For Zero-Waste Week we sat down with our Co-Founder Jayme to break down some of the burning questions you might have on all things sustainability, recyclability and if a zero-waste brand can truly exist. Jayme spent almost a decade at L'Oreal, and in recent years The Body Shop leading Corporate Responsibility, before starting Everist to help bring eco beauty to the mainstream.
1. In your opinion, when it comes to beauty product packaging, what did “recyclable” or “sustainable” mean in 2020 vs now?
I don't think the definition has changed, but there is a lot of complexity that exists, specifically within the recycling systems. The most sustainable packaging is always no packaging and beyond that, our goal is packaging that is both made from 100% recycled materials and also recyclable (such as our kraft paper cartons and PCR aluminum tubes). Plastic has little economic incentive to be recycled (it costs more than making new plastic) and it lasts essentially forever so we avoid it where we can.
2. In 2023, what do you consider the baseline to be classified as a “sustainable” beauty brand?
The overconsumption of beauty products is inherently unsustainable, so it's about providing products that people need in a more mindful way, minimizing impact to people and planet as much as possible. For us it's about doing more with less. There are many entry points into 'sustainability' - ingredients, packaging, formulation (ex. concentrates) - we've tried to tackle it from all sides. If a brand is using virgin single-use plastic packaging, or their products contain ingredients that bioaccumulate in our water systems, I would argue that's not sustainable, however does that mean that brand should say f*ck it and do nothing to improve their environmental footprint? No, we all need to be making progress towards lowering our impact on people and the planet. It's progress over perfection.
3. What do you consider the pros and cons of aluminum packaging? (from a consumer perspective and a formulator’s perspective)
We love the look and feel of aluminum packaging, but it also can be more expensive and more difficult to work with. Because our formulas are so dense, it took us some time to perfect the consistency of them so they're super easy to dispense from the aluminum tubes. We love aluminum because it's infinitely recyclable, it's lightweight, it doesn't rust and it's not plastic. It also helps protect the integrity of the formula inside - aluminum tubes don't suck back in air, helping prevent contamination. We recently introduced aluminum tins (and travel mini tins) as an alternative to the aluminum tubes for people who prefer a tin format.
4. How do you successfully intersect sustainability with aesthetics?
I don't think it needs to be a compromise and there are many beautiful brands out there now proving that eco can be luxe. It's often finding inspiration in packaging or rituals from a few generations ago, before the plastic boom. More natural materials always feel premium to me, but with Everist we've tried to also inject a touch of color and a sense of humor - we want to elevate the whole experience.
5. What were some of the struggles you experienced during initial development of waterless concentrates and how have your packaging and formulas evolved from launch to now?
Doing something that's never been done before definitely has had its challenges, but for us, it was the only way. There are so many amazing beauty brands out there, there had to be a point of uniqueness and a reason for us to exist. Our formulas in particular are very dense and temperature-sensitive so scaling the production of them was challenging. We've also learned a lot on the education side, leaning into the 'concentrates' name vs 'waterless', so it's more clear that these are in-shower products. With our new Deep Conditioning Concentrate launch - recently named Cosmopolitan's Best Conditioner at the Clean Beauty Awards - and our recent mod on the shampoo we have perfected the shower routine and have incredible feedback from our community on scalp health, hair hydration and less hair fall. The fact that our formulas have a base of aloe vera and glycerin vs. water is really starting to come into play and we're excited to share more about the benefits of this for hair and scalp health.
6. Is there anything you think the brand could be doing better from an environmental perspective?
We have done so much work on the back end in terms of making mindful and intentional choices, but we haven't been great at communicating the impact we're making because we haven't wanted to give misinformation. We've recently teamed up with Bluebird Climate to fully assess our product impact and report on progress. We're happy to say that based on their analysis, our Shampoo Concentrate has up to 77% less carbon emissions and 62% less waste than a typical shampoo packaged in a plastic bottle. Next step is to improve these metrics every year by, for example, offering a keyless tube refill.
7. What are your thoughts on PCR plastic?
It's better than virgin plastic. But really - we're all eating a credit card's worth of plastic every week. Microplastics are everywhere, and we don't know the implications of this yet. It's time to get away from the plastic! It has its place, but there are alternatives.
8. You note on your website that “zero-waste” doesn’t actually exist - do you think it’s fair that certain brands label themselves as such?
I think producing products more sustainability requires a series of important choices, and it can be hard to communicate this succinctly in a way that people understand right away. We struggle with this too - how do people quickly understand how deep this runs for us vs. sustainability as an afterthought? We're not here to judge, but we probably all do need more language to give context.
9. Is there anything on the horizon for Everist that readers should know about?
Now that we've built the foundation for Everist, look out for us to really dig into the uniqueness of our formulas and the consumer benefits associated with them. Our shampoo is 18% aloe vera. It's 30% glycerin. We've basically made haircare in skincare and have incredible consumer testimonials as a result, especially after using the concentrates over time. Watch this space.