Shampoo is a regular item on most people's household shopping list. What makes us pick one shampoo over another at the supermarket? For some people, aside from performance or even marketing, it might be the brand's track record on ethical issues such as the environment and labour and animal impacts.
CHOICE has partnered with Good On You, an organisation that assesses the ethical and
sustainability performance for a range of consumer goods, to rate 63 brands of shampoo, including Pantene, Dove, Garnier and Tresemme.
What's in this article?
How we chose the brands for ratings:
Due to the wide range of shampoo brands on the Australian market we simply
could not rate them all. Instead, brands were chosen because they met one of the following criteria:
They were readily available in a range of stores including pharmacies, department stores and specialist retailers.
They marketed themselves as more sustainable and ethical.
Our testers used publicly available information to assess how each shampoo brand performs on the following issues:
Labour rights These include policies and practices on child
labour, forced labour, worker safety, freedom of association (the
right to join a union) and payment of a living wage. The brand's
supplier relationships and auditing practices are also
Environmental impact These include the brand's resource use and
disposal, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, impacts on
water, chemical use and disposal.
Animal impact These include whether the brand uses any animal
products in its products and if so, whether the brand is
transparent about where it sources it from. It also addresses
whether the brand conducts tests on animals.
Good On You conducted extensive research to determine which issues we
should consider under the three headline issues of environment, labour and
animals. This research included identifying, reviewing and evaluating:
- existing rating methodologies
31 relevant standards systems and certification schemes that apply
to one or more of the headline issues for either shampoo products
From this research, we identified these key issues to measure:
palm oil and its sources
packaging and end of use treatment of products
greenhouse gas measurement, targets, and emissions reduction
- policies and worker empowerment
low risk production
supply chain and auditing
We developed questions to address each issue.
For each question, our researchers assessed the potential magnitude of
the issue against the likelihood of it occurring. For example, if it is
highly likely that a shampoo brand has a specific impact on
the environment/labour/animals, and it has a high magnitude of impact, then
it would be weighted more heavily. An example of this would be the use of
hazardous chemicals which have a high magnitude of impact and a high
likelihood of occurring.
Small brands were excluded from
scoring for some of the climate change and and water criteria, for example measuring their GHG
emissions; and their environment score was based only on the weighted average
of their scores for resource and chemical use and the remaining climate change
and water questions. A brand was determined to be small based on its
domestic or international market exposure, whether it has a parent company,
and overall popularity based on a social media presence.
Gathering the information
Each brand was then researched individually to provide answers to the
questions. All information was gathered through publicly available
information, including from:
- the brand's website
- the brand's corporate sustainability report or that of its
- the identified standards systems and
Each brand was scored for each issue (based on the answers to the questions
relevant to that issue). Each brand was then given a score for each
headline area (labour, environment, animals) and overall.