How do you convince a well established, profitable industry that's dominated by multi-national conglomerates to fundamentally rethink how they make and sell one of their core products?
I don't think there's a playbook or "X step" process for doing it.
My hunch is you have to show them there's a better way of doing what they do.
Prove that there's value both financially and in terms of good will by thinking about their products differently.
Tidy is an attempt to do that.
I've written before about the 3 things I think Tidy needs to prove to the incumbents in the shampoo industry to get them to change their ways and offer more environmentally friendly versions of their shampoos.
In this blog post I'm going to go deeper into the first of those: proving that you can make a best in class product that is eco-friendly from cradle to grave.
Corporate green washing
There's encouragingly been a growing trend of big companies trying to prove their green credentials over the last few years.
Talking up their use of sustainable materials, recycling efforts, how they're reducing the amount of plastic they use in their packaging.
Which is great. But it often glosses over some of the fundamental issues with how they produce, package and sell their products from an environmental impact point of view.
Many accuse them of "green washing".
For example: Using recycled plastic to make a product's packaging is better than using virgin plastics. But often when you look into things like plastic bottles and cartons, they contain less than 10% recycled materials.
For a large company, making millions of bottles / etc per year, using 10% recycled materials will significantly lower their plastic use 👍. But what about the other 90% of their packaging? 🧐
How many products wrapped, encased or bottled in plastics just don't need to be?
If companies were to take responsibility for the lifetime impact (cradle to grave) of their products, including how the packaging they use for them is disposed of when a customer has used it, would they think differently?
MacDonalds did it
There's president. At least for the "grave" bit of the lifecycle...
In the 1990's MacDonalds started working with environmental groups to reduce packaging waste.
This resulted in the cardboard boxes they deliver your Big Mac today replacing the foam and plastic boxes of the time.
Perfect? No. Better? Yes.
So how is Tidy doing from cradle to grave?
At Tidy we have a huge advantage over the incumbent shampoo makers; we're starting from scratch. Which means we can (and do) think about our product's impact cradle to grave without having to reengineer any production lines, packaging designs, etc.
We started with sourcing our ingredients.
All the ingredients we use are certified organic, which means they use less harmful chemicals to produce.
That's better for the soil and environment where they are grown.
We source ingredients in the most environmentally friendly packaging available. Several of our suppliers will ship ingredients as refill options, reducing the amount of waste generated by our purchasing (and lowering emissions by being lighter shipments).
The process we use to make our men's solid shampoo bars is designed to be as low impact as possible too.
Making solid shampoo uses less water than liquids.
We use a green energy supplier to reduce the impact of the electricity and gas that's used while making our shampoo.
We minimise the amount of electricity and gas we use during the process too, to further reduce the impact.
As our shampoo is solid instead of liquid we don't need any bottles or cartons to hold it. Instead we wrap our bars in coffee filters that are made of recycled material and that can be composted instead of put in a bin.
Even the labels on the bars are composable as the paper and ink are free of harmful chemicals.
The packaging we use to ship our bars is recycled and sized per order (small boxes for 1-2 bars, bigger boxes for 3 or more).
The way we ship our shampoo bars is deliberately slower, and lower impact too.
Could we do more to make our solid shampoo bars even more environmentally friendly? Yes. And we will. As we scale the business, we will use our growth to invest in even better ways of reducing our impact. For example with higher volume we'd be able to purchase ingredients in larger quantities reducing the number of orders we need to place. In tern reducing the amount of packaging required and the number of deliveries needed.
What about the best in class bit?
We're still working on the "best in class" bit of the equation at Tidy. I believe our shampoo is great and better than most if not all liquid shampoos I've used. But I'm the founder, and I would say that right? 😉
I also believe we can make our shampoo bars better.
Today's Tidy solid shampoo works really well for most of the people who try it. But not everyone. It's not so great for folks with longer hair and it can take a bit of getting used to if you've not tried a solid shampoo before.
How much you use per wash is a personal thing; too little and you may feel your hair's not clean. Too much and it may dry your hair out. Figuring out the "Goldilocks" amount can take a bit of experimentation.
It took about 30 iterations of our recipe to get to formula that we use today. As we grow we will continue to test different ingredients and recipes to make sure our product (and any additional future products) work at least as well as the leading liquid shampoos on offer, if not better.
So, it's work in progress, but as one customer put it in his recent reorder:
"I'm about to order my next bar. Can't go back to traditional shampoos now!"
That's one other person convinced about how good solid shampoo is. Only a few 10's of millions more to go 😃