Green and gorgeous: The zero waste beauty movement is here

Short read

It's time to move away from plastic in the health and beauty industry. 

Helping people to embrace zero waste, plastic free skincare brands is Acala, a new online store and platform for beauty and grooming that's good for the planet.

Georgina Wilson-Powell 18 June 2018

Regular pebble readers will know we're big fans of getting the plastic out of bathrooms as much as out of kitchens and bags and it's good to know we're not alone.

New health and beauty online store, Acala, focuses on brands that are plastic free, zero waste - they've got to be good for the planet as well as for us.

We caught up with founder Hanna Pumfrey to find out how she's taking clean beauty and a plastic free bathroom to the next level.

What made you want to set up Acala?
I had a huge 'a-ha' moment a little while ago whilst, of all the glamorous activities, I was taking out the rubbish. As I tipped it into the chute I realised that 90% of the waste was from 'bathroom items'.  My brain immediately went to, 'Wow! That's just one week. That's a lot of waste per year.' 

For all the current media hype about limiting plastic use from bottles, food packaging and carrier bags, one glance in my bathroom cabinet told me plastic clearly isn't leaving the health and beauty industry. 

While 90% of us recycle kitchen waste, 50% of Brits don’t recycle bathroom waste such as shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles simply because it’s inconvenient, meaning 2.7 billion plastic bottles hit landfill every year. Did you know 120 billion units of plastic packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry?

The focus in the beauty industry continues to be on organic and natural, which is hugely important, but it's focused on what is good for us humans as opposed to what is good for the environment.

I wanted to create a space where people could buy cosmetics and toiletries that are good for both people and planet. I’ve got my heart set on making a big change in the way we consume our health and beauty products and for plastic free to become the norm in the industry.

How has the skincare industry changed over the last few years?
The green beauty movement is booming, as more of us are asking questions like: ‘What’s in our products?’ ‘How were they made?’ ‘Are they vegan friendly?’ 

Consumers are getting wiser to green marketing ploys and are voting with their wallets for cleaner products. The beauty industry is fully aware of this, and increasing numbers of brands are striving for certifications that prove they’re non-toxic.

The organic market has shown major growth of 20% in the last few years alone and more consumers are buying organic products. Some are also responding to the packaging debate, Lush offers zero waste and refillable packaging, but smaller brands are now starting to lead the charge. REN skincare for example recently pledged to become zero waste by 2021.

We are also seeing the government respond to environmentally focused petitions, such as banning microbeads this year.

"50% of Brits don’t recycle bathroom waste such as shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles simply because it’s inconvenient"

Your products cover wellness, skincare and beauty. How important is it to you that each brand is zero waste or plastic free?
It was the most important aspect when setting up Acala. There are so many gorgeous brands out there selling natural and organic products that are great for us humans but very few seem to have given much thought to how we can ensure that these products are good for the planet too. 

The focus for me was on finding brands creating products with sustainable supply chains and using packaging that will not contribute to our single-use waste problem. For instance, we’ve just started stocking Happy Holistics products, they use recycled and biodegradable card packaging for everything from deodorants to liquid face cleansers. The card packaging has a clever biodegradable corn-starch lining that makes it waterproof. 

Acala Zerowaste Beauty4

Ditch the plastic in your routine and embrace reusable or biodegradable options

And it's not just for women, men's grooming and skincare is there too...
One of my main goals with the business is to get more men involved in the sustainable health and beauty movement. We stock a lot of great men’s-grooming products such as reusable razorsshaving soaps and hair wax. We call it health and beauty as an industry, which means men are immediately turned off. A health and grooming store just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it though does it.

How many products have you launched with?
Currently Acala has around 100 products and we are growing every week. Every time I find a new brand or product that fits with our ethos I trial it in small quantities to give our audience the chance to discover something new. We do a featured product of the week each week to give people the chance to discover and try a new product at a discounted rate.

I really want to inspire people to go DIY with their skincare routines so that we can eliminate waste and impact in the industry even more. (Click here to find some simple clean beauty DIY recipes).

Soon we will start stocking reusable jars for cosmetics, as well as holding workshops so that people can learn how to make their own products. 

Acala Zerowaste Beauty5

Zero waste, plastic free beauty isn't just for women, it's time for guys to get involved

What brands should people check out on Acala?
A lot of the products that we stock are from new, up and coming brands doing really innovative things.

Try Zao for high quality, certified organic cosmetics in refillable packaging. The guys at Zao are so lovely and so focused on ensuring their products are not only amazing to use but also zero waste. We love them!

Kutis is a brand people should definitely check out. Based in Wales, their founder Kate, makes amazing and effective natural deodorants in biodegradable cardboard packaging. 

We’re also huge fans of UrbApothecary who sell all in one lips, cheek, tint sticks in biodegradable card tubes, meaning you can create your entire look with one, zero waste product. 

How do you post them without using plastic?
Currently, we use recycled and recyclable card boxes for packaging, padded with post consumer content paper or biodegradable corn-starch chips. 

I would like to eliminate waste completely from both Acala HQ and our packaging/postal service so we are exploring the use of a reusable packaging service that would mean customers could just pop packaging back in the nearest post-box (with no postal charges) and we’ll reuse. We’re exploring a loyalty scheme that would reward customers who return packaging with discounts for like-minded stores, as well as our own, also using this packaging service. So, stay tuned for that!

Once we become big enough, the plan is to use a green courier service; I have found that delivers across the UK using vehicles powered by renewable energy. 

How can people get more involved in the zero waste beauty movement?
We will be holding monthly events and workshops starting 3 July with an evening dedicated to the importance of mindfulness in sustainable living. I’ve partnered with One Aware magazine and be for change to create this, get your ticket here.

We’ve also got a very cool collaboration coming up with an environmentally focused designer to create limited edition, hand painted hemp washbags to raise awareness of the impact of chemicals used in the beauty industry on the ocean. All proceeds will be donated to the Marine Conservation Society.

From September we’ll also be holding monthly skincare workshops to help people go DIY with their beauty regime.

Get our 21 easy ways to go zero waste e-book! Click here to download.

Discover more zero waste, plastic free people in the pebble pod - join us now!

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