Let’s kick this off with a frankly horrific fact: 8 million tonnes of plastic are being dumped in the ocean every year. Clearly, if there’s ever been a time to get serious when it comes to sustainable living, it’s now.
According to recent research, we’ve got a pretty good handle on things in the kitchen: around 90% of food packaging is currently being recycled. However, the same doesn’t apply to our bathrooms, as only 50% of beauty and personal care waste receives the same eco treatment.
Driven by the worrying prediction that by 2025, our oceans could contain one kilogram of plastic waste for every three kilograms of fish, Selfridges’ annual Project Ocean campaign is turning its focus to sustainability in the beauty industry this summer.
Opening today (ahead of World Oceans Day on June 8) the Project Ocean Beauty Booth is the department store’s sustainability-focused beauty campaign, which aims to encourage us to reduce, reuse and recycle all that plastic piling up in our bathrooms.
Situated on the ground floor of the iconic Oxford Street flagship store, the Beauty Booth is an exhibition-style space where you can discover, shop and test a huge array of plastic-conscious products. 10% of sales proceeds will be donated to the Zoological Society of London, a long-time Project Ocean partner, and if you can’t make it into the London flagship you can get involved online, too.
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‘Since Selfridges first launched Project Ocean in 2011, the customer awareness around the issue of plastic has significantly increased – driven by initiatives like charging for plastic carrier bags in 2015, and stores like Selfridges banning the use of single-use plastic water bottles in 2018’, explains Melissa McGinnis, Beauty Buying Manager. She feels that consumers are already aware of the impact our plastic habits are having on the environment, and now it’s more about retailers and brands providing us with the sustainable solutions we want.
The Beauty Booth is an interactive experience showcasing the most sustainable heroes across hair, skin, body and oral hygiene. With a combination of big-name brands and niche disruptors, there’s pretty much an eco solution for every step in your beauty routine, be it a packaging-free solid shampoo or a tub of biodegradable glitter for that festival you’ve got coming up.
‘We’ve seen an increase in refillable products – which is a great way for brands to create beautiful packaging that the customers will want to keep and come back to refill time and time again’, says McGinnis. Furthermore, the brand reports a focus on reducing unnecessary secondary packaging, such as plastic face-cream applicators and plastic-wrapped boxes, as well as research into alternative ingredients including sugar cane.
Selfridges has long set the standard when it comes to sustainability in beauty: the department store became a microbead-free zone two years ahead of the ban, and single-use water bottles have been banished from the food hall. Even those iconic yellow paper bags are made from repurposed coffee cups.
‘Ten years ago you would not have seen as many people carrying their own refillable water bottles or bringing their own bags when grocery shopping. We are now much more aware of the issue of plastic and now need to focus on how we can work to reduce our waste, recycle used products and refill where available’, confirms McGinnis.
The Project Ocean Beauty Booth will take up residency in the Accessories Hall for the next six weeks, and it’ll have a permanent home online after the campaign – after all, sustainability isn’t a one-season trend.