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A wise friend once told me, “when you know better, you do better” (it originally came from the poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou) and it’s stuck with me ever since. 

When you’re a responsible person or brand, no matter how big or small, you tend to live life thinking about how you can do things better, rather than sitting back thinking you’re doing all ok. Because there’s always things to learn. 

In this article

Being Eco Friendly isn’t as Simple as it Sounds
Plastic, Fantastic?
Single Use Plastics - the Real Problem?
Plastic vs Paper, Metals and Glass
What on Earth is the Answer?!
Post Consumer Recycled Plastic
Bioplastics
Tubairless
Sönd Skincare Products vs the (Very Real) Problem of Plastic Pollution

Which is exactly what’s happened with us here at Sönd. When we developed the first products in ouralkalising skincare range, we were focussed on developing amazing skincare, using natural ingredients that worked to help keep our own acne prone, sensitive skin in check.

We managed that (with bells on, just check out what ourfans have to say about us), and then launched the range to you, the sensitive skinned public. We then went on to expand our range to include ourRefreshing Essence Toner,Purifying Clay Face Mask andClearing & Calming Breakout Roller.

Then we thought, how can we make things even better for both our skin (and yours) and the planet? And we recalled conversations we’d had, right at the beginning - that we wanted to make our packaging as eco friendly as possible.

We know that our fans are conscious about the planet, as much as they are about looking after their skin, and so are we. So during this past year in lockdown, we’ve been planning our packaging future and we want to tell you all about it!

Here’s what we discovered, from the different types of packaging options for skincare to how eco friendly we can be without compromising on the quality and shelf life of our products and still allowing them to be suitable for sensitive skin.


Being Eco Friendly isn’t as Simple as it Sounds

You don't need us to tell you that plastic packaging is bad for the planet. This message has been around for years and was firmly fixed in the minds of any doubters afterBlue Planet II with David Attenborough.

Since then, the message has really hit home, after images of sea life swimming with, eating and trying to digest, tasty looking bits of plastic.

We’re also said to be entering the anthropocene age, an “entirely new phase of planetary history” characterised by the impact of humans actually changing the geology of the earth by infesting it with plastic remnants. When we consider that the earth’s crust has existed for billions of years and we’ve been about for a mere blip in the timeline, that’s a pretty spectacular effort - and also a terrifying one.

So, we should all avoid plastic, right? Well yes, but only to a point. Because things really aren’t that simple…

Plastic, Fantastic? 

For all the pitfalls of plastic - it’s a dirty manufacturing process, it requires fossil fuels that are running out, it takes possibly thousands of years to break down, it never fully disappears and instead forms microplastics and even recycling it is labour, and carbon intensive - plastic has some benefits.

Plastic is cheap, lightweight, sturdy and hygienic. For the purpose of skincare products, this is ideal. It helps to also make the products inside cheaper to produce, transport and store and keeps them free from bacterial and mould growth.

Single Use Plastics - the Real Problem? 

A truer issue is withsingle use plastics. These are plastics we buy when we grab a takeaway coffee, bottle of water, salad box or pretty much any other food and drink on the go.

But even single use plastics have their value. Would you fancy getting your Covid vaccine from a syringe that’d been used in someone else's arm, or a test from a swab used in someone else’s nose?

(The knock on effect of all the extra, and extremely necessary, PPE, masks, test kits and vaccines isyet to be seen, as they’re all, to some degree, made of single use plastics, but I’m trying not to worry about all that yet…)

Plastic vs Paper, Metals and Glass 

So, we could argue that the answer to plastics in skincare packaging (even though they’re not single use, they’re still awfully abundant and most definitely contribute to the plastic problem) is in paper, metal or glass, which are mostly recyclable and less damaging to the planet.

There are some brands excellently and successfully providing solid products such as natural deodorants and lip balms in study paper packaging. However, the same can’t be said for liquids and creams, such as those in our products. They’d leak out before they’d even reached you.

Metallic packaging is often a no-no too, since it can react with some ingredients causing the metals, especially aluminium, toleach into the product.

Glass might sound like the perfect solution, but it’s really heavy. This means that transporting it will cost more in terms ofcarbon emissions. It’s also more likely to break and the furnaces used to make glass are themselves heavily reliant on fossil fuels to run.

Plus, we simply don’t agree with using glass tubs for skincare products since dipping fingers in and out of them is unhygienic, encourages bacterial growth and can make sensitive or stressed out skin worse.


What on Earth is the Answer?! 

The answer as consumers is to minimise our impact, by minimising how much stuff we have. This means consuming less - buying less stuff and being more mindful of the things we do buy.

For manufacturers, it means looking to different solutions to the packaging (and other plastics) they use. And by far the best option for liquid skincare products right now, is recycled AND recyclable plastics, and bio alternatives to plastics


Post Consumer Recycled Plastic

Our new packaging is made from a range of eco friendly materials, and one of them is post consumer recycled plastic, or PCR plastic. This means that it’s made using plastics that have already been used by all of us as consumers.

It means old plastic shower gel containers, drinks bottles and shopping bags will all be turned into our packaging. And we think that’s great. Otherwise, they’ll all end up languishing in landfill for the next thousand years, before eventually leaching into the nearby soil and waterways.

It’s a debated fact, but there is strong evidence to suggest thatevery single piece of plastic ever produced, still exists in some form today. That means that it’s either still in use (in your TV say, or your car dashboard), is sitting in landfill, has been eaten by a hungry fish, is currently washing up on a beach a million miles away or has been turned into something else.

And we’d prefer to think of those still valuable plastics being turned into a bottle ofCalming Hydration Day Cream, rather than it choking a baby sea bird to death. Wouldn’t you?

PCR plastics look, feel and behave in exactly the same way as ‘regular’ plastics, and can be added to your normal plastic recycling.

We also looked into the use of PIR, or post industrial recycled plastics. (They’re the plastics that are recycled from production waste from plastic manufacturers.)

PCR plastics look, feel and behave in exactly the same way as ‘regular’ plastics, and can be added to your normal plastic recycling. 

We’re also looking into the use of PIR, or post industrial recycled plastics. (They’re the plastics that are recycled from production waste from plastic manufacturers.) 

Bioplastics

Bioplastics are another element of our new packaging and are plastics made from naturally occurring materials that are sustainably grown and are not at risk of being depleted. In our case, we use Multigreen bioplastic, which is made from sugarcane.

‘Regular’ plastic isderived from ethanol, which itself is derived from crude oil, a fossil fuel. These kinds of fossil fuels are fast running out, hence the need for renewable replacements to other substances derived from fossil fuels such as gas and petrol (think wind farms and electric cars).

Multigreen bioplastic is made using a waste product from sugarcane grown in Rio Grande do Sul, in the Southern regions of Brazil, far far away from the rainforests. Sugarcane is sustainable, renewable and that used in Multigreen doesn’t remove any sugar from the food chain as it’s only the waste products that are used.

Also, a crucial yet often overlooked benefit of such bioplastics is their capability for carbon capture. Sugarcane is a plant, and plants capture and store carbon. For each 1,000 kg of Multigreen bioplastic produced, more than 2,500 kg of carbon is captured and removed from the atmosphere.

Compare this - for each 1,000 kg of non-bioplastic produced, 2,100 kg of carbon isemitted intothe atmosphere.

So you can see why we love it, and why we’re so glad we discovered a manufacturer that will make it for us!

Our bioplastic again has all the normal properties of plastic, and unlike some bioplastics, can be recycled in your normal plastic recycling bin.


Tubairless

Finally, you know those pumps you normally get in bottles of body lotions etc? The ones made from different sorts of plastics with a metal spring that render them almost impossible to recycle (ulness we as consumers break them all apart)?

Well, you won’t find them here at Sönd! Instead, we use a sustainable alternative for our pump products -Tubairless.

With all the benefits of a pump that dispenses your skincare product easily and doesn’t leave any product behind that’s impossible to get to - these pumps are genius and reduce plastic consumption in our pump products by 25-50%.

Completely recyclable, the Tubairless system protects our sensitive skin formulations and is lighter and smaller, taking up less space in your bathroom cabinet. Win, win!


Sönd Skincare Products vs the (Very Real) Problem of Plastic Pollution

We’d really love to hear your thoughts on all that we’ve discovered. What do you want from the packaging you use? How much importance do you place on making earth conscious decisions? Do you discuss these sorts of issues with your friends and family? Let us know!

Our promise to you is that our products are still exactly the same on the inside to help you look after, support and nourish your skin. While on the outside, they’ll also be supporting the needs of this rocky planet we all call home.


References

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04tjbtx

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/30/anthropocene-epoch-have-we-entered-a-new-phase-of-planetary-history

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/business-48370062

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-54265590

https://eco-age.com/resources/ethical-cosmetics-packaging-how-to-find-it/

https://environmentjournal.online/articles/glass-is-worse-for-the-environment-than-plastic-say-researchers/

https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/7281/every-single-piece-of-plastic-ever-made-still-exists-heres-the-story/

https://www.bpf.co.uk/plastipedia/how-is-plastic-made.aspx

https://www.pumpart.com/ 



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