Doing Green The Right Way


I am a big fan of being green.  I’d love to see a lot more progress in that direction in the cosmetics industry and I am very happy to report on a company that according to a report in the trade journal Happi, is doing just that.  Toms of Maine have just issued a report on their project to lighten the load they place on the planet and it makes interesting reading.

Moving to 100% petroleum-free version of propylene glycol for deodorants

A lot of the raw materials in your personal care products are derived from petroleum.  But they don’t need to be.  They can be manufactured from crops using biotechnology and genetically modified organisms.  This makes them sustainable and carbon neutral.  At the moment it also makes them more expensive, but that would become less of a problem if more companies used them.  Full marks to Toms of Maine for blazing a trail here.


Exploring potato-based biopackaging made from Maine potatoes for packaging 

Again, this reduces the carbon footprint.

Reducing water consumption at the company’s manufacturing facility

UK readers will not be worried about a shortage of water, but in the US water resources are a big issue.  Anything that reduces the demand for water also reduces the impact on the environment.

Establishing a West Coast distribution center and using more trains and fewer trucks to move products

Getting goods off the roads and onto rails is a big help to reducing carbon emissions.

Employee participation in giving back to the community

Employees are allowed the equivalent of 12 full paid days per year to help in the community.   There isn’t much point in saving the planet if we are all miserable, so full marks here.

Decreasing the percentage of virgin materials used in packaging

No matter how green the contents, most brands continue to use unsustainable and polluting packaging because it is frankly too difficult to do anything else.  At least by increasing the amount of recycling they are helping a bit.

So on the whole an impressive list of achievements.  Toms of Maine haven’t made too much impact over here so I don’t know much about them besides what I have read in this article.  Whether they actually live up to the image this projects I don’t know.  But at the very least they are saying the right kinds of thing.  If this is a sign that the natural products sector is moving in the direction of actually doing things that will benefit the planet then I am very pleased.


Photo credit: weesam2010 via photopin cc

2 thoughts on “Doing Green The Right Way”

  1. HI Colin

    thank you for the post on this topic which is close to my heart.
    Going green is still an ongoing process and a lot has been done and still on going. One of the major challenges, I think, is how to go about about it. Many people have different views on this popular topic leading to different shades of green claims. For example I have issues with propylene glycol derived from corn fermentation (as you mentioned it), most commonly called propanediol. The reason is that it ends up being called natural when chemically speaking it is not. I think this can potentially create a lot of confusion in people and open the doors to other petrochemicals derived from plant sources thanks to biotechnology. As a fellow chemist I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this tricky topic
    Thank you

  2. I think the problem is terminology. Propanediol is green but not natural. It is a product that has a low impact on the environment while being just as good as the petrochemical it is replacing. I am in favour of looking after the environment but I am unimpressed by much of what is described as ‘natural’.

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