Trying to Run a 100 Percent Green Business
There's nothing worse than buying a "green product," only to have it arrive swathed in layers of plastic packaging. Or to purchase an "organic" beauty product bottled in plastic that will sit in a landfill for centuries after the lotion is gone.
I founded ThereThen after reading a book called How to Be a Craftivist: The Art of Gentle Protest, by Sarah Corbett. I was moved to create scents using native plants to share my deep love of the California Coast. If I could get others to love those fragrances, perhaps I could inspire them to protect our fragile ecosystem from the twin crises of climate change and habitat loss.
The reality of creating a truly "green" business turned out to be far more complex than I originally thought. I could minimize packaging, but I couldn't completely eliminate it. And it's almost impossible to find packaging that's completely free of plastic. Even glass bottles have little plastic sprayers, and roll ons have plastic rollers. Packaging with zero plastic either compromises the quality of the product or costs too much to keep my scents affordable, another important value of mine.
It became clear that I couldn't get things perfect. But I could get a lot closer to perfect than my competitors, while raising awareness about the climate crisis. And I make every decision at ThereThen with sustainability in mind. I'm always looking for opportunities to improve.
I have also made it a priority to work with local community members. For example, my perfume bottle tops were handcrafted by local preteen girls learning about business and woodworking. And my latest scent, Wylde, was created in partnership with local surfer Keana Miller. Together, she and I are raising awareness of girls in surfing. I source my materials from a local distributor called Perfumer's Apprentice, and I partner with local women-led businesses for everything from photography to website design to retail partners.
I'll be honest: I am an idealist, and sometimes I wonder if Craftivism is the best path to making the world a better place. But when I think about the web of relationships and experiences that ThereThen has brought to my life, I feel inspired to keep iterating. I'm an idealist, but I'm an aesthete and a maker, too. And I continue to believe that there's a straight path from the nose to the heart - our love affair with scents can inspire us to awaken to the world around us and ultimately protect it for generations to come.