Sustainable Beauty: Neal’s Yard Launch In-Store Refillable Bottles
We’re currently experiencing a ‘woke’ moment in the UK; we’re becoming one of the world’s most environmentally conscious and plastic aware nations on the planet, making daily changes that really build up to make a big difference. Re-using plastic bags, opting to carry a metal straw and upping our efforts to recycle may have been sparked by Mr Attenborough’s moving BBC documentaries, but lately the impact of climate change and excessive consumption has never been more mainstream. While other industries struggle to catch up, beauty brands are at the forefront of something amazing and are increasingly making internal changes to ensure their footprint is as minimal as possible – while helping their customers to make better choices.
With the estimated 270 tonnes of plastic currently swimming in the world’s oceans, we need to start making amends now. Although saying no to throwaway coffee cups may get you so far, there’s no denying that our bathrooms are filled to the brim with endless amounts of plastic and are a problem all of their own. It’s estimated that only 50% of bathroom waste is currently recycled, so we have a long way to go to ensure our cleansing regimes or weekly baths don’t leave a negative legacy behind. Sustainable beauty is here to stay.
Leading the way are Neal’s Yard, who have recently implemented refillable beauty stations in some of their flagship stores (including Covent Garden, Gillingham, Marylebone, Islington, Oxford, Bristol, Salisbury, Manchester, Glasgow and soon St Pancras Station;) this allows customers to fill up finished bottles of either Geranium & Orange Hand Wash* or Bee Lovely Bath & Shower Gel* for £2.00 less than their usual price. Although a small step forward, it’s one that sets the bar and encourages us to make those small changes that make a big difference in the long-term.
Not only that, but they offer refills for their reed diffusers, sell one litre bottles (which use 60% less plastic) of key product faves, use by-products (such as ground peach seeds) in their scrubs, have water refill stations in their stores to cut down on plastic bottle usage, plus they’ve committed that 100% of their packaging will be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025. Suffice to say they’re making every effort to show that being more sustainable can start at the ground up.
It’s the normalisation of refills, better plastic options and commitments to the environment that us consumers need to see from the bottom up; if we’re to make these changes and embrace sustainable beauty choices in the same way we’ve embraced paying 10p for a carrier bag or getting 20p off your morning coffee when bringing our own cup, then they need to be easy actions to take.
Following the same ethos of Neal’s Yard are brands including Beauty Kitchen, Rituals, L’Occitane, MAC, Charlotte Tilbury, Guerlain and Paul & Joe that have all developed solutions that allow you to just re-buy the product with minimal packaging. Whether it’s replacing a lipstick and keeping the housing, buying a shower gel in a pouch or switching to pods that pop into existing pots, there’s a more sustainable solution out there for whatever you fancy. Even Olay have announced that later this year they’ll be selling refill pods of Regenerist that will fit into the current container; although it’s just one product currently, I’ve no doubt we’ll start to see this rolled out across the brand portfolio in future years, as sustainable beauty becomes just an integrated part of their ethos.
Other names setting a great example include Lush, who have focused on creating products that don’t require any packaging at all; 35% of their beauty treats require nothing other than a little paper bag to transport them home (including their solid shampoo bars, bath bombs, massage bars and soaps,) while they encourage customers to return or reuse their iconic little black pots (which themselves are made from recycled plastic.)
Holland & Barrett have also recently announced that they’re the first UK high street retailer to stop selling wipes, in an attempt to reduce the environmental damage they cause and huge blockages in our sewers. (It’s estimated that it will take around 100 years for each wipe to degrade.) They’re in the process of removing all branded and own-label throw-away wipes and replacing them with more eco-friendly alternatives, including muslin cloths, cotton pads and exfoliating gloves. A high street retailer making a move like this is a real game changer, and hopefully we’ll see others following suit – and brands making every attempt to either discontinue their wipes or use more sustainable material. (If you’re a regular reader you’ll know how much I hate face wipes anyway, so anything that discourages their use is a winner in my book!)
Furthermore, Aveda have been at the forefront of sustainable beauty before it was on-trend, making industry first decisions and changes that fitted effortlessly with their overarching ethos of caring for nature. They were the first prestige beauty company to use 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) material, and the first to combine PCR with bioplastic (made from sugarcane) illustrating their commitment to doing things differently.
Even Cloud Nine have recently announced a hair straightener recycling scheme, where they hope to save over 1.5 million sets from landfill by recycling or re-purposing them – from every and any brand. It seems being sustainable has never been more of a marketer’s dream.
You may be hearing the name TerraCycle more frequently too, as they partner with more and more brands to ensure all kinds of beauty packaging is recycled. Garnier have recently embarked on a campaign to get nearly 300 drop-off points established within local communities, The Body Shop have launched their own in-store efforts to encourage customers to bring their used bottles and pots back for monetary benefit (Love Your Body Club members will receive a £5.00 reward when returning any 5 empty bottles, tubs, tubes or pots,) while even much smaller names such as ARK Skincare are introducing TerraCycle drop-off boxes into their shops. If you fancy getting in on the action, you can join their community and request your own box via their website!
By supporting these brands we can help to continue their good work, and start to normalise sustainable beauty choices. We can set great examples, and encourage those names who have yet to realise the detrimental impact their plastic consumption has to invest in better infrastructure and practices. And most importantly, we can set future generations up to win – rather than leaving them with our mess to clean up.
If my morning routine can help in any small way, that’s something I’m totally on board with.
*gifted with no obligation to feature
(If you fancy more reading, I wrote about more brands making an effort to be more sustainable here.)