Estée Lauder shows the planet beauty is more than skin deep

The niece of a Hungarian chemist, Estée was trained in the art of face creams at an early age.

The niece of a Hungarian chemist, Estée Lauder, nee Mentzer, was trained in the art of face creams at an early age. She founded what is today a global brand, still run by the family.

Being pretty comes with a cost to the environment. Buying stuff, travelling places, eating things from far away. The cost of fuel, fertilisers, packaging, servers – producing anything has a cost for our planet. Years ago cosmetic companies needed to find a way to veer away from animal testing. After animal testing was over it was parabens, preservatives and microplastics. Today the Estée Lauder Companies is staying in step with the times by going climate neutral.

“In this decisive decade for climate action, we will continue to accelerate efforts to ensure a healthy, beautiful planet for generations to come,” said Fabrizio Freda, President and CEO of the companies Estée Lauder manages. 

Who is Estée Lauder today?

The company’s products are sold in approximately 150 countries and territories under brand names including: Estée Lauder, Aramis, Clinique, Prescriptives, Lab Series, Origins, Tommy Hilfiger, M·A·C, Kiton, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Donna Karan New York, DKNY, Aveda, Jo Malone London, Bumble and bumble, Michael Kors, Darphin, Tom Ford, Smashbox, Ermenegildo Zegna, AERIN, RODIN olio lusso, Le Labo, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, GLAMGLOW, KILIAN PARIS, BECCA, Too Faced and Dr. Jart+.

To achieve its Net Zero emissions and RE100 goals by 2030, Estée Lauder reduced its carbon footprint by investing in bringing renewable energy to the grid. The company signed a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA) for 22 megawatts of wind power from the Ponderosa wind farm in Oklahoma to cover more than half of the company’s electricity footprint with renewable energy technologies.

Estée Lauder also installed solar energy panels on its factories and offices around the world  facilities around the world, bringing the company’s global total to more than 5 MW of solar capacity.

To cover any remaining annual emissions from operations, Estée Lauder bought carbon offsets from the Massachusetts Tri-City Forestry project in North America, which protects 6,500 acres of public forestland from significant commercial timber harvesting and ensures long-term sustainable management of the forest. Some proponents to carbon offsets, believe planting trees, not burying carbon in direct air capture, is the only sustainable and long-term solution to climate change. 

“We congratulate The Estée Lauder Companies on their fantastic work to switch to renewable electricity globally,” said Helen Clarkson, CEO of the Climate Group. “When large companies like The Estée Lauder Companies set their sights on an ambitious target, they can achieve huge change at a rapid pace. This is exactly the sort of leadership we need to see in the climate decade, as we work to halve global emissions.”

Estée Lauder’s big plan for greenhouse gases

  • To reduce emissions 50% by 2030 from a 2018 base year. This target is consistent with reductions required to keep warming to 1.5°C, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.
  • To reduce GHG emissions from purchased goods and services, upstream transportation and distribution, and business travel 60% per unit revenue over the same timeframe. 

What other beauty and healthcare leaders are doing progressive steps to mitigate climate change and future-proof their business? I Googled the well-known Body Shop – an early brand that said squarely we will not test on animals in the 90s, and the link that was supposed to take me to “their commitment to enrich our planet” led to a 404 error, which offered a link to “blow my mind”. Pressing on that link I was redirected to a Black Friday Sale to buy buy buy. Mind blown. Or that’s what happens when you hire an SEO manager, not a publicist, to manage your online environment. 

What does Net Zero mean from our friends at Grist

The Body Shop, once the pioneering manufacturer and retailer of environmentally-friendly products,  has now been taken over by L’Oréal who are in turn owned by Nestlé, notorious for its scandals: Child labor, unethical promotion, manipulating uneducated mothers, pollution, price fixing and mislabeling and tainted products… and notorious for undermining breastfeeding are just some of the problems that Nestle has come under fire for. 

Estée Lauder is still a family owned brand, the grand-children of the woman you see in the photo above. Maybe that is the difference? 

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