Many people are now looking for more simple, natural, green, sustainable solutions in their daily life.
When it comes to skincare, there is a lot of wastage involved with the production of beauty products.
When I started Be Better Balms, I really wanted to offer a sustainable skin product from start to finish.
In this blog, I wanted to share with you the ‘behind the scenes’ process of how I make Be Better Balms and how I try and incorporate sustainability and zero waste practices at every step in the production of our natural, plant-based balms.
What is sustainability:
So let’s start with the heavy terminology –
‘Sustainability can be defined as the ability to maintain healthy environmental, social and economic systems in balance on a global and local scale.’ (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300)
The authors of a great book called ‘Cradle to cradle’ talk about the fact that ‘Early agriculturalists accepted ‘the law of return’, which simply meant that the farmer should try re repay the earth for what he took from it.’
This is not the case in many industries today, as the concept of ‘from cradle to grave’ seems to be more common, where ingredients are taken from the earth and end up in landfill.
The Sustainable development group which is a group run by the UN talks about 17 guidelines for sustainability.
The guidelines that are most relevant to skincare production relate to responsible production and consumption, ethical practices - No child labour or slavery and whether the product damages biodiversity.
Directly linked to sustainability is the concept of Zero waste which is a ‘goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices, to emulate natural sustainable cycles where all discarded material are designed to become resources for others to use.
Zero waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources and not burn or bury them’. http://zwia.org/zero-waste-business-principles/
With these principles in mind as my goals, I started Be Better Balms.
So how does that translate to how I make Be Better Balms?
The ingredients -
The first step was to know and understand where my ingredients come from.
The ingredients needed to be all natural and derived from nature, effective, biodegradable, include ethical practices (such as ethical harvesting), and involve low wastage.
One of my aims was to design a product with the end of its life in mind.
This is why I chose to grow the main bulk of my ingredients. The main ingredients in all the balms are the medicinal herbs which I grow on our property on the Mornington Peninsula.
Many of the herbs I grow are herbs that are considered weeds – for example, chickweed and calendula, while other have very minimal water and soil requirements – for example Aloe Vera, Mint and Parsley. I also include native herbs such as Australian river mint that flourish very easily in their local habitat.
Applying these practices, along with foraging, permaculture guidelines and composting created a closed loop system – I grow the herbs, I use the herbs to make the balms and any wastage – i.e. herb material goes to the compost pile (or to the chickens as they benefit immensely from medicinal herbs) where it gets back to the soil I use to grow the herbs – so it’s a win win situation! Zero wastage, zero toxicity! and it's a very short supply chain as the main ingredients are grown on our property so no freight etc.
It was important for me to include the human element in the process and this is the main reason I positioned myself as the human element, heavily involved through the ‘seed to skin’ process in the manufacturing of Be Better Balms.
I also made sure the balms are all plant based and vegan due to ethical reasons and sustainability (vegan skin care blog coming soon...)
The herbs are infused in sweet almond oil, and then combined with other all natural, non-toxic ingredients including Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Coconut oil, Candelilla wax, Arnica oil and different essential oils. So I wanted to make sure the suppliers I am using offer sustainable ingredients.
I work very closely with my suppliers. Especially with Claire from Aromatic Ingredients. It was important for me that the supplier is local, which is totally the case here as Claire lives in Mount Eliza and delivers the ingredients directly to me on her way home, so no long-distance freights. Ticked off the ‘lower our carbon footprint’ box right here 😊 plus, she often stays for some herbal tea and a chat so ticking off the ‘know your suppliers’ (and actually like them a lot) box too!!
Aromatic ingredients were able to assure me that their raw ingredients are -
- Environmentally Friendly – their growers whom they work closely with are dedicated to sustainable practices
- No child labour involved
- Not genetically modified
- Palm Oil Free and its derivatives
- Not tested on animals
Next was the packaging for the balms.
I wanted to offer packaging that is eco-friendly – recyclable, reusable and light (to lower freight carbon footprint) and was looking at a few options.
I was considering glass but decided against it – the balms include many botanical extracts that can easily oxidise when placed in clear glass. Coloured glass was my other option, but after looking into that, it seems that coloured glass containers are actually not often recycled (that varies depending on the waste facilities in your area).
I decided to go with Aluminium canisters.
‘Aluminium is 100% recyclable and experiences no loss of properties or quality during the recycling process. Recycling aluminium also uses only 5% of the energy used to create new aluminium and emits only 5% of the greenhouse gases. It is for these reasons that approximately 75% of the aluminium ever produced is still in use today.’ https://aluminium.org.au/aluminium/recycling/
Aluminium can be recycled and reused in a matter of weeks.
this link shows you how Aluminium gets recycled -
How consumers are using Be Better Balms –
Be Better Balms aim to offer all-natural skincare that actually works.
The way the balms were designed in terms of size, packaging, manufacturing etc all relate to reducing wastage and improving sustainability to our skin and to the environment.
If we look at the waste hierarchy and how it relates to Be Better Balms -
Waste prevention – I really believe that skincare should be simple.
We don’t need to use hundreds of different products with thousands of different ingredients.
This is why Be Better Balms include only natural and selective raw ingredients and not too many of them too.
But the ones that are in the balms are super potent and super effective - LESS IS MORE!
The balms are also very thick, so a little goes a long way. The containers are not too big, so you as the consumer don’t have to throw away expired products.
Reuse - I wanted to offer a container that can be re-used, so not just recycled – a container that can be upcycled!
The canisters can be easily re-used - You can use the empty canisters as pin cushions, cookie cutter, plant holder, storage jar, travel medication container…the sky is the limit really…
Recycle/Composting – this is an integral part of Be Better Balms where the main raw materials – medicinal herbs are used for composting and the packaging can be recycled.
To sum it up….
I hope this gave you an insight into the ethos behind the Be Better Balms range.
I really want to encourage people to embrace the Zero waste skincare, and if every skincare business – small and big, started to think about sustainability and incorporating that in their ethos and practices, then the skincare industry can make a huge headway towards a more sustainable world…
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions…always open to more ideas 😊