We’re living in an age where environmentally sustainable practices should be as critical for businesses as finding a path to profitability, or else we’ll be missing the wood for the trees. This is all the more important for the beauty industry where the bulk of packaging used is unsustainable. According to a study by Zero Waste Europe a whopping 142 billion units of packaging are produced each year globally, most of it non-recyclable.
But the industry’s massive carbon footprint doesn’t stop there: a lot of products are filled with microbeads and microplastics, most sunscreens are not safe for coral reefs, synthetic fragrances in sprays contribute to air pollution, and the overuse of natural resources, without finding ways to replenish them, is harmful to the environment – for example palm oil, which 70% of cosmetic companies use worldwide, has resulted in mass deforestation.
In light of Earth Day, I wanted to address some of the ways in which we’re approaching sustainability at Yours, and our clean beauty vision which we’re in the process of building. When I set out to create Yours, I tried to reimagine every single aspect of the skincare business—from ingredients to packaging, all the way to product delivery. I wanted to build a brand that puts our customers and the environment at the heart of everything we do.
"A whopping 142 billion units of packaging are produced each year globally, most of it non-recyclable."
Enabling product-customer fit to cut product waste
First, this meant leveraging technology to personalise skincare at scale, and in the process, reduce product waste by eliminating skincare trial-and-error. With the right skincare regimen in place, people no longer have to buy products that do not work for their skin, and throw them away as a result. This product-customer fit is achieved by mapping the right ingredients and formulations to their skin, lifestyle, and environment.
Love for skin, love for the environment
Next was in assessing how ingredients were being sourced. As a brand, it’s important to us that we only work with suppliers we trust, with full visibility into their supply chain. In the beginning, this meant visiting dozens of laboratories over months, until we found the perfect one in Switzerland that aligns with our brand values.
I wanted to find the right balance between nature and science. All-natural products are not always good for the skin – for example, walnut and sugar scrubs can cause micro-tearing and early signs of ageing! – so, we always look for synthetic alternatives that are rated safe and sustainable by the Environmental Working Group (EWG rating).
"We always look for synthetic alternatives that are rated safe and sustainable by the Environmental Working Group (EWG rating)"
Reducing product waste with smart packaging
Lastly, when it comes to packaging, recyclability is a bare minimum requirement for Yours; all of our current packaging and shipping boxes are fully recyclable. A personal goal of mine is to reduce our current packaging waste by 50%. This is something we’re working on day and night with our creative and communications team to come up with more sustainable solutions.
We also challenged the way formulations were being delivered in standard bottles or droppers (which contributes to high product wastage). After much research, we opted for a fully recyclable airless pump bottle, which is designed to extract every last drop of product, making it ready to recycle straight after use. These bottles were also designed to be refillable, and we’re working on putting a plan in place so our customers can reuse their original bottles each time they want to replenish their orders. This would help us further reduce the cost of the products and we’ll be able to pass on those savings to you, our customers.
While we’re making every effort to be as eco friendly as possible, we’re always exploring more sustainable options. For a while, we looked into biodegradable packaging, but I quickly found out that 1) they are extremely hard to find, 2) there are limited options, 3) it’s incredibly expensive, and 4) there are very high MOQs (Minimum Order Quantity) involved. We explored sugar cane tubes, but the MOQ for that was a whopping 70,000. As much as we would love to invest in that, for a small startup, it’s practically impossible!
So while it’s an uphill battle, we’re making it our mission to be more sustainable in every which way we can, and make eco-friendly packaging easily accessible and the norm for other small startups like us. We would love to connect with, and support, more manufacturers who are invested in this type of environmental research, and work together to make a positive impact on the beauty industry as a whole – reach out to me at navneet[at]lovefromyours.com if it's something you'd like to discuss!
The environment matters, and it’s on every one of us to make the decision to live more sustainably and be more conscious with what we put out in the world.
Founder & CEO, Yours