Our Blog - Treading lighter together since 1981

Treading lighter together since 1981


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Treading lighter together since 1981

Monday 22 April is Earth Day, a day for highlighting the importance of protecting our planet and ensuring that its precious natural resources remain intact for future generations. Earth Day is a call for governments, businesses and individuals alike to invest in a better future for our earth.

As EARTHDAY.ORG quite rightly say: it’s not a day, it’s a movement. We’ve lived and breathed that movement since opening our doors in 1981, and we’ve found ways to reduce our impact and leave the planet better than we found it every day since. Working in partnership with other organisations like the Soil Association and CarbonNeutral®, and of course, our all-important customers, we’ve helped to ignite a collective movement towards change for our planet that shows no signs of slowing. It’s this movement for change that has powered our ground-breaking firsts in the beauty industry and beyond. Read on to find out more about our proudest achievements and what we’re doing next.

Positive action in the beauty industry and beyond

The first UK beauty brand to be certified by the Soil Association

In 1991, we became one of the first beauty brands globally to be certified by the Soil Association, meaning that our products contain the highest possible levels of certified organic ingredients. This organic certification guarantees that we have never used GMO, parabens or synthetic colours and fragrances in our products, and we never will.

We’re on a mission to show that organic products are better for you, and better for the planet too. Rich in beneficial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, organically grown skincare ingredients are naturally active on the skin and work alongside the body’s natural regenerative abilities to increase collagen production, prevent free radical damage and improve blood flow. What’s more, organic ingredients are more likely to be ethically sourced and harvested in a way that gives back to nature, with soil nourished through compost and soil enrichers rather than chemical fertilizers. They can also provide valuable income and support to communities around the globe with fair trade accredited projects.

The first UK high street retailer to be certified CarbonNeutral®

As part of our commitment to treading lightly on the earth, we’ve been certified CarbonNeutral® since 2008. This means we’ve achieved net zero emissions every year since 2008 by increasing our in-house efficiency and supporting renewable energy projects around the world. In 2008, this was a ground-breaking commitment for a UK brand to make, and while we’re proud to have maintained this certification ever since, we’re now focussing on finding ways to reduce our carbon emissions throughout our business.

The first brand to ban plastic microbeads in the UK

In a 2011 UK-first, we worked alongside Flora & Fauna International and Greenpeace to successfully lobby the UK government to ban plastic microbeads in wash-off products. The #BanTheBead campaign has helped to prevent billions of plastic microbeads from polluting our waterways every year since. Instead, we use – and have always used – natural exfoliators like rice and rosehip seeds which don’t harm aquatic life when released into our waterways. They’re naturally biodegradable too!

We’re also working hard on our packaging by minimising single use packaging, particularly non-recycled and single-use plastic. While we have always chosen to use glass instead of plastic where possible, we’ve switched all our blue plastic bottles to 100% post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR). Our in-store refills and larger size refill bottles help encourage customers to reuse our blue bottles wherever they can.

Finally, we’ve partnered with TerraCycle to install Zero Waste Boxes in all of our stores. Beauty packaging (from any brand) that can’t be recycled at home (for example, bottles with caps or pumps, droppers or rollerball bottles or sample sachets) can be dropped into these boxes, and we’ll recycle them for you in partnership with TerraCycle.

The first beauty brand to receive 100/100 for ethics

In 2014, the Ethical Company Organisation awarded us 100/100 for ethics. Supporting local communities is built in to the way we do business every day. We’re privileged to be able to grow some of our organic ingredients just footsteps away from the eco-factory where they’re transformed into bath oils, creams and lotions. Where we do source ingredients further afield – from Somerset to France, Madagascar to Oman – our growers and farmers have come to trust our integrity and support in committing to grow ingredients from seed, with yields agreed upon a year in advance.

These strong, lasting partnerships with growers who use organic, sustainable and wild-harvested practices have ensured we’ve kept our 100/100 score for ethics ever since. This year is our 10th anniversary of full marks for ethics, demonstrating that our mission to support the health of both people and planet starts long before the ingredients arrive at our eco-factory.

The first beauty brand to use certified organic frankincense

Organic frankincense is the secret behind our clinically proven, award-winning Frankincense Intense™ Collection. This ancient ingredient helps to protect skin cells, lift and tighten skin and slow signs of ageing, and has proven calming properties that support skin by relieving stress.

It’s no wonder then, that we were on the hunt for an organic and sustainable source of this precious, skin-nourishing ingredient. Back in 2017, we were instrumental in setting up Project Frankincense in the Dhofar region of Oman. The project is committed to propagating 1000 frankincense saplings every year for 10 years under the supervision of the Environment Society of Oman. This valuable project has helped to protect ancient Boswellia sacra trees, set the region up to be a great example of agricultural sustainability, and boosted local knowledge and business practices. Now the most sustainable source of frankincense available, the oil is also distilled locally providing valuable income to the area.

What’s next?

Long-time fans of Neal’s Yard Remedies will know that we’ve been helping to save the bees since the launch of our Bee Lovely Collection in 2011. During this time we’ve worked in partnership with many amazing organisations like Bees for Development and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to protect these vital creatures. And, thanks to all your purchases of our Bee Lovely products, we’ve managed to raise over £350,000 for bee-friendly causes and save over 56 million bees so far!

This year the fight continues with our Stand By Bees campaign. Spearheaded by our owner and CEO, Anabel Kindersley, the campaign seeks to put an end to the use of toxic pesticides, in an effort to halt the drastic decline of bees and other pollinators in the UK. Working with over 105 other businesses and organisations, the campaign has started to see traction in parliament for a new UK-wide ban, showing the power of collective action to drive change in the UK and worldwide.

“I feel strongly that we can use business as a force for good, especially when it comes to protecting biodiversity, and have no plans to stop putting pressure on the government to cut hazardous pesticides next year. Collaboration is the only way we are going to make a meaningful difference, so I hope even more people will join forces with us to achieve this goal in 2024.”

Anabel Kindersley, Co-Owner of Neal’s Yard Remedies

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