Tell us about The Botanist. The inspiration behind the creation of The Botanist and its mission?
Over the last few years, as we have learned a lot about our toxic load – a culmination of all the health-damaging toxins we are exposed to as we go about our lives – we also learned that home cleaning products were some of the worst contributors to this. For so long, the home cleaning category has been dominated by harsh chemicals and single use plastics.
A couple of years ago we set out to find something safer that we can use at home around our young children and pets, and we were disappointed to find a lack of transparency on ingredients lists, very limited eco-friendly options and some good old-fashioned greenwashing. So we started making our own products at home, initially just for our own use, but the immediate demand from friends led us to believe that there was a real need for a safe and eco-friendly home care solution and this evolved to a business idea.
We wanted to offer an effective and family-safe product that people can trust to use at home, and that is based on a reuse and refill model so that we can drastically reduce the plastic waste a typical home care routine generates. Our products are made with safe, plant-based and biodegradable ingredients that have effective cleaning power yet protect our health, and they come in refillable bottles which leads to 90% less plastic generated compared to conventional products.
But we were inspired to also to think beyond the function, and start to infuse a self-care element into the home care experience. For example, we don’t use any artificial fragrance in our range and choose pure essential oils instead – a huge part of this is the health impact of artificial fragrances, but essential oils also offer an aromatherapeutic benefit while cleaning up and leave the home smelling amazing. To preserve the life of the oils, we house the products in beautiful amber glass bottles which look beautiful displayed on the kitchen counter top. Finally, we could have a cleaning product we could be proud to display and not have to hide away under the sink.
What impact is The Botanist trying to make?
Our mission is to help people create a healthy home and we mean that in every sense of the word – our physical homes, our body and our planet. We live in a modern world where our daily toxic load is really high, and although we can’t control much of that, we can control our immediate home environment where we consume and use a lot of home care products that can either add or detract from our indoor air quality, and therefore our health. But of course we can’t have any of that without a healthy planet, so our aim is to offer products that have a minimal environmental impact through natural ingredients that do not harm the environment when they wash down the drain, as well as packaging that is reusable and low-waste.
What are the positive impacts The Botanist has already made?
We recently did an internal exercise and ran the numbers on our eco impact based on our low-waste refills and we were delighted and proud to share that so far this year, we have prevented over 8,500 single use plastic bottles from entering circulation. As a small business, it’s really encouraging to quantify our impact in this way.
This extends to other sectors as well like the hospitality industry – we work with some incredible restaurant partners who have chosen our refillable products for their customer bathrooms and are therefore significantly cutting down their plastic waste.
We are always looking for ways we can reduce our environmental impact further, more recently we introduced a new refill pouch that’s 55% bio-based plastic made from renewable sugarcane. We’re really proud of this as it’s yet a further reduction in plastic usage, and we are the first brand in the country to implement it in our packaging.
And finally, we cannot understate the positive health impact of switching to non-toxic products has on our customers – from what we can see and hear at least! Although it is harder to quantify like the above, we constantly get messages and feedback that the symptoms and irritations that people experienced from conventional cleaning products have disappeared once they made the switch to our range. So that’s something that makes us really happy to hear, that we really are helping people to create a healthier home and body.
Can you share some future plans or initiatives that The Botanist has in store to enhance its impact?
The need for lowering our toxic load also extends beyond just cleaning products, it’s everyday products that we use at home that harbour harmful chemicals that can affect our health over time. That’s why recently we have expanded our range to include personal and home care items like room sprays and candles – all things that can significantly contribute to our health and air quality at home. This is an area we will continue to focus on going forward with more home and personal care products being added to the range very soon.
Finally, what advice would you give to other businesses and brands looking to become more sustainable and socially responsible in their operations?
Every business should be looking at ways to be more sustainable. The time to be complacent about this is long gone. Start small if you must, but just start somewhere. Depending on the industry or type of business, there are many areas of a business that can be improved from a sustainability perspective and it can take many forms. We don’t have to be perfect consumers just like we don’t have to be perfect eco businesses, but we do have to be trying to make improvements where we possibly can in order to effect positive change.