Marketing itself as being “waste-free, water-free, toxin-free, trash-free, and slavery-free,” LOLI Beauty, or Living Organic Loving Ingredients, has left no stone unturned when it comes to building a sustainable brand. New York City-based LOLI describes itself as the world’s first zero-waste superfood skincare brand and was launched in 2018 with a mission to “stir up a clean + conscious change.” From ingredient sourcing to production to packaging and shipping, LOLI has diligently selected those strategies that will result in the least impact to people and the planet.
LOLI’s line of direct-to-consumer skin, hair, and body care products includes serums, balms, pastes, masks, elixirs, oils, and other items that use organic, wild-harvested ingredients that are raw, non-GMO, and upcycled from food for zero waste.
Says Founder and CEO Tina Hedges, “The inspiration for LOLI may have come from my Cuban/Jamaican heritage of watching Mother Nature’s ingredients being made into home remedies for beauty and wellness, but it was a moment when I experienced simultaneously a crisis of health and a crisis of consciousness that became the catalyst for my mission to make a clean and conscious change in beauty.
“When the world is experiencing water scarcity, and there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050, why are we encouraging consumers to purchase beauty products diluted with 80% to 95% water, polluted with toxic chemicals and synthetics, and over-packaged in single-use plastic? It’s time for a truly sustainable approach to beauty.”
Protecting both people and the planet
Described as “zen-inducing,” “skin-plumping,” “super-cool,” and “glow-inducing,” among other adjectives, depending on the product, LOLI’s ingredients include such natural superfoods as plum kernel oil, pomegranate, date nut oil, dragon fruit powder, and sweet orange essential oil. The company works with Fair Trade co-ops and farms around the world to find ingredients that have been discarded in the organic food supply chain. Says Hedges, “These efforts mean we are also helping to provide additional income to villages during off-seasons by repurposing ingredients previously discarded.”
Its concern for those individuals responsible for providing its raw ingredients also extends to ensuring none of the people involved in sourcing are victims of human trafficking. As Hedges shares, LOLI is the first and only beauty company to be a member of Made in a Free World, a charitable organization that focuses on developing and implementing high-impact solutions to human trafficking by working with the most effective partners to rescue and care for victims worldwide.
Sustainability also extends to its product development and manufacturing. LOLI’s beauty formulations are created without water and are designed to be multipurpose, minimizing the number of beauty products a consumer needs. According to Hedges, the company’s manufacturing partner is USDA Organic certified and uses very little to no heat and limited energy.
And its eco-consciousness does not stop there. Other initiatives include carbon-zero, same-day delivery in certain metropolitan areas and the donation of 10% of every purchase to charities that support people and the planet through its partnership with GIVZ.
One of LOLI’s most significant sustainability pillars though is its strategy to be plastic negative: For every one of its products purchased, LOLI removes two pounds of plastic waste from the planet. And nowhere is this zero-plastic commitment more evident than in its choice of packaging materials and processes.
Plastic-free packaging selection
As part of LOLI’s plastic-negative and trash-free tenet, less than 0.5% of the company’s overall packaging footprint is plastic, with no biodegradable microplastics used for its primary packaging. Instead, it uses recycled, recyclable, and refillable food-grade glass containers that can be repurposed for food storage. These include a 4-oz “hot-sauce” bottle for its micellars (e.g., tonics, toners, and serums) and a 4-oz yogurt jar for its balms and powders.
Says Hedges, “We looked at so many options, and with good intentions. So many packaging vendors provided misguided information because the technologies and understandings are changing so rapidly. We considered aluminum, but unless you can use recycled aluminum, the mining of fresh aluminum causes more damage to the environment than the weight of shipping glass. Food-grade, recycled, and reusable glass is also the safest inert packaging option to ensure no leaking of harmful chemicals into the products.”
Caps for the micellar bottles are either glass droppers with aluminum overshells and silicone bulbs, recycled aluminum screw-on caps, or non-single use, recycled, and reusable plastic screw-on caps or orifice reducers. The jars are sealed with recycled aluminum foil that is heat sealed and covered with a recyclable, reusable plastic lid.
When it came to the secondary packaging, Hedges says LOLI thought about how to replace paperboard cartons and searched the world (literally) for a garden-compostable solution. It found that solution nearly 9,000 miles away, in New Zealand, from The Better Packaging Co., co-founded by biochemists Kate Bezar and Rebecca Percasky.
Better Packaging offers the comPOST line of completely biodegradable and home-compostable bags made from corn starch, corn-based polylactic acid (PLA), and polybutyrate adipate terephthalate (PBAT), a “drop-in” petroleum-based biopolymer whose properties resemble those of low-density polyethylene. Says the company, due to the inclusion of PBAT, the bags, while biodegradable and compostable, are not 100% renewable. “We are limited at the moment by the availability of suitable, sustainable raw materials that deliver the barrier and performance properties we need but are always testing resins made from an even greater number of plant-based materials,” it says.
The company adds that, ironically, it is PBAT that is added to the film construction to make the product degrade quickly enough to meet home compostability criteria. “To our knowledge, there are no bio-based plastics suitable for making courier bags that do not have a binding agent like PBAT in them,” it says. “There is a lot of research currently to find an alternative, and there has been some success. We are currently supporting our supplier to trial a higher-percentage bio-based PBAT.”
Better Packaging adds that the combination of corn starch, PLA, and PBAT represents a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions compared with traditional plastics. The material is also non-toxic, and contains no phthalates or BPA. The comPOST line, which began with the company’s “Real Dirt Bag,” the comPOST courier bag, has expanded to six products, including garment bags, labels, and bubble mailers. The products are waterproof, tough and durable, tear-resistant, writeable, printable, “stickable,” and brandable, and have some stretch.
The material does have one disadvantage versus traditional petroleum-based materials though: it has a limited shelf life. Advises Better Packaging, “To ensure maximum longevity, compost packs should be stored in a dark, dry place. If stored correctly, they will be strong enough to send parcels around the world for at least nine months. If not, their strength will be compromised.”
When it comes to end of life, Better Packaging says the comPOST line of products will break down within months in a home compost environment, mixed with food scraps and garden waste, in a non-toxic process. The materials used to make the packaging meet Australian Standard AS 5810-2010 for Home Composting, which requires 95% degradation within 180 days. “However, we know they break down way quicker than that,” says Better Packaging.
Amazon-friendly compostable pack
LOLI’s partnership with Better Packaging began with a cold-call email from Hedges to the co-founders. “From our very first call, we realized we were on the same mission to stir up a conscious change,” Hedges shares.
LOLI is using several varieties of comPOST Packs along with ComPOSTubble Pockets, in place of secondary cartons for its glass bottles and jars. ComPOSTubble Pockets are sealed on three sides and open on the top, with no flap, and are available in two sizes designed to fit inside Better Packaging’s comPOST Packs for an additional layer of protection. For shipping products direct to consumers, LOLI packs them in the bubble mailer, inserts the mailer into the comPOST bag, and then puts the bundle into a corrugated shipper made from 100% recycled FSC paperboard, printed with vegetable inks, and made with wind energy. Says Hedges, “In some cases, like with our holiday kits for wholesale, we even use the comPOST packs in place of a set-up box.
“The Better Packaging Company has been our go-to supplier for all our bags. We love their commitment, their vision, and even their branding. We feel so comfortable working with them as we know they have truly done their homework and are the experts. What’s super exciting is that we have now even found a way to launch Amazon fulfillment with our partnership with The Better Packaging Company. Previously, we weren’t comfortable with Amazon’s requirement to package glass in plastic bubble wrap. Now, with The Better Packaging Company’s comPOSTubble Pockets, we’re about to launch on Amazon in a sustainable manner that meets our clean + conscious standards.”
To sell its products through Amazon, LOLI has a wholesale relationship with Carbon Beauty—a natural beauty and wellness boutique. “We send our glass bottles and jars and the comPOSTubble Pockets to Carbon Beauty’s warehouse, and they assemble the product in the pocket and send it to Amazon for fulfillment,” explains Hedges. “This was part of our agreement with Carbon Beauty: We wouldn’t launch on Amazon until we could find a compostable replacement for the mandatory plastic bubble bags.” She adds that once Amazon receives the product in the bubble wrap, it places it in a corrugated box for shipment.
LOLI is currently using The Better Packaging’s messaging on the bags, which includes the compostable symbol, copy that indicates the bag is compostable, and a website URL, www.bcollected.org, that provides a network of collection points for Better Packaging. “We think they do a great job in telling the story and helping guide the consumer,” Hedges says.
Shipping labels, from Elevate Packaging, are also garden compostable and meet EU standards for home composting. If dunnage is required in its shipping boxes, LOLI uses GreenWrap from EcoEnclose, a paper-based alternative to bubble wrap that is naturally biodegradable, compostable, SFI-certified, and fully recyclable.
Winning consumer loyalty
LOLI began as an e-commerce company only, but as its message expands, so too will its distribution, moving into wholesale. “We launched as a direct-to-consumer brand first, mostly because we knew that back in spring of 2018, the concept of ‘zero-waste beauty’ was very new, and we would need to educate the consumer on why upcycled, waterless, and sustainably packed beauty was needed,” Hedges explains. “We did a lot of product market testing and listened to what resonated with our community and early adaptors. The world is now ‘woke’ and understands the wasteful ways of the beauty industry. So, we’re ready now to dip into wholesale with a few key partners.”
So far, in the D2C world, consumers have been won over by LOLI’s holistic sustainability strategy, Hedges shares. “Our consumer is so loyal to our mission and loves that we take care in every detail, down to our garden-compostable bags.”