Pure + Simple is a Toronto-based skincare chain that has committed to going 100 per cent plastic-free! We asked their President and Co-owner Jean Eng to tell us a little more about what changes they’ve made, and why they decided to make them.
Can you introduce yourself and this issue a little?
Plastics have made a home in our lives. As a skincare and spa business owner, I find it everywhere – from shopping bags and product packaging to the microplastics in the actual contents of the bottles. Having approached esthetics from a holistic perspective, I am a firm believer that beauty is health, for you and the planet. When starting my business, I knew a company could not be celebrating our beautiful planet through “clean beauty” and “green skincare” while using plastic and contributing to waste. It had to be sustainable.
So what have you done to reduce your plastic footprint?
Pure + Simple has been operating sustainably from the get-go in October 2000. Going 100 per cent plastic-free has been a challenge and is still a work-in-progress, but we’ve tried to implement a few programs that help us reduce the use of plastics. Little changes like using washable compressing cloths instead of plastic sponges not only helped us reduce waste, but also made our services more relaxing and reminded clients that these choices make a difference.
Another way was encouraging recycling and educating clients about how easy it is and why it makes a difference. We introduced a Bottle Return Program where we encouraged clients to return their empties for us to recycle and reuse. Out of the returned bottles, the glass bottles are sterilized and prepared for reuse in a laboratory sterilizer, and the plastic ones passed on to our recycling partners – TerraCycle. We also implemented the use of single material packaging. All our plastic bottles are made of 100% PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) making them easier to recycle and reuse, and over the next couple of years we plan to shift away from plastic packaging altogether.
Why is plastic in beauty products such a problem?
Plastics are very commonly used as ingredients in different forms. Many scrubs used to contain plastic microbeads used to remove dead cells from the skin. They’re the tiny, colourful, spherical particles made of plastic that provide a gentle grainy texture. They seem innocent enough at first look, but actual wreak havoc on the environment, which is why we were happy to see them banned from beauty products last year.
Once these microplastic particles are washed down the drain, they make their way into the water system. Since they’re too small to be captured by wastewater facilities and don’t biodegrade, they then end up in our lakes, rivers, and oceans. Even worse, plastics in water attract chemicals, which then end up in the tissue of the fish and other wildlife that eats the plastic. From there, they work their way up to the food chain – to us.
Exfoliation is important, but this is way too big a compromise for the sake of healthy skin. That’s why we have always opted for environment-friendly alternatives like using fruit enzymes, sea salt, and jojoba beads in our services and products.
What would you say to someone else who wanted to get involved?
We have been lucky to work with people who understand and support our sustainability efforts. It’s important to be aware that our everyday choices have a direct impact on the environment. We thrive when we live in a community where each member does their part to support and sustain the environment, and it’s up to us to help each other out. So I would say inform yourself, recognize the efforts of others, and make the right choice.
Guest blogger Jean Eng is the President and Co-owner of Pure + Simple, Toronto’s first chain of sustainable, all-natural skincare and wellness spas.