Why is being an eco skincare brand so important to us?
Being environmentally aware is so important to us, and is one of our core values. The skincare and beauty industry is responsible for a damaging amount of plastic. Natural Spa Factory was founded in 2009 – the year previous saw an estimated 120.8 billion units of packaging created by the beauty industry (source). 40% of this was rigid plastic. We didn’t want to add to the problem! We wanted to be part of the solution. Being Eco-friendly has formed one of the core values of our business since our formation - creating sustainable, incredible skincare that is as good for the environment as they are the skin.
Eco Friendly Products
Being an Eco Skincare brand starts on the inside - with the ingredients. There are certain ingredients used within the industry that aren't kind to the environment. We make it our mission to ensure we do not use ingredients that will harm the environment or filter into the eco system. Here's a look at ingredients that can harm the environment, the eco system and also animal life.
Ingredients to avoid...
Rain forests are being decimated to make room for palm trees to produce palm oil, a common staple in many beauty products. This is wiping out the natural habitat for orangutans and countless other wildlife.
Also known as sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate. SLS can be incredibly drying for skin, causing irritation - so we're not a fan. The other big problem with SLS: palm oil is used in the production.We do not use palm oil, because of the devastating impact its cultivation has on the environment. To produce palm oil, tropical forests are razed to make way for palm tree plantations, displacing indigenous people, destroying wildlife and disrupting the delicate ecosystem in the process.
Sadly still common place in many cosmetic products… but we’ve never used this ingredient. Parabens filter into marine life, and are being found in the tissue structure of our squeaky dolphin friends. We shouldn’t be subjecting our poor beauty choices on to those that can’t squeak for themselves.
These tiny plastic beads have now been banned in the EU, which is a good start - but they are still used in skincare around the world. This is bad because they filter into the eco system. They are found in fish stomachs, forming a large indigestible mass. Eventually killing fish. We use alternatives, such as sugar, salt, fruit seed and fruit pulp. The manufacturing ban means the tiny beads which harm marine life can no longer be used in cosmetics and personal care products.
So, what are the ingredient alternatives?
Instead of using ingredients that are harmful to the environment (and not great for the skin, either!), we use eco skincare friendly ingredients or production methods. We often refer to what we create as 'skingredients', and we pride ourselves in using ingredients, not chemicals. Alternatives to palm oil include sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, rosehip oil - and other seed, fruit and nut oils. Instead of lots of preservatives, we create products that are dry (and, as a result, require less or zero preservatives). Natural oils act as a preservative in many products. We use natural alternatives to microbeads, such as fruit seeds, ground plants, volcanic sand, salt and sugar. Yes - it does mean that we can't compete with the mass produced big names in the high street that rely on cheap synthetics. But that's OK - because we prefer quality over quantity when it comes to great skincare!
Eco Friendly Packaging
Humans are now producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year (source - plasticoceans.org). This is not sustainable. We cannot, as a collection of generations, keep ploughing this much plastic into the world. Part of our mission is to ensure that we're part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Here's how we package in an eco friendly way...
Where possible we use glass components to package the products. Not only does this look great - but it also means that the glass packaging is recyclable. A further bonus - we use Miron glass. Miron glass is a type of glass that has outstanding capabilities of preserving substances contained within for extended periods of time. Water, for example, has been kept fresh in violet miron glasses for over three years without any artificial preservation techniques being applied. So when looking for packaging to preserve natural ingredients that contains minimal synthetics, it's an obvious choice.
Of course the glass is recyclable - but an added bonus of using beautiful glass packaging is that it can be reused for second life, too. A candle jar becomes a beautiful tooth brush holder (bamboo toothbrushes only, thanks!). The diffuser jar makes a great vase for a seasonal posy or bunch of herbs in the kitchen. The jar polishes become a super stylish way to house herbs and spices.
With some products we do need to package in plastic - whether it's for preservation or, in most cases, from a safety perspective. The majority of our scrubs, for example, are in either plastic zip lock pouches, or plastic jars. The slippery nature of a scrub means that if you were using it in the shower, you are at risk of dropping it. The last thing you'd want to drop in the shower is a heavy glass jar! So, for safety, plastic is best in these circumstances. We also use plastic that can easily be recycled. So, even though it's not ideal, we do our best with selecting more mindful plastic choices.
All of the cardboard that comes into the Natural Spa Factory building gets recycled and turned into packaging 'shred'. Any retail order or trade order that leaves the building is carefully packaged with shredded cardboard - ensuring nothing goes to waste! This also ensures that we're not using unsustainable sources, or plastics, as much as possible with the packaging.
The Shelf Naked Approach
All of the products are presented 'shelf naked'. What does this mean exactly? Picture for a second the bright white counter of big department store. A moisturiser you purchase here from one of the big names will be a plastic or glass jar, with a seal, in a box, possibly a plastic insert, wrapped in cellophane. We're looking at possibly FIVE layers of packaging, much of it plastic! This glut of plastic for a single product is not sustainable - and this is why we prefer the Shelf Naked approach!
Buying in bulk is a great way to not only get the best price on goods, but also to minimise the amount of plastic you're putting into the environment. Our best selling paraben free shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, hand wash, and hand lotion are all now available in 5ltr bottles. You can top up your dispensers at home, or purchase a one-off 250ml bottle of each, and decant as you go! This saves a significant number of bottles - 20, in fact! This is great for the eco conscious consumer. It's also a significant saving - £4.50 per 250ml, compared to £12 for an individual 250ml bottle.
Our IBC's (Incredibly Big Containers)
As a creator of skincare, we do have a need to safely and mindfully store finished product ready for bottling. We do this in 1000 litre IBC's. IBC technically stands for Intermediate Bulk Containers - but we prefer referring to them as Incredibly Big Containers. Our IBC's are essential to our operations... however we have ways of re-using them. We send some to a local coach company, who cut the top off to save rain water for washing the coaches. They are also used by local farms to store feed for animals. We really do try to reuse wherever we can!
Our Eco Friendly Tips
Living an eco life doesn't have to be hard work. It can be about making small changes in every day life. There's more than just eco skincare that can help you with a clean existence. Here's a couple of ways that you can take a greener path - without too many sacrifices!
- Choose paper or card cotton buds over plastic cotton buds.
- Instead of plastic toothbrushes, try bamboo.
- Ditch the wet wipes! They take up to 100 years to disintegrate (yuk). Try a natural muslin cloth, or a flannel, instead.
- Use a re-usable stainless steal safety razor instead of disposable.
- Stylish sipping. Try a re-usable elegant metal or glass straw, or try paper. Plastic straws are so 2016.
- Try multi-functional beauty. Products that work in more than one way - to minimize the packaging on your shelf. This is why we love Raw Organic Coconut Oil - it's great as a hair mask, a moisturiser, a natural cleanser, a massage oil, a lip balm... we could go on! the ultimate eco skincare warrior.
- Try gender neutral skincare. Get the whole family involved with some core eco skincare that will do a great job for all skin types. Try the Capsule Collection.
Discover more Eco Skincare tips
If you'd like to learn more about becoming a conscious consumer and would like to discover more eco skincare, there's more tips on our Zerowaste blog.
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