Zero Waste Beauty with Bolt
Zero waste week may be over, but this is an issue that needs to be tackled continuously. It can be overwhelming learning about the amount of waste that ends up in landfill on a weekly basis in the UK, from food and plastic waste to textile and electronic waste. Whilst the conversation needs to be had and we all have a part to play to make a positive impact, we want to inspire you with some change-makers from a wide range of industries who have put zero waste at the heart of their brands. First up, we're going to learn about zero waste beauty with Bolt Beauty.
Before Bolt Beauty, founder Lisa Sexton was a corporate lawyer for 10 years and spent her days rushing from a morning workout to the office, dashing to after-work drinks or dinner, and travelling every other week. From an overflowing handbag full of bottles of makeup and beauty products, Bolt was born. Bolt Beauty combines perfect formulations and ingredients to meet luxury skincare standards that's also environmentally friendly to suit a busy lifestyle, ditching the excess packaging. We spoke to Lisa to find out how the brand is making waves in the beauty industry.
How did Bolt Beauty come to fruition?
The idea for Bolt Beauty came when packing for a three-week trip. As most of us do, I had bought new everything for the holiday (including skincare) and was ready to put it in a giant suitcase. My boyfriend then informed me (to my horror) that we would only be taking hand luggage, so I better rethink my packing. Clothes were manageable but the most difficult part was skincare. Fitting three weeks’ worth of skincare into an airline liquids bag is pretty much impossible (and sadly Luang Prabang airport didn’t stock my favourite French skincare products...). I realised that skincare designed for travel involved really poor options:
1) Decant full-size products into little pots – messy, time-consuming, and unhygienic; or
2) Buy travel minis – expensive and bad for the environment (did you know 106 million travel minis are thrown out every year in the U.K. alone?!).
Bolt Beauty is a skincare regime that works for you, wherever you are.
Tell us about carrageenan and the livelihoods this sustains.
Carrageenan is an incredible crop made from red and purple seaweed. The seaweed is grown and harvested in some of the most breathtakingly beautiful countries in the world – such as The Philippines, Tanzania, and Indonesia.
Sadly though, the people living in these coastal communities are some of the poorest in the world and have minimal options for economic advancement. Fishing is often the primary source of income, which creates issues around overfishing and opportunities for women (who don’t usually take part in this kind of activity). Seaweed farming provides a diversified income for these communities and is also something which women can participate in.
How does a product made from seaweed link to your low carbon footprint? What does it mean to be carbon neutral?
Seaweed is a natural carbon sink. Just like trees, it naturally uses CO2 in order to grow. It means it helps to combat emissions just by growing (which is pretty amazing!).
At present, there isn’t much of a direct link between the seaweed that we use and our carbon footprint. Going back to basics: a carbon footprint is the amount of CO2 we emit by making our products and running our business. Everything contributes into this – from growing the raw materials that are in the products, creating our packaging, using electricity to run the manufacturing machinery, to commuting to work (pre-lockdown!). Sadly, we have a carbon footprint as doing all these things result in CO2 emissions. We do everything we can to reduce our emissions – such as considering our packaging choices or supply chain processes. For example, we choose to make our jars for life from PETG with a PP lid (all recyclable, in case you don’t want to keep them for life) instead of glass because an equivalent glass jar would have a much higher footprint. To find out more about this, check out our blog post here.
However, despite this, we are still left with a carbon footprint which we offset this footprint through the purchase of carbon credits. A carbon credit represents the cost of removing or reducing an amount of CO2 from the environment. So, we add up all our CO2 emissions and then we purchase the equivalent amount of carbon credits until we reach net zero. We don’t currently utilise the positive impact of seaweed as a carbon sink in this analysis, but are planning to do so in the future.
We love the circular aspect of your packaging. What makes your pouches compostable rather than biodegradable and why is this important? How does this compare to the pods being biodegradable?
The terms compostable and biodegradable are a bit confusing and closely connected. We use both terms because of the specific tests we carry out under internationally recognised standards.
“Biodegradable” represents a process where something will break down over time (although not necessarily under what conditions or timeframe). For example, trees and wooden structures are “biodegradable”, it’s just going to take a long time to break down fully (which is good when you have a wooden house!). “Compostable” means that the material has been certified to break down completely into non-toxic components (water, carbon dioxide, and biomass) given the right conditions. So, something that is biodegradable might not be compostable, but something that is compostable is biodegradable.
Our refill bags are described as “compostable” because they have been certified under OK Compost 13432 as compostable. This means that in industrial composting conditions they must disintegrate within 12 weeks and completely biodegrade within 6 months.
We describe our seaweed drops as “biodegradable” because they have been tested under OECD standards for biodegradability under seawater and aerobic conditions (which requires the drop to biodegrade within a certain period of time – 28 days or 60 days, depending on the test).
These terms are confusing, and brands need to be careful when claiming a product is “compostable” or “biodegradable” without properly explaining what they mean or what standard they are applying. If clear explanations aren’t provided, I believe we risk greenwashing (when a brand or company provides false or misleading information about how environmentally sound their products are). We will always be transparent and remain fully committed to finding the most sustainable solutions for our products (without any compromise).
What can we look forward to seeing next from Bolt Beauty?
We are working on new products right now. Top of my wish list is a reef safe facial SPF; hopefully coming soon…