Monday, October 2, 2023

Scarlett Johannson’s Activism Comes to The Outset, Starting With 25,000 Trees


Scarlett Johannson spent Earth Day with The Outset co-founder Kate Foster Lengyel. But they weren’t working on new formulations or ideating on promotions for their recently-launched beauty brand. They were planting trees.

Earth Day brought Scarlett Johannson and Kate Foster Lengyel to Highbridge Park in upper Manhattan where they took part in a tree planting for the occasion. For the month of April, The Outset, their new clean beauty brand, is donating ten percent of all online sales up to $25,000 to One Tree Planted to plant 25,000 trees in California to help reforest areas impacted by the recent spate of wildfires.

The Outset also donated $17,000 to the New York Restoration Project, which supports the city’s ecosystem where trees play a significant role in removing pollution from the city. Manhattan’s trees remove about 2,000 tons of pollution per year, sequester more than 42,000 tons of CO2, and reduce energy costs by more than $11 million.

“The Outset is this optimistic idea that every day is a chance for a new beginning and a fresh start,” Lengyel told Forbes. “With our philanthropic lens, we were looking to partner with organizations that foster new beginnings for people and the planet. When One Tree Planted came to light, it felt like a natural synergy,” she says.

One Tree Planted

“[The partnership with The Outset] helps in so many ways,” One Tree Planted founder Matt Hill said. “It’s inspiring other people to learn about the importance of reforestation and planting trees. Together, we’re planting a forest. It helps with local biodiversity, soil cluster, erosion, air quality and water quality, and it’s helping with jobs.”

One Tree Planted has planted more than 40 million trees in more than 45 countries since the organization was founded in 2014.

Courtesy NY Restoration Project

“Forest fires [will become] more severe and more frequent,” Hill says. “A lot of the stuff we’re doing is to help with the droughts. It also helps sequester carbon from the atmosphere, which can help stabilize the climate.” He says a lot of trees are needed in California but it’s important that groups reforesting the area use drought- and fire-resistant species. It’s a complex system that we’re working with,” he said.

“One Tree Planted shed light on the disparity between the impact of what’s happened with COVID-19 in urban green zones like this and how there’s far less green space,” Lengyel says. “The impact you can make by planting these trees is so important.” With One Tree Planted, The Outset is identifying areas across New York where trees will have the biggest impact; in affluent communities, the parks and gardens spaces are more than double that in underserved communities.

The Outset

The Outset was developed as a sustainable brand. “From the beginning, it was very important for us to have as low an impact environmentally as possible,” Johansson says.

The clean beauty range includes a three-step regimen: an antioxidant cleanser, a vegan collagen prep serum, and a squalane moisturizer. It also includes a niacinamide night cream, vitamin C eye cream, and lip treatment.

The company is working with minimal packaging suppliers so the products are refillable and recyclable. All items come in FSC-certified paperboard.

“In the past I’ve gotten huge packages; it’s like this unboxing experience and it’s so much garbage. It feels terrible to have to open up this thing—you have four different secondary packages and all this other plastic junk and it shouldn’t be that,” Johannson said. “Going in that direction feels so irresponsible. I don’t want people to feel guilty about this product and end up with a whole garbage bag full of plastics and junk.”

Courtesy The Outset

Johansson has lent her star power to a number of charitable causes over the years. She was an Oxfam Ambassador for eight years, working in India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya with the organization. She also supported USA Harvest’s efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The Black Widow star helped to donate more than 2,000 pairs of shoes for the Soles4Souls project, which gives away shoes in more than 120 countries.

The tree planting efforts are an extension of that ethos. “I felt like it was such an easy message,” Lengyel said. Johannson added, “A dollar, a tree.”

The company is also working with Dress for Success, a nonprofit that helps women re-enter the workforce by providing professional clothing and personal care products. Efforts like these are going to be baked into The Outset’s growth, the founders say.

“When we look at these different initiatives for our company, when we first started talking about having a foundation, we [said we] could support all different causes, and this is a great place for us to start,” Johansson says. “I think the sky’s the limit as far as how we can affect positive change in this way.”


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