Sustainability in aesthetics


How to bring sustainability into your aesthetics business, reduce plastic waste and improve your carbon footprint

With Plastic Free Beauty Day celebrated each year on 17 June, now is a good time for aesthetic clinics to reflect on their environmental impact and explore how they can enhance sustainability. 

The UK is a major contributor to the world's plastic crisis, generating more plastic waste per person than any other country except the USA, according to Greenpeace. And the beauty industry is one of the top offenders, producing at least 120 billion pieces of packaging each year. Given that 95% of cosmetic packaging is thrown away and that many clinics use disposable products, the need for change in our industry is more pressing than ever. 

And it’s not just plastic; clinics generate a lot of waste paper, use large amounts of cleaning products and utilise a lot of electricity. 

We know that the idea of reducing your carbon footprint and becoming more sustainable might seem overwhelming, but there are actually lots of opportunities for improvement when it comes to going green. And there’s not just an environmental reason to do so; there’s a business case for it, too, as more and more consumers become green-conscious. With more of the population becoming aware of the dangers of global warming, many are trying to make climate-conscious decisions.

 Small changes, big impact

 Our article on Emerging aesthetic trends and technologies in 2024 highlighted sustainability as becoming a central concern in the aesthetic sector. 

Consumers are increasingly making climate-conscious decisions, and a sustainable approach can attract eco-aware clients. The Galderma NEXT report indicates that many patients prefer products made sustainably, to maximise the chances that their treatment choices do not significantly harm the environment and align with their ethical values. 

It highlighted the trend for mindful beauty. “Today’s consumer expects transparency and accountability regarding ingredients, in addition to sustainability and ethical impact”, it said, adding, “The demand for treatments that claim ‘free from’ credentials is on the rise. We are seeing more plant-based ingredients in treatments as consumers seek to align their beauty choices with their beliefs. The majority of Gen Z and Millennial women around the world claim that they would pay more for an eco-friendly product, ranging from 56% in Canada to 64% in Brazil. This data demonstrates a desire to prioritise eco-friendly products.”

 In addition, research carried out by business coach and sustainability in aesthetics champion Ron Myers showed that 74% of aesthetic clinic owners believed that sustainability and environmental concerns would be important in marketing their business in the next five years. 

 Five ways you can make your aesthetics business more sustainable.  

 1.     Go digital

One of the simplest steps towards sustainability is going paperless. Digital solutions such as Aesthetic Nurse Software, which we are partnered with, allow you to manage patient data, create e-signatures, and process payments without printing. Additionally, consider moving your marketing materials to digital formats. Email campaigns and digital displays can replace printed leaflets, reducing paper waste and often cutting costs. Read ANS’s guest blog on ‘Why aesthetic practitioners should go paperless’ for more information. 

 2.     Use more eco-friendly and recyclable products

Switching to recyclable products can make a significant difference. For example, using recycled bed rolls and eco-friendly cleaning products can reduce your clinic's environmental footprint. 

Companies like Medik8, which is now a registered B Corp, have made strides in going green, using recyclable packaging and renewable energy in their operations. Promoting these sustainable products can resonate with clients looking to reduce their environmental impact.

It’s worth noting that wet wipes and makeup removal wipes containing plastic are set to be banned across the UK. Wipes are non-biodegradable, meaning they slowly break down into microplastics, which can then be ingested by marine life or end up in landfill.

 3.     Choose sustainable skincare

Evaluate the sustainability of the products you use and sell. 

Organic, environmentally conscious skincare is also becoming more popular with a growing demand for eco-friendly products and sustainably sourced ingredients from plants, fruits, and botanicals. 

One key driver behind the rise of organic skincare is the growing awareness of environmental issues and the desire to reduce our carbon footprint. By choosing products made with organic ingredients, consumers can support eco-friendly practices while indulging in luxurious skincare experiences.

Consumers are increasingly choosing products with clean formulations, free from harmful chemicals, synthetic fragrances, and artificial preservatives. This trend towards clean beauty signifies a larger cultural movement towards wellness and mindfulness, where self-care goes beyond skincare routines to include mindful decisions that foster health and harmony.

4.     Look at your energy efficiency

Energy costs are a significant concern for aesthetic clinics, especially with the rising prices of electricity, gas, and oil. By focusing on energy efficiency, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save on operational costs. Simple measures like installing smart meters can provide real-time energy usage data, helping you identify savings opportunities. Smart plugs and energy-efficient equipment can further reduce energy consumption. 

When purchasing aesthetic equipment, consider the energy usage ratings of the devices. Opting for suppliers with sustainable practices and energy-efficient products can align your clinic with environmental goals. Reviewing and potentially switching your energy provider to a green energy company can also support your sustainability efforts.

Optimising your clinic's heating and cooling systems can also yield substantial savings. Make sure your thermostat and timer settings are accurate, with heating set to around 19°C and cooling to 24°C or higher. Regular maintenance of boilers and air-conditioning systems will help them to operate efficiently. Upgrading to modern wireless thermostats and improving insulation can also make a significant difference.

Lighting is one of the most energy-intensive aspects of any business. Turning off lights when not needed, using timer switches, and upgrading to energy-efficient LEDs can drastically cut energy usage. Staff training and reminders to switch off lights can further reduce your carbon footprint.

 5.     Contact your suppliers 

Although 95% of 136 respondents who answered Myers’s survey agreed that it would be great if all packaging were recyclable, only 22% had contacted their suppliers for more sustainable packaging, and of those, 13% had had no reply. 

Myers understands that retail/client-facing products present more of a challenge but is trying to get suppliers to prioritise sustainable packaging design for products like dermal fillers used during in-clinic treatments, which patients do not tend to see.

More than 78% of clinic owners said they did not consider the external appearance of packaging (excluding retail skincare) important, while 80% felt that smaller plastic and cardboard packaging would help with storage in their clinics.

Myers urged aesthetic businesses to share these results with their suppliers, conduct their own surveys to contribute more data and advocate for sustainable packaging practices.

To sum up 

Embracing sustainability in your aesthetics business does not have to be difficult or adversely affect your profits. In fact, it can enhance your business by attracting eco-conscious clients and differentiating your clinic in a competitive market. By implementing small changes and focusing on energy efficiency, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a greener future.

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