Consumer interest in sustainability has been slowly growing for decades, and while sustainable products have long been a smart choice for consumers, soon they will be the primary one.
Today, interest in eco-friendly products has reached an all-time high. A 2023 report by NielsenIQ found that 95% of consumers try to take some action to live sustainably. Thirty-nine percent of consumers say they’re very likely to choose a retailer known for a wide assortment of sustainable options—but a quarter of shoppers say it’s difficult to find those products on shelves.
This increased emphasis on sustainability has also been evident on Faire. Between December 2022 and March 2023 alone, searches for “eco-friendly” on Faire have increased by 55%, and searches for “reusable” have increased by over 75%. In addition, the number of orders placed from brands using the eco-friendly value tag grew 45% between 2021 and 2022.
The message is clear: The “eco-friendly” stamp that was once an added perk to a product is quickly becoming a necessity. But with more and more innovative and eco-friendly products popping up on the marketplace, it can be hard to find products customers will really want. That’s why we took a look at recent search and buying data from the Faire marketplace to find out exactly what types of sustainable products retailers will be stocking their shelves with in the coming months.
Beauty products made from recycled materials and plastic-free packaging
The environmental impacts of the beauty and wellness industry’s plastic packaging are a well-chronicled concern. According to Zero Waste, more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry, the majority of which are not recyclable. Today’s consumers are eager to decrease this number, with 45% stating they want retailers to aid their sustainability efforts by reducing plastic waste.
As demand for products that do less harm to the planet grows, so has the number of beauty brands offering solutions in the form of earth-friendly packaging, non-toxic ingredients, and transparency around environmental impact.
There’s been a marked shift in consumer awareness of a brand’s ethos in the past year. More customers than ever are looking for simple, sustainable, natural products.Tony Beddows, design and marketing leader, Friendly Soap
Faire customers have also been increasingly favoring beauty and wellness products that prioritize sustainability. In February and March of 2023, half of the top 10 products in the Bath and Body category came from brands using the eco-friendly value tag—a 150% increase from the same months in 2022. Popular products include preservative-free biodegradable soap in recycled and recyclable packaging from Friendly Soap, vegan body creams and scrubs made using leftover ingredients from the food and drink industry from UpCircle Beauty, and body wash in packaging created from upcycled ocean plastics from SALT & STONE.
“There’s been a marked shift in consumer awareness of a brand’s ethos in the past year,” says Tony Beddows, leader of Friendly Soap’s design and marketing team. “More customers than ever are looking for simple, sustainable, natural products. As the bath and body industry becomes more aware of its environmental responsibilities, I think it will continue to offer sustainable alternatives and create new norms.”
In addition to soaps and scrubs, Faire customers have also been eyeing eco-friendly makeup products, like sustainably packaged eyeshadow and mascara from 1% for the Planet partner ATHR Beauty and blush housed in bamboo containers from Antonym Cosmetics. In February and March of 2023, five out of the top 10 products in the Makeup category were from brands using plastic-free packaging—only a year prior, that number was zero.
Finally, reusable beauty items like washable makeup-removing cloths from MakeUp Eraser (where one MakeUp eraser is equal to 3,600 disposable makeup wipes), reusable cotton makeup-remover pads from Flawless, and perfume in plastic-free recyclable packaging from By Rosie Jane have also proven popular in recent months on Faire.
“Moving forward, the beauty industry will need to continue to adapt and evolve to meet sustainable expectations and minimize environmental impact,” says Neena Marie, marketing director at MakeUp Eraser. “Across the industry, we expect to see expansion on refillable and reusable packaging, innovation in sustainable material, mainstream adoption of zero-waste beauty, and the continued growth of upcycling and recycling initiatives.”
Upcycled food and drink products
Another surging sustainable trend: Food and drink products containing upcycled ingredients (ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste). The USDA estimates that 30% to -40% of the country’s food supply goes to waste, ending up in municipal landfills that emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas responsible for more than 25% of today’s global warming. To help combat this waste, sustainable food and beverage brands are putting surplus food supply to good use. As of 2021, launches of products containing upcycled ingredients had increased 122% since five years prior, leading Food Dive to name upcycled products one of the seven biggest food trends shaping the industry in 2023.
On Faire, brands using upcycled ingredients—like Renewal Mill, which uses upcycled byproducts to create plant-based pantry staples—are growing in number and popularity. Other products gaining retailer interest include Brewer’s Foods’ crackers and chips made using leftover grains from the craft-brewing industry, all-natural upcycled dried fruits from The Ugly Company, and fizzy drinks made using upcycled whey from the Upcycle Certified brand Superfrau.
Products for refill stores
We first noticed the rising trend of refill stores—independent stores where customers can fill up reusable bottles with household essentials—earlier this year. On Faire, searches for “refill” have reached their highest ever in the past year, with a 100% year-over-year increase from 2022 to 2023. In addition, 90% of the most popular products in March of 2023 in the household supplies category were eco-friendly supplies often used to stock refill stores.
I’ve had a number of customers come back and say they’re now looking at other areas of their life where they can be more eco-friendly.Michelle Stevens, Founder and CEO, The Refill Shoppe
At The Refill Shoppe, a certified B-Corp California-based zero-waste company, founder and CEO Michelle Stevens has seen an increased number of interested customers in the 13 years since opening her doors. “I was met with a lot of confused looks but also a lot of enthusiasm,” says Stevens. “It’s definitely becoming more well-known in recent years.”
On the other side of the country, zero-waste shop A Sustainable Village in New York City has also seen a positive customer response to its presence in the neighborhood. “When we first opened our shop in 2021, customers would walk through the door, and we could see them physically relax,” says cofounder Jaclyn Roster. “They were thrilled to see positive change happening in their neighborhood.”
Trending refill store products on Faire include all-natural household cleaners from MamaSuds, reusable wool laundry balls from Friendsheep, eco-friendly laundry soap from Miniml, and fragrance-free shampoo from Oneka.
Zero-waste shops like The Refill Shoppe and A Sustainable Village have popped up in almost all 50 states and abroad—and both Roster and Stevens are confident that this trend will continue. “We imagine a world where refill stores are as common as bodegas or drug stores,” says Roster.
Adds Stevens, “I’ve had a number of customers come back and say they’re now looking at other areas of their life where they can be more eco-friendly. I think that the concern, awareness, and demand for sustainable solutions is just going to continue to grow.”