God’s creation is one of the best R&D labs we know. Using technology to emulate nature has resulted in revolutionary innovations that make our lives easier, healthier, and more sustainable: from phones, whose loudspeakers were inspired by human eardrums, to entirely new approaches of creating color inspired by the color-shifting properties of a butterfly’s wings. Called biomimicry, there’s potential for replicating nature’s intelligence to produce packaging that decomposes and is not harmful to the environment.
According to the newly formed conglomerate Biomimicry 3.8, the biomimicry field has changed at a stunning pace over recent years. Biomimicry provides a strategy for practical applications that emulate years of brilliant designs. From durable but biodegradable packaging such as sea beans, large bean pods that ripen to become woody and heavy, or the coconut palm, which dispatches its seed inside a hard shell that contains everything it needs to survive, many of nature’s containers can serve as inspiration for the future’s innovative packaging ideas.
Think of the possibilities if technology of a pelican pouch that scoops three gallons of seawater then returns to shape could be mimicked. A flexible bottle design that fills up like a balloon only to collapse when emptied would provide options for consumers on the go or for easily returning containers for recycling hundreds at a time.
What if we could store precious liquids in a cellular matrix like fruits and vegetables, which are often times more than 90% water but don’t slosh because it’s stored between cells. Or, if we could use a cellular matrix for the skin of a bottle; once emptied it could be eaten like an orange slice or dissolve in the bath tub instead of a landfill.
Nature is filled with wonders that tote, store and protect its treasures from a treacherous world. If we take the time to seek sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns, we can learn from nature that has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with.
What was originally a niche category has taken over the beauty aisles in almost every developed market, and industry insiders predict that natural and organic cosmetics will hold up well in 2009 even if they do not enjoy the dramatic sales growth of previous years. Consumers are beginning to make long-term, realistic changes to their lifestyle. They feel a huge responsibility not only to the planet but to themselves … They now include their own personal health as a microcosm and reflection of the health of the planet, stated the Natural Marketing Institute’s annual report. The mass consumption society as we knew it is over.
But this can be good news for the natural market. Increasingly, consumers’ values are resonating with companies that are able to fuse both a personal and planetary perspective into their brand. Aveda has found that 68% of consumers will remain loyal to a company that has a social and environmental commitment. This is a growing trend in which consumers are “voting with their dollars,” and supporting brands whose values resonate with their own.
With that, consumers are learning to read product labels to avoid greenwashing words like “natural” and “planet friendly” that aren’t backed up by standards or third-organizations. As like-minded groups come together, there is an attempt to cut through the confusion, and the focus of the media on greenwashing has forced the brands to become more open in their claims. But as a variety of organizations vie for the right to be the “official seal” of natural beauty, things could get worse instead of better. The recent suit by Dr. Bronner and the Organic Consumers Association is just one attempt to ensure those organizations such as Ecocert aren’t loose with their certifications. The point is to make it easier for the consumers and give products credibility.
The market is driven by a perfect storm of consumers, non-profits, industry, media and government, all of whom demand more truly natural and environmentally sustainable products. And while the industry can’t anticipate a continuation of the dramatic growth rates of recent years, opportunities still remain.
White. Black. Brown. Yellow. Red. Not exactly colors of the rainbow, but there’s beauty in the diversity of women all over the world. But what makes them different also brings them together: color. Thevi Cosmetics‘ sleek, modern line of cosmetics in rich and vibrant shades is just one new line that celebrates the unity of color. “Color is influenced by lifestyle, fashion, home décor, tradition, every aspect of our lives,” explained founder Thevaki Thambirajah. “We have an opportunity to emphasize not a trend but an everyday expression of self, femininity and powerfulness in a dramatic way for every woman, through color cosmetics.”
Thevi launched last year, targeting the “new ethnic” woman, light-dark skinned women of Asian, South Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean decent. One of Thambirajah’s goals was to provide sophisticated, educated, affluent women a prestige makeup brand with high-end packaging. The sleek, modern line celebrates color in rich and vibrant shades. Inspiration came from her own life as a first generation American who grew up in a multi-ethnic culture and is adapting those color traditions into everyday looks.
Although she plans to introduce the Thevi line to retail stores this year, Thambirajah is relying on a grassroots marketing campaign to build a following first. Her future goal is to partner with retailers who understand the ethnic market, where ethnic shopping is higher. But it will take time. “Retailers are not confident and it is a risky venture especially in this economic climate,” explained Thambirajah. “I won’t succeed unless I have a loyal customer base that identifies with the message.” In the meantime, she is looking for other opportunities for consumers to test and try the products and build awareness until they are available at retail. Read more in the December issue of Global Cosmetic Industry magazine: Ethnic Cosmetics Fit New Beauty Paradigm.