As any responsible corporate steward should, Lowen’s is always looking for new ideas to reduce our waste and carbon footprint with a keen eye on the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In the past 3 years we have installed solar panels, resulting over 15 MWh of energy production along with 6 tones of CO2 saved (and lower hydro bills) as well as implementing a number of retrofits to our home office, turning our vintage, energy guzzling business into one that is more efficient than new buildings. So good for us, right?
Well, there’s always room for improvement and like we said, we keep looking. Our newest development is our refill program. Most waste, particularly plastic waste is not recycled, even though much of it can be. Alarmingly, only 9% of global plastic waste is recycled and we want to reduce our contribution to that. Like it or not, there are few suitable alternatives to plastic packaging and we address why we continue to use plastic in our products here.
Instead of us sending a new package of unadulterated awesome in every order, there’s the option to reuse an existing bottle (or jar) and refill it. The purpose here is to minimize the amount of overall plastic waste. To incentivize purchase and reuse of bottles, we charge less for the refills and include extra volume in case you lose a little in the refilling process (if you don’t – bonus…you get more for less!). In addition to the goal of plastic waste reduction, the overall shipping weight is a little less, reducing the carbon footprint related to freight. Lastly, once thoroughly cleaned the empty bags can be recycled as well if facilities exist in your area.
But how do you go about refilling?
After filling thousands of bottles over the years, we thought this process was intuitive and have received feedback that it is not. So for those of you that have struggled, we apologize. Here’s how you do it in a few simple steps:
Please watch this video (Please use “Method 2 – Filling with a Plastic Bag,” We’ve already filled the bag, so no need to worry about that step. Essentially, what you do is cut a small bit of the corner of your bag (make sure that the cut is small – you can always make it bigger if you need to) and then gently squeeze the contents into your bottle – essentially like you would when you pipe icing on a cake.
Ensure that the bottle and pump/cap that you plan to use is thoroughly cleaned and dried. Residue of past contents or wash water will decrease the shelf life of your refill. Pro Tip: if you have isopropyl alcohol or ethanol (70%), giving the bottle a sprits before filling and letting dry helps too but isn’t mandatory.
Of course you do not have to use one of our bottles, however putting our lotion, cream, cleansers into an open jar that you would scoop the contents out from will greatly reduce the shelf life of your refill and may result in mold growth. If you do decide to go this route, ensure that you hands are clean prior to product removal with each use and refrigerating the jar between uses is recommended.
If you struggle to get the full contents of the bag out, we suggest using a straight edge to squeeze the remaining contents out of the end of the bag to the corner you’ve cut. Take care not to perforate the bag. If this happens, a little packing tape applied over the hole after the contents that escaped are thoroughly wipes away should do it. See below:
As our refill program gains traction, we are exploring the possibility of using compostable refill containers and are current testing the rigor of the available options.
If you have trouble re-priming your pump, please refer to our FAQs
Chad Zelesky is a Calgary based Pharmacist who created Lowen's, a natural skincare line. Using his research and development and pharmaceutical compounding background he created a natural diaper balm using unrefined, locally sourced ingredients for his daughter (Lowen) to treat her persistent rash. From this first “bum balm” Chad has created other novel natural skincare products. Lowen's is aptly named after Chad's precocious little girl who got the ball rolling.
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