also be certified by either a national Asthma association or an international programme, such as AllergyCertified or Asthma Allergy Nordic. But few, if any, hotel amenity lines are allergy-certified since this would require that they are fragrance-free, for instance. And scent is still considered by many, if not most people, as a desirable and memory-evoking property. And after all, hotel stays are about creating memorable moments.
To some degree, plastic packaging is unavoidable However, minimising the use of plastic and ensuring it is recycled and recyclable are priorities of all ecolabelling programmes.
“Our most important challenge is to avoid using virgin plastic. That’s why it’s important to use recycled plastic, to close the loop,” says Mia Thielsen, Managing Director of iLoveEcoEssentials.
Perhaps one of the most inspiring post-consumer-plastic initiatives is the recycling of ocean plastic, such as the initiatives under the Surfrider Foundation where throwaway plastic from the vast gyres of the oceans is recycled as commercial packaging. Upcycling ocean plastic may seem like a gimmick – or a proverbial environmental drop in the ocean – but it highlights one of the major challenges the world faces, while boosting the green credentials of hotels using ocean-sourced plastic.
Another sustainable packaging initiative is the FSC certification programme for responsible forestry, such as with cardboard or bamboo packaging. But the FSC ecolabel can also be extended to plantation products, such as palm oil, used in the bodycare products themselves. Certification of plantation products is a contentious issue among environmentalists so hoteliers need to rely on their instinct for what appeals to their eco-conscious guest.
Listening to your consumers is always paramount. And as corporate and public entities increasingly require eco-certified hotel products as part of their sustainability strategy then choosing eco-labelled bathroom amenities might prove vital to your business when signing your next corporate contract.