You all probably already know that Nurme’s lifestyle values physical and mental satisfaction and living in harmony with nature. However, with today’s wildly fast pace of life, people tend to forget these values, which is resulting in the fact that people are stressed, restless and do not feel the connection between themselves, others and nature. We believe that living in harmony with nature is the answer to many of our society’s problems. It also improves the quality of life for all of us, which is why we think it’s important to talk more about it.
Why is environmentally sustainable production important?
We have taken environmentally sustainable production to heart in a world where mass production has become the norm. It destroys both ourselves and our home planet, the resources which we so lightly use and then throw away. Overproduction, overconsumption, and overpollution are everyday issues we face in today’s world.
Did you know that the average woman uses nearly 40 different cosmetic products a day? 16 of them alone are face care products. The cosmetics industry throws 75 billion units of packaging into the market every year to sell them, and the fact is that our consumption is only increasing. The reasons for the increase in consumption are the increasing population and the image of a person who is vital and beautiful until death. However, this is not sustainable behavior and we have decided to take steps to correct it in our operations.
What are Nurme’s values?
From the very beginning, Nurme’s raw materials have come directly from nature.
For example, oils pressed from plants, fats, waxes, and essential oils for fragrances. It was the most logical and available material to use in the early years. Today, the entire large-scale industry of cosmetic raw materials has reached the point where additives such as emulsifiers, preservatives and stabilizers are made from plant components. This has given Nurme the opportunity to step beyond the image of a soap manufacturer and also introduce creams, body lotions, shampoos, balms and shower gels into the assortment.
Nurme says no to animal testing.
One reason for this is that animal testing is prohibited in Europe, and another reason is of course that we don’t think that animal testing is ethical. Animal testing is replaced by a material imitating human skin.
Nurme says no to microplastics.
Microplastics are also banned in Europe, and instead, we use real ingredients like sea salt in our sea mineral salt scrub, sugar in our sea buckthorn-orange sugar scrub, and pumice powder and sweet almond stone chips in our exfoliating foot soap.
Nurme says no to irresponsibly produced palm oil.
5 years ago we removed palm oil from solid shampoos except for one product where the replacement did not guarantee the same good quality. Other raw materials such as emulsifiers may still contain palm oil, but we ensure that in this case it is sustainably produced palm oil. This means that the raw material comes from already existing palm plantations, not at the expense of new deforestation. The majority of consumers are not yet sufficiently informed that palm oil is actually one of the only raw materials that gives the most harvest per square meter. Substitution with something less productive would require a much larger agricultural area, which does not contribute to the preservation of forests and wetlands.
Nurme says yes to vegan products.
Most Nurme products are suitable for vegans, but there are also some individual products with animal additives, e.g. lip balm with beeswax and goat’s milk soap. In these cases, we make sure that the produce is obtained from small farmers, where all the animals and bees have been well taken care of and live a happy life.
Nurme says yes to organic cosmetics.
Recipes for Nurme products are prepared in compliance with Ecocert COSMOS requirements. Although our products do not yet have the COSMOS mark on them, the recipes have been prepared in accordance with Ecocert COSMOS standards. Our home market, Estonia has trusted us in this regard.
Is the production of natural cosmetics so simple that we only need the right badges and that’s enough?
The cosmetics production cycle is not only about the use of badges. Such a linear cycle as produce-consume-throw away no longer works. Our planet does not have enough resources for new materials, and the increasing amount of greenhouse gases with production is alarming. The circular economy is our future.
We have been sitting for a long time on this train, which is rushing at full speed to the final stop. The best we can do at this point is to slow down as much as we can. When we created Nurme, we didn’t really think much about sustainability – we were a lifestyle company and just did a good thing and we did it naturally because it was different and we liked it the most. But as we grew, so did our problems. Environmental issues came up more and more and the voice of consumers became louder and louder. Looking into the circular economy, we realized that the consumer sees only one fragment of the whole circle of sustainability. We understood that as a producer, we have a responsibility not only for environmental protection but also for consumer education.
What do the stages of Nurme’s circular economy look like?
At Nurme, there are no raw material residues – with precise planning of our production cycle, we ensure that nothing goes to waste. Many oils are made on a zero-cost basis. For example, raspberries are made into juice, but very valuable raspberry seed oil is pressed from the remaining seeds. Floral waters are also a by-product of essential oil production and are found in our rose face wash.
We order our raw materials directly from 4-5 suppliers in Europe as a bulk order. In addition, we tend to order more products, less often, which ensures the optimization of transport and reduces the emission of carbon into the environment.
How is our packaging environmentally friendly?
Eco-friendly design starts with product development. The choice of the right ingredients and packaging dictates the future life cycle of the product and its success.
It is impossible to completely dispose of the package. Even if solid cosmetics (e.g. soap) are sold in bulk, they still need to be packed at least in a paper bag so that the product reaches the consumer cleanly and hygienically. We pack Nurme bar soaps in cardboard packaging. During 2021, we sold nearly 260,000 bars of soap in Nurme. If liquid soap had been bought instead of every bar of soap, it would mean more than a hundred euro pallets worth of plastic packaging.
We use only mono-materials in our packaging. This means that one package consists of one type of plastic: a jar or a bottle is PET and the cap is PP, etc. Mono-materials make plastics easier to recycle and are a more environmentally friendly option. The journey of packages consisting of several elements of different materials ends in incineration or in a landfill because the consumer cannot dismantle them into their original parts and send them for recycling. Unfortunately, many packaging manufacturers still offer non-recyclable materials. There is a market for them primarily in the field of luxury cosmetics, where environmental sustainability is not yet a priority.
Are plastic packaging bad for the environment?
Most people think that plastic is completely bad, but this is a very relative opinion.
Take, for example, aluminum and glass, the production of which produces 5x more greenhouse gases and consumes 15-20x more water than the production of plastic. In the case of glass packaging, about 35% of the weight of the product itself is made up of glass. Glass and aluminum are the easiest to recycle, but their production is also the most polluting. Plastic, on the other hand, is 10x lighter than glass and has a smaller footprint when transported.
PET, HDPE, and PP plastic used in Nurme products are also recyclable. No package is really better than another unless it is transferred to a packaging container. Every type of packaging is bad for normal waste.
We currently also offer refill packages such as 1l shampoos, conditioners, and liquid soaps. Refill packaging reduces the amount of plastic, and these products have an environmental impact when offering cosmetic products that really consume that much volume. Encouraging people to buy low-use products in big amounts is neither ethical nor economical because in the end, unwanted waste is still created, together with unused cosmetic products.
We also have good news that in 2022, the Nurme range will include products that are packaged in packaging made from recycled plastic!
How is our production environmentally sustainable?
We have not had to make any changes to our production cycle to be more environmentally friendly. Our production farm and financial opportunities have provided us with solutions.
The production farm in Nurme has geothermal heating and we use deionized water. For the production of cosmetic water, we have our own water purification device, the mineral and electrical conductivity of which we can measure ourselves. This eliminates the energy consumption associated with transporting and storing water. In the production of creams, we use cooling water that circulates in a circle. With this, we avoid the unreasonable consumption of water, which would run from the tap directly into the well, because it is necessary to pass several tons of cooling water to make one batch of cream. With circulation, this cost is tens of times smaller.
With the waste generated from the packaging of raw materials, we are currently still at that point where the demand for plastic buckets, canisters, and barrels among our employees and friends is greater than our waste. In this way, the plastic can be reused several more times before being recycled.
We send the raw material packing material to the next stage – recycling in the warehouse. Bio-waste from household waste finds its place in the compost heap in the garden of our production farm, i.e. both coffee grounds and food scraps go there.
How is our marketing environmentally sustainable?
Nurme’s primary goal is to always sell all the products in stock and not overproduce. Scrap products that are not suitable for retail sale can also be purchased from our e-shop. We even have packaging-free mixed soap as a separate product, where the production residues of all soaps meet and become a new sustainable product. It has also been the best-selling product in our online store for years!
In export markets, we only have distributors. We do not sell directly to resellers in export markets to avoid excessive transportation. In Estonia, distributors have a minimum order obligation to avoid too small deliveries.
We use the film and cardboard in the warehouse as long as we can. We only do this with distributors, as experience has shown that for the average consumer, many times recycled filling material as plastic is a problem when sorting the packaging. So when sending items bought from the online store, we use only paper and cardboard material, including paper tape, as filling and packaging material.
Apart from a few information leaflets, no product catalogs have ever been printed during the years of Nurme’s operating years. All product information is available on our website because we believe that a tree left in the forest is more valuable than a paper catalog imposed on the customer.
How can you as a consumer be environmentally friendly?
The answer lies in the following cycle: reduce consumption – reuse – repair – recycle.
The most sustainable product is the one that remains unpurchased.
The most sustainable product purchased is the one that is used until the end.
The most sustainable product for individual use is the one that finds a new owner or new use. For example, body wash soap is used to wash clothes, dishes are washed with liquid soap, the new function of hair conditioner is shaving balm for legs, etc.
The most sustainable packaging of a used cosmetic product finds new use. For example, a jar of body scrub can be used to store screws and buttons or as a storage box for a child’s plasticine.
If the packaging cannot be reused, the empty packaging is taken to the packaging container to start a new life cycle.
The new world requires new business models
The future is sure to bring us solid, zero-cost cosmetic products that continue to grow in trend. The goal will be to reduce consumption, i.e. the product must be so effective that its cost is minimal. In this way, many different things could be done with one product. For example, our shea butter, which is suitable for pregnancy scar prevention, sunburn relief, frostbite prevention, diaper rash, care for rough heels and elbows, lip balm, and cuticle softening. It is enough if one product is at the disposal of the whole family. In the early years of Nurme, we put a lot of emphasis on the multifunctionality of the products, which, unfortunately, the consumer could not yet accept. We believe that soon the world will be ready for this.