In this Earth-First Conversations series, I sit down with brand founders who are blazing trails, empowering lasting change, and building impactful brands with an earth-first vision. Today, I am joined by Jayme Jenkins, the Co-Founder of waterless concentrate hair and body care brand Everist. She and I talk eco-optimism, recycling, and being named one of TIME’s best inventions of 2021.
Tell me about your vision for Everist. When you set out to create the brand, what were you observing in the beauty industry that made you want to do things differently/better?
We started Everist because we wanted to see the industry shift more dramatically towards sustainability. And we shouldn’t have to give up superior performance to do so. It’s time for out of the box thinking – we need to be introducing new models and products that make it easier for shoppers to make more sustainable choices. Big beauty is making strides but we wanted to go faster, and for us that meant doing it ourselves.
Our business is built on the philosophy that to make big change, you need to make smaller changes easier and better than the status quo. Traditional shower care products are usually around 70% water and to us that didn’t make sense to be shipping that much water when you’re using them in the shower. Some great waterless formats like bars and powders exist, but we wanted to create something that was close to what people were used to using. Enter our patent-pending waterless shampoo, conditioner and body wash concentrate pastes – 1/3 the size and easily activated by the water in your shower.
“Continuous improvement and revisiting our current model to assess what we can do better is part of our ethos.”
– Jayme Jenkins, Co-Founder, Everist
Tell me about your product lifecycle (the 6 R’s) and how it strives to minimize negative impact on the planet.
Our 6 R’s at Everist include the following:
We reject single-use plastics and petroleum-derived ingredients that don’t break down in our environment. By keeping them off of you, we’re also keeping them out of our water systems.
Next, we reduce wherever possible, including reducing the size of our products. At 1/3 the size of a normal bottle of shampoo, Everist products require less packaging and less carbon to ship. We also reduce environmental impact through our product formulations, believing that whatever we put on our bodies should be good for us and the planet. Our plant-based formulations include only biodegradable ingredients.
Then we focus on reusing as much as we can, from our 100% recycled kraft paper boxes and mailers to our (soon to be launching) 95% post-consumer recycled aluminum tubes.
Then we choose materials with a high resale value and higher likelihood to be recycled. Our pure aluminum tubes can be infinitely recycled, unlike plastic which can only be downcycled once. Our cartons and mailer boxes are also fully recyclable or compostable.
After that we repurpose, covering postage costs to return our small plastic caps as part of our CapBack program to ensure they are given a new life.
Finally, we revisit our processes quarterly, to make sure we are tracking and offsetting our carbon impact 100% through our Climate Neutral Certification. We’re also a 1% of the Planet member and support PlasticBank. Continuous improvement and revisiting our current model to assess what we can do better is part of our ethos.
“The eco-optimist is the one who values progress over perfection and is hopeful that we can solve this environmental crisis together.”
What does being an eco-optimist mean to you and how do you encourage consumers to be eco-optimists?
Optimism is looking for solutions amidst all of the problems. We all have enough of those. The eco-optimist is the one who values progress over perfection and is hopeful that we can solve this environmental crisis together.
Fear and eco-anxiety can be paralyzing, so we encourage our eco-optimist community to focus on finding lifestyle solutions that work for them and to take steps in the right direction, without fear of judgement. We want to support them behind the scenes, giving more options and ‘bridge products’ that bring mainstream performance and convenience to their routine, in a more sustainable format.
What are you observing about the new breed of conscious consumer in how they engage with brands and demand more from them? Why do you think it’s important for consumers to be asking themselves questions like who made this? Where is it made? Do their values align with my own? What happens to this product after I’m done with it?
Simply, because consumer spending is what will shift industries. Consumers ‘wanting’ more sustainable or ethical products won’t do it, consumers buying them will. It’s overquoted, but it’s true – every dollar you spend is a vote for the type of world you want to live in.
It’s not just the products that need to shift though – it’s the entire model and our culture of overconsumption. The first question we ask ourselves when buying something should be – do I really need this?
“For us, it’s about protecting what we all share.”
We know that true sustainability is about more than climate change, it’s about people. Tell me about some of Everist’s social mission initiatives and commitments to the development and wellbeing of people and communities.
For us, it’s about protecting what we all share. Many beauty ingredients (like silicones) are bio-accumulative – they go down our drain, make their way into our water systems and persist in our environment. They’re in the water we drink and the food we eat. In a recent National Geographic study, 100% of the people tested had microplastics in their bodies. It’s not a matter of ‘do we?’ anymore, it’s a question of what these microplastics will do. Personal health and environmental health are inextricably linked. For this reason, we chose to formulate with biodegradable and plant-based ingredients for all of our well-being.
“We believe waterless and compact formulas are the future of the beauty industry.”
You have been named one of TIME’s best inventions of 2021. How key is this type of recognition in influencing consumer buying behaviour and positioning more sustainable products front and centre?
We’re grateful to have received 9 highly-recognized industry and innovation-focused awards in our first 14 months in market, including Time’s Best Inventions, Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas (honoree) and ELLE Green Stars. They are important to create credibility for the brand and also encourage people to try a brand-new, first-to-market format. We believe waterless and compact formulas are the future of the beauty industry (of many industries, for that matter) and we’re happy to see many sustainable innovations highlighted on these lists.
“We chose aluminum because it is infinitely recyclable and maintains its integrity and resale value every time it’s recycled, unlike plastic which can be downcycled once.”
I think there is some confusion about the recyclability of aluminum tubes (and tubes in general) given the residue that is left behind because it can’t be cleaned out.
This has been a really frustrating part of the product development process for us and highlights the complexity and challenges of sustainability. Our tubes are 99.7% pure aluminum, not a laminate /metal mix as many brands use, that looks like metal but is mixed material and not recyclable. Unlike laminate tubes, pure aluminum tubes are 100% recyclable and can be melted down and any product residue left inside can be skimmed off. A good way to tell the difference is the ‘scrunch test’ – pure aluminum tubes will dent where you touch them vs laminate or mixed material that will bounce back.
Despite being more expensive and having high minimum quantities for direct printing (to avoid stickering and mixing materials), we chose aluminum because it is infinitely recyclable and maintains its integrity and resale value every time it’s recycled, unlike plastic which can be downcycled once (if it even makes it that far – only 9% of plastic has ever been recycled, mainly because the economics are not there – it’s cheaper to make new plastic). The problem, however, lies in the fact that there can be consumer confusion over plastic tubes that looks like metal and for this reason, some municipalities choose not to recycle tubes altogether. In advance of launching, we spoke to metals traders and some municipalities who confirmed they do recycle them, but as we’ve learned municipal recycling guidelines are very fragmented and complex.
Furthermore, the PACT beauty recycling receptacle that I frequent says it doesn’t accept aluminum tubes. What should consumers know about recycling your tubes?
That like everything sustainability, it’s complicated and always changing. We do have a hack though to ensure your aluminum tubes have the highest likelihood of being recycled: if you ball up the tubes with other aluminum, such as foil or a pie plate, they are the most likely to be picked up. We’re also working on including them in a take back program, similar to our CapBack program. This program collects the plastic caps from our products at our 3PL distribution centre, with the goal of pelletizing them and remolding them into something new, like recycled plastic hair accessories with a partner that specializes in this.
No brand is perfect on this sustainability journey, and it’s about progress over perfection. What are some of your future goals for Everist from a sustainability perspective?
Getting involved in policy. This is something that I led at my time at The Body Shop (we amassed almost a million signatures for the Cruelty-Free Cosmetic Act in Canada and marched them to Parliament Hill). Extended producer responsibility legislation in particular where producers are given a significant responsibility – financial and/or physical – for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. This is where we can make the biggest impact.
“With kids, there is an amazing opportunity to teach them the values that are important to you.”
In what ways do you adopt a more sustainable lifestyle at home in your day-to-day routine, with your family, etc.?
We focus on buying less, but better. This is easy for me as I’m a minimalist by nature. I have a 3 year old and a 5 year old so it’s easy to accumulate a lot of stuff with kids around, but we are fortunate to have lots of friends with kids older that ours so my kids wear almost exclusively hand-me-downs and play with pre-loved toys. Speaking of ‘eco-upgrades’, I actually love this – I adore seeing a bunch of other kids’ name stickers in my child’s winter boots – some names I know, and some I don’t. They grow so fast and they wear things for such a short period of time, it makes me feel connected to other families seeing things that have been passed down.
I also love online marketplaces – buying stuff secondhand, cleaning and listing items that we’re done with for free so that someone else can use them. With kids, there is an amazing opportunity to teach them the values that are important to you – we don’t always need ‘new’ or ‘more’, let’s repair toys and clothes vs discarding them, holidays are about traditions and people, an appreciation for nature, etc. The good stuff!
All photos courtesy of Everist