Sustainability within the world of fragrance is an important but challenging topic. When it comes to the scent itself we have an incredible palette of oils to work with that means we don't need to turn to oils such as natural animal musks. We can create accords within a fragrance that bring the magic of the natural without needing to use it and have synthetic ingredients which produce powerful recreations of these much sought after fragrance notes. It is however not true to say that all synthetic ingredients are completely sustainable either. We also endeavour to check how ethically sourced our essential oils are - it however must not be underestimated how difficult this can be with one scent often having several ingredients from several suppliers. Sometimes it is about trying to be the least non-sustainable in the scenarios you can't achieve complete sustainability!
I also feel it is important to avoid virtue signalling - sustainability is a buzzword that is at risk of being overused by brands as it has wonderful marketing power. There are however, very few formal standards to follow and it can be hard for a consumer to truly know how sustainable a brand is. There are brands offering refillable bottles but the uptake is much less than perhaps people think. There is also a carbon footprint associated with the extra postal journey that may be necessary for the refill process to take place. I often ask myself which is the lesser of the two evils and have never found a well curated "bible" of sustainable practice.
We at Rook are guilty of using plastic packaging for our samples
. As a relatively new business launching in a pandemic we had to source what we could get at a time when factories were not running at full capacity. We also had to work within a budget. Let it be known that being sustainable can be an expensive endeavour, albeit a very worthwhile one. There is also the complication of spill-proofing fragrance. Paper packaging doesn't do too well if a glass atomizer breaks and more sustainable forms of cellophane can have printing limitations. We do however let our customers know that improving sustainability is a journey and we are trying to improve what we can step by step. We are currently working on our new sample sets which will have glass bottles and a recyclable packet that is also leakproof. For now we have moved to high quality paper envelopes which are fully recycled and we have also joined up with Shopify and Pachama
to offset the carbon footprint from our shipping. One step at a time we will get there!
As a brand I would love some kind of governance of graded goals that give me specific targets to work towards. This would also give my customers more clarity as to whether my brand meets their personal ethical standards. If we can grade the energy efficiency of white goods, why can't we grade the sustainability of a beauty brand?