Non-Food Organics on the Rise

From The Cosmetics Site via Soapwire, news that organic and natural personal and home care products now lead the pack in non-food products:

The U.S. organic food and beverage market hit $5.3 billion – an increase of more than 80% from 2001 ($2.4 billion). Lynn Dornblaser, director of GNPD consulting services, said that while organic and natural products were originally seen in the food and beverage indudstry, these claims are appearing more regularly on non-foods, especially in personal care.

Three ingredients that have reportedly found increased popularity in the organic non-food arena are wine, green tea and white tea. These products are moving to the personal care arena. Wine, green tea and white tea all offer antioxidant benefits, which claim to fight free radicals that can damage skin. The teas also have some antibacterial benefits, and they are occasionally featured in cleaning products because of these claims.

A related trend in organic and natural personal care products is that of “cause marketing,” – more companies are donating part of their proceeds to specific causes. In both Europe and the U.S., two examples of cause marketing are Anthony for Men’s Facial Moisturizer (benefiting prostate cancer research) and Lush’s Fair Trade Food Lotion. Additional products that are experiencing strong gains within the category include household cleaners and baby products. Soy also continues to be a key ingredient, with bamboo-oriented products raising their profile.

So, I’m interested: is tapping into our “inner consumer” the best way to promote sustainability? On one hand, we’re a consumer society; on the other, sustainability is about questioning consumption as an end in itself. I tend to think that there is a middle ground — we can maintain a “high standard of living” (which generally translates as “we can buy whatever we want”), but do so in ways that aren’t nearly as wasteful. I do think that, in the short term, more sustainably produced products will be the most effective means of spreading the word.

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