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The message is as clear as a mountain stream: By protecting the environment, we’re also protecting ourselves.
Photo: Gerald Winkle
On average, each German citizen uses 121 litres of water per day1. The “greywater” left behind from cooking, showering or cleaning goes down our drains and into a water treatment system to be cleaned. This sophisticated cycle has run smoothly for decades – until now. Water treatment plants, even the most state-of-the-art, are starting to reach their limits.1
When water becomes untreatable
Our waters contain a wide variety of pollutants – from household chemicals to pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Cosmetics also have an impact on our precious H2O. Around 10,500 tonnes of various substances from cosmetic and body care products are rinsed down the drains of private households in Germany each year.2 Generally, these residues are only present in very small quantities and are therefore referred to as micropollutants.
Despite the retrofitting of many water treatment plants, not all micropollutants can be filtered out of our wastewater. Although most impurities can be removed, the sheer amount of pollutants present means that the water coming out of these facilities – even the most state-of-the-art – is no longer 100 percent clean.1 As a result, treated water still carries unwanted substances into our waters.
A purity law for cosmetics
For us as a cosmetics manufacturer, this means using nothing that we would not feel comfortable about ending up in a fresh glass of water. That’s why Dr. Hauschka cosmetics contain 100 percent natural-origin ingredients. No mineral oils, parabens or chemical/synthetic preservatives. And, of course, absolutely no microplastics. All our formulations consist solely of ingredients that are either fully biodegradable or water neutral.
We source our ingredients from all three natural kingdoms, which means that the plant-derived elements in Dr. Hauschka products, such as plant oils and oil-based or water-based extracts, are just as fully biodegradable as animal-derived ingredients, such as honey. Substances of mineral origin, i.e. white clay, are not technically biodegradable. However, these components behave in a water-neutral manner and are deposited in the sediment, such as soil or rock.
Scratching the surface of surfactants
Surfactants are agents that affect the surface tension of liquids. They are manufactured either on the basis of raw plant material or crude oil. As active cleaning substances, they improve the solubility of dirt and grease deposits. Surfactants are therefore an indispensable ingredient in many cleansing products for the face and body.
In Germany, all cosmetic products containing surfactants are subject to the legal requirements of the federal Law for Detergents and Cleaning, WRMG 3. But for NATRUE-certified natural and organic cosmetics, this isn't enough. These products follow Regulation (EC) No 648/2004 on detergents, which requires detergent surfactants to be fully biodegradable. All surfactants found in Dr. Hauschka products comply with these stricter specifications. We use sugar surfactants, which are completely biodegradable. Also, because they are such gentle cleansers, these surfactants are just as good for the skin as they are for the environment.
Microplastics on everyone's lips
Microplastics are solid plastic particles measuring up to 5 millimetres in size. They occur as a by-product when larger pieces of plastic break apart. But some microplastics are produced intentionally, for example for use in cosmetic and hygiene products. Toothpaste and cleansing products such as peelings can contain microplastics. Manufacturers of these products claim they make teeth whiter or skin smoother.
But Dr. Hauschka cosmetics don’t require plastic to be effective. Instead, individual medicinal-plant formulations provide the skin with effective impulses from head to toe. Toothpastes remove unwanted plaque with purely natural substances, while our Shower Cream leaves skin feeling silky smooth thanks to the finest botanical oils and protective quince seed extract.
After all, though microplastics may have seemed like a cosmetic miracle at first, they now represent a huge challenge. These tiny particles wash down drains and enter the water cycle in uncontrollable quantities. There, due to their microscopically small size, they cannot be fully filtered out. Whatever is removed in water treatment plants settles in the sludge, which is dumped directly onto arable land. These microparticles therefore end up entering our rivers, lakes and oceans, where they become part of the food chain – and ultimately end up back on our plates. As an undesirable ingredient in a seafood salad, for example. So the message is as clear as a mountain stream: By protecting the environment, we’re also protecting ourselves.
1 German Association of Local Utilities VKU (www.vku.de/vku-positionen/kommunale-wasserwirtschaft/fuer-einen-nachhaltigen-schutz-unseres-wassers/)
2 Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), German Environment Agency (UBA), Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND)
3 German Federal Law for Detergents and Cleaning (WRMG), Section 4 Paragraph 2