Every decision impacts the Earth, especially when it comes to personal products.

Did you know that every time you buy something, you can make a big difference to the planet?

It's true. Just ask Brad Kahn.

He is the director of communications at the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a nonprofit that works tirelessly to promote responsible management of the world's forests, so he knows quite a bit about protecting the Earth. And part of it, he says, is making good choices in the store.


Any time you make a purchase, he says, "you're actually making a decision about the environment."

"I think people don't really realize how pervasive forest products are. Virtually every business on Earth uses forest products in one way or another," he continues.

Image via Anton Darius/Unsplash.

The good news is, it isn't hard to make smart choices for the environment.

It just starts by choosing products from companies that are working to do good.

L'Oréal, for instance, has a global program dedicated to integrating sustainability into all areas of their business.

For example, all of L'Oréal's U.S. facilities incorporate 100% renewable electricity — and they will be carbon neutral by 2019.  

Solar panels in use for Garnier manufacturing. Image via L'Oréal USA.

And that's not all.

Danielle Azoulay, head of corporate social responsibility and sustainability for L'Oréal USA, says that the company's size is part of what makes their environmental efforts so important.

"At L'Oréal, we take a holistic approach to sustainability. From carbon emissions reductions to water stewardship in our factories, we're working to improve our environmental footprint across the company, every day," she writes.

"We've been focusing on light-weighting and integrating recycled materials into our packaging," she continues, "and [we] continue to encourage our consumers to recycle products once they're done using them."

"As the largest beauty company in the U.S. and the world, when we apply these changes across our brand portfolio, we have the opportunity to make an enormous positive impact on our communities, translating to big wins for the planet," she explains.

Image by Steven Rowe, used with permission.

It also helps that organizations like the FSC help shoppers easily identify these sustainably packaged products from brands — like Garnier — that are committed to reducing their harmful impact on the planet. All you have to do is glance at a product's packaging, and if you see an FSC logo — which usually shows up on the back — you'll know it's certified as forest-friendly.

When it comes to the beauty industry in particular, doing the right thing is important.

Industry organizations and media point to data briefings from market researcher Euromonitor that indicate the global cosmetics industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging every year.

That's why, for their boxes of hair color and skin-care products, Garnier, a brand in L'Oréal's portfolio, uses all FSC-certified paper. It's one of many strategies — along with similar thought given to plastics, glass, and energy use — that the brand uses to reach their sustainability goals.

Image by Steven Rowe, used with permission.

That means, for example, that someone looking for a bright new look could buy shampoo that comes in recycled plastic and hair color in sustainably-sourced cardboard.

You're also keeping those bottles out of landfills. In 2014, Americans discarded about 33.6 million tons of plastic — a number that we can all impact by making smart choices, backing the brands that are committed to doing better. For example, all of Garnier's shampoo and conditioner bottles are made of recyclable PET plastic.

Photo via L'Oréal USA.

Looking out for packaging with sustainable materials is a simple shift that doesn't force you to compromise your beauty and personal care needs.

You still get to stick with the routine that's best for your hair and skin — and feel even better by making smarter choices for the planet, too.

To put it in perspective, Kahn says:

"There is no chance of life on Earth without healthy forest ecosystems. I don't think that's an exaggeration because forests provide much of the air we breathe, something like two-thirds of the water that we drink, the carbon storage to have a stable atmosphere. … We really rely on forests every day."

Image via iStock.

So when you've seen the FSC logo on your packaging, and you know your shampoo bottle is made from recycled plastics, feel free to sing your heart out with that shampoo bottle in the shower — as one of our planet's heroes, you've earned that joy.

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