Here at the Soap Co, we strive for a multi-faceted approach to being environmentally friendly. This starts with our sourcing of raw materials, which are predominately from UK suppliers who follow sustainable practices to localising production to our workshop in Keswick, Cumbria, and semi-automated factory London, to minimising our carbon footprint by selling refill bottles in order to reduce wasteful packaging.
In order to minimise our environmental impact, we have gone for a simplistic approach. This extends from our ingredients, which we like to keep as simple as possible (with no added colours, phthalates, parabens, triclosan, PEGs, DMDM hydantoin, linalool, EDTA or silicones) with no bioaccumulants and biodegradable ingredients; to our packaging, which is composed of 25% recycled materials and made from high density polyethylene, which releases 37% less carbon dioxide during degradation compared to standard PET bottles. Our bottles are also fully recyclable, and our bar soap packaging is fully biodegradable.
None of our products are tested on animals and our ingredients are 100% vegetable derived or from expertly crafted manmade components, with the exception of Soap Pebbles that are wrapped in sustainably sourced Herdwick wool.
At The Soap Co., we always aim to improve our position on sustainability, and are exploring options for eco-certification.
We are proud to say that our current products are packed in recyclable bottles, whose labels are also sourced sustainably. In addition to this, we also use vegetable-based inks.
As for the products themselves, where we can, we source the ingredients from within the UK. Since the summer, we have brought in experts, talented green chemists from Imperial College London and Sheffield University, to audit our current formulations and work on developing a new range of eco-friendly products, which are also kind to the skin. According to our green chemists, “We have faced a few challenges. There is not a lot of transparency on where ingredients come from or what industrial standards they have used in production. We have had to really push our suppliers to get this information so we can make the best choices. We have found the internet is full of false information and media exaggeration about ‘harmful chemicals’. In reality, preservatives are crucial for the safety of products and natural fragrances are not always sustainable. Our new products will be a balance between safety and sustainability. We are focusing on the science rather than the media prejudice.”
One of the significant outcomes of the process will be to replace the SLS/SLES in our handwash. Although it is an important surfactant used in a large number of products on the market, it can be less kind to sensitive skin. We are exploring the alternatives with the aim of replacing it in our new range.
For more information, you can read our blog post here.
Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of transparency when it comes to sourcing vegan ingredients. While we are not yet certified as vegan, to the best of our knowledge, aside from the wool cocooning Exfoliating Soap Pebble, our products do not contain any animal derived ingredients.
We have incorporated the concept of sustainability into many different elements of The Soap Co.:
Sustainable packaging: our products are filled in high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles, which emit less CO2 than the typical PET bottles during decomposition. These bottles are sourced from post consumer regrind (PCR), meaning that it comes from used milk bottles with the odd milk bottle top too! We don’t just stop there; our bar soaps are wrapped in 100% recycled paper and compostable bio-film, which is biodegradable and sourced from renewable resources. While the iconic Herdwick wool from the Lake District used to cover our Soap Pebbles helps us to support local farmers who have been struggling to compete against synthetic fibres.
We also provide refills for our hand washes in order to reuse as much as much packaging as we can. Wherever possible our bottles and labels are sourced by UK suppliers as we don’t believe in shipping things around the world unnecessarily.
Social sustainability: we employ people from different backgrounds and abilities. As a social enterprise, we believe in giving those from all walks of life equal opportunity. 80% of our staff are blind, disabled or otherwise disadvantaged.
Product sustainability: our ingredients are sourced from the UK as much as possible. We only use sustainable palm oil in our soap bars and will continue to improve our products by using ingredients that have been certified for their sustainability.
Being ‘chemical free’ does not mean that the product contains no chemicals. In reality, everything is made of ‘chemicals’, therefore this phrase is misleading and unrealistic. Cosmetic brands take ‘chemical free’ to mean free of synthetic (manmade) ingredients, which can mislead consumers into thinking that all synthetic ingredients are bad for you. Synthetic ingredients have had to be developed in order to replace more traditional components of soap. For example, traditionally, soap was made from animal tallow (animal fat). Therefore, in order to be as kind to the environment we use manmade soap components. In this way, you can enjoy your bath time guilt-free!
Yes, our products are lovingly handcrafted in the UK in Keswick and London.
Our current products contain tea tree oil, which in its concentrated form is an allergen. However, in our products, tea tree oil is used in low percentage therefore the chance of having an adverse reaction is very low. We have chosen to use this essential oil as we believe the benefits outweigh the risks, as it is a natural anti-septic and anti-fungal component, removing the need for addition of carcinogenic anti-bacterial agents such as triclosan.
At The Soap Co., our new formulations will meet the following eco-promise: No SLS, SLES, ALES, mineral oils, EDTA, parabens, propylene glycol, triethanolamine, sulfates, phthalates, artificial colours, retinol, PEGs, urea, silicones, carbomers, cocamide DEA, MCIT/MITs, carcinogens.
Our products don’t yet have organic certification such as ECOCERT. According to this certification body, a product can only be certified as organic if the manufacturing process has also been certified by ECOCERT. The certification process is costly, and as a new social enterprise brand we have decided to focus our profit in the first few years on creating more jobs for our staff. Over the longer term, we will be exploring options for organic certification.
We adhere to cosmetic product safety regulations set by the EU, which means that our products are fit to be marketed within the EU.