It has barely stopped raining for days, odd glimpses of blue amidst a skyscape of unrelenting grey. Welcome 2018. The January of my childhood in Scotland, the cold wind that pierced even the stoutest clothing, the snow and ice, chilled face with rosy cheeks is a distant memory. Replaced with the grey of climate change.
I listened to the rain fall from within my snug little house, heard the pitter patter change in rhythm to a heavier drip and looked out to see a drainpipe overflowing from roof to soil. The green tufts of grass peeking over the edge of the pipe, the water cascading down from either side. I marvel at the ingenuity of plants, their ability to set seed and thrive in even the most inclement spots – dry stone walls devoid of soil, sandy windswept dunes, drainpipes awash with water.
We start this year with an awakening. The final understanding that plastic, used and discarded so carelessly, from bottle to bag to microbead is polluting and degrading our seas and water courses. It has been a long time coming. The ghastly microbeads used in cosmetics have at last been banned.
What saddens me is that they were ever used. The function of a microbead was to polish – faces, teeth and bodies. To add a little extra scrub that made us seem a tad brighter. They were cheap, easy to include, resistant to heat and cold, apparently inert in formulations – a triumph for large scale production. Except they were toxic little balls of polluting nastiness. I can think of literally hundreds of natural alternatives, not so cheap but infinitely better.
It’s a choice. As makers we have to think about these issues every day. Natural, truly natural, using the actual plant; growing it, tending it, harvesting it, working with it, is expensive and time consuming. Growing organically as we do, makes the process more demanding of labour.
But it’s a choice. We make. Gladly.
Hand-making requires more people, more machinery, more time.
It's an investment in the future.
We welcome the seasonality of our work. Plants in season are finite. We take what we can and when it’s gone, it’s gone for another year. We accept the limits.
It’s the nature of life.
This year we are finally in a position to accept our pots and jars back into the shop for recycling. It has been rather marvellous to see empty pots brought into the shop and to take £1 off a re-purchase. It’s a small step but very pleasing for all concerned.
One quick word about packaging – we don’t put any of our products in boxes (apart from gift boxes) and we never have. Right at the start of A.S Apothecary I thought long and hard about this and was advised that to be a ‘premium’ product we needed to box our products. I refused, not on cost grounds but because to package in printed cardboard was environmentally irresponsible. This is the reason that all our products are in amber glass bottles – it protects the contents from light and allows us to dispense with boxes. Quality should not be equated with packaging but rather what is in the pot and how it has been made. If every cosmetic/skincare company ditched the boxes imagine how much less would be going into landfill?
It seems strange to protest about wrapped veg and then buy boxed skincare…
So as we hurtle into this year, donning welly boots and macs, re-usable cups in hand, string bags in pocket, we would like to thank you all for supporting us, buying our products, coming to our courses, having treatments in our therapy room, leaving lovely reviews, sending us little joyful notes, visiting our shop in Lewes and keeping us afloat. We are fortunate indeed.