Earth Day 2020: An Awakening for Climate Change

Pamela Gill Alabaster
Contributing Writer

On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we celebrate the progress we have made over the last half century, while recognizing the work that must still be done to reduce the ongoing impact we have on our planet. COVID-19, in particular, has forced us to reexamine the interdependent relationship between people and nature.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our daily lives in so many ways; in addition to the tragic loss of life, the virus has significantly disrupted society and the global economy. And while the impacts to human life have been unimaginable, there have also been corresponding temporary benefits to our natural world.

Global shelter-in-place mandates have resulted in widely reported climate benefits and significantly cleaner air. As industries, transportation networks, and businesses have slowed or shut down, there has been a dramatic drop in carbon emissions. Air pollution levels in China, New York, Spain, and the UK are meaningfully lower. From clearer water in Venice to blue skies in Beijing, our environment is experiencing positive change as a result of our response to the outbreak. These environmental benefits illuminate the trade-offs we face every day between our human wants and needs and the finite capacity of the planet to satisfy them.

More than 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day celebration fifty years ago, which led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of federal laws intended to protect our air, water, and endangered species. Today, Earth Day is celebrated around the world. This year’s theme, climate action, provides us the opportunity to think about how these pro-climate behaviors and low-carbon lifestyles might continue post crisis.

For the beauty and personal care industry, climate action is central to environmental, social, and governance strategies. Today, 15 companies have committed to science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (scope I, II, II) aligned with the Paris Agreement. These companies include: Beiersdorf, Colgate Palmolive, Croda, Firmenich, Givaudan, Henkel, International Flavors and Fragrance (IFF), Kao Corporation, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Reckitt Benckiser, Symrise, Takasago, The Clorox Company, The Estée Lauder Companies, and Unilever.

Our industry recognizes the immediate and potential long-term impacts of climate change – its effect on our planet and the well-being of society. We are committed to improving energy efficiency along the entire value chain, shifting towards renewable energy sources, and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. [Learn more from the industry’s 2019 Sustainability Report, Creating a More Beautiful World.]

Climate change is a tragedy of the global commons. However, just as COVID-19 has brought together people from around the world in solidarity to fight a common problem, so could we imagine a global response to climate change. We have seen the difference communities can make when they look out for one another and cooperate against a common enemy. Let’s learn from this crisis and apply social solidarity to address climate change for the future of our planet.

Pamela Alabaster serves as chief marketing and communications officer for Centric Brands and has been recognized by TriplePundit and Forbes as among the top women in sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. Prior to her role at Centric Brands, Alabaster worked for the beauty industry for more than 25 years.

Caring for Our Communities: The Beauty and Personal Care Industry’s Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Lezlee Westine
President & CEO, Personal Care Products Council

In less than a month, the coronavirus changed how everyone around the world lives and works. It has caused significant economic loss and has tragically taken too many lives. Many of us are struggling with what is happening and how to adapt to this “new normal.” Amidst this rapid-fire change and uncertainty, however, there are many moments of encouragement and comfort as we witness generosity of spirit and the kindness of others.

The beauty and personal care industry is demonstrating its extraordinary corporate citizenship in a variety of ways during this crisis. Collectively, the industry is providing support to medical professionals on the front lines; nonprofit and relief organizations working to ensure the well-being of those less fortunate; and everyday citizens looking for ways to protect themselves and their families.

PCPC member companies including Amway, Combe, Coty, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, LVMH, Mary Kay, Merle Norman, P&G, Revlon, Shiseido, The Estée Lauder Companies and Unilever, have voluntarily converted manufacturing lines to produce alcohol-based hand sanitizers for free distribution to medical professionals. Beiersdorf, Colgate, Henkel, Johnson & Johnson L’Oréal, P&G, The Estée Lauder Companies and Unilever are among those who have committed multi-million-dollar cash, product and in-kind donations of soap, personal hygiene and household cleaning products, as well as surgical masks and other protective equipment.

PCPC member companies are also providing millions of dollars in cash support to a range of disaster relief organizations including the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, The NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund, Feeding America, Feed the Children, and the WHO/UN COVID-19 Fund, among others.

Recognizing the significant financial hardship many smaller businesses are experiencing, industry leaders have also implemented measures to ease the financial burdens for those that have been forced to close, including hair salons, perfumeries and other professional beauty businesses. In addition to deferring payments until they reopen for business, some member companies are also providing flexible payment terms for mid-sized businesses and accelerating payment to smaller suppliers. Working in partnership with the Professional Beauty Association (PBA), companies like L’Oréal USA Professional Products Division, have made cash donations to the PBA COVID-19 Relief Fund, which supports licensed professionals who are unable to work due to COVID-19 and provides emergency aid for short-term immediate needs.

Finally, PCPC’s Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) Foundation is ensuring support remains available for cancer patients at high risk for COVID-19 who must continue their treatment protocols. In tandem with the CDC’s social distancing guidance, LGFB transitioned all patient workshop support to the existing LGFB Live! Virtual Workshops platform, offering interactive, livestreaming programs to patients seeking support and community during a period of increased isolation and anxiety.

We are grateful for the courageous health care professionals who tirelessly work to care for those affected by this pandemic. For their well-being and for the safety of others, I encourage us all to be good neighbors and follow the advice of global health organizations to stay home; if you must go out, observe the recommended social and physical distancing guidelines. In the words of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization: “This is a time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumors. This is a time for solidarity, not stigma. We are all in this together and we can only stop it together.”

Message from President & CEO Lezlee Westine about COVID-19, April 2, 2020

As the COVID-19 emergency continues to affect us all, the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) and its member companies are working together, around the clock, to help mitigate the virus and ensure people have access to the safe, essential products they rely on. We know individuals and families trust and use our products every day – our brands provide a sense of comfort and normalcy in these challenging times.

PCPC serves as the industry’s voice with federal, state and local officials. We also are engaging with other organizations – such as the American Chemistry Council, American Cleaning Institute, Consumer Brands Association, Consumer Healthcare Products Association, Distilled Spirits Council, Fragrance Creators Association, and others – to ensure critical infrastructure remains uninterrupted, and supply chains remain active and safe.

As the cosmetics industry worked to address the nationwide hand sanitizer shortage, we successfully advocated for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow non-traditional manufacturers to produce hand sanitizers. Cosmetics and personal care products companies are refitting their factories to increase production and supply of products to help combat COVID-19. Over the next several weeks and months, our member companies will produce, among other items, more than 20 million units of hand sanitizer to be donated to hospitals; community clinics; medical and emergency professionals; first responders; industry employees; and made available to retail customers.

PCPC also advocated for key states to include the personal care and hygiene industry as essential businesses. California Governor Gavin Newsom updated the state’s guidance to identify personal care and hygiene product manufacturers as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Empire State Development updated the essential business guidance to include products regulated by FDA. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Critical Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) updated their COVID-19 critical infrastructure guidance to include “hygiene products.”

We are working with our members, through educational webinars and other communications vehicles, to share best practices and learn from those who experienced COVID-19 in other parts of the world. PCPC staff continually monitor and communicate changes in regulations, government policies and other information critical for our members to maintain business continuity.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was recently signed into law, providing significant economic relief opportunities for individuals and businesses, including new loan programs for small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will administer approximately $350 billion in loans, which can be forgiven if used for qualifying purposes, through the existing small business 7(a) loan program. If your company is interested in applying for these loans, or for any relief, you should contact your bank or learn more by visiting the Treasury Department’s website here.

To ensure consumers are kept up to date about the impact of COVID-19 with credible, factual information and recent actions we are taking, both the PCPC website and, our science and safety website, now feature extensive COVID-19 sections, including a comprehensive an FAQ.

The following resources provide information on the best way to protect health and well-being and alleviate some of the financial concerns resulting from this emergency.

Health & Wellness Information

 Business & Finance Information

We will provide regular updates on this page and in the Members Only portion of the website as the situation changes.

We hope you, your families and your communities stay healthy and safe during these very difficult times.

Read more from Lezlee Westine

March 20, 2020