Sustainable Bath & Body Products: Beauty as a Force for Good

Published on December 22, 2021

Spread of sustainable bath and body products
Toast | Partnership Feature

Jennifer Lewis knows a thing or two about sustainable living. The president of Urban Spa and the certified B Corporation Forever Natural was first exposed to the waste crisis in her twenties. While sailing from the Bahamas to Florida, she spotted trash floating by in the water, left behind from a cruise ship ahead. 

“It was crazy because all these things kept floating by in the water: bouquets of plastic flowers, a lawn chair, and I was just like, ‘Wow, who just throws something off a boat and doesn’t give it another thought?” She says.

Recognizing a Gap in the Market for Sustainable Bath & Body Products

Later, when she was planning on having children, she learned that a female fetus in the uterus has a fully developed reproductive system with millions of eggs by the end of the parent’s second trimester. The realization that everything she did while pregnant could potentially determine the health of her future grandchildren shifted her perspective, and she began to live more consciously about the food she was eating and the products she was using on her skin.

Lewis recognized a gap in the market for green personal care products, and as a result, Urban Spa was born in 2001. The vision for the company was simple: a line of eco-friendly, sustainable bath and body products that wouldn’t require people to sacrifice on quality.

How Urban Spa Is Changing the Way Beauty Is Delivered

In 2019, the company expanded into the world of haircare with a line of shampoos, conditioners, serums and oils. Staying far away from plastics, Urban Spa uses an aluminum can bag-on-valve technology delivery system for its haircare products. This is a much more environmentally friendly option given aluminum can be recycled into a new container in as few as 12 weeks.

“About 75% of all aluminum made since the 1880s is still in circulation because it’s infinitely recyclable, it doesn’t degrade, you can use it again and again,” Lewis says.

Urban Spa is Busting Green Living Myths

Raising awareness about sustainable packaging and busting common myths is another key component of Urban Spa’s mission as a company. One such myth is the idea that all plastics with the recycling symbol on them are actually recycled — in fact, only about 8 to 10% of plastics are recycled, which many people aren’t aware of given the misleading nature of the symbol.

In 1988 in the U.S., the plastic industry adopted the Resin Identification Coding System to identify plastic resin, but given its similarity to the recycling symbol, it has only led to confusion among consumers. There are seven numerals printed with the resin identification code, and only numerals one and two are recyclable, meaning many people have essentially been misled about how much plastic is really being recycled.

“It’s really an unfair playing field because people see the recycling symbol and they feel good but it’s a fallacy, a fairy tale,” Lewis says. “I’ve heard of one or two places in the U.S. who are no longer accepting plastic in their recycling programs, and there’s nowhere to send it. When China shut the door to our plastics and said only one and twos, it changed the whole world and that’s why in North America there’s so much pressure because these mounds of plastic have nowhere to go. The day of reckoning is coming.”

Providing a Solution to the Waste Crisis With Sustainable Bath & Body Products

With the company’s alternative packaging, Urban Spa is contributing to a solution to this problem, while raising awareness about other common environmental myths and misconceptions. Despite the misinformation circulating, however, Lewis still feels hopeful that people want to help the environment and that society is beginning to chart a new course towards a greener planet.

“Given what’s going on right now in terms of climate change and the summer we just had, people are starting to wake up and say this is just not right,” Lewis says. “The issue is it’s really got to be legislated. I think we need to be educated and organized and start to lobby legislation. That’s where it’s really going to help.”

To learn more about Urban Spa or shop their sustainable bath and body products, visit urbanspa.ca.

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The Author
Mackenzie Patterson is a Toronto-based writer and journalist. She enjoys long walks, iced coffee on tap, and discovering all the latest and greatest health and wellness trends.