Saturday 22 April is Earth Day, a day for highlighting the importance of protecting our planet and ensuring that its precious natural resources remain intact for future generations. Earth Day is a call for governments, businesses and individuals alike to invest in a better future for our earth.
Since opening our doors in 1981, we have been committed to reducing our impact on the earth. From the charities we partner with to the ways we source our ingredients, we live and breathe our mission – not just on Earth Day, but every day. That’s why we were awarded 100/100 for ethics in the Ethical Company Organisation’s Good Shopping Guide in 2008(and have maintained that score ever since) and we were the UK’s first high street retailer to be officially certified CarbonNeutral®.
As part of our commitment to tread as lightly as possible on the planet, we’re always looking at ways that we can cut down on our packaging. This Saturday 22 April, we’re offering refills on Geranium & Orange Hand Wash and Bee Lovely Bath & Shower Gel for £5 in all our stores, to encourage our customers to reuse their blue bottles.
Another step we have taken to help reduce our packaging waste is the removal of cardboard outer boxes from some of our products. In the UK, around 31% of paper and cardboard waste is not currently recycled despite national recycling schemes. By removing excess cardboard from our products, we estimate that we will save almost 4.8 tons of card annually.
Finally, we have partnered with TerraCycle to install Zero Waste Boxes in all of our stores. Any beauty packaging that can’t be recycled at home (for example, bottles with caps or pumps, droppers or rollerball bottles or sample sachets) can be dropped into these boxes, and we will recycle them via TerraCycle.
What else are we doing to help?
We certify our organic products
Organic farmers build fertility in their soils naturally rather than with fertilisers, which can be energy-intensive and harmful to ecosystems.
In 1991, we became one of the first beauty brands globally to be certified by the Soil Association, meaning that our products are recognised as containing the highest levels of certified organic ingredients. Our certification guarantees that we have never used GMO, parabens or synthetic colours and fragrances in our products, and we never will.
We support the bees
The global population of insects is under severe threat, and recent research shows that in the UK alone, bees and other flying insects have declined by nearly 60% in less than 20 years. Here at Neal’s Yard Remedies, we’ve been supporting our vital bee populations for over a decade, and we are currently leading a coalition of 90 businesses and organisations in promoting biodiversity and cutting harmful pesticides such as bee-killing neonicotinoids.
We also donate 3% of our Bee Lovely collection sales to bee-friendly charities, which has amounted to over £300,000 in donations.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
We’re progressing towards the vision of a ‘circular economy’, in which resources are re-used rather than going to landfill. We offer a range of refill services, from large format bottles used to refill our blue glass bottles, to pumpless bottles that allow customers to re-use their pumps again and again. While we have always chosen to use glass instead of plastic where possible, all of our blue plastic bottles are made from 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled) plastic. We’ve also made the decision to remove cardboard outer boxes from some of our products, which will allow us to save just under 4.8 tons of card annually.
We protect endangered habitats
We purchase paper and card that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). These certifications ensure the paper comes from responsibly managed forests, helping to limit deforestation.
Our packaging is Carbon Balanced through the World Land Trust™, an organisation working to safeguard some of the world’s most vulnerable habitats and wildlife. Since 2012, we’ve helped save over 3,000,000m² of endangered forest, offsetting 300 tonnes of CO2.
We use renewable energy
We’ve installed 700m² of solar panels at our eco-factory in Dorset – that’s half the size of an Olympic swimming pool. Our solar panels produce 28,652 kW of energy each year, allowing us to generate 14% of the electricity we use overall on-site. All our stores run on 100% renewable electricity and gas, too.
We recycle over 20% of our water
We’re taking active steps to conserve valuable freshwater. At our eco-factory, rainwater collected in our grey water tank is used to flush our toilets and feed our living wall, accounting for around 20% of our water usage overall. Our demineralisation water plant now recovers 90% of the wastewater it produces with only 10% going to waste.
Supporting Local Communities
We are privileged to be able to grow some of our organic ingredients just footsteps away from the eco-factory where they are transformed into your bath oils, creams and lotions. Where we do source ingredients further afield – from Somerset to France, Madagascar to Oman – our growers and farmers have come to trust our integrity and support in committing to grow ingredients from seed, with yields agreed upon a year in advance. Our FairWild Foundation certification guarantees that we source our wild plants sustainably, conversing ecosystems and protecting local communities from the effects of over-harvesting. We also fund freshwater availability projects, such as rainwater collection tanks for our suppliers of tea tree oil in Kenya.
Doing all of this has never been easy or without cost, but it is something we will always honour.
Reducing Waste in Production
We’ve been working on reducing product waste produced in our manufacturing process. Through investing in better tools and more time and attention in the transferring process, we’ve reduced our average monthly wastage from 3% to around 2%. To put that into perspective, we’ve saved and bottled around 3 tonnes of product wastage over the course of one year.