The beauty industry – luxurious and glamorous as it may be – is responsible for producing 120 billion packaging units each year, with only 8.7% of that plastic waste actually being recycled. These feel-good products include plastic bottles, tubes, and containers, many of which sadly end up in the oceans.
The undeniable consequences of these toxic plastic tides have never been more evident, which is why consumers are looking to brands to make drastic changes. But, sustainability isn‘t as simple as it seems.
While big brands shift towards new products, alternative materials, and advanced production lines, emerging brands struggle to find viable and sustainable solutions that work for them.
It‘s time for beauty brands to reimagine how they do business.
We sat down with our brand partner Holistic Hair to see how they‘re taking sustainable action and what strategies have helped them grow and drive positive change.
Holistic Hair is a premium natural hair care brand made in New Zealand. Harnessing the science of aromatherapy, the company produces a range of shampoos, conditioners, extra care, and styling products made with natural and naturally-derived plant ingredients.
Holistic Hair is run by Nicky and Jodene, who acquired the brand in 2015. Both co-founders hold specialist diplomas in trichology, a branch of dermatology related to the scalp and hair, and had worked together in the Health and Beauty industry before.
Driven by passion and a shared vision, they knew from the start that they wanted to build a company that goes beyond profit, a business that they could be proud of. So, with the common goal to produce products that didn't generate detriment to the planet, the powerful female duo joined forces to develop a credible hair brand with an authentic sustainable, environmental and social purpose.
"Sustainable growth is the only growth we look at, and every touchpoint of our business has to be thoughtful."
At present, this has translated to working on transitioning their plastic bottles to eventually being made from 100% recyclable plastic, and at the packaging stage, using cardboard and paper from FSC certified stock. Wherever possible, the brand also chooses soy-based inks and resin or mineral coatings in the manufacturing process.
The team works hard to incorporate and commit to responsible practices throughout their business and hopes to attain B-Corp status in the near future. Apart from enacting ethical practices within their business, Holistic Hair partners with organizations like CleanHub, B Lab, Carbon Click, and Sustainable Business Network.
Non-recyclables make up 80% of all ocean plastic. It takes up to 1,000 years for plastic to decompose in landfills, and when it ends up in the ocean, it doesn't decompose at all. This means that plastic floats around indefinitely, wreaking havoc on ecosystems and harming our marine life.
The conscious consumer cares about minimizing plastic waste and is skeptical of brands trying to win them over with greenwashing or cheap marketing methods. With 64% of consumers wanting to see better schemes for removing plastic and packaging, now more than ever, companies need to start telling the right story.
While many beauty brands are opting for plastic-free packaging or biodegradable solutions, not everyone can afford these alternative options – or at least not in the short term. In addition, new trendy product developments like zero waste shampoo bars have also been on the rise. Still, for specialty brands like Holistic Hair treating scalp and hair disorders, their formulas simply can not be concentrated in that way.
According to co-owner Nicky, a way to tackle this issue is to understand that plastic isn’t always the bad guy.
“Plastic doesn’t walk itself into the rivers; we do it. People do it through poor management. If we start dealing with waste properly, we can restore it and restore plastic to being a sustainable material. Plastic is not going to go away, and we have to get more brands doing the right thing. It’s up to us to clean it up.”
There’s more to plastic than just being waste, in fact, plastic is the cornerstone of a $500 billion global personal care industry. Most of these industry brands rely on this accessible and affordable material to survive.
Nicky and Jodene’s primary goal is to communicate the bigger picture to consumers authentically. It’s no longer about ditching plastic entirely but instead shining a light on poor plastic management efforts and highlighting the actual work that can and needs to be done.
Plastic has a bad wrap, but ignoring the problem, is only making it worse. Instead of dumping our problems in the ocean, it's time to adopt new strategies that allow us to use, reuse and dispose of these kinds of materials responsibly. That is why Holistic Hair decided to collaborate with CleanHub to reach its sustainable goals.
CleanHub empowers brands to stop plastic entering the ocean by enabling the circular economy. With a network of experts by their side, brands like Holistic Hair can quickly adopt circular economy principles and reduce waste without changing products and materials - and they can start doing it today.
”CleanHub had put together a sustainable model that spoke to the issue that we were battling out. We’re a company with our products in plastic. How do we show customers that we are authentically trying to be part of the solution?”
If removing plastic is a challenge, plastic neutrality is a great start for any business to kick-start its sustainability journey. This approach is tangible, measurable, and can be implemented and tracked in real-time.
Holistic Hair has pledged to recover 1508kg in 2022, and this is just the beginning.
This volume makes them Plastic Neutral, which means that they’re removing as much plastic as they contribute. Inspired by their waste journey and the impact they’ve made thus far, the team hopes to become Plastic Neutral + in 2022, which means removing more plastic from the environment than what they contribute.
A positive brand perception builds community and enhances customer experiences and loyalty.
Since kicking off the partnership in October 2021 and starting communication about their Plastic Neutrality, Holistic Hair has seen a significant boost in engagement on social media, and an overall 134% increase in sales tied to our shared Turning Black Friday Blue & Cyber Mon- day campaign.
"You know how hard it is to find a pair of jeans that fit well? It‘s like we‘re searching for a pair of jeans that fits well, and we found them and we just slide into them every morning and we plan to for a long time!"
Crucially, taking on CleanHub as a partner has also helped them gain more points towards their B Corp certification, which is typically difficult to attain for most brands.
We’re excited to see how Holistic hair continues to grow, flourish and accelerate its positive impact.