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Unilever All Things Hair Refillery: First Step Towards a Sustainable Lifestyle or Just Another Dead End?

Pop-up All Things Hair Refillery Station spearheaded by Unilever. Credit: All Things Hair
It's a good day not just for the health and beauty community but also for the environment! In line with its advocacy to reduce plastic waste, Unilever, one of the leading consumer goods companies, announced that they will be launching pop-up refilling stations for shampoo and conditioner, namely All Things Hair Refillery. The company is committed to fulfilling its mission to attain a 100 percent reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by 2020.

The All Things Hair Refillery is set to run from March 23 to April 19, 2019 and can be found in Trinoma, Glorietta, and Alabang Town Center. Consumers may bring their clean, used bottles with the same label as the product they're getting or can avail of reusable bottles that are sold for P10 each at the respective refilling station.

This may be a good initiative and there's a good cause behind it, but I personally wonder why it will only run for a specific period of time when it should be a norm, a part of one's daily living.

Philippines as the Third Largest Plastic Waste Contributor

In a recent report by The Street, Philippines is among the countries that produce the most plastic waste in the world, attributing to about 2.57 million tons of plastic litter each year. In fact, the country is reported to be the third largest contributor to marine pollution.

Pile of Plastic Litter. Credit: Pixabay
While there have been continuous efforts made by different environmental organizations to raise awareness on the importance of reusing and recycling plastic waste, a 2018 United Nations report showed that only 9 percent of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled.

It must have got you thinking, right? Are humans really such a hopeless case when it comes to disciplining themselves in these tough times? The world is going astray and climate change has been breathing directly on our necks and yet we can't do things as simple as recycling plastic waste? Well, here's my two cent.

Let's not forget about the real enemy here: poverty. Environmentalist Heather Koldeway stated that there is a strong link between plastic waste and poverty. According to her, single-use sachet is the most accessible for poor communities because that's all they can afford. This is why I hate seeing hateful comments from privilege Filipinos about how our fellow countrymen cannot stop themselves from buying goods in sachet, as if everyone here can afford to buy in bulk.

Slums in the Philippines. Credit: Pixabay

The Philippines is home to over 100 million people. In 2015, statistics showed that 21.6 percent of the country's population lives below the national poverty line. For starter, that's a huge percentage already. Perhaps, these people are either unemployed or living below the minimum wage. They try to make ends meet on a daily basis and barely have enough money to buy the most basic needs such as food and water, let alone shampoo in a bottle container.

But let's be real here. Even middle-class families buy sachet products. I come from a middle-class family, and although we can afford to buy in bulk, there are times when we would buy sachets instead because of its accessibility. Say, you run out of shampoo and can't afford to go grocery shopping yet, you can easily get shampoo sachet from sari-sari (neighborhood sundry) stores.

Reaching Out to the Grassroots

If there's one thing I really noticed about these sustainable-driven brands and organizations is that there are A LOT OF THEM, however, they're not easily accessible and affordable. I once attended this lifestyle fair where sustainable brands gather and sell their products. Almost all of them use organic or recycled materials, which is good, and they seem to be really committed to championing sustainability. But I guess sourcing these materials isn't cheap either which is why the goods are sold at a rather high price.

The idea of sustainable lifestyle is good, but it will not work if it's targeted to a certain group only.

The masses are the biggest portion of the community, and even if there are organizations that aim to promote and educate, when they fail to reach the grassroots level, then their advocacy is barely efficient. For one, the refilling station initiative of Unilever comes from a good cause, but the fact that they will be located at select malls only where many don't have access to makes the argument that the poor cannot afford sustainable lifestyle valid.

I appreciate seeing these big corporations doing their part in saving the environment, but years and years have passed, and the world remains at high risk of climate change. And if we're being honest, it seems to be getting worse and worse. So, what more can we do? Make sustainable lifestyle a lifestyle for all, including poor communities.

The only way that we'll ever successfully attain a zero waste, zero plastic world is when sustainable lifestyle becomes the standard lifestyle for all. Stop selling products in sachet; use alternatives that will still be accessible to the poor. Stop promoting methods that only lead to a dead-end and start giving solutions with actual long-term results. This may be easier said than done, but we've got to think bigger because even if I refuse to use plastic, there are hundreds, thousands, or even millions out there that will continue to do so, and it will never stop if we're being fed the same old, dying ways. Soon enough, the world could be dying with us, too.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below. :)

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  1. Hair Refillery, seem interesting for the environment.

  2. Plastic waste is really a huge problem for everywhere.Something like hair refillery sounds amazing,I really love the idea !

  3. Please let others know about this idea. It might be a path to a bigger solution.

  4. This is definitely a big step in the right direction! It would be great if we could find a way to rid of plastic altogether.

  5. This is great! I have switched to a shampoo bar and hen my hair product run out, I will minimize products put on my hair and look for recyclable containers or conditioner bars too. e don't have hair refillery here yet but we have or food. Plastic waste is a scourge on the environment and this is a great first step. You're right. It should be the norm but you know that it take time to change citizens so I guess they want to gauge the initial outcome first.

  6. Plastic is such a menace for the world. we need some alternate of plastics which can be used again without harming anyone or the environment. thanks for the awareness and this post must be shared so here i am doing.

  7. Hair refillery is truly what we needed to save the world from all the unnecessary plastic.

  8. What an informative post. We need to do our bit in helping reducing plastic waste. I hate wasting things.

  9. You're right! When lifestyle becomes sustainable, then we will have zero-waste. Good enough, ever industry is going sustainable!


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