Our impact on the environment boils down to one thing: human behavior.
I try my best to buy from socially and environmentally responsible vendors. I go out of my way to support companies that empower women and minorities. I even continue to support companies whose business model aligns with my moral code, even if I’m not crazy about the actual product they’re producing.
So when I find a product I love, or think I will love, I can’t help but hear a pleading voice in my head saying “no need to double check their website or get in touch with a rep from the company, I’m sure they’re sustainable, the packaging is brown… there’s an ambiguous leaf on the label!” I want to believe that voice so badly, but somehow “the packaging is brown” just isn’t that convincing of an argument. So I check. I google. I read reviews. I even cross-check environmental watchdog websites if I’m feeling desperate. And 9 times out of 10, I’m forced to reconcile defeat. This happens so often actually, that I find myself accepting that these brands, companies, or items will never find their way into my home.
This happened to me the other day with a company called Prose. They provide custom hair care products based off of your lifestyle, hair type, geographic location, etc. I was in love. My hair can get CRAY so when I stumbled across this company, that little pleading voice in my head started yelling (rude)- “IT’S 2019, THIS IS A NEW COMPANY! OF COURSE THEIR PRODUCTS ARE SOURCED SUSTAINABLY AND THEY ARE TAKING NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO PACKAGING! IT’S. 2019.”
So I listened to the voice and I took the online quiz- oh how detailed and inquisitive the questions were! The end result was a beautiful mixture of apple cider vinegar, maca root, and jujube bark. That’s “luscious locks” for those of you who don’t speak hippie.
Then to the next page, where I was forced to face my fears head first. Plastic. I’ve spent enough time shopping online for products, that I know the difference between glass and plastic packaging based on how the light reflects off of the container (just kidding, that would be a super lame power to have). I was unwilling to accept defeat so I left my quiz results up in the browser and pulled up the contact information for a customer representative. This is what ensued:
I’d like to say I went back to work after I sent this but in reality… I took the quiz again. I decided this time, I would opt for the silicone-free option. By the time my results were calculated, Anna- the rep from Prose- wrote me back:
Anna was right, so right. Glass bottles don’t belong in the shower and they are hella expensive to ship- this made me wish I had included the idea of aluminum packaging, but alas. I was happy to learn that the plastic bottles they use are made from 100% recyclable materials and BPA-free. However, I don’t think Anna understood the kind of subscription service I was talking about but the information was appreciated nonetheless.
After this exchange I resigned myself to baking soda and apple cider vinegar for the time being. My hair seems pretty pleased since I jumped off the shampoo train and gave it a much needed break from harsh detergents. You’re welcome, hair.
But in that second to last paragraph of Anna’s email, I had hope. I held onto those words like the freaking Holy Grail: “…and I’ve shared your idea with my team.” 8 simple words. Do I know if she actually shared my idea with her team? No, I have no idea. But those 8 simple words have changed the way I engage with the world around me.
I wrote this post because I want people to recognize the power and influence that comes with active and respectful communication. I did not berate Anna or Prose for not providing a service that I desperately wanted. I shared an idea, a way of being and thinking with her and subsequently her team. I reached out and shared a passion of mine while recognizing that not every company can afford to make these changes in distribution.
I also wrote this post for me- as a reminder of the role I play in consumerism. Even if I can’t jump in and physically change the way a company operates, I can always and should always express myself. Far too often we use our voices to try to convince others of our validity. We use our social media as platforms to shame others into our perceived “correct way of being”. This is a reminder that you are enough. How you feel and what you think is enough. This is a reminder to use your social media and your voice as it was intended: to share yourself with the world.