How One Beauty Brand Is Taking Strides For the Environment

April 07, 2017
Jessie Quinn
By: Jessie Quinn | by L'Oréal
How One Beauty Brand Is Taking Strides For the Environment

In honor of Earth Month, we're shining the sustainability spotlight on Kiehl's Recycle and Be Rewarded program! Learn more about this environmental commitment that benefits Recycle Across America—and find out how you can participate below!

Product packaging comes in all shapes and sizes. From bottles, to jars, to tubes, to tins, each one uniquely appeals to a brand’s aesthetic and the product’s needs. And we can sometimes appreciate the packaging—for both its beauty and its environmental footprint, or really its lack thereof—as much as the product inside. Case in point: Kiehl’s. The brand inspires its cult following to go green with its acclaimed Recycle and Be Rewarded program.

Like a gold star on a chores chart, every time a customer brings in an empty Kiehl’s bottle, they will receive a digital stamp—as to not waste any paper on a card. Once said customer has ten stamps in her bank, she is rewarded with any product of her choosing from Kiehl’s travel collection. Helping the environment and free product? Sounds like a sweet deal to us.

On top of the brand’s recycling efforts, they have taken their eco-friendly ethics even further with their Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate from the brand’s Dermatologist Solutions line. Formulated with sustainably-sourced quinoa husk extract—the outer protective shell of the quinoa seed—this product was created with minimal environmental impact and with an ingredient that is otherwise seen as waste. That is, until Kiehl’s chemists discovered that the disposed quinoa husk has natural exfoliating properties, but more on that later.

We spoke with Kiehl’s President, Chris Salgardo, to learn more about the brand’s eco-conscious efforts, its partnership with Recycle Across America, Kiehl’s own Recycle and Be Rewarded program, and got the inside scoop on how they discovered they turned one man’s trash—quinoa husk—into another man’s treasure, below.

What does Kiehl’s partnership with Recycle Across America mean to you and how have you worked to continue the brand’s involvement in educating Kiehl’s customers on the importance of recycling?

“As part of our ongoing efforts to support the environment, we’ve partnered with Recycle Across America since 2012. The organization’s commitment to solutions that make recycling more intuitive, comprehensive, and effective in the United States is perfectly aligned with our own values and environmental commitment. Recycle Across America’s mission to help the general public both recycle more and recycle right via standardized labels is a simple solution that is delivering profound results. To date, Kiehl’s has raised $300,000 for Recycle Across America, created almost 400,000 standardized labels and helped 4,500 K-12 schools across the country recycle right.”

Editor's Note: This year, in honor of Earth Month Kiehl’s is set to donate a total of $25,000 to Recycle Across America. This donation will help in a subsequent donation of 33,000 standardized recycling labels to more than 325 K-12 schools throughout the US. 

The Recycle and Be Rewarded program is a great way to get customers involved in Kiehl’s recycling efforts, how has this program made an impact on the brand’s environmental footprint?

“As a manufacturer of products in packaging that will eventually be discarded, it’s important that we’re able to return that packaging to the recycling stream. Our packaging itself is very minimal, and we use external boxes only when it’s necessary to protect glass bottles. It’s also recyclable, and we’ve always encouraged our customers to bring their used bottles and jars into the store for recycling. Since the 2009 relaunch of our formal in-store recycling program, Recycle and Be Rewarded!, we’ve collected more than 3,000,000 bottles, and hope to hit the 3,500,000 mark by the end of this year.”

Speaking of the environment, Kiehl’s recently launched a new skin care formula that uses quinoa husk extract. Since many of the other products in the brand similarly feature nature-inspired ingredients, where do you get the inspiration for using such unique ingredients in the products?

“Since the first Kiehl’s branded products, each of our formulas has combined the finest ingredients with the latest skin care technology to give our customers a product that absolutely does what we’ve created it to do. Our chemists are constantly looking for new and unique ingredients, not for the sake of novelty, but to find innovative and effective ways to meet our customers’ changing skin care needs. In the case of the quinoa husk extract in our Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate, a discovery about the unusual properties of discarded quinoa husks—a pot of discarded husks was noticed literally bubbling over with natural activity—led to our chemists uncovering the husk extract’s natural exfoliating properties.”

How You Can Get Involved

While Kiehl’s encourages recycling year-round in honor of Earth Month, now through May 1, they are supporting the cause even more! Here's how you can get involved: 

  • Through May 1, in any Kiehl’s freestanding store, for every empty Kiehl’s jar, bottle or tube recycled, Kiehl’s will donate $1 to Recycle Across America, up to $15,000.
  • Through May 1 on Instagram, snap a pic of your Kiehl’s empties using #KiehlsEarthDay. For every post tagging @Kiehls and #KiehlsEarthDay Kiehl’s will donate $1 to @recycleacrossamerica, up to $10,000.
  • April 13-April 26: Spend $100 at Kiehl’s retail stores or, and receive a reusable water bottle filled with 4 deluxe samples of your choice. On, enter code EARTH at checkout.

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