The eco living category has evolved into one of the most innovative – and valuable – areas of natural products retailing, writes Jim Manson
The eco living category has come a long way. Once found languishing at the back of the store, confined to a couple of shelves of cleaning products and a drippy refill station, eco products have been quietly pushing themselves to the centre of the natural products retail offer.
Part of the reason is the sheer diversity of products now available. Today, this confident category spans everything from innovative natural household products to green gifting and outdoor living ideas.
At the same time, more consumers are motivated to choose green alternatives when offered the choice. A 2021 survey found that nine out of ten people are willing to pay more for sustainable products than they were five years ago – all of which underlines the size of the opportunity for indies, whose own values frequently align with eco-minded shoppers.
The last few years have seen a clutch of new-entrant green cleaning brands vying for shelf space with sector stalwarts. As well as stealing a march on their supermarket competition by offering refill options (step forward Faith in Nature, Ecover, Bio-D and others), independents also offer a line-up of brands that green-minded consumers would struggle to find outside of specialist retailers.
Good & Green, with stores in Sussex and Kent, offers a strong line-up from Dutch brand Marcel – hand soap refill pouches, all-purpose cleaners, toilet blocks and laundry liquid – which specializes in vegan-friendly soaps. It also stocks the Vegan Society-certified Clara range.
Another brand making waves is 2020 start-up Miniml, which set out to take green cleaning to the next level with its ‘beyond the bottle’ refill service. Founders Emma Tapper and Scott Rudd say they’re determined to make their British-made, closed loop products a household name. Abel & Cole is an enthusiastic supporter, currently stocking 20 Miniml lines, including its popular Starter Kits.
The green baby category is bigger than ever, with a growing offer of skincare, hair care and bath time products. But the biggest eco debate is still often around the subject of nappies. It’s well documented that disposable nappies present a huge ecological problem; around three billion are thrown away in the UK each year. And while there are plenty of contenders now in the eco-friendly disposable market (Beaming Baby, Pura and Bamboo Nature, for example) many green-minded parents want to explore reusable options.
Mission-driven online retailer The Nappy Gurus has been ‘helping people on their cloth nappy journey’ since 2009 and instigated the Great Big Nappy Census – a national survey which found that 70% of parents have considered switching to renewables. The Nappy Gurus backs the idea of ‘incentive vouchers’ for reusables and campaigns for better access in high street stores.
Gift it green
Green gifting has moved from niche to significant category in its own right. Fast-moving innovation ensures a constant turnover of shelf-friendly products. Good & Green stocks Gift Republic, including its popular Meditation Cards and Grow Kits, along with stylish diffusers from SUN.DAY. There’s also a growing range of gifts aimed at kids – Cocoa Loco’s Lolly Making Kit and Green Creativity’s Recycled Paper Beads among them.
And the eco living category is increasingly venturing into the great outdoors. Earthsong Seeds offers an inspiring range of certified organic seeds, including a Beginner’s Herb Garden pack. Fairzone’s fair trade rubber gardening gloves would make the perfect companion sale. For customers kitting themselves out for an eco picnic, Huski Home sells a wide range of stylish, sustainable coconut plates, platters and cutlery, along with replacement silicon seal lids to extend the life of its best-selling coffee cups.
Natural products stores constantly need to evolve to stay relevant and viable in these ever changing times. Tunbridge Wells-based Zero has gone through several reinventions since opening shortly before the first lockdown. It started life as a zero-waste store, complete with 100 bulk storage hoppers and impressive refill station. Several twists, turns and makeovers later it has relaunched as a ‘zero café’ and ‘ethical emporium’ combo. For the emporium, owners Holly Watson and Charlotte Bowyer have invited local independent businesses and makers to rent their own space for a flat fee. With a strong emphasis on sustainability, the emporium has quickly hit its stride with a lively offering of artisan homeware, toiletries, green gifts and clothing.
The new Kids Eco-Friendly Cleaning Kit from Clean Living, complete with stickers and fun sheet, is perfect for encouraging little ones to help around the home, while protecting themselves and the planet.
Bio-D has launched a new range of ultra-compact Dishwasher Tablets with 100% recyclable cardboard packaging. At just 12g in size, this results in carbon emission savings in both production and transport; the tablets save over 40% truck space compared to conventional sized tablets.
The Cheeky Panda has announced the launch of its new Naturally Coloured Bamboo Toilet Tissue. Created in response to customer demand for neutral coloured rolls, it is made without any whitening agents and the resulting colour is described as ‘cashew-esque’.
If your customers are looking for next level eco credentials with their green cleaning products, Greenscents could be for you. This hand-made Soil Association-certified range of kitchen, laundry and bathroom cleaners comes in a variety of signature scents such as Citrus, Minty and Herbal.
Let’s do lunch
The Multi-compartment Reusable Lunch Box (in chic Rose or Pistachio) from Huski Home is made from recycled rice husks to create a durable, environmentally-friendly, non-toxic material. It’s a thing of beauty.
The GREEN POOP BAG
KEEP YOUR PAWPRINT LOW with our reinvented Plastic-Free poo bags! The GREEN POOP BAG is an award-winning bag, made with sugar and cornstarch blend and specially designed for dog & cat owners to make the stinky job easier and Mother Earth happier! All our bags have handy handles (even on rolls) and are naturally biodegradable and home-compostable within 3-6 months leaving zero microplastics. Available in our innovative 2-in-1 Eco boxes which lower delivery CO2 pawprint up to 6x times! Once you try these, you won’t go back, guaranteed 🙂
Kitchen Bar – Lemon & Lime
This kitchen bar soap is made with natural ingredients that are gentle on hands and tough on grease. It’s biodegradable, so it’s better for the environment than liquid dish soap. This versatile bar can also be used to remove stubborn laundry stains before washing.
Free from cruelty and plastic, it’s the perfect alternative to washing-up liquid. You’ll be surprised at how effective and gentle it is.
Metal Safety Razor for Women
Jungle Culture women’s safety razors are designed to remove yet another plastic product from our bathrooms. Precision made to last a lifetime, this will not only be the most environmentally-friendly razor you buy, it’ll also be the last razor that you buy! At just £18.99, shaving plastic-free has never been so affordable!
Jungle Culture razors come in 10 beautiful colours and styles to suit any taste. As well as ladies razors, they also make bulkier razors for men and cold-pressed, vegan-friendly shaving soaps.
Balade en Provence Body Bar
Balade en Provence Body Bar is a super-rich solid body wash suitable for daily cleansing. Gentle and moisturising, this bar is enriched with a blend of coconut oil and shea butter for deep hydration and skin nourishment, and infused with a delicate orange blossom scent that transports you to the fields of Provence. Made with the cold saponification method. Being a waterless formula and free from plastic packaging,Balade en Provence products are better for the environment. Certified vegan by The Vegan Society, and Cosmos Natural, and packaged in 100% compostable cardboard, printed with vegetable ink. www.kinetic4health.co.uk
Ayluna Plant-Based Hair Dyes
A love story of natural hair colour! Ayluna’s certified COSMOS Organic, vegan and halal Hair Dyes create gorgeous colour without the need for toxic and synthetic ingredients. Available in fourteen stunning shades, you can achieve your dream hair colour with added shine, volume, and strength the natural way. Ayluna’s hair colours work in combination with the natural hair colour to bring expressive, lively shades. Unlike chemical hair dyes, Ayluna’s Hair Dyes do not damage the hair structure but surrounds each individual hair strand with a shimmering glaze of colour for unforgettable results.
Willow’s Choice Eco Cling Film
Brands Nest Ltd
Tel: 07788 757263
E-mail: [email protected]
Willow’s Choice eco cling film is an easy to use, natural and sustainable alternative to petroleum based plastic food wraps. Recyclable and produced from renewable sugarcane bioplastic, it helps reduce both food waste and carbon emissions. Our Eco Cling Film is vegan friendly, BPA free, microwaveable, fridge and freezer safe up to -60 degrees centigrade and has a frustration-free easy to use cutter and dispenser. It is specially made for food preservation needs at home, cafes, food delivery services, hotels, restaurants, and professional catering outfits. Go green with our vegan friendly eco cling wrap made from sugarcane bagasse today!!
Silky Soft Bamboo Toilet Tissues (9 Rolls)
Founded in 2016 by entrepreneurs Julie Chen and Chris Forbes, The Cheeky Panda believes bamboo is the ultimate sustainable resource. The B Corp certified brand offers a more sustainable and ethical alternative to traditional, paper-based, everyday essentials. Its award-winning range of bamboo-based products spans personal care, baby, and beauty.
The Cheeky Panda’s toilet rolls are made from FSC certified sustainable bamboo and are 100% carbon balanced. The Cheeky Panda uses bamboo because it produces 65.6% fewer carbon emissions than standard tree-based products. Did you know that bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, growing 30 times faster than the humble tree? It also produces 30% more oxygen, whilst absorbing 35% more carbon. Every 9 pack of toilet rolls helps you to reduce your Carbon Footprint by 0.68kg and prevents 14g of single use plastic from entering the waste cycle.
Since the start of 2022, The Cheeky Panda has saved 13,861 tonnes of CO2 (or CO2 equivalent) from entering the atmosphere, 169,304 trees from deforestation, and 190,477 kg of single-use plastic from entering the waste cycle.
The Cheeky Panda tissue is wrapped in 100% recyclable and biodegradable packaging. Pop the core and the wrapper in with your recycling, and our packaging will degrade if it ends up in landfill.
Not only are these toilet tissues kind to the planet, they’re also kind to animals AND your bum! Certified vegan friendly by The Vegan Society, the luxuriously smooth and seriously soft 3 ply toilet tissues are naturally hypoallergenic, with long, smooth bamboo fibres that trap fewer dust particles – perfect for sensitive skin. The bamboo we use needs no fertiliser or pesticides, nor nasty chemicals or fragrances.
The Cheeky Panda Silky Soft Bamboo Toilet Tissues (9 Rolls) are available through Suma, CLF, Wholegood, Queenswood, Cotswold Fayre, Infinity, and AF Blakemore.