“There is a joke in China that you can tell the ‘it’ colour of the season by looking at the colour of the rivers.”

Several months ago, I heard the above quote from Fashion designer and Activist Orsola de Castro.

A little less of a joke, a little more of a nightmare. Unfortunately, a living nightmare for a big chunk of the world’s population.

We live in a world dominated by consumerism. For many of us the pull towards the world of consumerism is in a constant internal battle with the pull away – towards a simpler life, true to our core beliefs and values.

At Abel we have a similar tension. On one hand, our vision of creating the world’s best perfume and most beautiful products – a daily dose of delight for our customers. On the other, the desire to have the lowest impact possible. Some mornings the urge to shut Abel down and remove myself entirely from the world of consumer goods, no matter how pure, is strong.

But we exist to provide a natural alternative in a synthetic market and we know our path forward is to do everything in our power to lower our impact and encourage those around us to do the same.

This month we are rolling out several changes to our packaging, it’s not the solution, but it’s another step in the right direction.

Switch to vegetable based dyes

Chemical dyes, pollute waters (and thus our food chains) and pose health threats to the people who work around it. It’s estimated that a staggering 70% of rivers in China are contaminated by wastewater – from the textile industry alone!

Switch to soy based inks

Not only better for the environment and people working with them (than the more widely used petroleum oil derived inks). Soy based inks also produce clearer colours and from a commercial standpoint, soy is a relatively cost effective switch, so it’s one we hope to see more and more brands making (for example 80% of newspapers in the US are already being printed with soy ink). As an informed consumer you can do your bit by asking them to.

Removing the foam insert

It’s a switch we’ve been wanting to make since we first launched our new packaging, with the foam insert two years ago. We had to find the right solution (a “sustainable” solution is only sustainable if your product doesn’t get damaged enroute!). In the new boxes we use a double card insert, cleverly designed to hold your perfume in place. So your box can now be put directly into the paper recycling (that is if you don’t have a nice solution for upcycling!).

FSC certified paper

FSC certified paper comes from forests where the trees that are harvested are either replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally. The Forest Stewardship Council also ensure that the parts of the forests where indigenous people have sacred sites are exempt from felling. Furthermore, the forest owner is required to employ local workers to manage the forest, and also needs to provide training, safety equipment, and a proper salary. Enough said, right?

For us these are small steps on a long journey. A journey we are committed to making.

– Frances, founder of Abel