V i v i a n  S o n g
Freelance writer
Freelance writer
Lipstick jungle

Toronto Sun, Sun Media papers, August, 2007.

With quiet glee, I slowly turn the tube until the gold-speckled, berry lipstick meets the light of day and the twinkle in my eye.

It's a jewel of an assignment that I, as a messenger of Green Planet, undertake with serious contemplation on behalf of all the women this Mother's Day investigating green cosmetics.

In ancient Egypt, raven-haired women lent their almond-shaped eyes an added mystery by lining their lids with kohl.

A rouge of red ochre gave cheeks a burnished glow, and eye-paint was created with the bright green mineral malachite.

Nature has for millennia inspired beauty-seekers with its prism of hues. But throughout time, a billion-dollar industry has pillaged nature of its virtues, giving nothing back.


Fast-forward to 2007 and women now find themselves with the happy offerings of beauty products that leave little environmental impact, like the Cargo PlantLove lipstick which graces my otherwise disastrously messy desk.

Not only is the lipstick a botanical formula made up of shea butter and orchid complex, the cheerful, floral plastic tube that encases it is made of a bio-plastic made fromcorn, and is completely biodegradable. Likewise the box is made of recycled paper, which is embedded with wildflower seeds. Plant the box, moisten and watch wildflowers grow. That's right, ladies, we can now slick on the schtick and feel doubly good for our efforts.

"Our target market is women," said Hana Zalzal, president of Cargo Cosmetics, a Canadian company. "Women are keepers of the future generations and our whole philosophy is that planting love is planting seeds for future generations."

Erin Winn is just such a customer -- environmentally conscious with a penchant for beauty products. She's a vigilant recycler, full-time pedestrian and green consumer.

"I like the whole idea that people are starting to bring the environmentally conscious ideas to cosmetics," said the buyer of the Lindsay Lohan shade, the most popular of their celebrity-designed shades. "There's huge opportunity for companies to do that."

Since launching in February, PlantLove has become Cargo's most succesful product in its 10-year history, outselling its signature Hollywood favourite, the dual-tone lipgloss tin.


Another company which espouses beauty with a strong social conscience is Aveda, which uses organic and plant-based ingredients. Aveda also offsets 100% of the electricity consumed at its manufacturing facility with certified wind power -- an industry first. Some hair-care lines are also packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled materials.

"All our products tell a story," said Aveda's Deborah Misquitta. "We partner with communities to help develop them and help create economic independence."

Locals harvest organically grown lavender and Bulgarian rose in Bulgaria's Balkan villages, for example, and then turn these into essential oils to be used in their hair-care products. Misquitta says employees can earn a year's salary in just two months.

Aveda's strict environmentally driven business philosophy is what drew hairstylist Blake Arsenault to the company. He's the product of "rabid vegan" parents who lived in a home made of recycled materials, all of which rubbed off on him.

"I've always maintained a healthy lifestyle, and an Earth-conscious lifestyle my whole life," he said.

Stores and studios are built with environmentally friendly materials like bamboo and agriboard countertops, all paper is recycled and all printing is done in soy ink.

On Mother's Day, perhaps we could all do well to say an ode to the biggest momma of all, Mother Earth.

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  • If it is organic, it must be edible.
  • It should not contain any chemicals.
  • DLUO (deadline of optimal use) should not exceed one year and its (AOP) after opening period should not exceed three months.
  • Cruelty free and no animal testing has taken place.
  • Only pure essential oils are used for aroma. Hence, no need for artificial perfumes/fragrances.
  • No artificial colours used in the product. All colouring should result from the natural colours of the pure ingredients.
  • Packaging is as environmentally friendly as possible.

-- -- --


The outer carton is made of flower paper embedded with real flower seeds, which can be planted in your garden.

The lipstick tube is made entirely out of corn -- a renewable and abundant resource. One ear of corn will make 12 lipstick cases. This environmentally friendly innovation also emits less greenhouse gases, which many scientists believe to be the major cause of global warming. Each case biodegrades in as little as 47 days if composted.


(contains no mineral oils or petroleums)

Castor seed oil

Meadowfoam seed oil


Euphorbia cerifera wax



Caprylic/capric triglyceride

Coconut oil

Carnauba wax

Jojoba esters

Jojoba seed oil

Cymbidium grandiflorum flower extract

Mango seed oil

Shea butter

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