This week, Rich and I were so excited to have the opportunity to speak with Jo Chidley, founder of Beauty Kitchen all about how reuse really does matter. One of her main drivers for operating is changing the way the beauty industry faces sustainability and she has done that through their reusable packaging system, Re. With their Re packaging system they not only use for Beauty Kitchen products, but for Unilever as well as Elemis. This system will not only change the way the beauty industry interacts with packaging, but also change the way consumers interact with packaging as well.
Jo and her team have been working hard to solve the challenge of setting up the infrastructure for reuse and reducing those barriers to entry. With Beauty Kitchen being used as a shining example of what a brand build around reuse looks like, other brands can see a working model and adopt the Re way of doing business!
The sky’s the limit for applying these practices to other brands. With a proper infrastructure, sustainability can be the heart of any brand.
For consumers, what is the user journey to get them all aboard on the reuse train?
If you think about a brick and mortar store, that is still a mainstay where people are going to get their goods. Even if you are ordering online, the majority of us are still physically going into a shop at some point in the week. So if someone needs shampoo they are still faced with all the various options, but now they are reusable. It doesn’t take up any more space or need any additional thought, or even a change from the product you know and love. It’s the same thing, just ready for a circular model of use.
The consumer then buys and takes the product home, uses it (usually along with the whole family) then just needs to be taken to the point of purchase or any other outlet that accepts the Re QR code. That way the consumer has options and the barrier to entry is nominal. And the beauty for Jo is that when the QR code is scanned they automatically have all that data on the life of that container. By tracking the asset you can see the entire journey and nudges the consumer by bringing them along for the ride.
If someone is interested in plastic saving, or carbon saving, they can access and see the impact that reusing that specific bottle has. People are more apt to join this scheme when they feel like they are engaging with it and seeing the whole picture in their consumption journey. Just think, with each bottle telling it’s own stories, how much people would pay to get their hands on Idris Elba’s shampoo bottle!
The beauty industry is massive, do you think it can be truly sustainable and circular?
We like to push the limits of sustainability with Beauty Kitchen. All of our products have been carbon positive for years and that is through carbon offsets. We have been reducing our amount of carbon offsets every year and by 2025 we will be carbon neutral. You need to get really INTO the detail of the emissions you are creating as a brand and know exactly what the situation is in order to offset it. It’s about looking at resources not as we need to take them, use them, waste them, but look at ingredients and look at them in a circular fashion and really break this linear mould!
I don’t think the responsibility should fall on the consumer to check every single ingredient and thoroughly educate them about exactly what they are going to buy, that is up to the brands to do and be as transparent as possible so that the consumer can make a purchase knowing exactly what they have bought because it is upfront from the supply change to final product.
How can we change behaviour so people live more sustainably?
A lot of people talk about educating consumers, but I think it’s impossible! There is endless research out there all around how to educate and motivate people, but it depends on the individual. If someone wants to find out more, then they will take it upon themselves to become more educated. The only person that can motivate someone is themselves.
But what we can do is, make things more accessible, convenient and demystify.
A lot of times there is information overload and the consumer isn’t certain where to turn. By offering up valuable information and cutting through the noise, the consumer can quickly see precisely what they are buying. Consumers need to be given the access and convenience to the information from the businesses in order for sustainability to be mainstream. Stick to a consistent message so that there doesn’t have to be fear of greenwashing.
What advice would you give someone that wants to live more sustainably?
There is so much information out there so it can be very overwhelming, and it’s hard to cut through the noise. Generally speaking, people want to do good. They don’t wake up thinking, “how can I be naughty” but we err on the side of wanting to do the right thing. But it is hard to find one version of the truth, I get it!
But something that is really significant and that the majority of people don’t do but is really easy, and that is, change to a renewable energy supplier. If you look at your emissions as a person, the most significant is your energy usage. So just making that switch will drastically lower your emissions. It’s a start, and a great one at that!
If everyone in the UK did this, just think about what an incredible impact that would be!
What role do you think technology has in helping to save the planet?
It’s about everyone taking a certain amount of responsibility to understand what technology means. Because a lot of times the majority isn’t really aware of and doesn’t engage with it because they don’t understand what it’s capable of. Easy and simple technology that can be used by the masses is really powerful. Technology that is created for the circular economy needs to have the ability to go across different industries and be digestible by the users.
The old way of doing business is collaboration. The business model of seeking out a competitive advantage and exploiting that, is changing. In order to leave a legacy, we need to evolve in a way that businesses welcome a way of working collaboratively.
Another great episode for the books! We loved chatting with Jo and if you are keen to be a part of our podcast, please do shout us a holla.
You can listen to the episode in its entirety here: