Overall, by Humankind sells a great product, but makes it in a not-so-great way. It seems to me that they are aware of consumers rising concerns about sustainability and what they consume, and managed to create a deodorant that had all the things a sustainably minded consumer would want; a refillable container, a clean formula, compostable refills. Where they majorly dropped the ball was in their production. They disclose nothing of substance or importance to consumers when it comes to how their products are made or who makes it, signaling that they have something to hide. It is sad to see that companies that make products out of sustainable materials and ingredients do not always have sustainability in their ethos.
A deep dive into the ingredients used in the deodorant did not reveal anything to be wary of in terms of safety and effectiveness for topical application, and I appreciated that the different scents offered were scented with natural oils instead of anything artificial. The FAQ page of the website also gives an explanation for each ingredient, which is an aspect of this company’s transparency that I really like, and hope more companies will adopt in the future to hold themselves more accountable. Their websites touts that their recipe is so natural that it is actually edible, and contains no harmful GMO's, is aluminum-free, paraben-free, vegan and gluten-free. The palm oil that they use is fair trade and RSPO certified, and while this shows an effort is being made by By Humankind, those certifications are not perfect and can not be totally trusted to reliably report on the palm oil plantations they oversee. The deodorant come in a refillable plastic container which to my knowledge is not made from recycled plastic. This for me is a negative, because by Humankind has packaged many of their other products in metal or glass containers, and it is not clear why they could not do that here. The deodorant refills are packaged in compostable paper, with a few plastic components that by Humankind claims are necessary for the refill to stay sanitary and be able to twist. By Humankind states on their website that they are currently looking for a better way to package the refills so that these plastic components are not necessary, but I found a comment of their Facebook saying the exact same thing two years ago, so I doubt that they are putting any real effort in.
By Humankind as a company is carbon neutral, meaning that they measure the amount of carbon given off in their production processes and buy offsets from another company - in by Humankind’s case the company was Pachama. While often these offset companies can be somewhat untrustworthy, Pachama has actually made strides in transparency and reliability in the carbon offset market. Past their carbon offsets, there was very little information available about their production and ingredient sourcing on their website (besides their palm oil). They disclose that their products are made in the UK, US and China, and claim to have high standard for their sustainability and ethical labor practices, but have no certification to back this up. This lack of transparency would make me suspect for a normal company, but when it is put in context with the abundance of information by Humankind lists about product ingredients and packaging, it is clear that there is a lack of effort that they are trying to hide. It seems like they want to push an image of sustainability by talking about the materials that consumers will hold in their hand (and are therefore more focused on) but don’t incorporate it into the ethos of their company and make sure every aspect of their operations - specifically production - are sustainable.
This section pretty much echos the last in that there was very little information I had to go off of. They claim to have standards for working conditions, but list none of the factories or manufacturers they work with, and have no ethical work certifications. Again, it is clear that they are focusing more on making consumers feel they are being sustainable by giving them a natural product with compostable refills, but know that most people won’t notice if they are unethical in terms on production / working conditions.