I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but one day I woke up and the straw was public enemy #1. Using one was enough to bring shame and judgmental stares from others around you. Case in point: I attended a baseball game over the summer with my family. I asked for a straw for my son, and the interaction between me and the concession stand employee was almost comical. You would have thought a drug deal was taking place. She ended up literally slipping me a straw under the open countertop and I quickly hid it in my pocket before walking away. But how did we get here, and what does it mean for the beauty industry?

Straws and beauty have something in common – they are both part of the sustainability conversation. It’s a critical discussion to participate in because the majority of consumers believe sustainability is important. But sustainability represents different things to different people. With no clear definition, there are many ways to interpret what sustainability is – not just in how the product is made, but in how a brand supports the concept.

In beauty, we see brands incorporate sustainability through ingredient sourcing and reusable packaging, but we also see brands incorporating it into their business practices. And, consumers are reacting with their wallets. Brands that use their voice to bring consumer attention to industry issues like sustainability are experiencing double digit growth in a softening market. 

Of course, we are just at the beginning of what the future holds for sustainability. While many of us care deeply, many more do not. And at the end of the day, companies are still making money without making any changes. But as the consumer continues to drive that conversation, those companies will one day need to adhere to the triple bottom line and give just as much weight to environmental and social impacts, as they do to financial ones. 

Consumer interest in sustainability is driving growth for brands that have embraced eco-consciousness today. This will only accelerate in the future. Incorporating transparency, social awareness, and ecological initiatives into your brand’s DNA will drive future growth.