Buying Aveda Makeup Is Not the Best Way to Help Amazonian TribesS

Aveda makes its money by selling expensive beauty products to touchy-feely yuppies, like you. And if there's one thing yuppies like you love, it's rationalizing your purchase of an expensive beauty product by telling yourself that it's helping some good cause, somehow. And if that good cause is kind of bullshit... eh, you still got the beauty product.

The WSJ today takes a fascinating look at Aveda's long partnership with the Yawanawa Indians, who live in the Amazon, in western Brazil. Two decades ago, the founder of Aveda went and drank some ayahuasca with the Yawanawas and decided that Aveda was a "tribe" and that they should work together. Which is understandable, because ayahuasca fucks you up big time. Typical white-man-in-Amazon-on-hallucinogens behavior. Long story short, Aveda now sells an "uruku" line of makeup made of traditional urukum fruit provided by the Yawanawas to give them a sustainable income blah blah blah. But:

For starters, the Yawanawá don't produce much urukum. They delivered none of it to Aveda between 2008 and 2010. Also, urukum itself isn't as exotic as Aveda portrays it in a documentary-style video on its website. Best known as annatto, it's an inexpensive food coloring, grown commercially around the world, that gives products like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese an orange hue.

The lesson is, everything a corporation does is somehow craven. You just have to be cynical enough to realize it.

[WSJ]