Compass: Seeing Green

As I write this column, the annual Chicago Auto Show, displaying new concepts from worldwide automobile manufacturers, is making its way to the area. Television ads are promoting the event feverishly to draw attendees but this year it’s with a twist of lime: lime green that is.

The automotive industry’s answer to the mass market demand for green lies in hybrid, electric and biofuel-burning vehicle concepts, especially since vehicle emissions are a number one nemesis to the current green movement. In fact, traditional gas-guzzling, mega-horse-powered machines such as Ferraris are getting green makeovers—another observation reinforcing the fact that consumers are crazy about green.

So, what does it mean to be green? Different things to different people—generally, consumers see green as natural and organic products that omit ingredients viewed as being toxic, and that somehow give back to, or are friendly to, the Earth during their manufacture. There’s a lot of room for interpretation in this description, so how can a cosmetic formula be developed to meet a green definition?

Well, according to Clark and Summerton, manufacturing processes are a good place to start. In “Greening Personal Care Chemistry,” the authors examine opportunities across a product’s life cycle for green and sustainable chemistry, including the use of renewable resources and cleaner synthesis methods.

Authors Ibarra and Johnson look to chemical defense mechanisms from the plant kingdom as a basis for natural antimicrobials, avoiding the use of what some consumers view as toxic chemicals in final preparations.

Cristoni et al. consider green from the perspective of incorporating naturals and botanicals; however, in their article, the authors remind formulators that it is important to be aware of the different qualities of natural extracts that could affect final formulas.

Topping off this issue with its own green garnish, C&T magazine will expand on the many paths to green at the C&T magazine Green Summit, to be held April 14, 2008, in Amsterdam, preceeding in-cosmetics. This event will explore how green impacts the formulating chemist, including use of naturals and organics, natural preservation, the green supply chain, green lab practices and more. Come to hear Clark present his featured topic in Amsterdam.

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