Where are my products made, and why should I care?
If you’re outside the manufacturing or supply chain world, traceability might sound like a word that belongs to the infectious disease realm. After all, who isn’t aware of contact tracing after the last two years of COVID? You wouldn’t be all that far off in your definition, though, if that’s what you based it on. Just like outbreak tracing attempts to find the source of infection, traceability in manufacturing refers to the ability to trace all manufacturing processes from raw materials to finished products and even onto disposal of that product.
It’s easy to think of examples for why traceability is vital in manufacturing and food production: just count the number of times there have been recalls on spinach for e.coli outbreaks or automobiles for faulty airbags. But it might be harder to see why it matters for self-care products. The most apparent reason - contamination of one of the elements in the product - is rarely the primary concern. For many companies, including SAM+LEO, the more important reason is ethics. Traceability allows for ethical decision-making at every stage of product development: responsibly sourced materials, fair wages for those making the product, and, in the case of beauty products, making sure ingredients meet the company’s definition of clean.
We talked about what clean beauty means in a previous blog and how vague the definition is throughout the industry. We also discussed the SAM+LEO definition of clean. One of the critical elements in the SAM+LEO commitment to clean is sustainability. This is particularly true when it comes to packaging. For example, our deodorant comes in a container made from 100% PCR. PCR plastics are recycled materials from existing PET bottles and other plastics. These materials are then transformed into other packaging materials through community recycling programs.
With an estimated 30 billion bottles of water being sold every year across the United States, there is a severe need to increase the usage of PCR materials to make new products. Reprocessing existing plastics uses less energy & fossil fuels, making them a more environmentally friendly alternative. By knowing where our plastics come from, we can ensure a commitment to sustainability.
Traceability allows for more than just sustainability; it also enables companies and consumers to choose from where they get their ingredients. This means companies can ensure local workers are paid a fair wage and work in humane conditions. Traceability is a crucial factor in things like fair trade and cruelty-free items. It also allows you to be sure that all ingredients are vegan or gluten-free. For those sensitive to fragrance, it gives a window into specific fragrance manufacturing processes, so consumers can consciously choose scented products.
Traceability also allows for more control of each batch of product. Extensive testing can go into testing for toxins or impurities in ingredients. At SAM+LEO, we have detailed testing done on each and every ingredient in our deodorant to ensure that it meets our highest standards and is safe for our customers.
Ultimately, traceability puts more power in the hands of you, the consumer. It allows you to ask - and find answers to - questions like:
- How and from where are the ingredients purchased?
- How does the sourcing of these ingredients affect the communities from which they come?
- How do the ingredients and their collection process impact the environment?
- How do the ingredients in the product affect my body?
At SAM+LEO, we encourage you to ask questions like the above and any others that may occur to you. We are committed to transparency, sustainability and quality products. So make sure to pre-order your deodorant here if you share our values.