Do you buy Aveda – You might want to STOP

If you have ever been in a high end clothing store or an expensive organic produce store you have most likely seen Aveda products. Even Oprah has sung their praises in O magazine. Aveda is a cosmetics line that uses organic and indigenous products. Their mission statement mirrors the feel good philosophy of consumerism for revolution.

Wah? Shopping is a revolution? No it isn’t. (Remember the gubment tried to sell us on this one right after 9/11.)

If you believe that you can buy your way out of oppression this Aveda story should help you figure out that it isn’t going to work.

Aveda’s mission statement, as quoted on the website: To care for the world we live in, from the products we make, to the ways we give back to society. At Aveda, we try to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility – not just in the world of beauty but around the world.

If you go to their website, you will see tons of pictures of smiling indigenous peoples up against wind mills & kitchy handwritten environmental sayings, natural haired, light skin, black women smiling out at you, and even an Asian model on the home page (never mind all those blue eyed white folk on every page, with their chiseled features out numbering all the other images).

If you check their events calender you will see that they participated in the UN forum on indigenous issues, they give to breast cancer awareness, and they even publish their extensive company report publicly so you can see all their “green accomplishments.”

Hey, maybe shopping can save the world . . .

But wait, there’s more:

Last year, Aveda launched an indigenous products line in which all the ingredients in the line were based on indigenous products of North America, used indigenous knowledge to be created, and were marketed with the promise of giving a certain percent of the profit to indigenous communities from which the products and knowledge were gleamed.

Can you guess what happened next?

In February, Robby Romero, an Apache artist who had worked with Aveda to develop the line, won a lawsuit against Aveda for not compensating him for his work. In May a lawsuit alleging Aveda had failed to give promised revenue to the indigenous communities as promised was still pending.

Aveda discontinued the line under the name it was contracted to give Romero and indigenous people’s a portion of the profit. Then they relaunched it under a different name: Inspiritu.

Romero had this to say at the same U.N. meeting Aveda had been invited to participate in: “Unfortunately, there are corporations . . . that have been enriched from the use of indigenous peoples’ natural resources, culture, philosophy, creativity, resources, intellectual property, traditional knowledge, images, names, and likeness. And often, those corporations manage to circumvent indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior, and informed consent and to benefit sharing.”

So the next time you let some product line, especially one that is selling you a modified beauty standard, tell you that they are saving the planet on brown person at a time . . . remind yourself that consumption does not a revolution make.

If you think I am judging unfairly, let’s go discuss it at Starbucks, they buy organic now too . . . or Wallmart, we can meet in the organic section.

Or you could go find something locally produced, using sustainable methods, in recyclable packaging, and only buy it if you actually need it. While you are at it, if you can afford Aveda, buy two local products, and donate one to the local shelter.

4 thoughts on “Do you buy Aveda – You might want to STOP

  1. I believe Aveda is an Estee Lauder corporation, which pretty much dominates the cosmetics industry. If you buy MAC, Bobbi Brown, Clinique or pretty much any other big name, it is likely that it falls under the big EL umbrella. There have been boycotts against them because of some policies with MAC, the pro-Israeli lobby, and just the whole domination of the industry. Many pro makeup artists feel that once EL buys out a smaller line, the quality of the product declines. I agree w/ you about buying local goods. I try to support smaller, more environmentally friendly companies, but it can be difficult, especially when you can’t determine who the parent company is. To me, this is another example of corporatism and consumerism. Many of the women I know could do without that Aveda cream or shampoo. I am finding more and more that I like the beauty products from my local health food store. I’m sure that Oprah wears lots of EL makeup and gets lots of freebies, hence the praise and product plugs.

  2. I have friends who own a salon and have ditched Aveda for Phyto brand products. Why? They realise that Aveda is moving away from it’s founding principles. Estee Lauder has been playing around with the chemistry of the existing line of products. Aveda had pioneered a natural preservative process which seems to be gone now. Lipsticks go rancid after a few months. Aveda was against petrochemicals in their products and artificial fragrences, guess what’s in them now!? Aveda is on a mission to gain high market share at all costs. It’s not really Aveda anymore, Estee Lauder should rename is Agreeda or Polluta so that the name better reflects the change in the company after it’s takeover!

  3. Thanks for that great entry- I have used Aveda for ten years and have sold it for five. About to graduate with a degree in Anthropology (and hopefully go on to grad school), I have lost all trust and respect for the brand. Your entry is a nice tie in to my blog entry, “Ethical Consumerism: The Dry Hump of Activism”. An anthro student now sensitive to the colonial encounter and the sexy marketing imagery it creates, Aveda has become yet another corporation pushing culture and exoticism as a commodity.

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