Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. We’re talking about the real cost of making premium eco-friendly (non green washed) products in New Zealand, and why it is so expensive. The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely contributed to the rising cost of raw ingredients and materials globally, but this article is a deep dive into our company ethos and business practices that influences the cost of our beautifully made products.
As many of you would know, my journey into product creation was born out of a desperate need to find hair products that were suitable for my curly hair but did not harm the environment. Sure- there were eco conscious brands selling plastic free hair care products but at the time all of them lacked diversity and inclusion- and if there was a curly product on offer, it was very gimmicky and frankly just didn't deliver on quality.
On the flip side, brands who were creating inclusive products that did deliver incredible results for textured hair did not have sustainability in mind. That is why Lusid Beauty exists. We were the NZ’s first plastic free hair care range that designed products for curly hair specifically (as The Curly Bar Company) and then diversified to be inclusive of all hair types.
Given the sudden popularity of the global curly girl movement, other eco conscious brands certainly have jumped on the curly hair bandwagon, but still none offer the variety and curly hair expertise that we do, nor do they cater to different kinds of curls/waves/coils, densities or thicknesses. We understand that different hair textures have different needs; we create our products according to those needs.
On the other end, there has been a noticeable shift in other brands marketing sustainability more aggressively. The idea of course is great, and conscious consumption should be encouraged at all times. But when we need to be taking a closer look at these changes and properly evaluate what we are being asked to put our money into. For example, sugarcane plastic is plastic. It may be recyclable, but it does biodegrade to micro plastics if it is left in the environment.
Recycled plastic- is also plastic. And we know that plastic is not infinitely recyclable. Recyclable plastic only works if you have access to a plastic recycling facility. Not all regions have those and what cannot be recycled at the plant (or isn’t cleaned) will end up in landfill.
In short bio plastics- while they sound great are only better than traditional plastics because they don’t come from petrochemical sources. We also know that it is most likely that these empty bottles end up in landfill and therefore will still degrade to micro plastics in the environment. The popular switch from conventional plastic to bio plastic bottles is unfortunately a green washing tactic used by companies that don’t offer a closed loop solution, but want to appear eco friendly.
This leads us to my first point around the pricing of our products. At every step of the way in the new product development process I am always thinking about true environmental sustainability. The first thought I have when a new product idea pops into my head is “what’s the packaging?” Or “how do I change that so it fits into a plastic free product?”
There is a simple reason that plastic packaging is so common. It is cheap. It’s that simple. It is a reality that companies make decisions to suit their bottom line. Being driven by the bottom line is not my criticism, we do the same, all businesses need to- my point is that it seems that alternatives are not being considered because plastic packaging is that much cheaper and often their products are similar pricing to our own.
It is more expensive, but we choose to use compostable paper with soy based ink for our solid bars and aluminum and glass packaging for our styling products as both of these sources are infinitely recyclable. Facilities for aluminum are common throughout NZ, and Auckland has a glass recycling facility that services most of the country’s glass.
To me, the invisible is equally as important as the visible. I am specifically talking about micro plastics inside products. Our Lusid Curl Creme Gel contains organic NZ grown flaxseed mucilage which provides nourishment to the hair but also functions as the hold factor to our curls. Traditional gels use a synthetic ingredient called acrylate copolymer or PVP copolymer etc. they’re classed as microplastics but again they are used because they are cheap.
Our other ingredients are sourced from reputable local sources who specialise in sourcing ingredients from around the world that are ethical, organic and do not contribute to deforestation. It is a conscious decision for us to partner with such suppliers- albeit more expensive- because we believe in the work they do and we know we aren’t contributing to humanitarian and environmental exploitation.
Our New Zealand suppliers are kiwi businesses too and we believe in supporting local, so we’re literally putting our money where our mouth is. Did you know that all the money spent on product development and manufacturing by our business goes to another NZ business?
We partner with local cosmetic labs who help us create products that are ready for manufacture, sourcing packaging and printing locally. We do this because know that every dollar that is kept locally helps to boost NZ’s economy. We are doing our part to keep as much money circling the economy as we can control. We are a proudly NZ owned, operated and MADE.
We are well aware that moving our manufacturing and procurement offshore to places like China will significantly reduce our overheads, but we choose to invest in our country first. Then there’s our people. We are lucky enough to have a small but growing team who are more than worth their weight in gold. We are lucky enough to be surrounded by the best.
Always remember that as a consumer you vote with your dollar. Every dollar you spend as a customer is a vote of affirmation to that business. You are telling them that you agree with their products, practices and ethics and that they have your blessing to continue. We hope that we continue to be deserving of your vote and that you continue to choose to support us and other ethical companies like us.