Our sustainable range this week is Au Naturel, They offer a range of products that the whole family can use. I love the innovation and creativity of this brand. Check out the face wash that is made inside a bar of soap making everything usable.
Brand Name: Au Naturel
Do you have a retail store, an online store or both?
Online, but we do have agents in Cape Town and Durban. They keep select stock, and order special items for clients with their main order as well.
What products do you offer?
Everything for the home and family, with zero waste options for everything. Made with care from edible ingredients and essential oils only. No preservatives, sulphates, parabens, no palm oil or animal fats
What made you start this business?
There was nowhere where I could purchase 100% natural, safe soap for my hair and body. I started researching, spent day and night researching. When I felt I was ready, I started experimenting. I spent thousands of hours and thousands of rands on research and development. When I started seeing the good results on myself and my family, I decided it was too good to keep hidden. It had to be shared with the rest of South Africa.
Of course, it was a no-brainer that packaging had to be kept to a minimum. Not just to keep the cost down (I use the best ingredients) but also to cut down on waste. My personal use is waste-free, as I make everything, but I wanted the same luxury for my clients as well. This lead to the development of a few products that are the first of their kind in South Africa, if not the world.
How do you choose the brands you work with?
I only work with what I make myself, so there are no other brands involved. Packaging of products and shipment packing is all plastic-free.
What does sustainability mean to you?
True sustainability is hard to come by. It means a cycle of growing, using and composting, which produces no waste, as every part of the cycle consumes what the previous one produced. The waste you produce goes back to the ground you ate from. There is no loss, as everything is replaced by the cycle. However, in this world, we have to survive the conditions that have been created by those who came before us. We have to do OUR best, and not beat ourselves because it is not THE best. Be that recycling any plastic that enters our home, or refusing to buy anything packaged in plastic – let us not judge others. Each is at a different stage in their journey.
What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there when it comes to sustainable living?
That it is impossible to make a difference. This is a huge hindrance to the development of a sustainable future. Yes, there are billions of people who don’t care. Yes, your straw or your plastic packet that you refuse won’t make a ding in the mounting pile that we are being buried in. But every change you make WILL make a difference in your life. Even if it means looking at the waste surrounding us, seeing a video of an animal trapped in a plastic ring from a bottle, and knowing that for a certainty, it did not come from you. Having that clean conscience is worth every effort.
What tip/s would you give to someone just starting out on their waste-free journey?
Start small. Take one thing at a time. And if things happen and you backslide, don’t give up. Remember that every change is worthwhile. What happened in the past has passed. You cannot change it. But you can change your future. Do better today and every day.
What has been the most challenging part about living a zero-waste life?
Food. Food is necessary, and while it’s idyllic to grow your own and live off the land. But most of us do not have the time to tend it. Purchasing food produces the most plastic waste, because we consume more of it than any other item. In an ideal world, everyone would live off the land. With no need to travel to work, there would be no emissions. No road accidents… We could go on and on.
What are 3 of your favourite products within your range?
1) Aqua Bars – the first in South Africa.
Our first in the range was the Wunder Bar. A truly zero waste dishwashing liquid and household cleaner, made with only edible ingredients and essential oils. It comes in a block, wrapped only with paper, which you can either use as is, or dilute quickly into a liquid by chopping it up and adding hot water. This is all we have used for washing light and white clothes, scrubbing toilets and showers, and washing dishes, for 4 years.
Since that release, we have expanded the range to include several Aqua Bars. They designed as gentle liquid hand and body wash, wrapped in nothing but paper. Clients dilute them into liquid as required, and reuse the same dispensers, year in, year out. This is a great way to get people interested in zero waste, as they can see they don’t have to use bar soap to do so.
2) Soap Jar – another first for South Africa.
It troubled me that it was not possible to replicate my favourite face wash in bar form, meaning that every time I sent it out, it had to be in a glass jar. So I got to work, and developed a jar made entirely of soap, including the lid. This works perfectly as a refill jar. Once the client receives the face wash inside the Soap Jar, they decant it into their reusable glass jar, and can then use the empty Soap Jar as body soap. This was very exciting, as now it meant our product was truly zero waste and biodegradable.
3) Antibacterial Facial/Body Bar – yes, you guessed it – another first!
One of the ingredients that makes our Antibacterial Bars so awesome, is sea salt. But salt loves moisture, with result that for a while, these bars were wrapped in clingfilm. This was to prevent them becoming soaking wet in the humid Durban atmosphere. They were the problem in an otherwise perfectly packaged selection. It troubled me greatly that there was so much plastic waste being produced.
Eventually, this led to the development of a system of dipping the finished bars in fresh plain soap. This created a barrier between the salt soap and the air, preventing sweating while in storage and transit. Plus, it added value to the bars, as now, with their extra layer, they were heavier and would last even longer in the shower.