I think we can all agree that there is no better feeling than opening up a brand new package of your favorite makeup product. But cue that excitement for just one second and ask yourself: how wasteful is all this packaging? On top of all those packages, think about all the excessive plastic, paper and foam jam-packed in the cardboard boxes of all our binge-shopping Sephora.com orders. They obviously go straight into the trash and the truth is — it all adds up. All that trash ends up in our ocean and landfills, damaging our environment and the quality of life for ourselves, our planet and our future.
Fear not, we can take small steps to help alleviate the issue. Meet Ethique, the world’s first zero-plastic zero-waste beauty brand. They’re the first of their kind to deliver an entirely solid product range. The concentrated face, hair and body products last 2-5x longer than their traditional bottled counterparts. Even better? They dissolve completely. Even the sleeves they arrive in are 100% dissolvable, compostable and biodegradable which means zero consumer waste.
Here at A Luxe Life, we got a chance to interview Brianne West, the genius behind the brand. Read on to learn more about her and the innovative new company.
1. Brianne, you have such an exciting background in biochemistry; what made you to decide to revolutionize the beauty industry with Ethique?
I always wanted to use my passion for environmental conservation to create positive change. I didn’t always know that’d be through beauty! But once I learned 80 billion plastic bottles end up in landfills each year from shampoo and conditioner alone, and the industry has many issues with water waste, excess packaging and ingredient cultivation, I started digging in.
While I was studying at University I taught myself cosmetic chemistry, researching what each ingredient does and how to build a product. I realized up to 75% of shampoo and even 90% of conditioner can be water, which is crazy! I explored removing the water and simply combining the concentrated ingredients. I wanted to use ingredients of a typical salon-quality shampoo, not those of a solid soap bar (which have too high a pH to be good for skin and hair). Eventually I started replacing everything in my bathroom with solid versions.
From there, I looked at packaging. Many high-end beauty products have packages within packages, often non-recyclable mixed materials. Even when the materials are recyclable, the reality is that only 12 percent of plastic worldwide is actually recycled and 8 million tons ends up in our oceans every year. Recycling is better than nothing, but I was passionate about creating compostable packaging that could still stand up to international shipping and retail display.
It’s taken several years and we’re still innovating daily, but with this combination, Ethique was born.
2. We heard you’ve been recently nominated for New Zealander Innovator of the Year? Tell us how you feel about this great honor. Did you ever expect you’d be in this position?
Slightly embarrassing to be honest, as I really don’t think I’ve done anything worth being nominated for! But it was a lovely thing for someone to do (I haven’t tracked down who nominated me yet), and it was really appreciated.
3. Besides shopping at Ethique for one’s beauty products, as an environmentalist, how do you recommend the everyday woman help protect the environment?
Ethique was founded to rid the world of plastic bottles, and there’s a movement growing on social media: #giveupthebottle Using less single-use plastic is an easy way to support this cause, and it extends past cosmetics. One of the easiest things to do is to ditch plastic water bottles– there is just no need for them. A zero-waste women’s kit is also made up of a reusable coffee mug, travel cutlery set or a couple glass/bamboo straws for your purse or office to avoid single-use plastics throughout the day. Composting leftover food instead of throwing it away is another easy way to make an impact- depending on where you live you can use the curbside service or start your own compost at home. Taking public transport where reasonably practical, or even cycling. I look forward to the day when we are all driving electric vehicles!
4. Besides being zero waste, what makes your products stand out from others?
Many people don’t realize this, but because Ethique bars are super-concentrated, every product lasts two to six times longer than its conventional counterpart. So in addition to being good for the environment, it’s an extremely affordable way to use only high-quality, 100% naturally derived ingredients. For example, one bar of The Guardian conditioner will last about as long as three bottles of liquid shampoo. They are also palm free (including its derivatives), which is unusual in today’s cosmetic world and something I’m so pleased to see people are caring about more and more.
5. What can we expect from Ethique in the future?
Our primary goal is to pursue purpose over profit and be the brand that ‘puts a bar in every shower.’ I don’t mean necessarily one of our bars, but I want to inspire other companies to offer sustainable solutions. You have water in your bathroom – Why do you need it in your products too?
In 2018, we are also bringing a new line of household cleaning products to market alongside a few other innovations and we’ll expand to more countries and retail doors (in the U.S. in particular). I’m so excited to take our message further and wider than ever!
For more from Ethique, visit www.ethiquebeauty.com