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Faith in Nature: A Circular Case Study

We’d love to hear the Faith in Nature back story, could you share the motivation behind starting the brand? What inspires the Faith in Nature team?

Faith In Nature was founded in 1974 by aromatherapist Rivka Rose (this year marks our 50th birthday!) Rivka believed that the best quality natural, vegan and cruelty-free products should be available to everyone. So, she pawned her jewellery to buy ingredients and started the business from her kitchen sink. Five decades later, we’re still a proudly-independent, family-owned business manufacturing in the UK – and Rivka is still very much involved.

The whole team is inspired by Nature – one question that we regularly ask ourselves and each other is “What would Nature say?”. In 2022, we became the first company in the world to make Nature a director of our business. Nature is represented in board meetings by an independent guardian, giving it a voice and a vote in decisions in the business.

Circular Design can be a big challenge for a new business because so many elements are new. We know you are driven by Circular Design principles, hence your core focus on refills and the use of recycled materials in your packaging. How are you building circularity into your business model?

We’re guided by the principles of the circular economy (eliminate waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use and regenerate Nature). Our standard-sized bottles have been made of recycled plastic since 1999, 7 out of 10 of our primary packaging materials are 100% recycled and we’re working on the rest. Like us, the circular economy is inspired by Nature; it doesn’t waste anything, so we have a zero-waste policy in the factory which means everything that can be is reused or recycled. And we’re always trying to do more with less, so we’re looking at how we can source-reduce our production process, and how we can incorporate upcycled or waste products into our process. Plus, we’re working with the Circular Metals Hub on their business model toolkit. And through our partnerships with World Land Trust, TreeSisters, Energy Garden and the Sumatran Orangutan Society, we contribute to Nature regeneration. You can read more in our Sustainability Report. It’s a constant work in progress, and we’ve got big circular economy-shaped plans – look out for announcements in this department later this year!

At Circular HQ, we love ethical, gorgeous, quality self-care products! How do you go about creating new products and adding to your beautiful range?

Any ideas we have need to meet four criteria: active natural ingredients content, efficacy, accessibility (in many meanings of the word), and most importantly equal to (or ideally greater than) our current offering in terms of sustainability. If something doesn’t meet all four, it’s back to the drawing board! Our mantra ‘What would Nature say?’ is asked from the factory floor up to the board room, and it’s a huge part of our new product development process.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced growing the brand and business?

Often we worry that we’re not being seen to be doing enough fast enough. We’re always doing the best we can to continue to move forward sustainably and doing what we can to do our bit towards sustainable change. We can’t solve everything, but we can focus on the differences we can make. The challenges we face behind the scenes aren’t always obvious to our customers, and complex problems often require complex solutions that take time to implement, get right and do well. Luckily, we have fantastic experts we can speak; the Nature Guardians on our board, along with our Sustainability Director, Laura, help guide us over the many hurdles. In our efforts to ensure we never greenwash we’re also perhaps guilty of ‘green hushing’, to an extent, and don’t always talk enough about the brilliant things we’re doing behind the scenes. We are still trying to get that balance right. Educating customers and inspiring positive changes in their habits can also be challenging, but we’re working on it!

From a daily habits perspective, do you have any advice on living a more circular or sustainable lifestyle?

There’s a quote from Sir David Attenborough that helps make this very simple: “The best motto to think about is not to waste things. Don’t waste electricity; don’t waste paper; don’t waste food. Live the way you want to live but just don’t waste. Look after the natural world and the animals in it and the plants in it too. This is their planet as well as ours. Don’t waste them.”

We always encourage our customers to refill existing bottles with our products, either by setting up a home refill station or visiting their local refill store. And there are so many simple, everyday ways to reduce waste: things like repurposing the plastic bags that bread come in as sandwich bags, or carrying a tote bag and a water bottle to stop yourself buying unnecessary new packaging. Our Plastic-Reducing Hacks blog is a great place to start!

What is Faith In Nature’s big dream? Where would you like to see the business/industry in five or ten years?

We’d love to see a shift in customer behaviour; ultimately, the more customers demand more sustainable products, the more everyone in the supply chain is influenced to make more sustainable decisions. The customer influences the retailers, who influence the brands, who influence the suppliers, farmers and manufacturers of everything from ingredients to componentry. As a customer, you hold so much power – your decisions today could have a lasting impact on the future of the planet.

We’d also really love to see the Rights of Nature being integrated more widely into business practice. One day, we hope it’ll be commonplace for Nature to have a voice and a vote in business operations – which it absolutely should, given the impact businesses have on the natural world. We might have been the first company in the world to do it, but we definitely don’t want to be the last! Others have already followed in our footsteps, so the movement is growing. Anyone who’s interested in appointing Nature to the board of directors at their organisation can find out how to go about it in our Nature On the Board Open Source Guide.

How can people buy your products?

Our products are available at lots of refill stores and independent health stores, as well as high street retailers and some supermarkets. Search for your nearest stockist here, or order direct from the Faith In Nature website.

We are running a lovely giveaway in collaboration with Faith In Nature on our socials. Head over to our Instagram page for details on how to enter!