This piece originally appeared in the first issue of Sowing Seeds magazine, which is a seasonal print and online magazine empowering individuals to reconnect to the land and one another by living more sustainable lives. You can find out more and purchase the issue here.
What if we could live in a world where we all nourished our skin in a way that is healthy for both us AND the planet?
This vision of the future world is one of the driving forces behind The Botanical Store, a unique retail concept store in Northcote where you get to choose your organic skincare base and mix in your choice of essential oils, all in refillable glass jars that you can bring back over and over again.
The store started with an idea back in 2015 that came to me in the shower (where all good ideas come from!) about how great it would be if you could come into a store and chose and mix your own skincare, making it unique to you and your skin’s needs. It would smell the way you wanted it to, it would work to help your unique skin conditions and you could change your product seasonally without completely changing the whole product (especially great when you find something that works really well for you). Not to mention how fun that would be!
The idea gestated with me for two years until all of the elements started to came together in a beautiful flow and within about two months of being shown that yes now was the right time, the store was open for business in October 2017. It happened very quickly, with the right people, ingredients and building all turning up at the right time.
Right from the beginning the store aimed to be a sustainable and eco way for people to purchase skincare products. Some of the stores eco practices were very conscious choices and others were there intrinsically because they were an extension of my values and environmentally friendly life choices. Like using organic ingredients as much as possible, using glass jars or other biodegradable packaging, no fragrances or chemicals in any of the products and only stocking products that aimed to improve people’s lives.
The original vision (yes the shower vision) showed a beautiful space with bulk containers where people were filling up glass jars and bottles, mixing in essential oils and coming back to refill the bottles. Refillable skincare didn’t exist much back at that time but luckily it’s gaining more popularity and there’s a few more options for people out there to get the products they want without having to buy a new round of plastic bottles, that last one or two months and then get thrown out.
I believe we all have to continue making smart decisions about how we consume products. And The Botanical Store is about making it easy (and fun) for us to make consumer choices that lessen the impact we have on the planet. The beauty industry sells billions and billions of dollars worth of product a year. That’s a LOT of product. And as I’m sure you can imagine the majority of it is in single use plastic packaging. Think how massive the difference would be if everyone on the planet stopped buying skincare in plastic and simply refilled their glass jars every few months as needed.
I think sometimes we all get a little overwhelmed about how to help the environment from just our small choices, but if you make your better choices and everyone else makes their individual better choices, that can all lead to having a massive impact.
Changing our lives to be more environmentally friendly doesn’t have to be inconvenient, or make our lives less comfortable and having to use less effective products.
We’re fed the message that natural doesn’t work as well as chemical based formulations but with skincare that is definitely not true. Plant oils and essential oils are incredibly nourishing and have amazing benefits that can treat a whole range of skin conditions. We don’t need the extra chemicals, fancy formulations and the 20 different product types that the beauty industry tells us we do.
Apart from making refillable organic skincare fun and accessible, our other big philosophy at the Botanical Store is that plants provide everything we need to keep our skin healthy and nourished and that by simplifying back to basics and just using what nature has already given us we can have amazing skin.
Look at lavender essential oil for example. It’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties are very effective for treating acne, it’s anti-inflammatory, which is great for soothing red conditions like burns, scars, rosacea and eczema and it’s high in antioxidants making it great for fighting wrinkles.
Yes you can have healthy skin, using a very simple skincare routine made up of products that are chemical free and low impact. We love to teach this to people when they come in store. Plant power does exist! We have a gorgeous base of customers that has grown over the last two years who love to come in and refill their products and happily tell us how their skin has improved and how great that that is also from using less products than they used to. It’s great to be a voice out there offering a different service than the mainstream and we love guiding new customers to make simple changes. There’s so many ways that business can be a vehicle for positive change and improving the world we live in and I’m proud to be one of the new wave of business owners who are carving this out as a normal way to operate.
Consumers are powerful and where and how we choose to buy things makes a big difference. Just start small and build on it from there. Can you swap one of your skincare products to something that is not only chemical free but also environmentally friendly? And then continue to make those small changes. The more consumers who choose to shop at places like The Botanical Store, the more places that will pop up to give consumers even easier access to environmentally friendly products and everything snowballs into something that becomes a normal part of life for the majority. And that can only mean good things for this beautiful planet. And hey if you look fabulous with your glowing skin at the same time then let’s do it!