Why I created a plastic-free company that doesn't talk much about plastic

There is a new problem in the world, and it isn’t plastic, it’s plastic-free marketing selling us expensive junk. 

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When was the last time you got scolded for carrying a convenience single use coffee cup and that feeling made you change? Or when was the last time a passionate vegan politely reciting methane facts at you mid-bite made you think twice about going plant-based? It just doesn’t work. Is it working for anyone out there? 

Ever since I found out about the horrors that plastic has on the environment, I made it a personal mission to change, in private, without shaming the people around me. I made all the swaps within reason from switching to beeswax wraps to replace saran wrap down to avoiding balloons at my son’s birthday party. For me, and for everyone, I think it’s fair to say that as adults we are allowed to make our own decisions about how we would like to impact the environment without someone else chiming in about how they could (and how you should) do it better. How you contribute to saving the earth is personal, and small steps do matter.

In my own personal crusade to reduce plastic — I have been burned by crisis marketing that sold me guilt in the form of expensive eco-friendly swaps that felt like sacrifice. At the top of this list was mouthwash tablets meant to fizz in tap water and save me from buying plastic bottled, watered down Listerine. These were the biggest, most expensive, sucker-swap I made.

Next on the list was bamboo toothbrushes that sold me on their bamboo-ness but completely bamboozled me on having clean teeth. I don’t know about you, but I don’t brush my teeth with the wooden handle — the companies completely forgot to put any effort into the bristles and make them great for brushing teeth.

Good thing I bought a bulk pack of 8 to save money...and the world!

How many times did this have to happen before I lost hope in eco-friendly products? I’ll tell you: about 30 more. Letting this type of marketing convince me into buying something that was eco-friendly, but didn’t really work, was doing the exact opposite of my mission. Where do all these products go? If your guess was the garbage, you’re half right — first I would try and pass them off to friends who might have better luck than me with these things. Guilt alleviated.

Do I still get to count as “zero-waste” if it isn’t my hands throwing it away?

My biggest frustration came in the form of plastic free shampoo & plastic free conditioner bars. I am a tragic mix of being both Persian & from New Jersey. Both of these cultures have high standards for hair, and I am a complete stereotype. There are no messy-buns at my family reunions. You go to a restaurant in New Jersey (back when we could) and you see beautiful hair at every table — mix those two cultures together and you’re reading the words of someone who got an elaborate Beehive to go to her mother’s funeral (if you knew my mom, she would have wanted it that way). 

They say character is what you do when no one is looking: well there I was, daily projecting to the world that I was reducing my plastic, while secretly alone in the shower I was dipping into the high end plastic bottles I swore off. I’m sorry, I just love having beautiful, shiny, hair. It makes my day seem happier to feel like I look good. Hair is a huge factor in my confidence meter.

I also realized something incredibly dark about myself:

I wear my hair on my shoulders more than my conscience. I couldn’t deny it, even to myself, the proof was sitting right there in my shower.

That was a hard pill for me to swallow. Denial is so much easier. 

The more I researched though, the more I saw that I was not the only one with this problem. Time after time I saw women in plastic free forums begging for the “best plastic-free conditioner” or “plastic-free conditioner that actually works”. I felt their pain. I wasn’t alone. I was going to end this.

It became a new mission for me to make my own hair care line that was plastic free but that wasn’t the focus: the focus would be performance. The focus would be: “this stuff works” and not “plastic will kill us all”. After years of development and obsessing over the question: would this make me miss Pureology or Oribe? —  I finally had my prototypes. I even built accessories to solve other hair crimes. Then the pandemic happened and our lab closed and there’s a whole article about that here on Allure.

I spent this time, while my company is basically on hold staring a blank website template. What did I want people to know about us

  1. Our bars work and are full of salon grade ingredients.
  2. Our bars will save you money if you have an expensive shower product habit & high standards.
  3. Here are real photos of real women with their own hair dramas who used it and have given real genuine feedback.
  4. It will be an upgrade, not a sacrifice.

Plastic-free is just a bonus :) 

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Thank you for reading — and I hope that there are more of us out there who want to define how eco-friendly products market themselves on their own merits and not on fear.

If this post speaks to you I would love to hear from you! kate@saynoap.com 

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