Did you know that over 95% of beauty packaging is single-use? Not only that, of all plastics we throw away, only 14% can make it to a recycling center, and only 9% is actually recycled. Aside from packaging, the beauty industry is also rife with microplastics in the products. Just imagine the amount of plastic you apply to your face every day going down the drain and into our waterways and environment!
How can the beauty industry supply chain change for the better? Jo Chidley, founder of Beauty Kitchen and Re, joins us to discuss her mission of providing environmentally friendly beauty products without microplastics and creating a reuse packaging infrastructure!
This is the last episode for our series highlighting BCorps working to solve the plastics problem. If you want to listen to previous episodes in this series, check out Saving the Earth Through Compostable Packaging - The Journey of Kate Flynn.
Introducing Jo Chidley and Beauty Kitchen
Jo is a chemist, herbal botanist, and self-professed beauty junkie. She shares how the beauty industry was once a fun place of innovation and self-invention, but only a few companies, like Lush, hold to that idea. She also shares how environmental management was a core component when she was working as a chemist, but big corporations don't value this as much.
Beauty Kitchen was born from Jo’s experiences and observations. For her, “beauty is things that can be made from your kitchen cupboards. And that's really where Beauty Kitchen was born.” While she believes and encourages people to make their own beauty products, she also acknowledges that people don’t have the confidence or the knowledge to do so — that’s where Beauty Kitchen comes in.
How Big Businesses Work
When businesses get bigger, they naturally involve more people and more processes. Jo observed, “if you keep doing things, the way that they've always been done, what happens is you become bureaucratic, and then your je ne sais quoi can potentially be lost.” Also, most big businesses concern themselves with only the financial and profit lenses.
What happens when a business focuses too much on financials?
They become “cheap.” They won’t value the ingredients in their products, they won’t value their environmental impacts, and they won’t value their people.
“Lots of businesses have been trying to do everything on the cheap, and they haven't made it, because people want purpose. People want to work for businesses that place equal value on the people aspect. And that's not just the team that you employ, that's your supply chain, that's your customers…people are very interested in environmental impact as well.”
How to Make Sustainability Part of Your Business
“Sustainability is the foundation of any business, you want to have sustainable results.” In the beauty industry, this means creating effective products to generate trust. Trust creates repeat customers.
Environmental impact and equality is another critical aspect to consider in addition to sustainability. For Beauty Kitchen, this means the following:
Using natural ingredients to do away with microplastics;
Develop a reusable packaging offering;
And fair and equal pay, even for Jo.
Jo shares that when you know what you stand for, “your focal point makes it easier for you to make decisions, because you're just using that as the backdrop.”
What are Microplastics?
Microplastics are synthetic ingredients produced from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel can be made into different kinds of plastic polymers.
Most people think plastics are things they can see. The reality is that we can create plastic at a micro-nano level. For example, there's typically silicone in hair products, sometimes nylon in beauty products, and even plastics in laundry liquids.
Not only will you be applying microplastics to your skin, but they also impact the environment as you wash them away — they enter the drainage systems and pollute the environment.
Microplastics became a norm in the supply chain because they’re cheap and legal.
Rethinking Beauty Packaging
Beauty Kitchen started to rethink its beauty packaging when they used blue glass for their Seahorse Plankton Plus range. They realized that blue glass is not only the most expensive environmentally, but it's also difficult to recycle. Instead of recycling, they realized washing and refilling the packaging was more feasible.
With the help of the Scottish and UK governments, they're building a reuse infrastructure platform, Re, which other beauty brands can also use. They created a lease packaging for retailers where it's no more than 20% of the costs compared to single packaging options.
Re's lease packaging offering works like the old-fashioned milkman method, where someone would deliver bottles in the morning, then collects the empty bottles at night for reuse. Today's techniques are more advanced. Beauty Kitchen can use digital technology to track each piece of packaging in a nationwide system.
The Beauty of Reuse
“When something's cheap and it works, people don't innovate, they just keep doing what they've always done.”
Plastics are a popular material because they are cheap to manufacture. Since it's hard to change the supply chain entirely, we can reuse plastics while working bit by bit to innovate and make specific plastic components obsolete. Remember, plastics have been in use for only around 130 years.
“This is about progress, not perfection at the moment.”
Reuse is not only about benefiting the environment and people. It also has exciting possibilities in the realm of profit. Single-use packaging will continue to increase with plastic taxes and extended producer responsibilities, while reuse packaging will decrease as more infrastructure is created and scaled up.
Transition to Reuse Packaging
Businesses need to adapt to the disruption. Most big companies have yet to start doing anything about real sustainability. Beauty Kitchen aims to scale faster but acknowledges the importance of doing small projects and dealing with a few businesses first. Scaling up can be a gradual process.
They also refused venture capital for Re, their reuse infrastructure. They want all stakeholders to buy into the idea and create widespread collaboration. Venture capital might mean that they lose a measure of control over their direction.
How Businesses can Apply a Reuse Model
Businesses can refer to principles of B Corporations as a reference, including circular economy and Cradle to Cradle. You can also refer to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for information on a circular economy.
The Cradle to Cradle Institute also provides resources on redesigning products and services for a circular economy.
B Corps vs Cradle to Cradle
B Corporations considers the five impact business model of governance, workers, community, customers, and environment. Cradle-to-cradle certification is about the products and services, including product formulation and packaging.
The Importance of Certification
Certifications can serve as a marketing strategy to let your customers know what you stand for and how serious you are about them. It is also about being part of a community with advocacy.
Certifications can also help align your company's actions to its business method, process, and finances. Remember, business reports should have more than financial data — impact reports are also important.
Learn More About Jo and Kitchen Beauty
Jo Chidley founded Re and Beauty Kitchen, the pioneer in creating effective, natural, and sustainable beauty products. Their beauty products are not only sustainable, but they're also award-winning! From winning Best Sustainable British Beauty Award in the Marie Claire Prix D'Excellence Awards 2022 and the Highly Commended for Best Sustainable Supplement Brand in Marie Claire Sustainability Awards 2022 to the Beauty Shortlist Awards 2022 Editors Choice and Highly Commended, and so much more!
On the other hand, Re is a buy anywhere, return anywhere, reuse anywhere alternative to single-use packaging. It provides a universal, professionally refillable, and reusable packaging platform.
You can also connect with Jo on LinkedIn.
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