Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover: Perfectly Imperfect - UrthlyOrganics Natural ethical skincare and cleaning

Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover: Perfectly Imperfect

This is an ongoing series we hope to deliver at Urthly Organics as part of our Products with Purpose blog.

With the rise in consumer awareness of their social and environmental impact, companies must look to evolving their products to be as sustainable as possible. However, many businesses have instead begun to greenwash their products and customers.

‘Greenwashing’ [1] refers to the insincere and superficial display of concern towards environmental issues by organisations such as labelling items that take years to break down as ‘biodegradable’, sustainable palm oil and its derivatives, third party animal testing, and not paying workers a fair wage for manufacturing ‘eco-friendly’ products[2]. The use of branding can mislead the public into buying unethically. 

Which makes one question, how do we know what we are buying is aligned to our values? The answer is not straight forward. Ideally, everyone would be a ‘conscious consumer’, whereby individuals base their purchasing decisions are based on the transparency and shared values of a company. However, for some people and situations, this is not always possible in every situation. This is where companies need to assist in providing the opportunity to buy ethically. 

With our business aiming to provide some alternative to environmentally unsustainable products (namely skincare and cleaning), we believe that it’s important for us as people to hold a critical lens to what we are being sold. Here are some things we look for when making the conscious decision to purchase a product, ingredient, or service.

When we buy something from a store, we tend to go for the shiniest, pristine version of an item we can find. We choose the least blemished fruit, the shirt with immaculate stitching, the least dusty book, etc. This pattern extends to skincare and cleaning products. However, what we forget to acknowledge is that this habit can lead to perfectly functioning products going to waste.

Bins, Paddocks, and Down the Drain

Our patronage of the retail, food, and beauty industry creates a solemn reality: waste. These industries contribute to significant deforestation, plastic waste, microbeads, and the destruction of unsold/returned goods[1]. These unsustainable practices also lead to billions of dollars in products thrown away[2]. As consumers, we don’t witness these losses. They occur in paddocks kilometres away, in retail bins behind closed doors, and typically separate from our consciousness. With an unseen reality, we as consumers need to think about how, why, and where we source our products, while also not being shy to choose the perfectly imperfect option. 

Seconds, Display Models, Refurbished, Second-hand…

Similar to our approaches to reducing, reusing, or recycling our waste, we can do the same when seeking out sustainable products. This leads to less waste, potential discounts for customers, opportunities to innovate, greater profit for businesses than loss, and the opportunity for consumers to still receive a good quality product.  To understand how to balance your needs and impact your purchasing footprint on the planet, we have put together alternatives to buying ‘pristine condition’ items:

Buy direct from producers and ask if they have imperfect options

Producers and suppliers are happy to sell many old or not-quite-right (NQR) products (depending on what is appropriate).

Shop Second-hand or refurbished

Many products are purchased and then donated or returned. This includes clothing, electronics, homewares, and more.  In cases of refurbishment, you will receive a product that has been tested and treated according to the business’ standard, which can be higher than the initial product.

Look at demo models, scratched and seconds

Businesses have a variety of perfectly operational items that just have visually aesthetic flaws. Or, they have been used as a display model for people to look at and test. Most do not lose the quality of the product but get disposed of anyway.

Repurpose and Rethink faulty goods

Retail and producers have their fair share of products that are beyond the minor flaws of other items. By investing in or receiving these items, you have the opportunity to create something new. This can include NQR fruit/veg produce feeding your chickens or worms, as well as creating unique clothing.

Together, these approaches allow for you to have an input in determining whether something is wanted or wasted.

Toilet bomb second, Urthly Organics

What We Do

Reducing wastage has always been a goal for us. And with skincare, things can go wrong to create goods that may not be up to ‘perfect’ quality. To reduce the need to simply throw them out, we rethink the purpose of the product. Our toilet bomb range is one example[5]. Prone to cracking on the odd occasion, we are left with broken but functioning products. To ensure we don’t contribute to retail, manufacturing, and production waste, we sell out seconds to the public. This approach has occurred with many items. In the case of bath bombs, we created shower rocks from a batch of bath bombs gone wrong[6]. These have become a well-loved item in our range, which wouldn’t have happened had we thrown the ‘mistake’ away.

Alongside our other initiatives to reduce wastage and our environmental impact, we ensure that we don’t contribute to the problem. We also hope that more businesses commit to the same. In changing our buying power, we influence the war on waste. Together we can get goods away from landfill piles across the globe.

 Heavenly Shower Rock, Urthly Organics

[1] Kenton, W., via Investopedia (2020), ‘Greenwashing’:

[2] Green & Thistle (2020), ‘What is Greenwashing? Examples [2020]’, Green and Thistle:

[3]V., Rai, 2019, ‘Unseen 2019: The ugly side of beauty waste’, Live Mint:

[4] Foodwaste, 2020, ‘The Problem with Food Waste’, Foodprint:

[5] Urthly Organics, 2020, ‘Toilet Bomb {Bag of 6} Seconds’, Urthly Organics:

[6] Urthly Organics, 2020, ‘Heavenly Shower Rock’, Urthly Organics:

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