The answer to why all cosmetics aren’t refillable is nuanced, but there’s certainly an argument for longevity in personal belongings - not just for the end user, but for the benefit of the planet, too.
Having moved to a refillable beauty model in 2019, at a time where this idea seemed novel and perhaps unnecessary, we’ve since seen a shift in consumer -and industry - attitudes and behaviour: the very act of refilling your Lip Oil or Bronzing Powder makes you realise how much packaging you might have previously consumed(or should we say, thrown away).
Seeing true impact in our industry will take time. And while we see a lot of new brands launching with refillable packaging, significant change will take place only when bigger, heritage brands with clout and scale can shift their manufacturing models.
Interrupting an existing supply chain however, is easier said than done - especially when cost of goods are established and existing minimum order quantities are in place. How do you convince your accounts department of the benefits in increasing the cost to produce a product? What happens to existing packaging that isn’t refillable - will you be left with unwanted stock? It’s not impossible, of course, and the long term benefits for a brand’s perceived value(which is so closely tied to their bottom line) are numerous. But we need to appreciate and give big companies the time to put such ideals in place.
Change in the beauty industry is a task of both the producer and the consumer.
So what are some of the steps you as a consumer can take?
First and foremost, and perhaps most importantly, it’s about reducing how many products you have. Do you need three moisturisers, or will one do? Can you use up your current mascara before purchasing another? In this way, we’re slowing down the rate of consumption(demand), which ultimately, at scale, will reduce the rate of production(supply).
It’s worthwhile also thinking about where our desire or need for so many products has come from. The answer is: our industry. It’s our job(or most brands) to sell you more. The more you buy, the more money we make. But what if a brand actually encouraged you to buy and use less? Is this too much of an ideal state?
Secondly, if you’re buying refillable beauty, and really want to make an impact, maybe you don’t need the primary packaging. Perhaps simply having the refill will do? It may not be as practical, but it will minimise your packaging consumption by at least one(more) unit.
Think about what you buy as a reflection of who you are, perhaps in the same way you think about clothing or the objects in your home. Can it be reused or passed down to someone else? Can the bottle or jar be repurposed or up-cycled as a vase or small storage container? Could the packaging be a keepsake or paperweight?
When we designed our refillable Bronzing Powder and Lip Oil compacts, we reflected on art deco vanity and cigarette cases that were treated like jewellery: objects of affection that people wanted to keep on their dresser or the dinner table when out with friends. Inspired by the shape of clouds and qualities of a grounding stone - the Zamac compacts are weighted and cool to the touch, fitting perfectly in the palm of your hand with the satisfying click of the closing mechanism. All these considerations make the Cloud Compacts something you want to keep forever, not throw away.
And that’s one less item you have to think about contributing to landfill. If we all think this way, perhaps we’ll start to see some change.