One of the biggest motivations I had when starting Elysian Theory, was to create a transparent platform that could be used as a trusted source of educational information, helping to inform our community and raise awareness within a very green-washed industry.
For those who are not new to Elysian Theory you will know that we aim to be transparent about the products we carry, providing an abundance of information. Additionally, we are proud to be one of the first in our industry to include recycling steps for every product.
The beauty industry amongst others, has a big plastic waste problem, contributing to over 120 billion units of waste a year. The challenge mainly lies in packaging, a significant proportion of which are made up of plastics. When hearing that only 9% of all plastic waste that has ever been produced has been recycled, 12% has been incinerated and the rest ending up in landfills or dumped into the natural environment, (Statistics source: beatthemicrobead.org) we know that we have a responsibility to do better. To be game-changers and work with game-changers.
We are the first to say that we aren’t perfect, but we are proud to work with founders and brands who consider their materials and processes in the knowledge of their environmental impact, both up and downstream.
As a conscious retailer, when dealing with volume beyond personal consumption, it serves as a visual reminder as to the true nature of the problem and becomes hard to ignore. Many brands and retailers offer a range of products with varying degrees of sustainable attributes. In providing such a selection, ultimately, they are leaving it to the customer to actively choose to make better choices. We set out to take a different approach:
By incorporating environmental impact into our selection criteria when curating the brands and products we work with, customers at Elysian Theory can be confident that everything offered in our store has already been evaluated from a sustainability standpoint. There are various strategies to take when looking to reduce environmental impact, and we are open to the differing initiatives that businesses choose to adopt. However, packaging, and more specifically plastic, is always a large part of this equation, and the lifecycle of every aspect of the packaging that is used by the brands we stock, is analysed, and assessed.
Instead of putting the onus on the consumer, why not make it easier and only offer the choices we believe are better? At Elysian Theory, we do this on a daily basis, by selecting the brands that are not only at the top of their game and whose ethos’ are aligned with ours, but also whose impact is as minimal as possible on the environment.
It was during this kind of assessment that we came to learn that ‘Green plastics’ act as regular plastics unless they are broken down by a bacteria. This would mean that local facilities would need to have the system and infrastructure to support this breakdown in place, for this to truly work, which they generally do not. Ultimately a high proportion of these green plastics end up in the same landfills and cause similar pollution to our oceans, just as real plastics would. Consequently, we avoid stocking products that use such materials.
This philosophy has led us to continuously re-assess and commit to environmentally responsible packaging within Elysian Theory, striving for circular materials.
For example, we recently upgraded our packaging tape which is now made from 100% FSC recycled materials, with a non-toxic, water activated adhesive, meaning that it can be recycled after use. It may seem like extra work to activate your packaging tape with water, much like stamps or envelopes require, but this minimal change of process makes a tangible difference to our footprint. You can read more about our social and environmental responsibility here.
While the operations at Elysian Theory are always evolving to be less impactful on the environment, I knew that ‘treading as lightly as possible’ was not the full solution. I wanted to give back to the community in an active, real, and meaningful way, in the form of education and its accessibility to those who wish to pursue it.
A year before I launched Elysian Theory, I came across a story about a young Ukrainian student, Valentyn Frechka, who collects fallen leaves and turns them into paper and packaging: Reducing deforestation and improving air quality. His story struck a chord with me because he credits the encouragement he gained along the way to his education, and the teachers that supported him.
His talent was recognised, and he was given the opportunity to do his research, work on his vision, and ultimately now, work with big names in the industry to make a positive and meaningful impact, creating truly eco-friendly packaging. He is currently working on a prototype based on a new method he created, to make clothing out of the leaves! Read more about his story and initiatives here.
I knew, reading his story that this was an example of exactly the reason why I want to invest at this educational level. His story is one of many young students who are working hard to find meaningful solutions to improve our industry, our planet, and our lives. I’m sharing his specific story because it resonated with me and encapsulated the essence of the approach I wanted to take in making a positive, social, and environmental impact.
Valentyn himself has said that he dreams of helping people to express and reach their potential, and that “the biggest contribution is into the development of the individual”. I couldn’t agree more, which is why today, on Earth day 2022, I am proud to announce Elysian Theory - Foundations: A social and environmental impact fund.
I want Elysian Theory to step beyond selecting already existing processes and technologies, supporting the creation of new environmentally friendly methods at seed level and beyond. What better way than to invest in humans and our planet at the same time, building strong foundations for our future. We call this Social Environmentalism.
I believe that through the power of education, we can make a true, lasting, and significant impact on many of the world’s sustainability and environmental challenges. The genesis for solutions, inventions and processes that can change the way we source, consume, and recycle products often begins with education, research and development.
Here in the UK we are lucky enough to have some of the leading and most progressive universities in the world. However, access to this level of higher education is often financially inaccessible to many. We believe this shouldn’t be the case, and this is where our fund can make a difference. We have big plans for how we will grow our fund and the areas in which we will target. Our intention is that it should support those who desire to pursue educational endeavours and projects that positively impact the environment; across school, university, and post-academic research levels.
We believe that investing across these educational levels is what will really make the difference in encouraging a new generation of positive change. We look forward to sharing more in this regard as we develop the fund, its road map and the projects it will support.
We will be donating 1% of every sale that is made on Elysian Theory towards the Fund, with customers having the option of donating more when placing an order. In this way our community will be part of this vision, and in shopping with us, will go on to make a lasting mark on the planet in a truly sustainable way.
We hope that you are as enthusiastic as we are about this endeavour, and join us in investing in game changers and our future. We look forward to this journey together.
With love & light,
Zara & ET Team