The Missing Element in the Green Beauty Movement

May 02, 2017

The Missing Element in the Green Beauty Movement

Part II of  Why the Beauty Industry Is Calling Us Fear Mongers

In my former blog post Why the Beauty Industry Is Calling Us Fear Mongers, I touched upon the beauty industry's manipulative practice of co-opting scientists, doctors, nutritionists and university departments to validate their health benefiting claims. 

Sadly, this practice is also manifested within the green movement where companies piggybacking on the effort to become more "holistic" have endorsed scientists, doctors, nutritionists and perhaps even university departments to validate their health benefiting claims about berries, grass, exotic fruits etc. They too manipulate our information. That is why I started this 3-part series by stating that we cannot fully understand this topic without understanding capitalism, the psychology of human consumption etc. It is scary that the truth doesn't float on the surface. 

It's true and finally wonderful, that plants (and by this, I mean everything that grows from plants) are given the same amount of credence for their medicinal and nutritional wonders. Ancient cultures have found many uses for plants including natural cures, and thanks to the green movement we have been able to access their knowledge. As a matter of fact, what inspired me to start Nelum Botanics was precisely this that I wanted to make more accessible. I wanted to inspire others to find all their health and beautifying needs in nature because, at the rate we were going, our dependence on synthetic drugs and creams ladened with god-knows-what, was not just toxic to the environment and our skin, it was entrenching us in a way of being that was taking us too far away from the essence of life--the gift of nature. We started becoming all so proud of our progress in modernity that we forgot about the importancesignificance and need to care for our earth and value its offerings. We were moving too fast and too egotistically into the modern realm without understanding or even listening to the pleas of other cultures, plants, and animals. 

I believed wholeheartedly that by proving that cures and beauty remedies could be found in plants, people would slow down, take a breath and appreciate what nature has in store for us. Through this appreciation, I thought people would take better care of our earth and themselves by becoming mindful of the potentially harmful ingredients they applied on their skin and washed off into our streams and soil.

The collective effort of the green movement truly succeeded in inspiring a shift to eco-beauty and health-conscious /holistic living. But, the message, the intention... those were never clear. And that's what rendered the green movement vulnerable to forming that double edged sword. 

Without clear intention set in place, the green movement became perceived by many as another marketing gimmick. Whether aware of not of the information manipulation tactics by lobbyists there was also mistrust in the movement as being kooky....a kooky fancy of the bored Hollywood woman whose priority was health and beauty--concerns that not everyone could afford to have, at least not in the ways suggested. As the movement hinged on health and beauty, the meaningful purpose of holistic living got lost: the movers and shakers of this green movement left out the ecological aspect of how and where these plant ingredients are sourced. How are they grown? What land, and whose land, is being cleared to grow these superfoods? Are we all aware that the sudden craze for some antioxidant-rich herb results in the extinguishment of local economies when locals are forced to shift to producing cash crop luxuries for our extravagant demands, instead of producing basic foods for their consumption? 

So now the green movement becomes a space for the agro-industries who thrive on this new market we created to "dump" more plant-based foods for us to eat, drink and lather on our skin. Backed by these scientists, doctors (very few), nutritionists,  and those good ol' universities, our obsession with health and beauty, and even longevity, becomes just another part of market capitalism's business as usual, and no longer about holistic living. 

Without an anchor in the intention of creating a truly holistic lifestyle, the green movement does look like a hollow vanity affair that loses credibility.

How do we change that and reroute ourselves so that we can continue with meaningful intention, and truly live a holistic life? 

In the ecological worldview, when we consume more than we need or exploit nature on principles of greed, we are engaging in theft. In the anti-life view of agribusiness corporations, nature renewing and maintaining herself is a thief. Such a world view replaces abundance with scarcity, fertility with sterility. It makes theft from nature a market imperative and hides it in the calculus of efficiency and productivity. 

- Vandana Shiva

There are few ways we can redirect the green movement. But in the end, it all boils down to how and where our dollar is spent. Who are we, by default, endorsing? Are we in this movement for our own well-being, or for that of the whole? Our health and beauty products, are they really truly green with truly holistic intentions?  

How do you feel about this? What are your ideas? Do you have any tips to add on how to reroute this green movement and give it meaning again?

 





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