BLYDE WAKE-UP CALLS
5 BURNING QUESTIONS TO ANGELA URSEM, FOUNDER OF FOOD FOR SKIN
The past years have laid bare many truths about our current model of capitalism — the severe income inequality and the belief that improving human lives and taking care of the environment are expendable for better profit margins. The changemakers in the growing Certified B Corporation community are demanding an end to the myth that profits must come at the expense of purpose, and environmental and social care. It’s time to wake up, it’s time for action.
At Blyde we believe in questioning the status quo. We believe in the power of the collective, in taking a stand and inspiring people by showing what can and must be changed. In our weekly Wake Up Calls, Blyde stirs up hunger for positive change. We listen to several B Corp voices who talk about their call to action for companies around the globe today. By letting people from different perspectives and businesses speak, we would like to underline the important role of business in this decade of action. ‘On stage’ today: changemaker Angela Ursem, founder of Food for Skin.
What was your wake-up call for contributing to a better world?
Back in 2018 I got to learn about the use of microplastics and other potentially harmful ingredients in the personal care industry, when I tried to ‘clean up’ my own bathroom in my quest to make better sustainable choices in my own life. I used the Beat the Microbead app of the Plastic Soup Foundation and I was shocked to see that although I thought I used sustainable products, 9 out of 10 products contained microplastics. How can one know? Unless you are a scientist, no one can read the label at the back of a cosmetic product, so you rely on the ‘claims’ that brands put in their advertising. I was upset and went looking for alternative brands without microplastics. I could hardly find them on the shelves and if I found it, it either didn’t appeal to me (hey, we all have our preferences) or it didn’t work for me. I shared my frustration with my sister Cathy (senior beautician) and she told me: if it doesn’t exist, we have to develop it ourselves. We collaborated with a cosmetic scientist and she developed at first, 5 beautiful products for us: 100% natural, vegan and partially made out of upcycled ingredients. All manufactured locally, in Almere.
The development took 2 years and when the products were approved by independent laboratories we were doubting if and how to launch it besides our former full time jobs. But then Covid entered the world and it was vivid to us: this is our call to launch, cause the world turned upside down and we felt an urgent need to contribute to a better world. So in week 1 of Covid, I quit my job and 6 months later we launched Food for Skin.
What is your call to action for companies around the globe?
Our first and foremost call to action is towards the cosmetic industry: don’t wait until it is forbidden by law to use microplastics and other potential harmful ingredients in your products. If you know it, you can’t unknow it and hide behind the fact that it is not forbidden (yet). Take responsibility by removing all microplastics from personal care products, because nature doesn’t want them and consumers don’t need them. The microplastics in cosmetics only account for a small part of the plastic pollution, but if we don’t need it, why would you add it?
I would love all companies around the globe to just use their common sense and to take responsibility: for all ingredients that might harm nature or humans, even though approved, you have a choice. You can just leave them out when formulating your products! Why take the risk?
Which SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) calls you most and why?
SDG 12: responsible consumption and production. We are human beings. We can make choices. We can take accountability for our choices and we should. In my opinion it starts with the producers. Producers have the choice to make ‘the better choice’. In our case we’d like to call upon all producers to take their accountability regarding their choice of ingredients. What does prevail: ‘costs of goods’ or ‘costs of planet’? You are in charge of that decision. Don’t hide behind laws but go beyond. If an ingredient is doubtful or not certain yet: avoid it. There are plenty of alternatives, from nature, but also synthetically made. Food for Skin is 100% natural to create clarity for the consumer, but for sure we are not against all synthetic materials. There are plenty of ‘good’ synthetic ingredients! We are talking about those ingredients which are being discussed, which are potentially harmful, which raises some brows, which might cause health issues.
We can’t expect consumers to become scientists to be able to judge a product by its ingredients. The producer is the expert, so the expert can make this change. Make that change!
Call me a changemaker – your company in 2030…(biggest dreams, wishes, plans?)
My wish is that the current ‘changemakers’ will become the new normal in business and that those who don’t want to change, will become the a-normal companies. Food for Skin would love to inspire other beauty companies that it can be done, easily. If we can do it, so can you 😉
If you could invite one company to join the B Corp community, what company would that be and why?
We’d love to invite a big cosmetic company to join! So all will take accountability and responsibility for sustainable consumption. Not only where it comes to ingredients, but also where it comes to consuminalism, healthy margins (when is it enough?), greenwashing, honest consumer marketing, and taking care of all stakeholders instead of shareholders. We dream about a world where every company is a B corp, so bring it on!