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The zero waste beauty company changing the way we think about bottled products

30/01/2017 10:23 AM

Brianne West, the Founder and CEO of Ethique, spoke to 1 Degree about how she brought her sustainable business to life and developed  zero waste beauty bars.

How did you come up with the idea for bottle-free beauty products?

It seemed like a logical solution to a significant waste problem to be honest. I was studying Science at university when I started working out how to create solid shampoos. I thought, why bottle water with a product when there is water in your shower? The solid bars foam when in the shower and  last between three to six times longer (depending on the product) than bottled products because they’re super-concentrated. The idea and business grew after a  crowdfunding campaign led to funding from some great investors, and we now make solid conditioners, cleansers, scrubs, moisturisers, serums, a self-tanning bar, pet shampoo, men’s shampoo/shaving bar and household cleaners.

How are the principles of zero waste and sustainability integrated into your business and products?

Our products themselves are obviously waste free, but the ingredients they are made with must also be sustainably produced and harvested. We work quite closely with several of our suppliers to ensure they look after their surrounding environment and we’re trying to get some of the bigger suppliers to rethink how much plastic they package their product in- it’s crazy! We are working on having a zero waste office, which is proving a challenge.

What are some of the challenges you found when starting out and how did you overcome them? 

The biggest couple of challenges were getting people to accept and understand why they would ‘go solid’, although when they tried the product that usually went away as people do love them so much. How to go about packaging the products so that it fits with our compostable guidelines is also tricky factoring in how it lasts with an oil based product in there, if it’s easy for the consumer to work with, if it travels well. Lots of time and research!

What advice would you give to someone who would like to take their sustainable business idea and bring it to life?

Just give it a go. Loads of people hang about waiting for the perfect time, or the perfect product or whatever, but there is no such thing. You need to get out there and talk to people, give it a go and see what the feedback is. Planning is important, but planning for planning sake without any action is a waste of time.

You’ve had a big 2016 with lots of fantastic achievements, what’s on the horizon for this year?

 Doubling our business, moving to our brand new factory (in April), growing our market in the USA and preventing 500,000 bottles from being made and disposed of!

What are your top 5 tips that will help us all work towards zero waste? 

  • Stop using single use disposables and get proactive about it. Pre-empt the bartender from giving you a straw, say no to plastic cutlery and stop buying bottled water!
  • Take advantage of the digital age; try not to print things you don’t need to.
  • Plan ahead; pack lunches in reusable plastic or glass containers so you don’t have to buy lunches in plastic.
  • Be mindful of what you buy in supermarkets. There are often varieties of food that are found in bulk bins or in cardboard packaging, rather than the plastic packaged variety.
  • Buy Ethique 😉

Click here to go to Ethique’s website and hear more about their story.