Our Sustainability Ethos

songbird naturals sustainability ethos
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Our Sustainability Ethos

In a world increasingly affected by the impacts of climate change, we all have to be more mindful about adopting more sustainable practices.

 

Songbird Naturals has been in business in the UK and Europe for around 25 years and, environmentally speaking, much has changed in this time. Having originated in the Tui Community in New Zealand, where environmental issues have been at the forefront of thinking since the 1980’s, we have always been conscious of our environmental impact. As such, we have tried to drive this into our core business model as a way of operating sustainably.

 

So, what are we doing to operate our business in an environmentally sustainable way?

 

In the office, we try to be as conscious as we are in our own homes. Most businesses have an office to run, and the environmental impact in these spaces can be huge in terms of plastic packaging, polystyrene and other undesirable packaging coming through the door via stock purchases, office stationery and food waste. We have multiple recycling bins throughout our office, and we ensure that all waste is correctly sorted at the end of each day into recycling and non-recycling skips, to be collected by agents.

 

But of course, the main thing is preventing non-recyclables from getting into the office in the first place. So, we try to reduce this in a number of ways:

  • We encourage staff to bring food in re-useable or recyclable packaging and containers.
  • We speak to suppliers who are sending us products in polystyrene and unnecessary plastic, and ask them if they can change their packaging to more environmentally sustainable alternatives.
  • We use natural and non-toxic cleaning products, and prefer to choose cleaning products that have reduced or reusable packaging.
  • We try and reduce our energy use with actions like using energy efficient lightbulbs, and putting on a jumper before we think about switching the heating on.
  • The olive and almond oils we use in our products are shipped to us in reusable and exchangeable IBC containers.
  • The beeswax we use is packed and delivered to us in cardboard.
  • When we upgrade our company van in the future, it will be to an electric van.
     

For any business that sells physical products, a significant area of environmental impact is the packaging of the products. Particularly for e-commerce businesses selling consumables, there are two elements to packaging: the packaging of the product itself (in our case, the pots that contain our Massage Waxes), and the materials used to pack and ship the products in the post.

 

Here at Songbird Naturals, all the materials we use to pack and send your orders are 100% recyclable or compostable:

  • The cardboard boxes we use to package and send your orders are recyclable.
  • We use recyclable paper parcel tape to seal the box, rather than standard plastic parcel tape.
  • All corresponding invoices and paperwork included in the package are printed on recyclable paper.
  • The document wallets that are attached to the outside of the box are made from paper, as opposed to the traditional plastic sleeve wallets.
  • We use biodegradable and compostable corn-starch packing chips within the box to keep your waxes safe. They may look deceptively like polystyrene chips, but they’re plastic-free and dissolve in water!
     

When it comes to the packaging of our products themselves, we’ve been on quite a journey over the last six years or so. Since the New Zealand times, our Massage Waxes and Balms were traditionally packaged exclusively in polypropylene plastic tubs. This material was chosen because it is recyclable, but also because it initially presented as a good option for lightweight and affordable packaging.

While polypropylene is in fact recyclable, we subsequently discovered that very few councils in the UK have access to the correct recycling plants to process such materials. So we realised we needed to change our packaging to provide a product that was easier to recycle.

We initially looked at tin, aluminium and glass pots, before realising that, while these materials are recyclable, they require a lot of energy to be mined or created and recycled. We therefore felt a need to go down a different path, and we chose to go down the path of cardboard. Natural, sustainable, recyclable, compostable and, most of all, coming from growing more trees. If there is an incentive to re-tree the planet so that more carbon can be captured, supporting a tree-based system seems like a fair way to go.

 

After much research and development, in May 2018 we launched our very first EcoTubs. These brown cardboard pots allowed us to package our Massage Waxes and Balms in a recyclable, biodegradable and compostable material; a big step up from our plastic pots. We kept our plastic pots available alongside our EcoTubs to allow customers to choose which packaging worked best for them, but we saw that 35% of sales had switched to EcoTubs within the first 18 months, suggesting that there was a real appetite for plastic-free packaging.

In October 2020 we revamped our 20g size range, which is the smallest size we sell. We removed our 20g plastic pots entirely, and switched to recyclable glass jars for our entire range. While we had originally dismissed the idea of glass jars for our larger sizes – which was mainly due to the weight of the glass and the potential for breakage – we felt these issues were less problematic for our mini 20g pots, and the benefits of having a more easily recyclable pot outweighed any potential concerns.

In March 2021 we launched our second generation of EcoTubs, which are fully biodegradable and recyclable and 99.5% compostable (the only non-compostable element is a very small amount of PVA to prevent leakage). Designed and produced especially for Songbird Naturals, these newer EcoTubs are made from sturdy reinforced cardboard and have a beautifully smooth finish, with our packaging design printed directly onto the cardboard to create a polished and professional look. Proof that the eco-friendly packaging industry is ever growing and improving to meet a diverse demand.

 

Since then, we have systematically been increasing our EcoTub range and reducing our plastic tub range. Now, our EcoTubs are available in 100g, 300g and 600g sizes, and we only offer plastic tubs in our 550g size. While we would love to be completely plastic-free, we recognise that cardboard packaging is not appropriate for everyone (for example, therapists who deliver treatments poolside and need a waterproof container). So we currently have no plans to discontinue our 550g plastic tubs.

 

During our journey towards environmentally sustainable packaging, we learnt that the beauty industry in particular seems to be built on the idea that a quality product is equated with flashy and overloaded packaging. We firmly believe that this is not the case. For us, true beauty is showing that you actually care for the world and what your packaging will do to it.

 

The sustainable practices we adopt at Songbird Naturals may be a small drop in the ocean when looking at a global scale. But a business’ sustainable ethos should be a dynamic area that remains up-to-date, and encourages everyone to engage in sustainable practices every day. If we can each take time to fulfil our own part in the web of environmental accountability, it will go a long way to sorting out the environmental issues we all face today.

 

For a full breakdown of the recyclability of all of our packaging, you can view our Recycling Page here: https://www.songbirdnaturals.co.uk/recycling