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Burt’s Bees: Are They Clean & Sustainable?

Better Goods

Dec 6, 2021

burts bees

Burt's Bees was founded in 1984 by Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby. The company started as a small, local business that made candles from beeswax. Over the years, it has become a worldwide popular brand known for its natural and organic products that range from beauty and skincare to baby and pet products.

However, as its popularity grew, it was hit with bad publicity about its environmental record.

In 2007, the company Clorox purchased the company for $925 million. This sparked a lot of controversy, with many people arguing that Clorox is not a sustainable company and that it would ruin Burt's Bees' image as a clean and green brand.

Since then, several lawsuits have been filed against the brand accusing it of false advertising and claiming that many products are not as natural or organic as they claim to be.

Some are also accusing it of using harmful chemicals in its products that damage the environment, while some are saying that they are not as cruelty-free as they claim to be.

Lawsuits

In 2018, the brand was the target of a class-action lawsuit over their "Güd" product line, a line of paraben-free deodorant that promised to be made from "clean ingredients." The lawsuit claims, among other things, that the ingredients in these deodorants are not clean and natural, but they contain several chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment.

In 2021, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Burt's Bees, alleging that they label their dog shampoos as "99.7%" natural, despite mainly containing synthetic ingredients.

Ingredients (Rating: Best)

Synthetic fragrance is the biggest issue with Burt's Bees products. Many Burt's Bees products contain fragrance, and it's unclear which products use natural and artificial fragrances.

The brand claims:

The majority of fragrances in Burt's Bees products are natural, composed of proprietary blends of essential oils and natural extracts. Some of our heritage and other products contain partially synthetic fragrances. 

Other than fragrances, we can't find much fault in the rest of the ingredients used by the brand.

Sustainability (Rating: Good)

Burt's Bees partners with TerraCycle, which allows consumers to send in their used—and properly cleaned—empty personal care, beauty, and lip care products for recycling.

Most Burt's Bees products are packaged in plastic. The brand claims that they use an average of 50% recycled materials in packaging and that 100% of it is recyclable. However, most plastic sent to recycling facilities is not recycled in today's current age.

Landfill-Free Operations

Burt's Bees claims that they have kept all operational waste out of landfills since 2010, instead sending it to composting, recycling, and waste-to-energy facilities.

Burt's Bees has 12 active partnerships with sustainable suppliers. They strive to use natural and organic ingredients where possible, working alongside the USDA to maintain strict requirements for its products to be labeled organic.

Animal Welfare (Rating: Good)

Cruelty-Free

Burt's Bees is 100% cruelty-free, meaning they don't test on animals during any production stage, nor are finished products tested. They're also not available for sale in parts of the world that mandate animal testing.

Vegan

Being a brand centered around beeswax, they are not vegan. They do, however, carry some vegan products.

Brand Ratings

Our rating scale ranges from "Best" (for having the best practices) to "Bad" (for having unacceptable practices). We rated It Cosmetics as follows.

INGREDIENTSGood - Other than undisclosed fragrance (which is natural), the ingredients are surprisingly good.
SUSTAINABILITYGood - While most of the brand's products are placed in plastic packaging, their sustainability initiatives are commendable and we hope they continue to improve in the future.
ANIMAL WELFAREGood - A fully cruelty-free brand although not fully vegan.

Overall Rating: Good

While Burt's Bees does have some shortcomings, its main image as a clean brand is still intact. The biggest downside is that the packaging of their products is mostly plastic, which isn't toxic but still an environmental hazard.

However, it does practice sustainable operations and has partnered with organizations that are doing work to protect the planet, such as The Nature Conservancy.

It also is a cruelty-free brand, which is commendable. So, all in all, it seems like a decent choice for those looking for an affordable and sustainable option when it comes to personal care products.

 
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