Reduce reuse recycle - Anita Roddick's legacy
I remember reading Anita Roddick's story about the Body Shop. It was so inspiring it sparked my desire to become an entrepreneur and business owner. I vaguely remember (it was the 80s/90s so I should probably re-read it) it espousing the Body Shop's environmental attributes as well as some of Roddick's trials and tribulations (though nothing prepares you for the actual Ts & Ts).
Now many, many years later The Body Shop mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle seems well worn. This lead me to wonder: where does this responsibility lie for reducing waste, reusing everything and recycling? Is it with the manufacturer? with the retailer? with the customer? with government? with brands? with conservation organisations? with individuals? or should we leave it to our children?
It seems to me there's a lot of lip service around sustainability and minimising environmental impact. Until it becomes commercially viable or a livelihood necessity (necessity being the mother of invention), the pace will be lack lustre.
Ultimately, am I personally doing enough to reduce, reuse, recycle so this planet is fit for living on by my children and theirs? The greenie in me yells NO - you should be a ZERO waste household, don't waste a thing, the whole family should be vegan, only buy recycled clothes, don't let the kids buy plastic toys and limit all items with excess packaging, and get a fully electric car (Tesla?).
On the NZTE panel "Packaging Up Online Commerce" I listened to today, I felt both disheartened and encouraged. Disheartened because at Skinnies we seem to be quite progressive even though I feel like we could do much more. Encouraged because the founder of AU Natural Skin, Tracy Ahern said, "do what you can, every bit counts" (she also said "has the world gone mad!?" a refrain Olly often uses when he comes off a stint on Skinnies social media). David Trubridge, I learnt, is one of only a few producers using wood for light fittings and, encouraged complete honesty around what we do well as brands for sustainability and areas where we need to work on and allowing the consumers to decide.
While environmental consideration has always been a huge factor with Skinnies there is so much more I personally want to achieve. We've removed the water so our product is not diluted, it's efficient and effective, our packaging is now 100% recyclable sugar cane resin but we add carbon miles by importing it from China. Our outer packaging components are recycled cardboard and paper and branded eco tape (thanks Sticker Mule in the USA). We have an office policy of minimal rubbish, no takeaway coffee cups but we did give up on the hybrid vehicle.
My ultimate plan Z is to have a Skinnies facility where we can research environmental impacts of sunscreen ingredients (biodegradation of toxic nasties was my masters thesis topic), where we can track the metabolic pathways and engage in the "so much more research to be done" regarding aquatic toxicity, look at degradation of compounds in the waste water treatment plants as well as developing new, safer, more effective UV filters. Not only would this research make Skinnies products better, we could use these as an industry for more environmentally friendly and even nicer to use products.
[Spoiler alert: the sunscreen "reef safe" thing is actually not even a thing but merely a huge distraction for what is ACTUALLY harming the reefs #lipservice #distraction. Sunscreens rate around 200th on the list of things impacting coral reefs - just ask David Attenborough (my hero).]
Our Skinnies facility will be a place where we can concept then facilitate community infrastructure to recover our packaging to reuse it and close the loop.
From the 80s/90s and the spark Anita's book lit, to now where at Skinnies we're doing a lot but can do a lot more, to what lies ahead in the future and how do we make it happen faster so we really are reducing, reusing and recycling to zero out waste.
I think it's an uncomfortable discussion around where the responsibility lies to reduce, reuse, recycle, but I'm keen to have it. Are you?