MAKE A COMMITMENT!  Natural Beauty Summit May 2009 Report 
Okay – so I am not really “just back from” the Natural Beauty Summit (NBS) but, after a couple weeks of the normal mess involved with moving, I am getting around to a report. Keep in mind – these are the things that stuck in my head 2 weeks after the event.
After 2 days of (estimate) 30 people speaking, there is no doubt that “organic” and “natural” are here to stay for a while. At the same time these label claims are being increasingly held up to scrutiny, hence the various standards. Listening to the various people that got my attention, I came away with two messages –  1 – make a commitment, 2 – and we really do have a problem with waste in this industry.
Make a commitment: Mike Indursky of Burt’s Bees and Ido Lefler of Yes to Carrots hit the same theme: pick a standard, get certified, commit and support the standard you’ve signed on for – use the logo to your advantage, any logo, any program, just commit. We should keep in mind that not everyone has the million dollars that Burt’s put into marketing the NPA logo which, from what I hear, is expensive and not transparent in it’s delivery process – but what the heck – if you have an NPA product out there you should send a “thank you” letter to Mike. 
Then Jasper van Brakel (CEO Weleda North America) discussed the 80 odd year history of Weleda and their steady climb through the market place by recruiting growers to grow the Bio-Dynamic crops used for the herbal products they make. This is an “inside-out” approach – buy my product because of what is on the inside of the bottle. This is a commitment to their own company policy and ethos. Their company age and the simplicity of their ingredients makes this very achievable for them.
The counter to the above speeches was the presentation about the “Cosmos” Standard which is supposed to be the “harmonized” EU organic and natural standard that totally confused most people there. Evidently the “harmonization” is not planned to occur until 2012 and then they only need to use the standard as a base line! So much for that idea.
I presented about  OASIS, we are marching along (that is another blog) and Joe Smilie of QAI tried to convince everyone that the Dept. of Ag (USDA) would be able to enforce cosmetic labeling and use the NSF “made with” standard. He failed to mention that the use of synthetic materials is prohibited under the Organic Foods Production Act, the law upon which the USDA-NOP regulation is based so . . . it probably won’t happen. Hello! This is personal care – surfactants, preservatives ad emulsifiers are ALL synthetic, even if they are “good” synthetics. We need a different approach than the food world needs.
Waste: There was a great presentation about “cradle to grave” certification (something we are working on at OASIS). I know that personally the packaging of cosmetics has always blown my mind – of course I grew up next to Berkeley, Calif., in the days when we went to the first (real) Body Shop where one re-filled bottles with personal care product base and added one’s own choice of fragrance – at least until the State of California stopped that practice as “unsafe”. Okay – so maybe we needed to return our bottles and have them sterilized first but . . . what are a few bacteria compared to the tremendous pile of garbage we create daily? Point being, that this industry has much greater issues to grapple with in the future. There were many talks that touched on these long term issues. They start you thinking.
So – the marketers pushed the need to craft and commit to a clear message (put that way, it doesn’t sound very original, does it?) and the environmentalist pointed out the continued long term implications of what we put down the drain and in the garbage.
There were also sessions about using “food” as personal care ingredients, something I’ve worked on for 10 years – so, in view of my need to start moving 6 years of stuff into a new home, I opted to leave. I’ll make a few calls to folks that attended it and let you know the outcome.
All that said – it was a good conference, expensive but, I think worth it, and I look forward to the development of this particular venue to support and educate the cosmetic industry.

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