- Creating a sustainability-first business model that prioritizes minimizing our environmental impact
When companies engage in unsustainably sound practices, there's a "silent burden" that society pays. This comes in the form of pollution - from the air we breathe to the water we drink to all of the cost implications that we've relegated to the next generation to pay. We do our best to embed these "silent burden" costs into our business model so that you can shop with a peace of mind.
- Ensuring that we also address the various aspects of sustainability, beyond environmental.
Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. It has 3 main pillars: economic, environmental, & social and they are all deeply intertwined and equally important to us.
How we "live" our values...
When we started b.a.r.e. soaps, our intention was to create a sustainable cash flow to support non-profit initiatives, primarily in improving hygienic access. We focused on the "social" pillar of sustainability and our only requirement around the "environmental" pillar was that we needed to make sure our ingredients were sourced responsibly. That was 2012.
Fast forward to 2020 and our view on sustainability has drastically changed. While we recognize the need for improved hygienic access around the world, we believe even more that topics around environmental sustainability need to be addressed. Turning a blind eye to environmental impact further exacerbates social inequalities. We recognize that we are in a position to help influence current beliefs and challenge the status quo.
What does this mean? It means that we have a specific focus on minimizing our footprint in each of the following areas:
Our soaps are made of all natural ingredients. Our base blend of plant based oils includes Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, and Sustainable Palm Oil. Let's focus on conversation on palm oil.
There are some who boycott palm oil because of its influence on driving deforestation. We completely agree and are appalled when forests are cleared to grow palm. That's why we only use palm oil that is certified by the Rainforest Alliance
, which also enables farmers to improve their livelihoods while protecting the ecosystem. To earn the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal, farms are audited annually against the SAN standard for the crop’s production.
Like most things, the certification isn't 100% perfect and is as good as it's enforced. But we have seen enforcement improving and evolving. Given palm's efficiency as an oil (it yields more vs other crops and requires less fertilizer) we feel that palm has advantages that other alternatives don't and when sourced properly, has a lesser footprint. To learn more about our stance on palm oil, visit this link
All of our soaps (and products) are cruelty free. When we first started b.a.r.e. soaps, we tested our formulation on ourselves first and then on friends and family. We never test on animals. All of our bars are vegan with the exception of Home Sweet Home (uses honey) and Black Tie Affair / Jubilee Jam (uses goats milk for those with sensitive skin).
🌿100% American grown soy
🌿Lead and zinc free cotton wicks coated in a vegetable wax
🌿Paraben-free and phthalate-free fragrance and essential oils
🌿No additives, dyes,, phthalates, parabens, suflates, or petroleum
Our candles come in recyclable glass containers. At the end of the candle's lifespan, you can easily clean the glass by dipping the jar into boiling water, which will melt the wax. You can wipe the wax away and scrub it clean for re-use.
None of our products come in plastic packaging. Our bars are either wrapped in plantable paper or come naked with the option of a reusable cotton bag for a small fee. The plantable packaging is secured tightly with a compostable label made of sugarcane with a recycle-compatible adhesive.
Our mudmasks and candles come in paper boxes that are 100% recyclable and are made with a percentage of post-consumer recycled material. They are also printed with vegetable based inks. While our mud mask have a plastic top, the jar itself is made of high quality glass and the entire jar is meant to be easily reused.
Many of the decisions we make in expanding to new products are directly related to how it can be packaged. For instance, we have not moved onto liquid soap because net-net, the bar soap is more sustainable. Liquid soaps are often packaged in single-use plastic containers and have a higher carbon footprint during shipment due to its bulkiness.
Our plantable packaging is sourced from Botanical Paperworks. They are the only seed paper manufacturer approved by the CFIA and USDA for planting in the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and other countries world wide.
The wildflower seeds in our paper are a blend of:
- Bird's Eye - Annual
- Clarkia - Annual
- Black Eyed Susan - Perennial
- Catchfly - Annual
- Snapdragon - Annual
- Sweet Alyssum - Annual
To learn more about our plantable paper packaging, click here
Where possible, we use kraft paper to package our shipments. However, in instances where we feel it is necessary to further support items during shipment, we do use bubble wrap. When filled in-house, these bubblewraps are sourced from local small businesses, so they are given a second life when we use them in our shipment. The goal is to reduce, but if necessary to reuse.
We do use a third-party fulfillment center to ship most of our orders and are continuously working with them to find more eco-friendly solutions when it comes to not just shipping our orders, but all orders from the facility. If you receive an order from us and feel it can be improved from a sustainability perspective, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Carbon Offsetting / Shipping Footprint:
We are cognizant that e-commerce businesses contribute to carbon emissions, especially through the shipping of packages. Starting in September 2019, we are carbon offsetting every shipment. Carbon offsetting is a way for individuals and companies to invest in environmental projects around the world in order to balance out their own carbon footprints.
After careful consideration of the various projects we could fund to offset our e-commerce shipments + flights to visit our non-profit partners in Uganda & India, we settled on reforestation. In addition to helping sequester CO2, reforestation helps protect and encourage biodiversity.
One of the driving forces behind our sustainability mission came from the realization that the demise and/or threat of various civilizations in the past was due to deforestation. Wood continues to be one of the most important resources throughout the world, especially in developing countries where it is still a primary energy source to make charcoal. The loss of forests has a tremendous impact because we depend on forests for our survival. Forests supply the air we breathe, provide the wood we use and watershed protection, prevent soil erosion, and of course help fight against climate change.
We are currently supporting reforestation efforts in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. This project supports:
- The planting of native tree species that supports biodiverse forests. Bio-diversity isn't just about having abundant wildlife. It's a critical component to developing rich soil which also helps sequester CO2 and helps prevent against soil erosion.
- The GPS tagging of each planting to replacing any trees that are lost in the first few years of planting.
- Employing locals in the planting initiative.
There's alot more about carbon offsets, our view on them, and how we selected the reforestation project and our partner in this effort. You can read more about that here.
Giving back: Integrating Economic, Social and Environmental Sustainability
Because b.a.r.e. soaps is a part-time initiative, all proceeds are either reinvested into our non-profit initiatives or back into the business. That means none of us at b.a.r.e. soaps need to take a salary. Currently, the profit from each purchase is invested in our socially conscious vision. "b.a.r.e." stands for bringing antiseptic resources to everyone, and your purchase helps fund:
Employing fair wages for women in India to take used hotel soap and re-purpose it into new soap to be distributed to slum children. These women are paid 3x the local wage and work less hours than the average worker in India, allowing them to take care of their children and household.
In the past, we helped provide funds for Immediate needs such as vitamins, vaccines, and soap for a Carepoint in Kaberamiado, Uganda. We have currently discontinued this as there are significant changes going on with our partners there.