Sunscreens are increasingly marketing themselves as “natural”, “green” or “organic” but much of these claims are misleading. We are faced with the challenge of need to compete in this arms race of green claims, but want to do so with integrity.
In making sunscreen, it is important to consider both the impacts of the product (ingredients of product, recycle/re-usability of packaging) and manufacturing (energy use, waste, and other environmental impact of operations). Many of the claims made about the product (organic, natural, marketing as a “green” product) are a getting a little ahead of themselves, so we’ve considered using packaging to talk about our manufacturing since 1994, such as our commitment to recycling, use of wind power, offsetting, etc.
Maintaining Integrity: the Truth About Sunscreen
We want to maintain the integrity of the KINeSYS brand, which was originally designed as a high performance product to help elite athletes stay healthy in the sun, as opposed to shifting the product to focus on organic, green, and natural, which are all questionable claims, when it comes to any sunscreen. Manipulating “inorganic” zinc or titanium materials at the atomic level is far from being natural or green. In context one nanometer is one billionth of a meter. A piece of paper is 100,000 nanometers thick, minerals don’t come in this size in nature. These ingredients are what protect our skin from the sun, but calling the sunscreen in which they are sold organic is plain and simply greenwashing.
How you can help us (by midnight on Monday)
We want to show our environmental commitment (since inception in 1994). We trademarked earthkind(TM) some years ago as our philosophy, so we’d like to call this out on the packaging, because its part of our original commitment, continues to be, and is necessary to compete with the claims made on other sunscreen products.
Should we chase the direction of the green claims being made, focus on what we do know we can back up (more responsible manufacturing), or use our packaging to take a stand (e.g. “No sunscreen is organic or natural, but we’ve done the best we could.”), similar to what you’d expect from a company many of us admire, Patagonia?
What kinds of things do you care about when purchasing sunscreen or other products that make claims about their “green-ness”? Do you trust what is on the packaging or look deeper?
We have two options to show our earthkind(TM) philosophy (click on the image to enlarge), I’d appreciate your feedback to help shape the way we portray our products.
Imagine spending the majority of your natural born life in a cage so restrictive that you are incapable of standing up or even lifting your arms to shoulder height. A space that not only restrains you from the most natural of movements, but forces you to abide by the daily regimen of force-fed corn blended with powerful antibiotics, all while wallowing amidst your own excrement. The vast quantities of corn that your captors force you to eat has been grown with the waste of your short-lived ancestors, combined with millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When you meet your end it will likely be a welcomed fate, releasing you from the prison of the corporate farm to the liberation of the American dinner plate.
Sound pleasant?—didn’t think so. Yet this is the fate of millions of farm animals (mainly pigs and chickens) bred for their meat in the United States of America. A growing portion of America’s livestock lives in these impressively inhospitable conditions, surviving until the animal—be it a chicken, pig or otherwise—has reached a size deemed appropriate for slaughter. That size being a predetermined capitalization point, thereby ensuring maximum profit and turnover for the farm’s ever-increasing bottom line. So what fuels this excessive, inhumane and abusively capitalistic industry?—we do.
Halfway Humane Pig Farm
The American obsession with “cheap meat” has not only brought undue harm to the animals that unwillingly partake in it, but it has done increasingly irrefutable damage to our health and our environment as well. American’s consume the highest-calorie, protein rich diets in the entire world, and while these diets are delicious, they are also deadly. The United States has significantly higher rates of heart disease and obesity than any other nation on the planet. Given that Republicans and Democrats are currently screaming at each other regarding the best way to implement healthcare reform, they might want to pay attention to the fact that the American diet accounts for nearly $150 billion dollars in healthcare expenses annually. By remodeling the American diet around the notion of quality, while simultaneously redirecting government subsidies from the farming of feed-corn to the farming of fruits and vegetables, we could not only save dollars, but save lives.
Obesity - A Growing Risk
An even more frightening scenario comes as doctors across the country bear witness to an increasing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The packed, unsanitary quarters that permeate the world of corporate farming greatly perpetuate the development of disease and infection. As such, animals are—quite literally—pumped full of antibiotics so that they can survive an onslaught of germs until they are ready for slaughter. Yet this overuse of pharmaceuticals in an effort to keep livestock commodities viable has played a major role in the development of the drug-resistant bacteria that are beginning to plague hospitals nationwide.
Immediate health risks aside, a reduction in meat consumption would also vastly aid our environment and help to cap the expenditure of our dwindling natural resources. As it stands today, 19% of the fossil fuel guzzled by the US is done so by the sapping agricultural industry. The emissions released from said fossil fuels, in conjunction with the tons of greenhouse gasses discharged into the atmosphere via our excessive quantities of livestock, make the US’ overarching role in global warming undeniable.
Greenhouse Gas Emmisions
Furthermore, current methods of “corporate farming” are simply not sustainable in the long term. Not only have we nearly drained some of the Mid-West’s major aquifers, but years of excessive tilling have eroded a significant portion of the United States’ workable soil. Given the steady decline of fertile ground, farmers have been forced to supplement their lands with tons of industrially produced, nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Aside from the fact that these fertilizers cannot supplement the loss of fertile ground forever, they also have a dramatic (and often disregarded) impact on local ecosystems. Whenever the fields become excessively saturated (by the farmer or by Mother Nature) these fertilizers—and their concentrated nitrogen—run into local waterways asphyxiating any aquatic wildlife caught in the runoff.
At the end of the day, the global demand for farm-raised meat is expected to increase 25% over the next two years and the United States needs to start looking at farming options that can support our booming population, rather than our demand for meat. As a social and economic world leader, the United States can pave the way for a global progression towards the sustainable cultivation of foodstuffs. For instance, we can start this process by socially and federally discouraging “corporate farms” while encouraging “small business farms”. Only by supporting these smaller, local farmers can a viable movement away from excess planting, harvesting and ranching take place. Undoubtedly the average American would experience an initial spike in the price of meats and produce, but the ultimate payoff would significantly outweigh any early struggles.
America must rid itself of the fatuitous and gluttonous lifestyle it has promoted since the end of World War II. Now more than ever, we must make the sacrifices necessary to remain relevant as a nation in a world that wishes to rapidly pass us by. Hopefully we can take the first of many steps in that direction by redefining the way we eat, farm and—ultimately—live.
I’d like you to do something for me; board a boat in San Francisco, CA, sail through the beautiful Golden Gate and head southwest towards Hawaii. At first all you may notice is the pristine blue water, perhaps the Faralon Islands, and the occasional containership passing by. But after a while your eyes will perceive something so unbelievable that it will force you to do a double-take. Approximately 1,000 miles off of the western coast of the United States is the largest manmade structure the world has ever seen. Occupying a space nearly twice the size of Texas
That's THIS Big!
and weighing nearly 3.5 million tons (although some reports have it weighting as much as 100 million tons) is a floating island of garbage known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.
Most people have never heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and for good reason: very few of the major media outlets have given it coverage and world governments have, for all intents and purposes, ignored its existence. Forming gradually over time this amalgamation of rubbish has become trapped by the North Pacific Gyre, a massive rotating ocean current that stretches from North America to Asia. The Gyre funnels in pollutants from across the ocean, trapping them in its spherical rotation where this island of refuse remains relatively stationary so that trash can come in, but it cannot go out. As a consequence of this “one way street” the patch has experienced steady growth since its discovery in the 1980’s and, as of right now, shows no signs of slowing its development.
Thanks to humanity’s rampant consumption and improper disposal of plastics, the world’s oceans have been flooded with our waste, and an estimated 85% of that waste comes from plastic. It should come as no surprise then that just over 80% of the Garbage Patch is comprised entirely of plastic. This plastic breaks down via photodegradation, becoming so small that the molecular pieces of polymer can be ingested by the smallest of aquatic organisms. These organisms form the foundation of the oceanic food chain and their contamination results in the eventual contamination of the entire ecosystem. What’s worse?-the unrestricted flow of plastics allows for invasive species to travel thousands of miles to new, predator-free environments where they can destroy natural bionetworks.
Here at KINeSYS our love of the environment obliges us to emphasize how important it is that we clean up this mess! Believe us when we say that every little bit helps, from writing your local news agency, to blogging about the subject–hell–even picking up a stray plastic bag blowing along the sidewalk makes an impact! We can all do our part to shrink this massive blemish humanity has left upon the ocean. However, if you’re looking to make a more DIRECT impact, you can help sponsor people like this woman Lindsey Hoshaw, who’s fundraising for a trip to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (http://www.spot.us/pitches/238). Lindsey’s trip will give her first hand experience with the patch, so that she may document what she sees in an effort to write what we’re sure will be a masterful expose for the New York Times.
Remember guys, KINeSYS isn’t just about sunscreen, its about making our world a better, cleaner, greener place!
Take care of yourselves this weekend, and each other!!
So I know we’ve been making a bid deal about KINeSYS becoming a certified B Corporation, and I also know (thanks to your most lovely emails) a lot of you have been asking “what the heck IS a certified B Corporation?” Well, here I am to answer that question and any others you may have…
In an increasingly “green” world where greater emphasis is being placed on sustainability, rather than convenience or ease, the B Corporation has been established (by B Labs) to rate businesses on their commitment to improving the environment and the overall human condition. Becoming a B Corporation means that a company is making a commitment to enrich the world around it, rather than merely enriching its bottom line. According to the B Corp’s website, companies officially certified as “B Corporations” distinguish themselves from their competition for 3 reasons:
“[They] meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards.”
“[They] institutionalize stakeholder interests.”
“[They] build a collective voice through the power of a unifying brand.”
Keeping a Green Conscience
At this time there are over 200 B Corporations, stretching across 31 industries and grossing almost $1 billion dollars annually. Now you’re probably saying “so KINeSYS is one of 200 companies, so what?—WHAT’S SO SPECIAL?” Well consider this fun fact; nearly 43,000 companies have taken the B Corp survey!!! That means KINeSYS is in the 99.5% percentile of companies who have been surveyed. We’re in the TOP HALF OF THE TOP 1%!!!! Not too shabby if you ask me. Too good to be true you say?—Here check it out for yourself: http://solveclimate.com/blog/20090713/b-corporation-new-way-doing-business
Companies are judged and scored in five categories when they take the B Corporation survey, at the conclusion of the scoring, if their composite score is high enough, they earn B Corp certification. The five categories used are environment, employees, community, consumers and leadership. Any company that gets 80 points or more (out of 200) overall earns the right of being listed as a B Corporation. KINeSYS scored a 151.6 out of 200, so not only were we good enough we were GOOD ENOUGH BY A MILE!!!! But if you want to know how we scored in each category here are the results:
Environment: KINeSYS earned 97% of the points available
Employees: KINeSYS earned 77% of the points available
Community: KINeSYS earned 61% of the points available
Consumer: KINeSYS earned 79% of the points available
Leadership: KINeSYS earned 94% of the points available
Obviously we did well in Environment and Leadership, but what about the other 3 categories, Employees, Community and Consumer?—scores of 77%, 61% and 79% don’t exactly look great. But guess what?—The B Corp considers a score of 60% or higher to be an AREA OF EXCELLENCE!!! So ALL FIVE CATEGORIES are areas of EXCELLENCE for KINeSYS!!! Now that’s just downright impressive.
In 1993 while working on our new products, we made a decision to not use additional packaging whenever possible, find packaging and components that were recyclable and spend as much time outdoors as we could, knowing time outside meant less energy used inside. Read the rest of this entry »