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  • Maker Spotlight

    May 31, 2024

    Maker Spotlight

    We love this part of the job, because we get to shine the spotlight on people who make good products and add more good to the world. Even though we ask each of our makers the same 6 questions, we learn something new — every time. You might too.

    This month we’re featuring UpCircle Beauty™, makers of sustainable vegan skincare products that give natural ingredients new life, while fighting waste at the same time.

    UpCircle is a family-run company founded in 2016 by brother and sister Anna and Will Brightman when they were in their early 20s. They strive to be a beauty brand that encourages and inspires people to make the right choices for themselves and the planet.

    As pioneers in the movement to embrace circular beauty, UpCircle goes a step beyond natural and organic skincare to leave the world better than they found it by transforming ingredients that would otherwise be discarded. Each product is thoughtfully formulated using ingredients that are rescued / upcycled by-products from other industries. What’s more, UpCircle products are all inclusive – they are body positive, gender neutral, represent all ages and encourage diversity.

    Here's our Q & A with Anna:

    What's Good: What does being eco-friendly mean to you?
    Anna: To me, it means making a conscious effort to live in harmony with nature and contribute to a healthier planet. None of us can be perfect, but it’s about trying to be better and striving to always make decisions with people and planet in mind.

    What's Good: What's your biggest climate change fear/concern?
    Anna: It’s a bleak question that could be answered with a long, long list of fears to be honest… If I had to pick one I guess I would say rising sea levels / temperatures. I think that and all the other impacts to our oceans are what make me the most worried and sad. Turtles with plastic straws lodged in their noses, sea horses clutching cotton buds, dead birds filled with microplastics, fish stranded in discarded fishing nets, dead bleached coral… It’s all horrendous.

    That said, when it comes to the environment we are constantly bombarded with intimidating doom and gloom headlines. The scale of the problem can feel so daunting that it’s all too easy to give up before you’ve even begun. So, at UpCircle, we try to focus on positive change and keep an “every little helps” mentality.

    Rather than saying “500,000 tonnes of coffee waste is sent to landfill in the UK per year” we say “with each Face Scrub purchased, you rescue the equivalent of four espresso shots from being discarded” – it’s tangible, it’s uplifting, it makes you want to get involved.

    What's Good: If our readers could only do one green thing, what would it be and why?
    Anna: I’ll answer in relation to skincare / beauty. If you’re just starting out in trying to create a more sustainable beauty routine then just keep in mind that it will be a gradual process. Resist the urge to empty your cupboards and start all over again at once. There is no point in creating waste in an attempt to try to minimize waste! Use up what you have, and then next time, think about what improvements you can make in each of your purchasing decisions. Or even better, think about whether you actually need to buy each thing you’ve previously owned at all!

    I get asked about my skin and makeup routine all the time – people are often shocked by how limited and simple it is. Quality over quantity is what sustainability is all about!

    Look for brands who offer refillable packaging / packaging returns schemes when you do decide what products you’d like to begin using.

    Keep an eye out for formulations with minimal water content, like our Shampoo Crème that delivers 3 times the amount of washes from 50% less water. It’s also half the weight, meaning less carbon emissions.

    Look for brands who put budget behind certifications which hold them to the highest standards across different areas of the business. These certifications take the due diligence away from the customer making their purchasing decisions easier. The best way to “green check” brands is to look at their certifications. We are certified: B Corp, vegan by The Vegan Society, cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny, Plastic Negative and organic by Soil Association and COSMOS.

    Look for brands whose messaging is full of specific numbers or percentages – eg. 100% natural. Or info (filled with numbers) related to their ingredients: We collect over 100kgs (~220lbs) of coffee a day and can make 42,000 face scrubs per month with the quantity we are currently collecting. We're partnered with over 100 independent coffee shops across London that we collect the used coffee from and we've rescued 400 tonnes of coffee so far.

    What’s Good: What's the biggest 'bad habit' YOU have as it relates to eco/sustainable lifestyle that is a challenge for you? (Flying, eating meat, ziplock baggies, take out food, etc.)
    Anna: I think my best is that I cycle literally everywhere and never waste food! My worst is that I still like to buy clothing new, and probably more often than I strictly need to.

    What’s Good: What started you on your eco-journey?
    Anna: I asked a local coffee shop what they did with their waste coffee and was shocked to hear that they were producing so much that they had to pay the council to have it removed and disposed of on landfill sites. Throughout my teenage years I wanted to be a makeup artist so always had a keen interest in beauty and skincare. I knew that coffee had loads of great skincare benefits, so…that was my lightbulb moment! Why not repurpose the coffee into sustainable circular skincare products? We began our journey collecting coffee grounds from one coffee shop, we now collect from hundreds of coffee houses across London – our list is always growing!

    What’s Good: What is your favorite aspect of the eco products you make (or one in particular)?
    Anna: The fact that each product has a unique story to tell given that we’ve rescued and upcycled by-product ingredients into each and every one. For example, our Cleansing Bars are made with residual chai spices, a by-product of the tea industry, (more specifically a family-run chai company based in Bath in the UK that we met at a trade show about 5 years ago). The spices are used to produce chai syrups. Water is poured through the spice mix, but the spices still smell amazing after the process is over. The chai spice blend consists of ten hand-sourced spices, including nutmeg, vanilla, ginger and cloves. We naturally dry the spices first, then grind them down before infusing into our soaps. And why do we use them? Well, their beautiful aroma of course! They give our soaps their characterful scents.

    Thanks so much, Anna (and Will!), for your dedication to creating sustainable self care products. Your commitment to reducing waste by repurposing otherwise discarded ingredients is truly inspiring!  You are What's Good.

    To further highlight UpCircle's commitment to Earth & Human friendly products, we’ll be sharing their samples in every order this month.

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