After David Attenborough broke our collective hearts last year by showing us how plastic is poisoning baby whales, reducing the amount of plastic we use has been very much on the agenda. UK shops saw a huge increase in sales of reusable coffee cups, there have been campaigns to remove plastic drinking straws from pubs and bars, and UK supermarkets have been pledging to cut plastic packaging in their products. But, while we can buy our bananas loose, rather than in bags, and carry a travel coffee mug for our morning lattes, there are some areas where the use of plastic still seems unavoidable.
Toiletries, for example. You can mostly only get products like shampoo and conditioner, skincare and toothpaste in plastic bottles that need to be discarded after a month or so. While a few retailers are finding ways around it, such as Lush and its shampoo bars, most of the time if you want luxe beauty, you have to have a high plastic turnover. However, L’Oréal Professionnel is taking steps to change this with its new range, Source Essentielle.
People are eager to do what they can, but they need brands to make the option available to them first
With Source Essentielle, L’Oréal Professionnel is focusing on the “reuse” part of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra we should live by. It’s going to set up refill stations, so that once you’ve used up all your shampoo or conditioner, you can take the empty bottle to a refill station and simply fill it back up again. It’s a neat, easy solution to a problem that, for a consumer, seems unavoidable, but which can be solved by a moment’s thought and a few easy changes by a brand.
This is where I hope the conversations about plastic go next. People are aware of the importance of reducing their plastic usage and are eager to do what they can, but they need brands to make the option available to them first. It’s important for the individual to take responsibility for trying to reduce their carbon footprint, but realistically there’s only so much they can do unless companies start taking responsibility for the options they’re giving us and making changes to ensure that it’s easy and practical for us to ditch plastic in favour of eco-friendly alternatives.
Some brands have already started making these changes – such as Morrisons, which is allowing customers to bring in their own containers to take fresh meat and fish home with them, and Pret, which has introduced filtered water stations to reduce the amount of plastic water bottles people buy – but we need more to get on board. I hope L’Oréal’s steps towards helping consumers reduce their plastic usage will encourage others to do the same, until we can have a world where it’s easier to not use plastic. The baby whales are depending on it.