Ariana Whittingham interviews Annie Lau, Founder of Zen Botanics - for Ecocious

 

Before we get into the dirty industry questions, I would like to acknowledge Zen Botanics for being our first skincare brand to partner with us at Ecocious. Annie Lau and I were in partnership discussions before we even had our website live... Annie, thank you for being on the same wavelength & and seeing our vision!

 

Being able to find brands like Zen Botanics that we genuinely want to partner with on the Ecocious marketplace has been a process... Not only do we only sign brands that are aligned with our Sustainability criteria we also only stock brands with products that are at a high level of quality.

 

I'm thrilled to announce that Zen Botanics ticks a lot of our boxes here at Ecocious and I know they will for you too - now, enjoy our recent Q&A with the mastermind and absolute inspiration behind Zen Botanics....

 

1 - Annie, do tell us… absolutely everything involved in making ZEN BOTANICS sustainable?

It was a slow process as I felt like I had to figure it all out as we went (and we still are today!) we initially had to struggle with balancing the higher costs of eco-friendly materials with all other costs that come from running a business in its early stages. However we feel making sustainable, ethical decisions are more important than ever as a small business putting out products that are packaged, consumed and disposed of! 

  

When we first thought of sustainability, we focused on our core packaging for our skincare products to ensure they were fully recyclable. Then slowly over the years, we extended out to parts of our business practices by phasing out as much plastics as possible - discontinuing our plastic lip balms, replacing shipping materials like plastic bubble wrap, plastic tape and mailing satchels with eco-friendly alternatives. 

  

In the last year we have focused on adding and replacing any ingredients we can with ingredients that are sustainable and ECOCERT where possible. This process will begin at product formulation phase which works amazing for us because we formulate our products in-house. This means customers get transparency while we have the power in choosing the right kind of sustainable ingredients to work with in our formulations. This process involves diligent research through the supply chain from both the supplier and the ingredient manufacturer with MSDS sheets and certification to ensure it meets our criteria. 

 

We feel the opportunities to make sustainable changes are endless so we look forward to making new changes over the coming years! 

 

2. Compare the Zen Botanics practices to other businesses in your field? (feel free to compare/contrast)

  • We formulate everything in-house so we get to choose every single ingredient that goes into each skincare product. This gives us transparency and allows us to make more sustainable, cruelty free and ethically sourced ingredient choices. 
  • As a small batch skincare brand, every product is locally hand-made - no mass produced manufacturing so more ethical sourced ingredient opportunities and care direct from us to the end consumer!
  • We also offer a Terracycling program which is not often seen in small skincare brands so anything that is too small to fit into local recycling facilities can be returned to us to be sent for terracycling :) 

 

3. Something you've learnt that has shocked you..

The plastic footprint from the beauty industry! 

Globally, the beauty industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging and 95% of it is thrown out after one use with only 14% making it to the recycling centre. Biodegradable plastic is also not as ideal although environmentally friendlier, the plastic particles still get consumed by marine life. 

4. What is something you wish consumers knew about your industry? (Don’t be shy, share any dirty lil industry secrets you know)  

  • The term ‘Fragrance’ is still a loose umbrella term and highly unregulated yet included in so many skincare products still!
  • Many products claim themselves as natural or clean, yet still use fragrances which can include so hundreds of toxic undisclosed ingredients within it. 
  • Of course there is the common misleading label claim where brands can market themselves as natural and organic yet only include as little as only 1% natural ingredients! 
  • Claiming a skincare product has therapeutic benefits (and listing with the Therapeutic Good Administration) can be a limitation especially for small skincare makers.
  • Consumers can still access good and well formulated skincare products with great benefits that go beyond the product’s cosmetic claims.
  • Researching and knowing ingredients are key. You can totally find 2 products that have the same ingredients and benefits except one can market with medicinal/therapeutic claims just because it is listed with the TGA! 
  • 100% natural is now not the only choice consumers need to look for in sustainable cosmetics formulations. 
  • Ingredient manufacturers are becoming more innovative with new “active” ingredients that are not necessarily considered a “natural” ingredient due to the chemical processing however are cruelty free, sustainable and ECOcertified to be safe!

 

5. What are your long term goals for Zen Botanics? and anything that you are currently working on to get there?  

We would love to be one of the top skincare brands in Australia & empower consumers to choose better skincare by sharing knowledge and bringing innovative, clean skincare formulations.

Our brand philosophy is to remain always eco-forward and environmentally conscious for all our decision making whether it be new packaging, materials, business processes and new product decisions.  At the moment we are also going through a partial rebrand to reinforce our position on 100% clean skincare formulations and a refocus towards ‘gender neutral’ packaging  so definitely watch this space! 

  

6. If someone reading this decided to start making changes to living a more sustainable life, what advice or tips could you give them?

Making changes to a more sustainable life can feel really overwhelming and disruptive to our lifestyle, making it easy to give up. 

 

Whether it be recycling, composting food, reduce purchasing plastics, BYO reusable bags at the shops or simply shopping for brands who support an environmental cause, no matter how insignificant the action may seem, it is BETTER THAN NOTHING. 

 

It is important to alway do your own research before trusting the marketing claims of the product/brand - reading ingredients on labels can go a long way.  

 

Most importantly, stay educated and inspired - just know there is no such thing as being perfectly sustainable, there is always room for improvement and whatever you do, no matter how small your action may be, “YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!"

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