Published: February 18, 2016


© Ethique

Katherine Martinko

This innovative New Zealand company dares to break the mold when it comes to green packaging, setting the bar high for other companies.

The green skincare industry is expanding rapidly as companies respond to customers’ increasing demands for clean, non-toxic products. The problem, however, is that packaging rarely evolves with the products. You end up with fabulous green, healthy, and practically edible products that still come in plastic containers.

No matter how biodegradable or recycled the label may claim to be, the fact remains that it’s a plastic container that will still remain on this earth, in one form or another, for centuries. That seems rather presumptuous on the part of consumers who claim to care about the future of the planet.

This is why it’s extremely impressive when a company takes a radically different approach to packaging, daring to break the mold in unconventional ways. One such company is Ethique, a New Zealand-based skincare company that refuses to use plastic of any kind, opting for paper and cardboard instead.

Ethique makes products such as facial cleansers, creams, shampoo, conditioner, exfoliants, and body butter. All are shaped into concentrated, solid bars, wrapped in plain white paper and stored in colorful cardboard boxes. Once opened, the bars can be dried, rewrapped, and placed back in the sliding box for reuse. The method is astonishingly simple, logical, and far greener than any recycled plastic container could be.

Face serum

© Ethique

I’ve been using Ethique’s products for several weeks now and am very impressed with the high quality. In fact, these are some of the nicest products I’ve used in a long time. Clearly the company has not compromised efficacy by opting for unconventional packaging.

The shampoo and conditioner combo is the best thing after my usual baking soda and apple cider vinegar method, leaving my hair silky, soft, and frizz-free. All you do is wet the bar and swipe it down your hair several times, then work into a lather. The facial cleanser washes away all traces of makeup and the lotion is thick, rich, and satisfying on my winter-dry skin.

When I received my parcel from Ethique, it arrived in a cardboard box filled with scrunched brown paper and sealed with brown paper tape. There was no plastic anywhere. (You’d be amazed at how many so-called green companies send items in plastic bags, surrounded by Styrofoam peanuts and layered in plastic packing tape – an immediate fail, in my opinion.)

The downside for us North American shoppers is that Ethique is based in New Zealand. That raises obvious implications when it comes to assessing the carbon footprint of shipping plastic-free products halfway around the globe.

But it is important to note that Ethique sets the bar high for other green companies who claim to want the best for the planet. If Ethique can do it, why can’t others? There is no need for plastic packaging to the extent that most companies insist on currently, and the status quo must change if we ever hope to live more sustainable lives. I hope that more companies do what Ethique has done so sensibly and beautifully.

Order Ethique products online.